Top 5 Stain Removal Hacks for Selling Thrifted Clothing on eBay

Stain removers thrift store clothing
Different stains require different kinds of cleaning products. Getty

Selling clothing on eBay can be a profitable niche. Pre-owned clothing is easy to find to resell. Most people only wear a small percentage of the clothing in their closets, so one place to start finding items to sell on eBay is in your own home. Another place to find used clothing is thrift stores. Most of the merchandise in thrift stores is about 75 percent clothing. Unfortunately, pre-owned clothing can have slight defects, like stains.

But not to worry! Thanks to laundry hacks and the never-ending stream of new laundry products, there is usually a way to remove common stains from clothing so that you can turn them into cash on eBay.

Removing Ring Around the Collar

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will remember the old commercial about Wisk from the 1970s about ring around the collar. "Those dirty rings. You've tried scrubbing and soaking. And you can still come out with ring around the collar!" Bleach usually isn't the answer and it can weaken and damage fabrics if used repeatedly or in large amounts. Try this mixture:

  • 1 T baking soda
  • 1 T hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 T liquid detergent (like Tide or Cheer)

These ingredients will create a paste. Lay the shirt out flat on a towel in case the solution soaks through. Apply mixture to the stained area vigorously with a toothbrush. Let sit for 4 hours. Next, soak the shirt in a laundry sink in warm water for 4 hours.

This is so the collar isn't noticeably whiter than the rest of the shirt. 

Removing Yellow Arm Pit Stains

Underarm stains and ring around the collar are usually thought of as a men's shirt problem, but you may also find this on women's blouses, t-shirts, tops, and even dresses. The problem is that the stain may not just be sweat, but the result of some deodorants that contain aluminum.

(Luckily, there is a moment for aluminum-free deodorants because they also have health implications.) Obviously, you want to avoid buying clothes with stains, but if it is a high-end brand like Diane Von Furstenberg, Eileen Fisher, or Anthropologie, it may be worth some work to remove the stain and resell. Try tis home remedy for removing underarm stains:

  • 1 T regular table salt
  • 1 T hydrogen peroxide
  • 1T vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Mix the vinegar with 2 cups warm water and soak the entire garment for 30 minutes. Mix the remaining ingredients to form a paste. Squeeze most of the water out of the garment, and lay flat on a towel. Spread the paste on the stains and let sit for at least 30 minutes, longer for tough stains. Launder the shirt as normal. Repeated treatments may be needed for tough stains.

Remove Ink Stains With Hair Spray

First of all, don't rub the stain with any cleaner. This usually causes it to spread. Hairspray contains a chemical that causes ink to dissolve. Simply spray the stain with hairspray until it is saturated. Dampen a cloth with warm water and start blotting. Repeat this process until the stain is gone. 

Remove Thrift Store Grease Pencil From Clothing Labels

We all hate those grease pencils!

While it is easy to remove from hard goods like glass, ceramics, porcelain, plastic and wood with Goo Gone, grease pencil can be difficult to remove from fabrics. Thrift stores are famous for writing prices on the garment labels — which is not good for and eBay seller's business. Try these strategies to remove grease pencil from fabric:

  • Nail polish remover: Apply to a cotton swab and gently dab on the tag.
  • Hand sanitizer: This contains alcohol and is easier to work with than liquid rubbing alcohol. Use a cotton swab to work the stain out.
  • Goo Gone: apply to a cotton swab.
  • Toothpaste with peroxide: the peroxide is a whitening agent.

Removing Food Stains

Food stains can be tricky because all foods and beverages have a different PH and require different remedies. Here are a few common situations if you can tell what the stain is:

  • Coffee and tea: soak in undiluted vinegar
  • Chocolate: rub undiluted laundry detergent into the stain
  • Berries or juice: pour boiling water over the stain then soak with lemon juice for 15 minutes
  • Grease: apply a small squirt of clear dish soap and let sit for 15 minutes

Prepare Your Stain Removal Arsenal

"Used things" often means "dirty things." Even with close inspection in a thrift store, you may not see a stain on an item until you get home. Or, you may be at a bag sale or shopping at the Goodwill Outlets, and not have time to inspect each individual item. The best defense against stains is a good offense. Here are some great products to keep on hand so you can tackle stains as you go along in your eBay business.

OxicleanThis is a fantastic product for whitening or stain removal. It can be used for stains or for brightening the entire load. This product costs about $8 for a 3-pound container. 

Goo GoneOriginally formulated for automobile grease stains, Goo Gone now has a full product line of sprays, gels, pens, and wipes for all kind of uses. Seasoned eBayers know this product works wonders on removing price stickers and grease pencil. There are videos on the Goo Gone site showing how to do arts and crafts clean up, gum removal, and much more. Goo Gone costs about $4 a bottle in the automotive section at stores like Wal-Mart and Target.

Tide to GoYou may remember the commercial with the drill sergeant about this product. While it is marketed as a portable stain remover to use when spills happen, it is also very handy for applying stain remover in a controlled manner. When it is just a small stain this is a great tool to use. Tide to Go pens cost about $2.50 each and are available wherever laundry products are sold. 

DryelThis product was formulated for at home dry cleaning. It comes with a solution for stain removal and they have just introduced a small pen-like stain remover for everyday use. Clothing sellers like this product because you can freshen up any dry-clean-only product at home with the laundry bag and cleaning sheets. This product comes in various size packs but the least expensive is about $9 at grocery and big box stores.

Clorox Bleach PensThis product has saved me many times. For example, on a multi-colored garment with a stain on a white area, this product works wonders. Just dab a few drops on the affected area, wait, and rinse. It is convenient, not messy to use, and can target small specific areas. Clorox Bleach Gel Pens can be purchased for around $3 at grocery, big box, drug, and home improvement stores.

Mr. Clean Magic ErasersGreat for shoes, belts, and other hard goods. There are lots of generic brands of this item as well. Removes scuffs from shoes, grease pencil or wax pencil from the bottom of shoes, and cleans leather sneakers very well. A box of 4 sponges costs about $3 wherever cleaning products are sold.

Carbona Stain Wizard: Removes any tough stain such as grass, ketchup, mascara, crayon, and grape juice. Has a brush on top of the bottle for working the product into tough stains. Cost for this product is about $5 in the laundry section of your grocery store. Carbona has a full line of stain devils for specific stains like blood, ink, grease, coffee, rust, crayon, gum, chocolate, and mustard that retail for about $4 for a 1.7 oz bottle. Available at grocery stores, Wal-Mart, home improvement stores, and drug stores.