One thing that you need to know is that the majority of items which I remove from dumpsters had been placed inside of them in new, clean, plastic trash bags or clean cardboard boxes.
I take great care not to mess with anything in dumpsters that has been contaminated by kitchen waste/rotting food type garbage. But, believe it or not, some dumpsters where we frequent dumpster divers find our most valuable treasures have rarely ever had any rotting, germ ridden garbage thrown into them.
Technically, you could say that the trash bags or boxes come out of the dumpsters and the stuff I take home comes out of the bags and boxes.
Except for clothing, I sanitize any items that I take which have sat in a dumpster where just a mild breeze could blow germs onto them off of the dumpster walls or any actual garbage in there. Large, hard surfaced items are thoroughly doused with disinfectant spray. If such an item has touched anyplace where germs always thrive, it is thoroughly washed, wiped dry, and sprayed with disinfectant. Smaller items like kitchenware are rinsed, soaked in soapy water, rinsed, washed with soapy water, soaked in a water-bleach mixture to sanitize it, then rinsed again. Eveything I take from dumpsters that may remotely need it is cleaned and sanititized before I use it or pass it on, PERIOD.
Most clothing that I get while d-diving is already clean, but the small amount that I have ever kept for myself is run through the washer before I wear it. If it ain’t clean and dry, it stays where I find it. The only exceptions where I have taken dirty clothes are the few jackets or coats I took to wear while doin' more d-divin' later, and they got washed down in the shower, soaked in a tub of real hot water and detergent, and then rinsed, rung out, and run through the washing machine.
If it has rained onto a load of good, usable stuff in a dumpster, and the rain water has washed down upon the goodies from over top of some of that awful looking and smelling kitchen waste/rotting food type garbage, that most people think is the only thing found in a dumpster, then the only reason that I would take a seriously contaminated item out to keep it is if it was so obviously valuable that any darn fool who saw it in there would grab it and go.
The psychology of knowing that the items came out of a dumpster does bother me a little, but the science of how I choose, remove, then handle the items and determine which ones need cleaning and sanitizing is squeaky clean.
There usually isn’t anything unsanitary about most of the good, usable stuff that you can find in a dumpster. Because, it is protected by the brand new plastic trash bags, cardboard boxes, or some other clean containers that it might have been placed in before it got chucked into the big, green, sometimes filthy-stinky-unsanitary, magical treasure chest. If I didn’t have a bit of an aggravating anxiety disorder, I’d be able to skip on a lot of that detailed cleaning and sanitizing d-dived goodies that I do.
So keep yur’ eyes open, yur’ nose closed, and DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!