How to Clean Thrift Store Finds

From shoes to books, we’ve got you covered!


Wipe the inside and outside with Clorox wipes. For suede and leather, use a special shoe cleaner. Spray the inside with Lysol. Use Goo Gone to wipe the soles to get price tags and gunk off. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove marks on leather shoes including the pricing on the sole.


For soft furniture use a cleaner from a local furniture store or make a homemade concoction of vinegar, soap, and warm water. Put it in a spray bottle and scrub. Use the suction hose on a wet/dry vacuum to suck the water up. The most effective way to clean soft furniture is to rent a steamer form a local hardware store so that you can steam your purchase. The Bissell Little Green cleaner is also a fantastic appliance to keep on hand if you thrift a lot.

Plastic Toys

Use acetone or alcohol to get the marker price tag off plastic toys. Spray with a baby-safe disinfecting spray. If the toy fits and it’s safe, wash it in the dishwasher.


Wash according to the care label. If possible, use hot water whenever you can. You could also add vinegar to the last rinse cycle to get any “thrift store smells” out. Use laundry sacks for delicate items and dry clean when needed. Hand wash with hot soapy water for items that can’t be washed in a washing machine. Use Tide spot cleaner for quick spot cleaning. Place items in the dryer to disinfect them. We’ve even seen some people put wool sweaters in the oven or freezer.


Wipe the exterior or pages with Clorox wipes.

Stuffed Animals

Thrift stores sterilize items with the same chemical that exterminators use. However, I still avoid purchasing stuffed animals that I can’t clean in a washer. For other stuffed animals, place the stuffed animal in a laundry sack and wash and dry on regular cycle.

Costume Jewelry

Use a jewelry cleaner (they are inexpensive at drugstores) and use rubbing alcohol to disinfect earrings.


Run through the dishwasher if possible. If not, wash in hot water. If the marker doesn’t come off in the wash use a Clorox wipe to rub it off. Use Goo Gone to remove stickers.


Wipe items like frames or games with disinfecting wipes. Throw items like vases in the dishwasher or hand wash if possible!

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