The main pitfall that comes with thrifting for vintage finds is the grime, dirt, dust, and stains you have to clean up. I hunt primarily in Florida flea markets where a good vintage find is usually caked in filth and grime! Here's are tools and tips I've learned over the years for cleaning your scores:
1. Test the Stain: Bring a magic eraser, cleaning cloth, and other portable cleaning supplies with you when you thrift and test an item to see if the stain or mark can be removed. If it won't budge, leave it.
2. Let Goo Gone Sit: Goo Gone is a god send for removing the gooey residue stickers and tape leave behind. It works best when you pour an ample amount on the offending goo and let it sit for a few minutes before you wipe it off.
3. Magic Eraser Damage: A Magic Eraser, whether off brand or name brand, is an amazing tool for getting a vintage item to shine like new. The friction can remove stubborn tape residue goo gone won't, but be careful! It can remove the paint from porous surfaces, so test it gently before you scrub away.
4. Give Them a Bath: Many items are so filthy they'll need a few long soaks before you start scrubbing to get them really clean. Don't use too much soap and soak them several times, replacing the dirty water each time before you get into the grooves to tackle the rest of the filth.
5. Leave it Behind: We tend to want to bring home every "project" piece when it's free or next to it. I've learned to leave almost every project piece behind. They're time consuming and often end up cluttering the house for weeks before I get to painting or deep-cleaning them. If you bring one home, get to work on it as soon as you bring it into the house. If you can't dedicate time to it, leave it for the next person.
Favorite Cleaning Tools: I love magic erasers, goo gone, and any brand of cleansing wipes. I feel bad using the wipes but they're convenient when you're dead tired but want to clean your finds fast. They're portable for cleaning finds on-the-go, too.
Final Tip: I get all of my supplies from the dollar store and they last me for months. I don't spend more than four bucks at a time. You don't have to spend a lot to clean your scores, you can even get creative with what you have around the house. All you truly need is a rag and warm water. Retro items are typically scrubbed clean but leave some patina on those antiques, it's what tells the story and draws people to the item!
How do you clean your thrift finds? I'd love to know your techniques!