Getting Rid of That Thrift Store Smell

June 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Posted in auction, budget, CLEANING, coffee, flea market, Goodwill, NEAT STUFF, shopping, SUPPLIES, thrifting, thrifty, Uncategorized, Vintage | 7 Comments
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If you love thrifting like I do, chances are you will bring home something that has that awful musty smell. Sometimes it’s a book. Sometimes it’s a vintage suitcase. It could be a dresser or other piece of furniture. Mold, mildew, mustiness, cigarette smoke, moth balls, old lady perfume, or someone just used too much fragranced detergent. Whatever the unpleasant smell is, if you thrift, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes that great item from a yard sale, eBay, Etsy, Goodwill, or inherited from your great aunt Sally, just smells BAD. And life is too short to live with bad smells. Ick.

I found some great tips for getting rid of that awfulness. Depending on how powerful the smell is and how saturated the item is, you may need to use more than one of these tips to totally rid it of the funk. I’ve tried a lot of these but a couple were new to me too!

  1. BAKING SODA — This is usually the first thing I try. There is always some in the house and it requires almost no effort. If the smell is in a book, you need to put the book into some sort of container with a lid first. A large cooking pot works. Vintage tins would work too. Leave the book inside the container with an open box of baking soda or put the soda into a small dixie cup next to the book. If the smell is in furniture, you’ll need more than one box baking soda. If it is a dresser, you can use individual open boxes in each drawer or pour a bit into a bowl or small open container and leave it inside the drawer for a few days. Depending on the power of the smell, you may need to leave it for weeks. (If you aren’t going to use the furniture for a while, you just set it up and forget about it for awhile.)
  2. DAMPRID — This product is great for sucking moisture out of the air in a closet or other swampy area of your house. It also works to get rid of smells that are moisture based like mold or mildew. You can usually find it at the dollar store, but if not, you can usually find it at larger grocery stores or Walmart. First clean off any mold or mildew from the surface of the object. Then use the Damprid just like you would use Baking Soda. It’s just a more powerful option which is great if you are impatient like me.
  3. SUNLIGHT — Leaving your laundry out on the line to dry makes it smell great – fresh and clean. This works for musty tablecloths or garments that the previous owner stored in mothballs. I also hate when I buy a piece of clothing and it was washed and dried with WAY TOO MUCH fabric softener. Since I’m allergic to fabric softener and lots of fragrances, this is especially annoying. If you don’t have a clothesline, put the fabric item on a hanger and hang it in the sunshine on a tree or porch railing. As long as air and sunlight can get to it for a large part of the day. Again, depending on the saturation, this could take anywhere from a few hours to multiple days.
  4. PINESOLOkay, personally I can’t stand the stuff. It burns my nose and sinuses and so you’ll never find the stuff anywhere near my house. (the product tagline is “The powerful scent of real clean.”) But some folks swear by the stuff. If you like the smell, more power to you. Folks say that you can water it down a bit and scrub the item with a brush to really get into the crevices. Be sure to let the item dry thoroughly though or you’ll have new smells due to excess moisture. Kinda defeats the purpose if your cleaning method makes things worse.)  So…..If you can stand the stuff, go for it!
  5. COFFEE GROUNDS (or beans) — Personally, I can’t see wasting perfectly good coffee this way but I suppose you could buy a really cheap brand of ground coffee just for this purpose. I would never drink pre-ground coffee. For shame! (yes, I’m a coffee snob) If you’ve ever shopped for perfume, you may have had the salesperson hand you a small cup of coffee beans to cleanse your palette between different fragrances. Same principle.
  6. DRYER SHEETS — Since this is another item I never use due to allergies, it’s not a method I use. Plus, a lot of times they really just cover up the underlying smell. Sort of like spraying “air freshener” after someone stinks up your bathroom. You still have toilet stink but the air freshener fragrance sort of adds to it. In my book this is just worse. Again, you might love dryer sheets and this is the perfect product for you. If so, rub the dryer sheet all over the surface of the item or put the dryer sheet into a closed container with the the item (or inside a drawer) just like the baking soda method.
  7.  SCENTED CANDLE — Basically this is just like the dryer sheet; it covers up the smell but doesn’t get rid of it entirely. You burn a scented candle in close proximity to the item.
  8. LAUNDERING — Don’t underestimate the power of your washing machine. Add Oxyclean (or equivalent) to the wash. It is great for dissolving oils, stains and scents. Just remember NOT to wash the item with your normal laundry. If it requires more than one cycle to rid it of the smell, it can add the horrible smell to the rest of your clothes. I learned this one the hard way. Also, make sure the machine isn’t totally loaded up. The smaller the load, the more effective the Oxyclean is. If running it through your machine isn’t working, you can also dissolve a bunch of the Oxyclean into a large bowl or plastic bucket and then add the item. Let it soak for a few hours or days, depending on how bad it is. Oxyclean is seriously my best friend. It rocks.
  9. HOT MILK – Some people say this works like baking soda to absorb bad smells. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to waste the milk. That stuff costs more than gasoline!
  10. VINEGAR — You can add vinegar to your regular wash and it will act like dryer sheets to make your stuff softer. But the vinegar smell doesn’t always wash out so this isn’t a method I usually use. Vinegar cleans all kinds of stuff. It gets rid of water scale in your coffee maker or funk in your dishwasher. But again, you have to rinse it SO MUCH to get rid of the vinegar smell. I used it to clean a coffee maker once and mistakenly made coffee thinking the vinegar smell was gone. SO GROSS. It seriously takes a lot of rinsing. Other folks say you can but heated up vinegar nearby the object to absorb the smell. I’m just not a big fan of vinegar smell so….yeah, it might work if you aren’t lazy like me. Okay, enough about vinegar.
  11. MURPHY’S OIL SOAP – This is great for cleaning musty furniture. And it smells a heck of a lot better than nasty ol’ Pinesol. Just spray it on or dunk the item in a bucket of the diluted soap (same mixture that you’d use to clean a hardwood floor). Then just give it a really good scrub.
  12. ENZYME PET SPRAY – The sprays that you use to get pet urine smells and stains out of fabrics or hard surfaces also works to rid the item of other smells. It can cost a bit (I get mine really cheap at Big Lots or a local salvage store) but you can’t beat it for speed or easiness.
  13. RANDOM OTHER STUFF — Other folks swear by this other stuff but since I’ve never tried them, I can’t attest to how well they work. If you try one of them and it works out, lemme know! TEA TREE OIL, CARPET FRESHENER, ACTIVATED CHARCOAL (or charcoal for barbecue grills), WADDED UP NEWSPAPER (changed daily), KITTY LITTER, PAINTING IT WITH HEAVY PRIMER, VANILLA EXTRACT, CEDAR CHIPS (the kind from the pet store for the bottom of cages is an inexpensive source), BORAX, BLEACH (using bleach scares me because I’ve ruined lots of stuff because I didn’t add the right ratio of water), TILEX, VODKA (seriously? $$$!), LEMONS, APPLES (sliced), POTATOS, and BARS OF SOAP.

