I'm a bit of a magpie in Elder Scrolls games and have a habit of wandering off with almost everything which isn't nailed down. Partly, this is to generate income, but I'm also filling out my extensive collections of books, alchemy ingredients, and… well, shiny things.

There are two problems with this habit, however, and both of them relate to that nasty "Stolen" tag:

  1. Your average merchant won't buy stolen goods. Yes, that can be remedied, but I thus far haven't unlocked many fences and my Speechcraft has a long way to go before I can start investing in anyone. As a result, I have a cupboard in Whiterun filled with many thousands of gold worth of items acquired via the "bucket discount".

  2. Even when stored in containers you own, stolen goods are listed in red. In a large collection, the item list ends up looking like either a zebra crossing or a murder scene. Not exactly a game-ending problem, but it's still aesthetically displeasing.

Is there anyway to cleanse an item of its "Stolen" status?

  • 1
    I just sold a stolen, enhance and enchanted sword to the fence in the ragged flagon, then wasted 3k buying the thing back, and it still says its stolen... is it only with that fence, or does this trick not work for the xbox?
    – user15192
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 8:43
  • Interesting find. What was it for a sword?
    – DrFish
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 8:50
  • @BenBlank Your link about "shiny things" doesn't appear to actually jump to any specific point in that article. Could you clarify which Easter Egg you're referring to? I'm interested now.
    – Iszi
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 19:57
  • @Iszi — I've updated the link. :-)
    – Ben Blank
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 9:14
  • Its quite stupid that even consumable(common) items retain their stolen status... Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 19:08

12 Answers 12


Yes you can. When you sell the stolen goods to a fence, or a merchant if you have the perk, and repurchase it, it will no longer be stolen.

There are some items that retain the stolen flag, such as unique items from the Falmar museum.

  • 1
    Hmm… that could work for collections, but not so much when you're just trying to sell things in the first place. And it could get quite expensive!
    – Ben Blank
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 21:37
  • 1
    As a side note, you'll lose a lot of money doing this with lots of items as you sell an item for a lot less than you can buy it for.
    – Mr Smooth
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 21:38
  • @Ben well, if you wanted to sell it in the first place, there's no reason not to go to a fence ;)
    – l I
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 22:39
  • 3
    @yx. — There is if all your fences constantly have 0 gold left! :-D
    – Ben Blank
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 23:28

The easiest way to do this:

  • Sneak up to some kind of humanoid enemy (for example, a Necromancer).
  • Place the 'stolen' items you want to be laundered in the NPC's inventory.
  • Kill him/her.
  • Collect your laundered items.

I always give my stolen stuff to my follower then tell him to go home, then recruit him again , and take the item back. For me it is no longer stolen.

  • Yeah it work I just tested it
    – Lolman63
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 12:50
  • I did it with a gold diamond necklace and some ebony boots
    – Lolman63
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 12:51
  • 1
    Does it work with unofficial patches (and the latest patch)?
    – NiteCyper
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 0:50

This technique applies to books only, but that's a start.

In houses available for purchase, there are often special bookcases which act like containers. (Depending on the house, you may have to purchase furnishings before they'll appear.) When books are placed in the bookshelf "container", they appear neatly lined up on the shelf.

If you pull the book back out of the bookshelf container, it retains its Stolen status. However, if you simply pluck the book from the shelf as you would any other, you get a pristine copy!

  • Where do I get a house that has a bookshelf like that? Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 0:10
  • 3
    @KnotHeather most purchasable houses have bookshelves that help you organize your books. For instance, the solitude house has at least 3 of them.
    – l I
    Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 0:19
  • Does this work with weapon racks? That would be sweet.
    – agf
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 4:51
  • @agf — Sadly, no. I tried. :-/
    – Ben Blank
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 4:57
  • 4
    @KnotHeather You may have missed the note in Ben's answer that said "Depending on the house, you may have to purchase furnishings...". As far as I know, there is not a player-purchasable house that comes with a bookshelf, before upgrades.
    – Iszi
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 20:03

Certain items can be effectively laundered by turning them into other items. They lose their Stolen status when crafted into another item.

  • Ores, ingots, hides, leather and dwemer junk can be crafted into weapons and armour using Smithing, or used to upgrade weapons or armour.
  • Alchemical ingredients can be crafted into potions using Alchemy.
  • Soul gems can be used to craft magic items using Enchanting.
  • Gems can be crafted into jewellery with silver or gold ingots.
  • Chaurus Chitin can be used to upgrade Falmer equipment with Smithing. Ectoplasm can be used to upgrade Ghostblade with Smithing.

However, merely enchanting or upgrading an item with Smithing doesn't remove its Stolen status.

You can also use up stolen items to get rid of them. Disenchant magic items to learn their enchantment, eat alchemy ingredients to learn one of their effects, drink potions, shoot stolen arrows, and spend stolen gold.


