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!!

GOODWILL OUTLET

June 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Posted in budget, Goodwill, NEAT STUFF, recycle, shopping, thrifting, thrifty, treasure hunting, Vintage | Leave a comment
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So here and there I’ve mentioned Maine’s first Goodwill Outlet called “Buy-The-Pound”. It’s located in the Gorham Industrial Park, off route 25.

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The wonderful thing that differentiates the outlet from the standard gw location is that the more you buy, the cheaper it is! Here is the basic pricing structure:

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If you find something wonderful but unusually heavy (and not cloth), ask an employee for a price. They are super nice. The furniture and appliances usually have a WHITE price tag with the outlet price. If you see a price tag of any other color, just ignore it. Those are the old prices from when they were for sale at the original GW location.

Here is a series of photos taken from the vantage point just inside the entrance looking from left to right.

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The bag bin contains purses, totes, hats, gloves, scarves, belts, and other random accessories.

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There is a set of large double doors at the back of this wall and as they open, you can watch them roll out the newly refilled bins. They emerge to replace a few of the existing long bins every couple hours.

The two bins of each row, closest to the entrance are taken away every couple of  hours. Then the two bins at the back of the row are pushed over to replace the ones toward the entrance. Then they will bring out two new bins to fill in the row. This is important to know because you will want to look through the bins that are about to be taken away. You will also want to pay attention when they start to roll away the “old” bins because, as soon as they are gone, the new “fresh”, refilled bins will be emerging soon!

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There are lightbulbs and empty outlets for you to test anything with a plug. I’ve purchased lamps, a breadmaker, and other items from these shelves and every one of them worked Great!

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This includes toys, pictures, kitchen items, you name it – anything that isn’t cloth.

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Once the bins have been picked over, any remaining pots & pans, rugs, dishes, pictures, books, stuffed toys, and luggage are taken out and put into their respective areas of the store.

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The restrooms have always been neat and clean. You go out the “exit” door into the main part of the warehouse and follow the green and white tape on the floor to find the restrooms.

You’ll notice in this photo that there are several filled shopping carts along the wall. STAY AWAY from them! These are the treasures that other people have gathered. If you fill a cart but have more treasures yet to gather, you park your full cart there so that you can get yourself another one and continue shopping. (Word to the wise…. You may want to cover your full cart with a sheet or blanket so that your treasures don’t tempt anyone. Out of sight, out of mind.)

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(This is one of my fav treasures found there.)

Happy Thrifting!!

Mid-century Modern on the Cheap

June 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Posted in Goodwill, shopping, thrifting, thrifty, treasure hunting, Vintage | Leave a comment
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At one of our recent trips to the local Goodwill Outlet (ours is called “Buy-the-pound” and is located in Gorham, Maine), the girls and I found this mid-century modern bench type couch. It looked very Danish in design. My husband can barely stand all the Mad Men-esque stuff already filling our home so, alas, I had to leave the gorgeous thing at the store.

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*sigh*

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New Windham Goodwill

June 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last week the bigger brand new Windham Goodwill opened its doors for the first time. The old location was small and, except for their books, there was not ever enough space to have much of a selection. The construction of the new location (off of 302 down the same driveway/road that you take to go to Walmart) had me pretty excited all winter in eager expectation of the grand opening!

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So I finally checked it out today for the first time. The floor plan is identical to the fairly new Auburn location. Like the Auburn store, it was well organized, clean, and well lit. However, like most of the Goodwills I’ve been to in the past six months or so, the prices were higher than they really should be. When the sign reads, “Dresses $4.99”, then the majority of the dresses should be that price. Not $7.99, 9.99, and $14.99! Come on now, Goodwill. You get the clothes FOR FREE. Why do you have to be greedy about it?

