Does Goodwill Check for Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are a nuisance, and most people dread them. Unfortunately, they are one of the most common problems associated with purchasing furniture or clothes from thrift stores, charity shops, and Goodwill stores. 

So does Goodwill check for bed bugs?

Here’s the basics of how Goodwill handles bed bugs: 

  • Goodwill doesn’t always check for bed bugs
  • When purchasing from a thrift shop, it is your responsibility to do the checks yourself
  • The majority of individuals get bed bugs from Goodwill and any other second-hand outlets

We recommend purchasing second-hand clothes from thrift stores that take suitable anti-pest measures. For example, some stores take their time to wash clothes to kill bed bugs or use bed bug sprays to eradicate them. 

Goodwill does not do any of this; their preventive measure against bed bugs is urging their customers to wash and clean before donating anything to them. They say unwashed clothes get thrown away, but it is difficult to tell which clothes are dirty. On their part, they don’t do anything to treat their clothes or furniture for bed bugs, no heat treatment, no spraying or cleaning.

We’ll go over it all below.

Goodwill 101

Goodwill stores are trendy because they have a variety of goods they sell at a fraction of the price of a new item. Most of their products are only slightly used, which means they are very much reusable. 

Goodwill stores are trendy because they have a variety of goods they sell at a fraction of the price of a new item.

They save people a lot of money as, at times, you can find a gem, appliance, furniture, or clothing at an unbelievable price. Goodwill also offers charity donations to the community. Their way of giving back makes them appealing to many people.  

Does Goodwill Check for Bed Bugs?

The main reason most stores that sell used products, Goodwill included, do not offer bedbug treatment is the cost. Getting rid of bed bugs is expensive, and they would have to pay exterminators hundreds of dollars every session.

The alternative is that Goodwill would need to hire pest controllers to work in the stores and clean every item.

This would add extra costs to their budget.

Although it’s a charity, Goodwill wants to earn revenue and keep their operation going. Given their many stores throughout the country and their large scale of donations, they require a lot of operational funding. This includes washing powder, electricity, space, and water.

As a result, they don’t pay for a pest exterminator.

Moreover, the pesticide used to kill bed bugs also has a bad smell; thus, spraying their products with this chemical might make customers not want to purchase from their store. 

In 2001, however, Goodwill used to wash and dry clean their clothes, but now they only spray them using deodorant to eliminate the bad smell if the clothes have a foul odor.  

What Are the Chances of Getting Bed Bugs From Goodwill?

Understanding the supply chain can help you. For example, Goodwill has over 2300 retail stores, and more than 15000 items are stocked on their shelves daily.

Keep in mind that all these products are donations to Goodwill. They don’t pay for them.

Goodwill takes them off people’s hands for the community’s well-being. This means that the products are semi-used, and most do not treat them with much care.

Some of the products don’t strictly come from clean homes. For this reason, some items have a high chance of having a bed bug infestation.    

About Bed Bugs 

Bed bugs, unlike other pests, don’t live on you; they are a unique kind of pest that feasts on your blood and hides in the cracks of your furniture, mattresses, floorboards, walls, etc.

They are small, oval, brownish little vampire bugs. It’s hard to tell the male and female apart. Moreover, they cannot travel far because of their small and vulnerable nature.

They tend to multiply when they find their way into your belongings. Bed bugs come into your house through your belongings. That’s how they end up in most households. 

Bed bugs, unlike other pests, don’t live on you; they are a unique kind of pest that feasts on your blood and hides in the cracks of your furniture, mattresses, floorboards, walls, etc.

They are usually very good at hiding in clothing, furniture, and especially beds. Their bodies are flat to allow them to fit into tiny spaces. Additionally, they don’t have nests as bees or ants do, but they live in groups. So if you see one bedbug, there is a group nearby.

Most of the time, you might find them in beds and mattresses as they can easily access people to bite at night. It only worsens if you fail to notice them in time, as they can spread to the room and nearby rooms

Having bed bugs does not mean the environment is dirty, as they survive primarily on blood alone. Therefore, even furniture or clothing from higher-end second-hand boutiques has as much chance of having bed bugs as anywhere else.   

How Can You Protect Your Home From Bed Bugs When Purchasing From Goodwill? 

Although you might be at risk, purchasing from Goodwill has advantages, the main one being getting goods at a fraction of the original price. They also give back to the community.

You also do not want to deal with a bed bug infestation in your home, so here are ways to prevent it:

1. Examine the items thoroughly

You cannot be sure that a product does not have bed bugs, especially in the store, but you could at least check and lessen the chances. Sometimes you might be lucky and notice them early enough.

If it is curtains, pillows, or clothes, scan from the inside out. Check the zipper, the edges, and the seams. Bed bugs prefer dark and tight places.

If it is furniture, using a flashlight in closed spaces can help you notice them.

2. Thoroughly launder everything

It can be hard to examine bed bugs in the store, especially during daylight, so when you get them back home. The first thing to do is launder them even if they don’t have bed bugs. Cleaning second-hand clothes as you buy them is essential. It will clear out the different impurities and odors your clothes may have.

Some of them contain pollutants and germs, which might result in allergies.

3. Avoid items that are high-risk.

Some items have a higher chance of being infested with bed bugs, primarily items that naturally have better hiding spots where bed bugs can hide. Others provide the bed bugs with easy access to humans to feed at night. These items include dressers, lamps, mattresses, and bed frames. Whenever possible, try and steer clear of these items second-hand.

If you have to get one, ensure you at least spray it or get an exterminator to deal with it and ensure it is clear of bed bugs.


Goodwill does not check its incoming items for bed bugs. If you shop at Goodwill (and most other thrift stores and consignment stores), you are accepting the risk that what you’re buying may contain bed bugs.

It’s up to you to check each item you purchase and launder it thoroughly before using it.

Avoid purchasing mattresses and bedding secondhand, and pay particular attention to bedroom furniture.

Be smart and you will be able to find fantastic deals while still avoiding bed bug infestation!