How to: Buy Thrifted Shoes

Posted On Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Filed Under: How To, shopping, Thrift Stores

I have to say I’ve amassed quite a shoe collection courtesy of my local thrift stores. But exactly how do you buy second hand shoes? For some there’s the ick factor of wearing someone else’s shoes and other’s are just clueless on how to make sure they’re getting a quality piece.

Check out five tips to thrift shop for shoes.

Come Prepared
If you know you’re going thrifting, bring a pair of socks or knee highs so you can try the shoes on. Besides avoiding direct contact with unsanitized shoes, you’ll get a more accurate idea of how they really fit. If you’re trying on a pair of boots without any socks, they may be too tight when you finally rock them with a pair of thick socks in the fall or winter.

Before trying the shoes on, look at the quality. I mean seriously inspect the shoes at every angle. Are there stains on the suede? Is the leather scuffed or scratched? Is it discolored? I suggest looking the shoe up and down before actually trying it on because there’s nothing more heartbreaking than trying on a pair of shoes that fit you perfectly…just to realize there’s a major flaw in them.

Heel Strength
If the quality is good or decent, check for how strong the heel is. There’s no point in thrifting a fly pair of stilettos if it’s going to randomly break on you. Test the heel strength by tugging on the heel. Does it feel wobbly or flimsy? If so, put it back. Or just purchase them and be prepared to replace the heel before wearing.

Does it Fit?
This seems obvious, right? But I think we’ve all been so head over heels {pun intended} for a pair of shoes that we buy them even if the fit is a wee bit off. A slightly uncomfortable shoe turns to torture after an hour or so. Many thrift stores have a no return policy, so don’t waste your cash on those $10 platforms if they’ll just collect dust in your closet.

So now that you’ve purchased your shoes, the next question is how to sanitize them? Wipe the inside of the shoe down with rubbing alcohol. Some people also use bleach. Mix 1/4 cup of bleach and water and using a spray bottle, spritz the solution on the inside of the shoe, but be sure the liquid doesn’t come in contact with the outside of the shoe, the bleach can ruin the material. Air the shoes out over night. If there are insoles, you definitely want to replace them.

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  • Niki Cheapskate

    great tips! i use disinfectant wipes to sanitize my thrifted shoes

    • Looking Fly on a Dime

      Thanks. Disinfectant wipes are also great! 

  • Stacy Lackey

    Good ole Lysol works too.  After I have wiped them down, I will spray them with Lysol and if they look particulary suspect, I’ll spray them twice.  :)

  • Kate Holmes

    It’s a good idea, too, to do the same when you buy shoes you consider “new”, like those in a department or shoe store. After all, how many people have tried those on before you? Ditto pierced earrings, and, actually, all clothing, new or used, should be washed before wearing. How clean is something that’s been hanging on mall racks for weeks or months before you bought it?

  • Georgetta Ruth

    Not only do I clean the shoes but I spray with a fungal spray.  I let them set for a couple of days and then wipe them down

  • Pynk Starr

    Also a good tip is to wash and under garments before you wear them from any store. I used to work at VS and they used to let people try on swim suits and undies. Ick. I def wash my undies right away now