Tag Archives: how to

How To Clean Your Thrift Finds

I’ve been working on this post for quite some time now. I’ll probably be adding to it in the future when other item quandaries come about. It’s a helpful aggregation of insider tips and hints about how to clean and care for the items you pick up on your thrifting adventures – Cheers!

You Just Bought: Used CD, DVD, Glass Frame, etc.

Problem: Residual sticker goo from price tags. It’s unsightly, annoying, and the OCD in me needs to get it off of there.

Solution: Goo Gone or (my personal favorite) Lift Off Tape Remover. Both items are pretty nasty chemical-wise, but these two definitely work the best and the fastest. A little bottle goes a long way. Spray a bit onto the gooey area and let it sit for a couple of minutes then with some gentle rubbing it should swipe perfectly clean.

You Just Bought: DUSTY Antiques (Hard wood Furniture, Silverware, Collectibles).

Problem: You want the dust & dirt off. You want the original glory of the item to show through.

Solution: To restore & clean an antique is to get it back as close to original as feasible. Back in the day, there was no such thing as polyurethane, so antique restoration can’t include coating an antique with plastic and have it be the same as original.

RULE OF THUMB: If you don’t need to clean it, then don’t. Most old collectibles are sought FOR the tarnished and beat up look. These items ooze with character and tell a visual story. I personally just use a barely moist cotton cloth to gently clean and dry the items I find, 99% of the time.

– When cleaning old wood furniture, use mild cleaners such as Murphy’s Oil Soap or Prelude.

– When cleaning old toys or antique signage use a clean rag, warm water with a tiny bit of natural or plant-based soap and be sure to dry it thoroughly to prevent further oxidation or corrosion.

– When cleaning antique silverware it’s a step by step process best shown here.

TIP: If there is soil or stains that can not be cleaned by a gentle washing, consult an antique expert before using any type of metal cleaner on your antique. Further cleaning may be possible once the type of metal and value of the item has been determined.

You Just Bought: Old clothing / vintage garments.

Problem: Someone wore them or used them before you. They’re lovely and delicate. But you want them clean.

Solution: If the item is cotton-based such as an old t-shirt or jeans, I just toss them in with a like color and use a gentle natural detergent and put it on the gentle cycle. For a more in-depth look at how to clean some trickier fabrics such as vintage lace, linens, and fabrics, this article here is great.

You Just Bought: Wool Scarf, Blanket or Jacket.

Problem: It’s old but cool, kind of itchy, smells vaguely like an animal shelter.

Solution: If it’s a jacket or cardigan, I usually take it to my local (eco-friendly) dry cleaners. They can get almost anything looking (and smelling) brand new for relatively cheap, less than $10 a garment. “If you can’t beat ’em, re-post ’em.” So here’s a more thorough article on how to care and store various wool garments.

You Just Bought: USED Vinyl Records

Problem: Vinyl is near and dear to audiophiles and collectors like myself. Whenever I move, my collection has been personally moved by myself and rode in the car with me, as if they were my own children. Some vinyl records can be 50 (or more) years old  by now. That means decades of dust, dirt, weather and stacked pile compression have most likely pressed grit into your beloved grooves.

Solution: After I thrift or buy any used vinyl, I take them home and GENTLY give them a once-over with a barely wet cloth, warm water and dry them. One commonly used item that I own is a record brush. Just static alone can attract a lot of dust and icky stuff to your records. I give each record a pass with it before it hits the player and after when it’s about to return to it’s casing. Another way to protect your records are to store them all in the clear vinyl sleeves and to replace the inner paper sleeves. These help keep them fresh, protected and looks pretty nice too. I purchase all my vinyl supplies bulk online here.

You Just Bought: A USED Turntable

Problem: It’s dusty, it’s mod, all the knobs and components are intact  – but does it still work?

Solution: Having recently taken a gamble on a really neat turntable, which I chronicled in a recent post here, I learned that as long as you can get the turntable for a good price, that the most important components on a turntable are replaceable and are fairly cheap to have installed. The two main things you want to have replaced on any turntable is the needle/cartridge (every 2-5 years minimum) depending on the frequency of use. Cartridges can range anywhere from $15 up to thousands. The other component to replace and have professionally calibrated is the belt. This is the heart and drivetrain of any turntable. These wear out and dry out just like the belts on your car or a common rubber band might. Turntable belts range from anywhere from $15 up to hundreds.

You Just Bought: A Used Couch, Sofa, Chair, etc.

Problem: It’s perfect, it’s beautiful, but it’s been someone else’s.

