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Last updated on May 9, 2021
There are a lot of adventures to be had, but few quite compare to the thrills in finding great treasures while thrifting. Whether they be clothes, trinkets, or vintage tchotchkes, there’s something for everyone in the world of the secondhand.
With so many available options, it’s easy for a person’s mind to run rampant with all the possibilities, but especially if you’re just getting into the game, sometimes it can be hard to tell if something is worth the extra effort it’d take to make it shine again. Below are a few things to consider when treasure hunting on weekends.
Sometimes you find the dress of your dreams hanging on a rack, probably something vintage and beautiful that perfectly hugs your waist and hips — but, dang! There’s a mischievous little stain on the collar. For something so small, it would be a shame to put the dress back, and you begin to wonder what the odds are of removing it. It’s probably safe the say a stain on the collar would likely be food or makeup, though depending on the type, some are best left alone and more of a pain to deal with than they are worth.
The American Cleaning Institute has a long directory of how to remove different stains based on the product spilled, though doesn’t really go into much detail about how to treat different types of surfaces the stains are locked into.
Obviously some fabrics will be easier than other. Leather, faux or real, might only need a damp cloth to remove some suspicious residue, but other more porous fabrics need a little extra care. Compare gives an easy to follow step-by-step guide for removing coffee stains from car seats, where they emphasize dabbing at stains rather than swirling or rubbing them.
Knowing Your Limits
Sometimes when it comes to dealing with stains or other DIY fixes, they might just not be worth the time, effort, or investment into getting them back into presentable shape. In these cases, however, not all hope is lost!
When it comes to that vintage dress you fell in love with, with a sharp eye it wouldn’t be too hard to replace the collar with a new, fresher design, which would even offer opportunities to modernize it with a new color or fun print.
Using covers on old furniture is another way to get use out of a new piece without having to reupholster the entire thing. Repainting small ceramic figurines not only gives them new life, but also offers a fun family or date night idea to share with someone special. Painting old furniture itself can also bring new life into something you might never expect, like using old wooden school lockers in bright colors for kid’s bedroom shelving, rather than the standard bookcases you’d buy in the store. Not only are they whimsical and unexpected, but painting them together would make great memories!
Some thrifting knowledge comes with experience, others are a little more obvious. For example, a tear along a seam is a quick and easy fix — but a tear through the middle of a piece of fabric will be more work than it’s worth, especially if the fabric is smooth and stiff like leather or something similar that you wouldn’t be able to easily hide stitches into.
When it comes to panes of glass in windows, paintings, frames, and so on, you can easily clean smudges and fingerprints from the surface using natural products from around the house, but cracks and scratches are likely there to stay (though they can be covered up!).
While many thrifty DIY projects take time to learn how to do well, of course there’s only one way to learn — and that’s by doing! Don’t be afraid to experiment on fixing tears, on removing stains, or on mixing and matching pieces to make them personal and unique. That’s where most of the excitement from thrifting comes from, after all: finding something old and making it new, unlike anything anyone else has!