Since I’ve started reselling I’ve learned a lot of tips and trick to making clothes and shoes just be better. Because fixing items up and making them look their best helps with nicer photos and more sales and happy customers. Which is great!
Before this I rarely gave any of the items from my personal closet a little TLC or maintenance, but now that I have a bunch of tools in my arsenal I feel like my own items are better than ever.
So whether or not you’re a reseller or just want to get more use out of the items you already own, here’s my list of the top 10 tools I use for reselling AND maintaining my own personal wardrobe.
1. Garment Steamer
Almost everything I source gets disinfected by the steamer! I say almost because I don’t use it on shoes, but other than that it gets steamed! It kills bacteria, eliminates odors, and helps me get a faster turnaround from sourcing to photographing. A quick steam on the Anthropologie dress below and it was ready to photograph the same day I sourced it!
The garment steamer is handy for cleaning items that would normally need to go to a dry cleaner, like a suede jacket, and if I find something in new with tags condition I am able to disinfect it without removing the tags.
Besides disinfecting, it also helps eliminate wrinkles. I absolutely despise ironing, so this is the main reason my steamer helps me with items from my personal closet. I have a lot of clothes, so tops that get folded at the bottom of the stack in my closet usually need a quick steam before wearing. I truly can’t remember the last time I’ve ironed something instead of steamed at this point!
I currently use this steamer, which I like because it’s affordable and has a hanger stand for hanging tops or bottoms. For personal use it’s great, but I will say I am interested in getting something a little more robust for reselling. From what I’ve heard the jiffy steamer is pretty much the standard, so I may upgrade to that for business use.
2. Dr. Marten’s Wonder Balsam Leather Polish
This. Stuff. Is. Amazing! Leather goods tend to get a little scuffed up when passing through the secondhand chain. And Dr. Marten’s Wonder Balsam will bring them back to life. It’s a clear balm so you don’t have to worry about it matching the color of the leather, and it’s really great for hydrating the tips of boots so scuffs are barely visible. Check out the before and after below of some vintage Steve Madden boots that sold for $35:
And here’s a before and after of some Tory Burch wedges that sold for $75:
You can really use it on any leather good, though, to include purses, jackets, gloves, etc. I mostly use it personally for my boots and purses. I have a favorite pair of leather boots I bought when I studied abroad in Florence, Italy for a semester. They’re gorgeous, but 10 years of wear is a lot! The polish was great for fixing up the dry areas around the foot.
3. Dawn Dish Soap
It may sound crazy, but the best stain remover in my reselling experience is plain old Dawn dish soap. Even vintage items I’ve picked up from the bins have had old stains removed with this stuff.
Simply blot the stain with dish soap, let sit for a few hours or even overnight, and wash in the laundry as normal. If you really want to dig deeper you can use a toothbrush and scrub the dish soap in (depends on what the fabric is on whether or not I do this) before washing.
I especially like this method for silks. Even in the rare instances that the dish soap does not remove the stain, it at least doesn’t damage the fabric in any way. When I wash silk items I use a mesh garment bag like this and the hand wash cycle on my washing machine. I would say 9 times out of 10 this method works! The Equipment blouse below was in perfectly excellent condition besides the tiniest pin prick stain of something on the back of the top. I was able to get the mark out with dish soap and list the item as excellent used condition. It was my first Equipment piece and it sold for $35.
I always use dish soap for my own items that I stain, and I try and apply it as soon as possible to the garment – don’t let a stained item sit in your laundry! At the very least start treating is as soon as you can!
For stubborn stains (mostly tomato based ones are the worst) I have had to wash and apply dish soap more than once.
What’s funny is when I started reselling I bought Amodex since I heard it was Martha Stewart’s recommended stain remover. The first time I used it on some small spots on a pair of jeans it ended up taking the color out of the denim and making it worse! So I much prefer the gentleness of dish soap.
4. Disinfecting Wipes
Disinfecting wipes are what I use to clean the bottoms and sides of shoes, particularly if they have some dirt. I’ll use them to scrub Chacos sandals, and even on patent leather to get those white scuffs out. I’ve been sourcing shoes more and more (particularly from the bins) so I’ve been using them a lot! It helps if you’re able to find a brand of wipes that has a ‘scrubbing’ side (like this kind) to help dislodge the dirt.
