Here is what I consider my "thrifter's survival kit." These items are my secret weapons in all of my thrifting adventures.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Original
This is the first thing I reach for when I return home with a thrift haul. You wet it, ring it out really well, and go to town on the grease pen marks, smudges, grime, and stains that riddle used stuff. I have a thrift store near me that is notorious for using Sharpies to price items! What the heck are they thinking using Sharpies?! No need to worry because Magic Eraser removes Sharpie in a snap.
Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner
Because I live in an apartment, refinishing old wood furniture it not an option for me. I rely on this stuff for cleaning and restoring color and moisture to dried out old wood. It's amazing what a little bottle of oils and wax can do to bring life back to distressed wood. Just apply liberally with a soft cloth, let it sit for twenty minutes, then remove and buff with a dry cloth. It's suggested you follow up with Restore-A-Finish, though I haven't tried it yet.
Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser & Polish
This stuff was a miracle discovery for me. It's absolutely essential for removing surface grime and "scratches" from Pyrex, old pots and pans, and vintage dinnerware. Check out what it did to my Pyrex casserole dish. It's easy to use, cheap, and available at most grocery stores. Just wet your dish, apply this liberally, and using water and a sponge work it into a paste. Gently rub until clean, rinse well, then wash as usual. This stuff is abrasive, so be careful and wear gloves when using it.
Goo Gone Spray Remover Gel
What can I say about Goo Gone that the name doesn't imply? It's awesome for removing sticker residue, stuck-on labels, and other mysterious stickiness from vintage items. Just apply to the "goo," let sit for a few minutes, and wipe clean.
Oxiclean Stain Remover
Oh, Billy Mays (RIP,) you really knew what you were talking about with this stuff. I can't even imagine what I'd do without it. If it's vintage and machine/hand washable, Oxi Clean will most likely get it sparkling. I fill my sink with warm water, add a touch of dish soap, and a heaping scoop of OxiClean. I agitate really well, then let my items soak for as long as they need.
When thrifting, the time to buy is when you see it. There is no time to go home and research something when other hungry shoppers are on my tail. I use my phone to look up vintage labels, compare prices online, and find nearby thrift stores I may not be aware of.
Pecard Original Leather Dressing Cleaner and Conditioner
One of my favorite things to bring home from the thrift store is vintage Coach purses. The older, US made ones are to die for in quality and patina. Pecard cleaner and conditioner cleans, restores, and protects leather in one easy step.
Thrifting can be really gross from time-to-time. I keep a pair in my purse to protect my hands from questionable items.
I'd love to hear what you consider your thrifting essentials. Anything I missed?