If one method isn’t working or you don’t have the patience to let that method work it’s magic, try another. I’ve been told that TIME rids all things of smell but I’ve never found this to be true. The quicker you tackle the smell, the less chances you have of it migrating to other stuff.

HAPPY THRIFING!!

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If I just had a ……. I could…..

February 14, 2011 at 11:02 am | Posted in addiction, goals, hoarding, selling, thrifting, treasure hunting | 1 Comment
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Okay, I’m a borderline hoarder. Yes, it’s true.

Do I save garbage? No. Do I keep things that I will never use? No. If I see something awesome that is vintage do I take it home with me? Yes, almost always.

And therein lies the problem. I have yet to really get my ebay/etsy business off the ground. I have LOTS of merchandise. I have set up the accounts. Now I just need to get busy photographing and listing. Sounds easier than it is. VERY time intensive. And I keep thinking that IF I COULD JUST GET ORGANIZED then I could start. The trouble is, I’m perpetually disorganized.

So here’s what I’m thinking…. If I could list at least one thing a day, I could eventually get it all done. So I think that is what I’m going to do. One thing a day… sounds do-able right?

ETSY

January 18, 2011 at 11:20 am | Posted in goals, selling, Travel | Leave a comment
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Well, so far I have accomplished (sort of) one of my goals. I set up my etsy account. I listed a single item. I think I will focus my next efforts on listing the hundreds of books I have on either alibris or etsy or ebay or….whatever. I will get them listed SOMEWHERE and out of my house! They are everywhere! Yikes.

