Thrift stores are my main source of inventory. If you have been following my blog for some time, you know that my main hustle is online selling, mostly of preloved goods. I have been buying preloved clothes, bags, shoes, accessories, and sometimes, even household items and vintage porcelains in the past few years. And over the years of buying and selling, I have learned various ways on how to clean my thrift store finds more effectively.
I’m here to share with you today some tips on how to clean your thrift store finds.
Photo by kemal alkan on Unsplash
How to Clean Garments from Thrift Stores
Start at the Thrift Store
What I mean by this is, when buying clothes at the thrift store, avoid getting clothes with damages and hard-to-remove stains. Sometimes, some stains, regardless of how many times you clean them, will not just go away.
There are so many clothes at the thrift store and they replenish their stocks very frequently. You don’t have to get items that are irreparable or items that are very difficult to clean.
As an online seller, I always check my purchases multiple times before I check them out. This way, I can assure myself that I’m only getting the clothes of the highest quality.
Sort: Color, Brand, and Materials
Once I get back home from the thrift shop, the first thing I do is to sort them.
I sort them by color, brand, and materials.
As I have mentioned in my previous thrifting articles, I don’t buy delicate materials like silk chiffon because they’re very expensive to clean and maintain unless they’re from a well-known designer or unless I like the design silhouette very much.
If there are any designer brands, I will assess if I could wash them together with the other clothes. If I have some doubts that they might get damaged in the process, then I don’t risk it. I just bring them the next day to the dry cleaner.
For the rest of the clothes, I will separate uber-bright colors such as red. Sometimes, they have the tendency to fade in the process or worst, to stain the other clothes.
Once I finish sorting then I will load them to the washing machine.
Washing and Drying
As much as possible, wash according to the care label. This is one reason why I don’t buy delicate materials unless they’re from a well-known designer brand because dry cleaning is a bit expensive. I only buy clothes that can be washed using the washing machine.
Using the Washing Machine
Once I finish sorting them, I load them into my automatic washing machine. I usually start with the dark-colored garments first to save myself some time.
While washing the dark-colored clothes, I soak all the light-colored ones especially the white garments with laundry detergent and color-safe bleach.
When washing my dark-colored thrift finds, I also add a little color-safe bleach diluted in a lot of water. I don’t put the bleach directly into the pile of clothes.
I also put the clothes in laundry mesh bags, to minimize the chance of damaging the items inside the washing machine.
To ensure that all the clothes smell fresh, I also add fabric softeners at the final rinse.
By the way, the washing machine setting is on ‘Delicate’.
I only handwash delicate materials and garments that have the chance to transfer color to my other thrift finds. Since I sell my thrift hauls online, I try my best to improve the condition of my thrift haul finds and avoid as much as I could damaging the items during the cleaning process.
Since I use an automatic washing machine, it drains all the excess water on the last spin. However, it’s not really completely dried out after the cycle so I still hang them out to dry. Here are some tips for drying clothes:
- Shake out Clothes When you Remove them from the Dryer: I only do this to non-delicate materials. Shaking out the clothes removes most of its creases and makes ironing and steaming a bit easier.
- Take advantage of the sunlight: Sunlight does not only make drying clothes so much faster but, also disinfect clothes. I always wash clothes early in the morning so they can have ample time to dry under the sunlight.
- Don’t Use Hangers on Knitwear: Don’t use hangers when drying any kinds of knitwear. It will damage the form of the garment. What I do is I just put them on clothes racks. They do eat a lot of space though.
How to Clean Leather Goods from Thrift Stores
I buy a lot of leather goods from thrift stores, they’re one of the most sellable items on my online stores. Most of my leather goods are bags, clutches, small leather goods, and jackets.
With leather goods, I only buy black leather or any other dark-colored leather goods. I stay away from light-colored leather and delicate leathers such as suede because I find them quite difficult and time-consuming to clean and maintain.
Here’s how I usually clean leather goods that I bought from thrift stores:
Photo by Katja Bayer on Unsplash
Wipe Thoroughly with Damp Cloth
I usually clean my leather goods in the morning so I can air dry them real fast. The first thing I do is prepare a mixture of vinegar and water. I use a vinegar and water mixture to disinfect the item. Please remember to use a damp and not a wet cloth to avoid damaging the leather.
After cleaning it using the damp cloth, I air dry them under indirect sunlight.
Clean Using Leather Cleaner
After air-drying the item, I clean them with a leather cleaner. Please do a small test at the base of your leather bag before cleaning the entire bag. This is to ensure that the leather cleaner will not have an adverse effect on your item. Once I’m done cleaning the item using a leather cleaner, I let it dry again for a few minutes.
Minor Color Retouch and Polish the Hardware
Once they’re dry, I do some minor color retouch by painting some faded parts using leather paint. This is an optional step but since I resell the bags, I try my best to improve the condition of the bags before I post them online. I also clean and polish the hardware using metal polishers/cleaners.
Afterward, I put them outside again to air dry.
Condition the Leather
Once they’ve been through the third air drying stage, I gently wipe the item with a leather conditioner. Since almost all of my leather goods are black, I’m not really that much worried about using almost any kind of leather conditioner.
However, if you are dealing with light-colored leathers, suede, exotic skins, or uber-expensive bags, then PLEASE tread carefully. If unsure, especially for very expensive bags, just bring the bag to a professional cleaner.
After applying the leather conditioner, I let them dry again for some time. Usually, this is the process that takes a bit longer especially if you have applied a substantial amount of leather conditioner.
Once they’re dry, I put them in my storage room that has a dehumidifier to keep them in their best possible condition and to prevent the leather from molding. In case your leather goods have molds, feel free to read my article about How to Clean Molds from Leather Bags and Shoes.
How to Clean Porcelains from Thrift Stores
Photo by Jannet Serhan on Unsplash
Aside from clothes and leather goods, I also buy porcelains from thrift stores, mostly Japanese porcelains. Actually, I’m hoarding most of my purchases LOL! However, I do post some of them online.
When cleaning Japanese porcelains, I usually split my thrift store hauls into two parts – inexpensive ones and potentially expensive items.
Since I’ve been doing this for quite some time, I already have an idea of what the least expensive items are. And, usually, I just clean them using regular dishwashing soap and clean water.
Now, for the items that I think have more value. I usually wipe them with a damp cloth (again, with a water and vinegar mixture) to clean and disinfect them. This is to ensure that I don’t damage the paint job done on the porcelain.
Shopping from thrift stores plays a huge role in my overall goal to be financially independent in the future. Thrift store prices are waaay lower than regular shopping malls and, you have the chance to score authentic designer goods and valuable vintage pieces for a very affordable price if you know what to look for.
By the way, most of the product links in this post are from Amazon, if you’re from the Philippines, feel free to check out Shopee or Lazada for similar products. These are also my affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you use them at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
Do you also shop at thrift stores? How do you clean your thrift store finds? Feel free to add tips and recommendations in the comment section below.
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