How to clean and restore thrift store finds, so you can LOVE them without buyer's remorse.
We've all been there. You're scouting out items at the thrift store or at an estate sale and you come across an item that you would love to take home. If only it weren't in such bad shape.
- A wooden cutting board that has seen a few too many blueberries.
- A silver tea pot that has been exposed to the elements since before Kennedy was President.
- A gorgeous linen pillowcase with the most intricate embroidery work, but looks as if Lady Gaga has been removing her makeup with it.
I've been there.
I've let things sit on the thrift store shelf, instead of taking the chance to bring them home. ((Hangs head in thrifting shame))
I can't help you with restoring the elastic straps on that old bra you found at Goodwill (why do they put that stuff on the shelf?), but I've collected some tips from around the web on the best ways to clean thrift store finds that you actually should be buying.
Tips To Clean And Restore Thrift Store Finds:
How To Restore Copper
Do you have any idea how many vintage copper canister sets I have bypassed at the thrift store because they were so ugly? Ugh, I wish I would have known this secret before now!
Martha Stewart has an amazingly simple way for How To Clean And Polish Copper.
Now to just invent a time machine, so I can go back in time and pick up all those vintage copper canisters.
How To Refresh Cutting Boards
Cutting boards are a mainstay of vintage and farmhouse kitchen decor and you can find some pretty cool ones at the thrift store. BUT (that's a big but too) they are normally all gnarly, discolored and not too appetizing.
Gina at Shabby Creak Cottage shows you How To Revive Old Cutting Boards.
How To Clean Silver
I have a slight problem with over-buying silver at the thrift stores, but I also have a slight problem with laziness and thus leaving it in its "natural tarnished state". But oh, that catches up to you real quickly and then you have to either clean it or watch it pit.
Who knew there was a very simple way to clean silver. And it's natural too . . . as in none of that nasty paste stuff that gets all over your hands and under your fingernails!
I wrote a whole tutorial on it HERE - Clean Silver With Baking Soda And Aluminum Foil.
How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet
I love the idea of using a cast iron skillet. It's all Little House On The Prairie meets Martha Stewart. And I see plenty of them at the thrift stores, but just always imagined all the elbow grease involved in cleaning them up.
Jessi at Practically Functional has a great tutorial on How To Clean & Season A Dirty Or Rusty Cast Iron Skillet. It's easier than you think.
How To Clean Vintage Linens
Heather at The Sewing Loft Blog has some simple tricks to bring vintage linens back to life in her post called Vintage Fabric - Reclaiming And Cleaning.
How To Restore Vintage Bakelite
A reader tagged me in a facebook post where she had purchased a very cool old coffee urn with Bakelite handles, but wasn't sure how to make the Bakelite shiny again. I referred her to Retrofixes' (love that name) tutorial for Restoring Vintage Bakelite.
And there are so many things that were made with Bakelite that you probably never thought of. Like old Brownie cameras, ViewMasters, jewelry. It's all over the place and needs a little love every now and then (don't we all?).
How To Clean A Vintage Suitcase
There is nothing more disappointing than spying a gorgeous leather suitcase at the thrift store and then opening it up to get a whiff of someone's old socks and underwear.
Seriously though, a lot of old suitcases were stored either in the attic or the basement and neither are good places if you want to stay away from mold and mildew.
But no worry, you can get rid of the stench and live happily ever after with your find in my post titled How To Clean A Stinky Vintage Suitcase!
How To Clean And Remove Stains From A Cast Iron Sink
Tara at Grandma's House DIY shows how she cleaned up and restored a cast iron sink. A VERY nasty cast iron sink at that!
Have I missed anything?
What tips would you give for restoring thrift store finds?
And guess what? It's Thrifty Style Team day, so head on over and see what the other thrifty girls have for you!
If you liked this, you may also like:
Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips
Tips For Shopping Flea Markets, Festivals & Fairs
Great information to have, so Imma-gonna-pin-it.
Imma-gonna-thank-you then 🙂
FLORENCE @ VintageSouthernPicks
Very helpful & practical info! Can't wait to explore those links. Thanks for doing this round-up Pam. Pinned
You are welcome!!! And thanks for pinning!
Great tips and resources, Pam! Thanks for sharing them with us 🙂 Pinned & Facebooked--
Thank you Diana!
How about hints on getting musty book smells out?
Oh, that's a good one! I'll look around and see what I can find on that one!
Thank you for all the tips. I definitely can use them.
Kris @ Junk Chic
I am so pinning these cleaning tips. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much for putting these tips in one place! I can use ALL of them! Pinned.
useful tips and hints... i liked the one about cutting boards.
Before I forget: My wife and I were binge-watching Frankie and Grace (Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda) through Netflix by mail. We don't live-stream. We loved it and can't wait until we can keep up with it.
Love the shape of that tea pot.
We had to get the mothball smell out of a dresser. My wife took the drawers and laid them out in the back yard when we were getting lots of sun and heat. (Now it's raining off and on and will be until about a week from now.} I have a entry table that smells either like insect killer or oily tools. I can't figure out which. So, it needs a good cleaning and sanding down a drawer so it fits. I hope we get the odor out of that one.
Oh, I loved Frankie & Grace!!! I hope they're making another season! My problem with binge watching is I watch then too fast and then have to wait another year for new episodes. Or, I watched the series called Girlboss about a girl who makes a killing on ebay by selling vintage clothing and then right after I finished watching the 1st season they announced they weren't making any more seasons!!!
I have been enjoying Lily Tomlin since Rowan and Martin's Laugh In. Her characters are a hoot — Justine the telephone operator (Is this the party to whom I'm speaking?), little Suzanne on her big, big chair (That's the Truth, then "raspberries"), and I love her in her new role as Frankie. Maybe you're not old enough to remember Laugh In? I love whatever she does because of her great personality.
And, Jane Fonda...The whole family has always been a part of me, having a first name of Fonda! It's the first thing people say to me when they learn my name. Either Jane or Henry, depending on how old they are, and I say don't forget about Peter, the less popular child of Henry. Jane and Henry were great "On Golden Pond". I don't remember what else she did, but there are other things out there, I'm sure.
I am interested in the info on cleaning old bedspreads and linen. You gave what was suppose to be a link but isn't. All the other links in this article are a different color and underlined. Please send me the link. Thanks in advance!
Thank you for mentioning that! I've fixed it now, but the link is http://thesewingloftblog.com/clean-vintage-fabric/ .
Great tips Pam! I need to clean some silver, so I'll have to save this. Pinning!
Great collection of tips here Pam! Thanks for compiling them all 🙂
Pam - any tips on cleaning vintage glass pieces? I have a butter dish (yes, with a top thanks you!) that is all cloudy looking. I have used the eraser also soaking in vinegar, etc. and nothing has worked well. Would definitely be interested in your take! Thanks. Maybe a topic for a post if you have some great ideas for such things?
Vicki and Jennifer 2 Bees in a Pod
This is fantastic information! We especially need the info about linens - we are always too afraid to take a chance. Thanks so much for creating a post with everything in one place!
I can't find out "How to clean copper". The link doesn't take you to the info.
Thank you for pointing that out! I have fixed it now. It appears the other site isn't working like a legitimate site anymore, so I linked to Martha Stewart. You know her site's not going anywhere soon.
Can you please do a tutorial on how to restore a cane or wicker chair? I'm so addicted to your restorations!! Or send me the link if you have already done one! Thank you 😊