My biggest news though is a trip to California planned for late April into early May. My folks will be celebrating their 40th Anniversary and they want all their kids back together for it. This is no small feat considering we are spread all over the continent at this point. Three siblings scattered around California, me in here in Maine, and one newly relocated to Montreal. That’s a lot of miles!

My favorite part of planning a trip is deciding what to pack. Even though I have months to go, I already have my packing list pretty much completed. I want to fit everything into a carryon since the airline is going to charge us $25 to check EVEN ONE BAG. You suck, airlines. The tickets were a really good price (that my amazing sister plunked her credit card down for, thank you!!!) but they really stick it to you in the luggage dept. So here is my packing list so far:
talk to autumn about afternoons for bella and charlie
GET PASSPORTS!!!

CA PACKING LIST fit all into carryons (mail the rest?)
————————

MY BAG & CUPPY’S BAG

Watercolor or blank journal Notepad
Set of watercolors
1 paint brush
6 pens
Glue Stick
2 highlighters
watchtowers, bible, songbook, bookstudy book
2 weeks of pills + bottles
vitamins, musinex, restaysis
makeup + brushes
travel  wipes
?travel size makeup remover?
?1 nailpolish?
potty wipes for cuppy
1 pair of glasses (vintage?)
2 necklaces, 3 earrings
via packs, chips, snack bars, chocolate
1 headband, 2 hair clips, 1 comb
NO HAIRDRYER OR CURLING IRON
postcard stamps, list of addresses in phone
2 novels, 1 vintage magazine
List of places to go (flea markets, vintage shops)

LAPTOP
Camera + extra battery
Ipod + headphones + usb cable (to recharge off of laptop)
Cell phone + recharger + car charger

6 panties
4 bras – one black, one white, 2 strapless
2 tights + 3 socks
2 leggings
one sleeveless dress (black?)
no sleeve shirts/ modest tanks
1 or 2 tunic short dress/shirt (pink vintage mini dress)
2 sweaters (black linen chicos jacket)
3 fun skirts for meetings or play
1 pencil skirt
1 pair of jeans
2 pairs pjs
1 belt
1 other pair of shoes (pink dr. martins)
extra collapsible duffle
Vintage purses for girls in the family
tshirts for justin
————————————————————-

wear on the plane—
long baggy skirt, bulky wedge shoes, heavy sweater with buckles
1 leather jacket (blue?), one thin long scarf

———————–
Cuppy’s bag — two barbies, two small stuffies, eye cover, 1 colorbook, crayons, snacks

Cute frilly skirts for meetings or play
3 pjs
7 panties
1 long heavier sweater for her to wear on the plane

Goal for 2011 — GET OFF MY BUTT!

December 31, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Posted in exercise, goals, organizing, selling | Leave a comment
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My Goals for 2011…..

1 ) Getting my etsy.com shop off the ground. That will include properly setting it up with a kitschy banner and deciding whether to open another account that sounds more vintage related rather than use the name of the account that I’ve used for years to purchase from them. The advantage to using the current etsy ID would be taking advantage of all the good feedback I’ve accumulated. The downside would be that it wouldn’t be linked to anything and there is a possibility that no one would see it as a legitimate business and possibly not be willing to shell out their hard earned money to someone with no feedback. Tricky decision. Any thoughts?

2 ) Reestablishing my eBay selling account. I hate using them to sell stuff because they charge for each little photo and you have to pay through the nose to set up each item for sale and then they charge you another percentage when you sell it and then paypal takes a cut of that too. It’s ridiculous!!! Thus the need to FIRST set up the etsy account whose fees are much more modest. Plus I wouldn’t be pandering to the big eBay corporation. Hate those guys.

3 ) EMPTY OUT my dining room. All the great items I’ve accumulated over the last six months or so have taken up residence there in totes and boxes and teetering piles. It looks like a hoarders paradise. Not cool. Every so often I empty the room out and the dining table becomes usable again. That needs to happen like yesterday. You have to step over and around stuff just to get through the room to the other side. Again, not cool.