Solution: Personally, I usually just vacuum and Febreze the hell out of used soft furniture items when I acquire them. But I’ve recently found a greener option. A DIY way to make a safer (and cheaper) version of Febreze here.

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How To Donate To A Thrift Store

HERE’S THE DEAL. While doing this year’s Fall cleaning, I amassed a huge box of stuff I didn’t need (and that I felt was worthy enough to donate) and let someone else enjoy. I figured a lot of readers may have never actually donated stuff or were wondering how it works. I made a quick intro video here – just in case you guys missed my ugly mug on camera.

Donating your stuff is really easy. Let’s have a look!

Step 1.) Gather the stuff you want to donate into sturdy boxes or bags. If you have glass or other breakables make sure to clearly mark and pad it accordingly.

NOTE: If you have lots of stuff, are too busy or simply cannot transport the goods to a store location yourself, most thrift stores will send some helpful volunteers with a donation truck to your house to load the goods up for you – AT NO COST TO YOU.

Step 2.) Drive to your thrift store. I usually go on a weekday or a Saturday as a lot of the thrift stores are religion-based and are not open on Sundays (their loss in my book.) The drop off spot usually varies. In my experience, it’s usually in the back or side of the store. If you’re unsure, just go inside and politely ask. They’re glad to take your donations, it’s what keeps them in business!

Step 3.) When you arrive at the “donation zone” there is usually a helper employee there to assist you and take the goods. They’re very helpful and will do all the heavy lifting for you. If they’re not standing there, you can usually knock or ring the bell and someone will assist you.Step 4.) After they take your goods, they’ll sort the goods for you. Most often they’ll ask you if you’d like a slip for a donated goods tax write-off. I usually don’t take it, but I did in this case to show you guys (pictured below). Oh and this time it came with a decent coupon and a punch card! Not too shabby.

Step 5.) You’re done! See, wasn’t that easy? Feel good knowing that your donations will get a second chance in the consumer cycle. Also, most thrift stores are tied to some pretty great charities and organizations. You donate your stuff, get a tax write off, and you appeased the thrift gods with good future thrifting karma!

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How To Save Your Old School Kicks

Written by Jess Burg:

The lovely Jess Burg comes at us with another excellent guest post. How to save your old school kicks. I know that I didn’t know any of these tricks aside from tossing them in the washing machine (which can yield mixed and unwanted results.) Enjoy and show Jess some love!

Thrifting is the cheapest way to find one-of-a-kind old school sneakers. The only problem is that typically they don’t hold up as long. It’s always a sad day when you come to terms with letting go of a pair of beloved kicks. In my days of purchasing old sneakers made in the 80’s and 90’s many of the same terminal issues seem to occur. In one case, the sole of the shoe had fallen off entirely. With many older shoes, the foamy midsole begins to crack and fall apart a little bit at a time. This is why I have done some internet research in an effort to learn any tricks to salvaging and restoring sneakers.

If you find an old pair of Nikes or New Balances that look like they were an awesome pair of shoes it may not be inconceivable to bring them back. It is possible to restore sneakers to an almost “good as new” condition.

Look at how this sneaker head was able to transform these Newbies from “beater” to “beast”. If you are willing to put in the effort you must have patients and be willing to think outside the box.

In case you need some help thinking outside the box, there is a sneaker restoration kit that comes in a box. JGoods Sneaker Restoration Kits, equipped with most of the tools you will need to restore old kicks on a superficial level. It comes with a restoration guide, which I know I would love to page through. This kit is priced at $35.

The kit includes:

The JGoods™ Guide to Sneaker Restoration

  • 12” by 12” white towel
  • Stiff Poly Scrub Brush
  • Melamine Foam Pad
  • JGoods Finish Remover
  • White and Black JGoods Leather Paint
  • One High Quality Paint Brush
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Scourer Sponge

Check out this pair of Jordans from niketalk.yuku.com. This guy restored them using some unconventional sneaker cleaning methods.

Before: Notice the Yellow tint the mesh and soles. After: Wow!

He used Barkeeper’s Friend on the tongue and upper mesh. Black Magic Tire Wet was used to bring out a little more shine on the patent leather. Armor All was used on the rest of the shoe to remove any spots of dirt and maintain plastic material. Finally, Sea Glow with the special blue coloration was used to make dull, yellowed (supposedly ‘white’) plastics snow-white again on the soles.

Cost: $5                                     Cost: $6            Cost: 4 Oz MiniPack (with scuff pad) $15.95

Hopefully this will help you restore some of those thrift treasure finds to as-good-as-new. Us here in the upper-Midwest understand how bad of a beating our kicks can take from the snow, slush, and salty conditions.

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