thrifting 101: how to clean your finds

Welcome to my fourth installment in my feature thrifting 101: how to clean your finds. This is a great one to tackle because although we can all withstand that lovely thrift smell while at the local thrift store, doesn't mean we want it to come home and live with us! There are a few tricks to getting the scent and wear of "age" out of your just found garments, housewares, and even furniture and no method involves bleach, promise!

#1: Garments. This may be the most important as it travels very near to your skin. For odor create a steam bath of scolding hot water and vinegar. Using a tub or large sink, fill it with hot (very, very hot) water and add 1 cup of distilled vinegar. Hang your garment over the tub/sink and allow the steam to surround the garment and do its magic! Let it hang over night or for at least 4 hours. This technique may always help remove wrinkles and won't harm more delicate fabrics such as silk and wool.
For all clothing wash by hand if you are hesitant about the age, or have it dry cleaned when possible.
What about stains?! If the clothing is WHITE you can use lemon juice and the power of the sun as a natural bleach. (I would be weary of trying this technique if you have silk, pop over to the dry cleaners with this material)
On grease stains use baby powder or flower to soak up the stain, then simply brush off (even silk!). On makeup stains (this is an odd one) white bread rubbed over the stain can pull it out. On perspiration stains (yuk!) make a paste of baking soda and water then brush into the stain and rinse.
When in doubt always head over to your dry cleaners and spend the extra cash!

#2: Housewares. Cleaning housewares is more for sanitation then odor. If you've just purchased a new set of vintage tea cups I would pop those in a lemon bath. The acid is not strong enough to pull color or finish off but it will sanitize. Once soaked for a bit pull out and wash by hand with hot water and soap.
If you've just purchased a round of textiles you will want to not only sanitize but pull out some of those tricky odors. For large rugs or hanging textiles buy a bottle of cheap vodka (no, really!) and a spray bottle. Spray down your new textile and let it dry naturally. The vodka will clean and take that odor out and the smell of the vodka will evaporate when it dries.

#3: Furniture. This is a much easier one! I found that most furniture (ie. coffee tables, bookshelves, dressers) that are made of wood won't retain a smell. Sanding these pieces down and giving them a new stain or fresh coat of paint will take that wear right out of them! If you've purchased a vintage couch or upholstered chair and you are not going to recover, spray them down with vodka like with the textiles. If you are going to recover them, the odor will go away when the fabric comes off.

It is important to keep in mind that although your treasures have with stood time cleaning can be abrasive but always necessary. I've just one installment left: mix + match!

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