4 ) List my bazillions of books on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc (using alibris.com). A lot of the stacks of boxes in the dining room (spilling over into the back of the livingroom) are full of books that are just waiting for their chance to shine online and get snatched up. I’ve got some really great ones in there! I read today that these winter months are the best time to list books because everyone wants to snuggle up with a good book when it is cold outside. GOTTA GET A MOVE ON THINGS if these books are going to see the light a day!

5 ) And last but not least, I need to get up and get moving around. After hearing so much about Zumba and what fun it is to jump around and do latin dance moves (yes, I was sucked in by an infomercial) I decided that this would be the perfect exercise program for me. I get the most accomplished around the house when my headphones are blasting in my ears (like now, for instance). The music is my best motivation. Now if those dvds could just somehow magically get out of their cases and into the dvd player (which requires changing settings on four different boxes using three different remote controls — the humanity!!), I might actually watch them! (inferring that I would also be following along and exercising)

Too Much Inventory!

December 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So I have boxes and boxes of books to list online. I have boxes and boxes of vintage items to list on ebay and etsy. Does anyone have tips for getting motivated and getting started? I sold on ebay years ago. I set up a selling account on alibris. Now where do I find the fire to get my butt in motion?
Help!!

Thrifty Treasure Everywhere

August 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Posted in auction, budget, chinese, flea market, lion, thrifting, thrifty, treasure hunting, weekend | 2 Comments
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First off, let me clarify about my no-shopping-for-two-weeks rule. I am given a weekly budget for ALL expenses. This includes groceries, fast food, clothes for the kids, EVERYTHING. I’m allowed to spend that budget amount however I see fit. The no-shopping rule applies to spending money over and above that shopping amount. It might sound easy. Heck, for most people, it probably is. For me – not so much. To give you an idea of how hard this is, I had this terrible dream last night that I was flying to France at the last minute and only had the money (the actual money) in my coin purse to spend once I got there. No credit card. No way to get around. And my daughter was with me and I was trying to get my dad to pay for her ticket and passport. I was panicked because I was so tired and unable to think clearly and also because I didn’t have a backup plan or a credit card. Okay, I know that sounds dumb. But that is what my nightmares usually consist of. Either trying to pack up my valuables and escape somewhere or shopping and not having enough money or time. I’m weird like that.

ANYHOOOoooo…..so this weekend, I redeemed my recyclables and took my two daughters (armed with their saved up allowances) to a local ‘flea market’. It isn’t like your normal, every day flea market. It is populated by a handful of old ladies and gentlemen raising money for their bingo clubs or grandchild’s schools and who charge 25 cents for everything (mostly). There is of course, always that one granny who thinks that everything they own is treasure and who want 15$ for each item. (We don’t shop at their tables.) Since we went in the afternoon, they were willing to give us deals on top of their great prices to get rid of things. And on the way home, I stopped at a couple of yard sales that were just wrapping up as well. I know the best stuff is what you find before anyone else gets there. But if you go at the end, you get everything for almost free which is a thrill and a half!

BUT we got tons of treasure! My oldest spent 4$ and picked up this giant vintage barbie airplane with wings that fold up and let the thing turn into sort of an RV. Very cute but giant. She’s still not sure where she is going to store the thing. It is three feet long and a couple feet wide. Alas, that is one lesson that needs to be learned when thrifting. Is it really a bargain if you have no place to put it? My youngest bought herself some plastic adjustable roller skates for a dollar and some matchbox cars that the seller threw in for free with my purchases.

I got an awesome piece of red vintage Samsonite luggage for 2$. The closures are really interesting and took me a few minutes to figure out because they spin instead of moving right to left. I got a really cool straw picnic basket for a quarter. I got some vintage patterns (free), some large mats for framing (free because they were grouped in with other things that I got for a price of a couple dollars), a vintage aluminum pan with copper lid, lots of bits and baubles, some vintage books and romance booklets (gorgeous pictures which I will use for a mixed-media piece if they aren’t particularly valuable otherwise), and a whole lot of flotsam and jetsam. Here are a few photos….

As you can see, even though I don’t celebrate Xmas, I picked up some adorable little vintage tree decorations. I like to hang them on the curtains in the kitchen or art room for a little color. Maybe I will sell them on Etsy or eBay. Not sure yet. Sometimes I just see something shiny and like a magpie, I have to bring it back to my nest.

