5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Get Your Secondhand Purchases Clean

published Apr 20, 2017
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(Image credit: Lauren Naimola)

Secondhand goods come with a history and sometimes it’s a dirty one. Before bringing home a vintage chair or dresser from Apartment Therapy Marketplace, take some time to disinfect and deodorize your purchase. These eco-friendly products (some you might already have in your home) are a great way to get your old furniture looking fresh.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You come across a beautiful vintage chair for an even more gorgeous price, but you can’t help but notice the musty smell. Don’t worry. You have a few eco-friendly options to get rid of smells. One product highly touted by our vintage sellers is Bac-Out Fabric Refresher. The organic product gets rid of pet, smoke or musty smells from vintage items. It’s best for fabric items. If you’re dealing with a piece of wood furniture that smells to high heaven, get a few sticks of charcoal. You can place them in the drawers as well as under the item. Give it a couple days and you’ll notice the smells have vanished.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Make sure there are no critters living in your one-of-a-kind dresser. You can do this with the help of a high-heat dry vapor steamer. It’s the strongest weapon in your arsenal against ingrained smells and dust. Start by removing all the drawers and clean the main structure first, before working your way out. A bag-less shop vacuum is another great way to clean dust. Use a soft toothbrush to get dust out of the nooks and crannies by hand.

(Image credit: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

Never underestimate the power of vinegar as a cleaning agent. When used in combination with steel wool and rags, a vinegar and water mixture provides a deep and natural clean to the outer surfaces of unpainted pieces. Use a very fine steel wool like Grade 0000 to avoid scratching the finish. You can find these online or at any hardware store. The vinegar and water mix is a particularly great cleaning solution for raw wood and metal pieces. Cut up old cotton t-shirts and use them to soak up any remaining moisture and dirt.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert | Apartment Therapy)

To add shine and that natural luster to unpainted wood and metal pieces, the experts use orange oil. The non-toxic oil is a great medium, immediately reviving surfaces with moisture and hiding visible scratches. Remember to always test the oil on a spot that is not visible on the piece. Simply apply the oil with a clean rag to the back, if it has the same finish, or to one of the legs to make sure that it is producing the look you desire. On raw wood furniture, you want to use a mix of beeswax and orange oil. The natural wax helps protect the wood from daily wear and tear.

(Image credit: Lauren Naimola)

For vintage rugs, it’s usually best to leave it to the experts to get it cleaned. However if you’re determined to DIY your secondhand find, use a gentle hand. Refresh your rug with baking soda. This household essential is the best tool to absorb oils, grime and odors embedded in your rug. Shake it on, let it sit for a few hours then vacuum or brush it away. If you need something stronger, use a dye-free, non-toxic foam cleaner to shampoo your rug.