Many an article on thrifting advice will advise you to skip the stained, torn, snagged, or otherwise damaged thrift find. In some ways, this makes sense – you shouldn’t let thrift prices (“But it’s so cheap!”) lure you into buying something that is poor quality or damaged beyond repair.
But stains, tears, and snags are often fixable. Can you sew by hand? Great, you can fix that hole in the armpit or along the side seam. Got a crochet hook (or a bobby pin or a tapestry needle)? Great, you can fix the snag in that sweater. Have a box of powdered oxygen bleach? Buh-bye, stains.
Which is what I’m going to show you today.
I present to you this lovely Y-neck tunic by Atmosphere:
It’s made out of the kind of high quality polyester that’s a decent dupe for silk; it drapes well; and it’s a good polished but not uncomfortable blouse for Sunday mornings (aka work).
It came with some sort of coffee-like stain on the hem, front and back:
(It’s a little hard to see; one day I’ll learn to take close ups of stains before I fix them.) I figured someone had spilled on it, washed it, and then donated it when the stain didn’t come out of that first wash.
The Goodwill cashier very thoughtfully pointed out the stain to me and asked if I was sure I wanted to buy it; when I said yes, she replied, “Well, we do have a 7 day return policy if it doesn’t come out.”
O ye of little faith!
Actually, I didn’t know if it would come out, but I figured $6 + the possibility of a return were good odds.
I dumped a little powdered oxygen bleach (I have this brand – not an affiliate link) in a bucket I keep for soaking stained stuff (great for baby/toddler stains!) and added some lukewarm water to dissolve it. Then I stuck the offending hems into the water, draped the rest of the shirt over the side of the bucket, stuck it on top of the washing machine where my kid couldn’t tip it over, and let it sit overnight.
The next morning I checked to see if the stains had disappeared – they had! – and then stuck the shirt in a regular load of wash, taking it out to hang dry as soon as the cycle stopped.
No more coffee stains!
Lest you think this was a fluke, there were also the white shorts that I thrifted knowing they had period stains on them (yes, yes, you may throw up in your mouth a little if that skeeves you out). I applied a paste made of the above-mentioned oxygen bleach + water and let sit overnight, then scrubbed out with an old toothbrush and water. I did that a few times as the stain got fainter; I also let it soak just like I did this blouse and I think that worked better than the paste. Just soak/wash/air dry/repeat until the stain has faded away completely. Hanging to dry in the sun also helps.
Here they are, clean as new:
I can’t say this will work on any/all stained thrift finds; I’m sure some items get donated because their previous owner has already tried EVERYTHING, to no avail. But if $6 of your money is worth the possibility of ending up with an unstained, new-to-you piece you love, give it a try. Especially if there’s a return policy. :)
What minor mishaps have you successfully fixed – and what kinds of defects are you willing to thrift?