6 Tips for Cleaning Thrifted Clothes & Shoes

Now that you have gotten a few thrifting adventures under your belt and have found some amazing pieces, your wondering how to clean them and make them like new. Of course, the obvious answer is to wash them; but a simple washing doesn't always do the trick. At times you might come across a stubborn stain or a strong fragrance smell that just won't go away. Here are a few tips to follow that can help.

Read Labels

Before washing any garment make sure you read the labels to see the do's and don'ts on how to care for it.

Unpleasant Smells

To get rid of any unpleasant smell add vinegar (white only) to your laundry. Add a cup or two depending on the load size to your normal wash routine. The vinegar will eliminate the smell completely. Another product to use for unwanted smells is baking soda. Baking soda is a natural order neutralizer and all you need to do is sprinkle it on the piece of clothing that has the smell. Let it sit for a while in order for the baking soda to absorb into the fabric; then toss it in the wash.

Tough Stains

Some thrifters will pass up great finds due to a stain, because they have no clue on how to get it out. When taking on tough stains the real work takes place before the items are put in the wash. Pre-treating the stain is essential to getting the stain out. Soaking the item in detergent will help in loosing up the stain. For garments that are sensitive/delicate use a softer detergent such as Dreft or Woolite. Once pre-soaking is done, the stain should come off easily once in the wash.

Dry Clean

Simple tip, if you come across something that needs to be dry cleaned, Then have it Dry Cleaned. Don't try and wash it; you are taking a risk on ruining the item permanently.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Shoes

Shoes are the one item that people have the biggest phobia about when thrifting. They do not like the fact that they have been worn by someone else before. But when you look at it, when you buy shoes from a retail store and try them on, others have already tried them on as well (just saying). I am here to tell you that you're missing out. You can find great quality shoes in excellent condition for a fraction of the price. Once you clean them and disinfect them, they will be good as new. The easiest way to disinfect a secondhand shoe is by wiping the inside down with a disinfectant such as Clorox or Lysol. This will assist in killing any germs or bacteria that may or may not be present. After that, you can spray a fabric refresher inside to give it a fresh smell, or add dryer sheets and let them sit inside the shoe until you wear them.

Now that we have the inside smelling fresh and clean, it's time to give the outside of the shoe some love and all you need is a banana peel. Banana peels are perfect for shining shoes and getting rid of scuff marks. When I was looking for ways to shine shoes, banana peels came up and I was skeptical; but it works. Just, use the yellow side of the peel and rub the entire shoe, once completed take a cloth and wipe the shoe of any residue. This trick works great for shoes that are real or faux leather.


Heat is another source that assists in sanitizing secondhand clothing. After washing, if the piece can be put in the dryer then do so, if it can't and it has to air dry, then make sure you iron it or steam it once it dries.

If you have any special cleaning tricks for secondhand clothes and shoes please share in comments below!

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