Besides shoes, they’re great for wiping down handbags or metal accents.
I do also own a pack of magic erasers, which are the best for making the white soles of sneakers truly white again. As good as they are, I have to admit that I HATE using them. They crumble as you scrub and make a big mess! I don’t actually source a lot of sneakers so it’s not something I use often, but if we’re talking about cleaning the soles of shoes I feel like I have to mention it.
5. Tide To Go Pens
I don’t have as high of a success rate with Tide To Go pens as I do the dish soap method, but what’s great about them is I can test out the Tide To Go pen, and if it works I can steam and photograph as normal. Then I don’t waste time with washing! If it doesn’t work, I do the dish soap process above.
Again, these work best with a fresh stain, but they have been successful on items I’ve thrifted as well! I recently picked up a mohair sweater at the bins with a seashell patch on the front. The patch had a little stain on it and since the item is a delicate one I’m glad the stain came out with the to go pen. Can you even tell in the photo below?
I don’t sell many home items, but the Tide To Go pen works for stuff that can only be spot cleaned, like a decorative throw pillow.
I like to carry these in my purse for if I spill on my clothes on the go, but another reseller recommended bringing them to the thrift store so that if you find an item with a stain you can see if it will come out then and there before you buy. If your thrift store doesn’t allow returns it can be very helpful!
6. Electric Sweater Shaver
A sweater shaver can bring an old, tired sweater back to life so easily! I know some people like the ones that aren’t electric, but I’ve enjoyed using my electric one since I never accidentally harm the garment with it. It gets rid of piling on any item you may have, particularly under the arms. I got mine cheaply at Walmart.
You can also use it for athletic items that get piling at the thighs.
I used the shaver on this Free People sweater moto jacket and it helped a lot! I wasn’t able to get all the piling out, but ultimately I decided I could list it in VGUC (very good used condition). It’s for sale here in my Poshmark closet.
I’ve been trying to find more secondhand sweaters that are made of wool, but usually used ones come with some piling. It’s pretty amazing how old some sweaters are but they can look brand new with a little shaving!
7. Needle and Thread
Let me start off by saying I don’t really know how to sew. All I can do is mend, and at that I’m average. But plenty of items I pick up are enhanced by just my average mending. As long as the holes are along a seam I can manage to do a decent job to make an item resellable.
I bought this vintage sweater with sequin shoulder detail at a 99¢ sweater sale (it’s a silk blend!), but it had some stains and a tear along the bottom band. I used my dish soap method for the stain, and sewed up the hole. Now it’s good as new!
I like this set of 30 different threads so that I always have a close color to match for whatever color the garment is. And this set of 25 needles comes in a convenient container so I don’t lose them!
8. Suede Eraser
I didn’t even know this suede eraser tool existed until I started reselling! It’s a coarse block that you rub on suede stains to basically shave off a little layer of the leather to try and eliminate the stain. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Usually it does improve the look of the stain, though. With suede booties being a very popular item that can get easily marked, it comes in handy in the fall season.
I saw another reseller mention she uses fine sandpaper instead of a suede eraser, so if you have that on hand no need to buy a separate tool!
The suede eraser can cause the suede to become a bit more rough or nubby, so I wouldn’t use it on anything with too fine of a finish.
And while we’re talking about suede, for my personal items (like my classic tall UGG boots…no shame!) I defend them from the elements with this suede protector spray. It didn’t discolor my boots and gives me more ease when going out in light rain or snow.
9. Super Glue
Every once I awhile I run into a shoe that is in need of some super glue. Usually some embellishment is not properly secured, or maybe the sole of the shoe is coming a bit detached. Either way, a quick spot of super glue fixes it right up.
I used it on the Kate Spade rain boots above to reglue the gold detail on the edge of the boot since it was separating. An easy fix and they ending up selling for $40.
10. Oil for boots
The last item is super specific to rubber items, but hey, it still comes in handy! If you’ve ever seen rubber boots, like Hunter or duck boots, and the rubber has a cloudy white substance on it, that’s called bloom. It’s a natural occurrence on rubber, and you fix it by rubbing a little vegetable oil on it. I recently used this trick on some Sorel boots from the bins and they ended up selling for $40! Don’t they look great?
I hope this post is helpful for you whether you resell clothing or just want to keep your wardrobe looking fresh!
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