Close-up view of a selection of different used clothes for men, women and children on the rack in a second hand shop or thrift store

Karl-Hendrik Tittel/istockphoto

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Thrift stores can be hit or miss. One of the big misses: when you see something you love, but there’s a nasty stain on it. If you've ever debated whether or not to buy an item of clothing sporting a huge stain, you're not alone. A number of Redditors discussed this very issue, with some sharing ideas on how you might still be able to save the item.(Note: Many Reddit communities have gone dark in protest over third-party app charges and may not be accessible at the time of this article's publication.)

For one, it seems everyone loves Dawn detergent in all combos for getting tough stains out. One commenter found that equal parts Dawn detergent and peroxide changed the game, calling it "magic." "I have thrifted caps with gross decades’ old sweat stains, and the solution cleans it like you can’t believe. Pure white," says u/starchildx

Other commenters agree that this is their go-to combo. “For anything I think will be tough I make a paste adding washing soda. Incredibly cheap. Incredibly effective. For smell, vinegar, but not with peroxide. Get good vinegar, like 5x concentrated or more at a home repair store. I buy and sell clothing and shoes, and this is pretty much it for me,” says u/redbanner1.

@wornbluesews Attempting to restore this Thrifted Vintage Special Edition Guess Crewneck to near perfect condition 🧼🧼🧼🧼#restoration #clothinghacks #vintageclothes #thriftflip #thriftfinds #thrift #stainremoval #clothingbusiness #trending #secondhand ♬ original sound - Solace Capone

What about when you find an item with ink or marker on it? Redditors suggest hairspray, hand sanitizer, or rubbing alcohol, or just about anything with clear alcohol. And if you are willing to risk buying something with a rust or blood stain (yikes), apply lemon juice and salt and let it sit in sunlight. 

Finally, we loved this idea from a thrift shop pro: Carry a to-go stain remover stick in your bag, and if you find something with a stain, you can use it to see if it will come out before you buy the item. 

Keep in mind, thrift stores generally do NOT clean clothes or other items before they put them up for sale. That stain you're seeing may not be as big a deal once the item is actually washed well. Happy thrifting!

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