You can claim stolen goods by reverse-pickpocketing them onto someone and then killing them. Find some bandits or other hostile NPCs and if you can manage to place it on the bandits and kill them, you can loot them and obtain "clean versions" of the items you have placed on them.


You can launder anything as long as you have a follower you can trade with and command. Just put all your stolen stuff into a chest you don't have to steal from, command your follower to 'take all' from the chest, and then take all the stuff from your follower after that.

If you want, for some reason, to make something you own appear stolen, the same will work in reverse. Therefore, your companion is your little item launderer.

This trick requires no speech perks or fences. You do need a companion and access to a chest that isn't marked stolen, but those can be gotten in Riverwood pretty quickly.

  • 1
    This doesn't appear to work, at least as of the 1.7 patch. Your follower retrieves the items, and they don't look stolen when you trade with them, but they're still marked as stolen once you open your inventory again and they can't be sold to honest merchants.
    – Ben Blank
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 2:03
  • I found this to work. It requires that you put the items in a container owned by someone who doesn't mind you looting it. I use the wardrobe in Warmaiden's shop in Whiterun. It doesn't seem to work on containers owned by you nor on neutral containers like the barrel outside Warmaiden's. I'm using the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch mod, so that mod doesn't patch out the ability to do this. Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 0:52

Their are two ways to launder items in Skyrim:

  1. If you have access to a fence, you can sell your stolen goods to them. If you want your item back, you can just buy it back off them.

  2. There's a nifty little trick involving the use of a follower. If you tell a follower to get all the items from a chest, even if the item in the chest is marked red (meaning that if you took it, it would be labelled stolen), when your follower 'steals' it, it isn't considered stolen.

So what you just do is, find a secluded chest with no witnesses around, then put all the stolen items you want 'laundered' into the chest. After that, just tell your follower to empty the chest, and then tell them to trade with you. All the items marked 'stolen' that you put in will no longer be marked as such.

  • Interesting suggestion. I'll have to add this to my play-testing to-do list.
    – Iszi
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 19:59
  • 1
    Apparently, this does not work with barrels. I confirm it works with chests.
    – NiteCyper
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 9:22

If you don't have a follower and need to launder stolen goods quickly you can do so by killing any loot-able creature near to where you want to sell your items, chuck in your stolen goods and run over to the nearest town or settlement with guards, trespass in a locked residence until the residents call for a guard, then leave pay the 5 gold for your crime, run back to your lovely assistant whose corpse holds your items and hey presto, laundered items.

This is easy to do when a dragon has been killed in a town which means that the skeleton remains there and can be used as temporary storage, just don't leave it lying around too long, bodies and the items therein have a habit of disappearing on you.


Actually, you can launder certain goods. And I do it all the time.

It's all about crafting.

If you steal a dagger, and sharpen it, it will still be marked as stolen. BUT, let's say you brake into the local alchemist or the blacksmith and rob them blind. You can make potions out of stolen herbs and sell them as non-stolen items. And you can make armor out of stolen ingots and sell those two. Same goes for soul gems and enchanting.

This may sound restrictive to you now. But sneak around one night and rob all the alchemists, smiths, and enchanters of their craftables and I guarantee you the biggest problem you will have will be trying to find enough vendors to sell your loot.

You'll be over 100,000 gold in no time.


Joining the thieves guild is probably the best way to get stuff laundered. You sell your item to the fence and buy it back. Once you start getting "special" missions and do them in other cities, the quest giver of that city will act as a fence also.

You can also launder stolen items by using Necromancy! If you find yourself with a bunch of stolen items you want to keep or sell, you can kill a bandit, load it's corpse and then resurrect it using a raise zombie spell or its like.

When your spell wears off and the body turns to an ash pile, re-loot it and behold! Not "stolen"! Don't go crazy with this technique cause I did find some ash piles to not be loot-able if you really overload...especially if you try to fast travel after loading your "pack mule" with a ton of stuff.

  • 2
    why did you edit your answer? Does it not work or something?
    – l I
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 4:22
  • I tried this and the items weren't cleansed. I guess it was fixed. Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 11:54

As i have found, selling an item to the merchant and then buying it back doesnt remove the stolen tag. however, there is a glitch which you can use to "refresh" a fence's gold. what you do is you drain him of all his money, save, kill him, and then reload from your save. I play on pc so i find this very quick, as i can use f5 and f9 for quicksave and quickload. As a note, when you kill the merchant, it seems they must "agro" you before dieing, or it will not work. for example, if you kill the fence in the ragged flagon in one hit, she wont start to fight you before she dies (it takes 4 hits or something), when you reload your save, she wont have more money. this way you can sel any stolen goods you have whenever you want without worrying about how much money a fence has.

  • 1
    On PC, an easier solution would be to get a mod that gives merchants more gold. I liked the idea of merchants running out of money but in practice it just annoyed me.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 15:59

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