How to Get Yellow Stains and More Out of Thrift Store Clothing

A woman examining a cleaning product at a grocery store

97 / Getty Images

Selling thrift store clothing on eBay can be profitable. When you buy used clothes to sell, however, sometimes they can have stains that you may not see until you get home. Alternatively, they may be a high-end brand that has great resale value and so it's worth taking the risk. The best defense against stains is a good offense. Here are some great products to keep on hand and some useful laundry hacks to remove common stains from clothing so that you can turn them into cash on eBay.

OxiClean: This 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 Gone: Originally formulated for automobile grease stains, Goo Gone has a full product line of sprays, gels, pens, and wipes for all kind of uses. This product works wonders on removing price stickers and grease pencil markings. 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 Go: While Tide to Go 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. 

Dryel: This product was formulated for at-home dry cleaning. It comes with a solution for stain removal, and they have 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. Dryel comes in various size packs, but the least expensive is about $9 at grocery and big box stores.

Clorox Bleach Pens: This product works wonders on a multi-colored garment with a stain on a white area. 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 a grocery, big box, drug, and home improvement stores.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers: Magic Erasers are great for shoes, belts, and other hard goods. There are lots of generic brands of this item as well. This product 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, and you can buy them wherever cleaning products are sold.

Carbona Stain Wizard: This product removes any tough stain such as grass, ketchup, mascara, crayon, and grape juice. There is a brush on top of the bottle for working the product into tough stains. The cost of 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. Carbona stain products are available at grocery stores, Wal-Mart, home improvement stores, and drug stores. 

Removing Ring Around the Collar

Sweat and oil from skin combine to make lighter-colored shirts look yellow around the collar. It's a tough stain to remove. Some people try to use bleach to remove the stains, but that is ill-advised, as it can weaken and damage the fabric if used repeatedly or in large amounts. Here's an equally effective alternative:

  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tbsp. 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 the mixture to the stained area vigorously with a toothbrush. Let sit for four hours. Next, soak the shirt in a laundry sink in warm water for four hours (to avoid the collar becoming noticeably whiter than the rest of the shirt). 

Removing Yellow Arm Pit Stains

Underarm stains are as common as finding clothes with a ring around the collar. This home remedy can remove those types of stains, which may not just be caused by sweat but the result of some deodorants that contain aluminum:

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

Mix the vinegar with two 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 usual. Repeated treatments may be needed for tough stains.

Remove Ink Stains With Hair Spray

For ink stains, you want to avoid rubbing the stain with any cleaner. This usually causes it to spread. Hairspray contains a chemical that causes most inks 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

While it is easy to remove grease pencil stains from hard goods like glass, ceramics, porcelain, plastic, and wood with Goo Gone, it can be challenging to remove them from fabrics. Thrift stores are famous for writing prices on garment labels. 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 different pH levels 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.