However, one good thing about a grand opening location is that it is stocked full of the best stuff for at least the first few weeks or so. This means lots of items in like new condition or with the original tags still on them. Normally, if I see an item marked at more than the standard rack price ($4.99), if it isn’t on sale, I just keep on walking. However, today I ended up trying on a few of them and falling so deeply in love that they came home with me. Not all of them, mind you. But several. I found a well made, heavy weight cotton DKNY sundress, tags still on it, that wasn’t see through, can be washed, and fit me like a dream! I’ve been searching recently for a bright white light sweater made of natural fabrics and found a gorgeous cotton one by Bass that was just what I’ve been searching for and was brand new with the original store tags to boot! I found a few other like new quality pieces and some really cute kids clothes (at the standard $1.99 price point Sweet!) for my girls.

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I also found a pair of vintage lace-up shoes that were new old stock. There were a couple of identical pairs with traces of the tissue paper they were wrapped in still on them. I’m guessing they are from the 60’s or early 70’s. Love! I also noticed a large number of pairs donated from L.L.Beans. Typically, GW marks them way too high so I just wait till they go on clearance or end up at the Buy-The-Pound location (more on that later). But I found a pair of kid-leather soft tie up booties that were mistakenly displayed in the men’s section. (Not only do female customers hide shoes in that isle, but there are enough careless/dumb employees who stock women’s shoes in that isle that it is always worth perusing, just in case.) They were brand new but marked a crazy $14.99. I put one on before I realized this and the softness and comfort had already sucked me in. I walked around the store for the next hour or so with that one bootie on one foot and my croc on the other, just to test it out to see if the cushy softness would eventually wear off and dissolve into discomfort. Surprisingly the cushy soft magic didn’t wear off in all that time so I ended up reasoning that I’d never be able to afford those boots, even on clearance outlet prices, if i bought them anywhere else. So with that justification in mind, they also came home with me.

While walking around, I overheard one woman say to her friend, “I’ll be honest with you – I’m not impressed.” I heard this same basic conversation several times. Also, sometimes the people doing the pricing get a little TOO excited when an item still has its store tags. Every so often, you find one that is priced at MORE than the original tag. Tsk, tsk! Shame on you, GW!

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All in all, it was a fun afternoon and I left with quite a bit of stuff I was excited about. I don’t have any plans to rush back there anytime soon. But I did leave with treasures, which IS the real point to a trip to GW, afterall.

Less 365

July 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Posted in CLEANING, family, recycle | Leave a comment
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Could I do it?

I ran across a blog where a man is dedicated to discarding something everyday.

http://www.ydnar.com/2010/07/less-365.html

Actually, what he said was, “Starting July 1, and every day for a year, I will get rid of something. I will donate, discard, re-gift or recycle some bit of debris accumulating in my house. Anything non-perishable considered, exempting books and music.”

In MY house books should definitely be part of the discard. Hundreds of books overflowing bookcases at every turn. Piles of books I intend to read stacked under my bed, in boxes and drawers, occupying every available space in the house! Hoarding runs in my family and all my life I’ve been in love with thrifting and treasure hunting at the local Goodwill store. So I’m sure I cannot avoid those tendencies entirely. I willingly purge every now and again. I even have really organized friends help me purge cupboards and tiny areas of the house. But it seems like every room of the house seems to still have areas that attract clutter like a giant nuclear powered magnet!

I would love to list my treasures and favorite vintage pieces that I’ve found. But then hubby would see it and demand that I return it. Sooo….that is not an option.

But then again, I keep saying that I’m going to start listing some of my extra treasures on my favorite shopping sites, eBay and etsy. For instance, I found a realllly vintage Pinocchio Head Disney Bank. It even has the stopper. I’m not in love with it. I actually bought it with the intention of selling it. I don’t lack for motivation (I need the cash!). But getting started seems like an overwhelming task. Does anyone have any motivation tips that keep things from getting overwhelming?

Goodwill ROCKS

January 2, 2009 at 11:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I got to contribute a little something over at the Goodwill blog as a guest blogger. After reading it through, there are some glaring typographical errors and one or two sentences that sort of make no sense but hopefully no one will look to closely.

Anyhoo…if you want to check it out, it is about thrifting, my second favorite pasttime!

http://www.goodwillnne.org/blog/2008/01/a-lifetime-of-thrifting/

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