Here’s a closer view of the little baubles. The stack of plates are made of bamboo and printed with Chinese works of art. Normally I avoid anything ‘made in china’ but they seemed sort of fragile and old and had a vintage quality about them that made me think that they likely weren’t manufactured in this century. The little green lion has holes in the top for either flower stems or pens and drying paintbrushes. Not sure which he was created for or where he will end up . He just seemed so cute and cartoony. The little reclining Asian statue was adorable. I need to do some research on her. She ran me a whole 50cents. I try to only bring things home that I wouldn’t mind keeping for myself in case I can’t sell them.

Honestly, I haven’t sold anything online in a couple of years. I used to be quite savvy. Besides http://www.etsy.com and http://www.ebay.com, are there any places that you like to shop or sell for vintage goodies?

I ran across a couple of sites today that piqued my interest. One is www.boocoo.com which is an auction site where the money goes to charity. The other is Ruby Lane which is populated by individual vintage shops. I bookmarked them both for further investigation. I stumbled upon the Ruby Lane one while researching a set of tiny pretend plates or coasters (not sure which) that are tin, made in Brazil and have the maker name that I need to dig out a magnifying glass to read because it is printed so small. It is is Meister or Meisler and has little pioneer families on them. Dutch maybe? not sure. In the pictures below, it is the tiny plate on top of the odd shaped Denmark (“Danmark”) plate. If you know about either of them, please let me know.

I also got some utensils with neat wooden handles (Scandinavian of some flavor), some books, an L.L.Bean Red Barn coat for a dollar, a multi-level corner shelf for 5$, an adorable winter dress for my youngest for a dollar that is red with ‘doggies’ along the bottom, some metal leaves that hang on the wall, a leather, fabric lined clutch, and some other little things.

Afterward, my husband was frustrated with me for not saving my 12$ of recycling money for my upcoming trip to Boston. But considering the hours of fun that I had with my girls, I think that 12$ was VERY well spent. *smirk*

(Click them for a closer look )

vintage romance booklets

Day 3… and counting

July 30, 2010 at 11:41 am | Posted in addiction, Goodwill, Gymboree, Starbucks, thrifting, treasure hunting | Leave a comment
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So here’s the deal. The first step to solving a personal problem (especially when that problem is any form of addiction) is to admit that you have a problem.

So I admit I have a problem.

I love to shop. It doesn’t matter if it is at the grocery store, Goodwill, the dollar store, Marshall’s, or Macy’s (I really don’t like Macy’s). As long as there is treasure to be had, it is an adventure that calls my name like a sweet siren of the sea.

I consider myself a ‘thrifter’ and a bargain hunter. But the sad fact remains, if I find treasure, my pulse races and I get SUCH a gush of serotonin.

I’ve decided not to buy anything for two weeks, as a show of faith to my husband that I’m really going to get this addiction under control and not throw our financial lives under a bus. So this is day three of my two weeks. I will admit that I did buy a single song on itunes yesterday. I stopped at that one song (that I’ve been trying to find the name of for weeks). ITunes tried to tempt me with lots of other cool songs that they recommended to me that yes, I will likely also like. I also wrote down songs from a movie soundtrack that I watched, but I put the list away for another day instead of bringing up iTunes and immediately downloading them.

I also resisted the temptation of using my own personal SPECIAL discount at Gymboree if I hustle on down there by Sunday and buy more school clothes at a huge discount off of even sale merchandise prices. (I love how rugged their clothes are and my daughter loves how everything matches everything else.) I have resisted buying more on Sephora even though they are currently running a special on my favorite mascara. I resisted the fabulous items found on etsy while researching a price and potential history of an item that I currently own and am thinking of selling. I also resisted purchasing more neat vintage stuff when researching “Mid Century Modern” on eBay. There is just so much treasure to be had everywhere I turn! And don’t even get me started on the special deal that Starbucks is running. If you buy VIA in a 48 pack on their website, it is only 34$! That is an excellent bargain!

So far, with exception to these online bargains that I am turning away from, I haven’t felt too deprived so far because past purchases have still been arriving in the mail over the past couple of days. My last Sephora purchase came an hour ago. The sound of the UPS truck engine slowing down in front of my house is music to my ears! It means that there will be a present arriving for me at any moment! It gets my pulse racing every time I hear it….even when I’m not at home. How sad is that?

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