Scavenger Life Episode 30: How to Clean Items for Selling on eBay. Tips for Beginners.

Creative Commons photo by kodomut on flickr.

Ryanne and Wendy get into the nitty gritty about how to clean items for ebay. Clothes, electronics, metal, cookware, shoes, fabrics- we cover it all. Check out the links below for most of the products we discuss. Here is a link to the non-toxic recipe for Goo Gone. Try it out, let us know how it goes!

Direct .mp3 link. Direct ogg vorbis link.


  1. This is an invaluable episode - thanks for all of the great information! I do tend to personally do 'light cleaning' to the items but often will leave certain things 'as is' and highlight the stain or rust, cause often times the person buying the item will be more of an expert than I am when it comes to cleaning that item. That being said, I have recently used olive oil to give some old leather boots some life. I also was planning on trying to use a baking soda paste for certain rusted objects. Anything I should be aware of concerning these two methods? Thanks!

    Adam - The Mysterious Caravan

  2. hey adam
    the only issue with using olive oil is that it is food grade organic, so it may start to smell putrid over time because the oil is biodegrading. i tend to stick to shoe grade oils and polishes for boots and shoes. and furniture oil for wood. though olive oil might be fine, just test it over time.

  3. you must have read my mind:) in a thrift store this week and found myself wondering what you use to clean old shoes! thanks for the great tips! Cheryl

  4. I used to at least "damp rag" EVERYTHING before selling it, but I was getting a lot of complaints when the item was more than 40 years old. People just love the dust, I guess!

    Other stuff that wasn't in the episode that we've used: toothpicks for crevices, and for cleaning/shining leather shoes we will usually try saddle soap (an art gum eraser is essential for suede). Finally, if you're working with electronics, getting a box of anti-static rubber gloves is a worthwhile investment, as it will keep heavy metals from getting into your skin and static electricity that you can't feel from damaging anything sensitive.

  5. Hi There - I've been scavenging for personal enjoyment for as long as I can remember but quite new to the eBay hustle routine. Your podcasts have been a guiding light and I am truly grateful. As a self-proclaimed sneaker head I soak white laces in a bleach/water solution and will literally iron them flat once rinsed and dried. I'm surprised you did not cover Mr. Clean Magic eraser or its knock-offs. They work so well on Vans and Converse all-stars.

    I'm also crazy over vintage bike parts and have found that soaking rusted parts or sections in food grade citric acid and warm water does the trick and its non-toxic (you can flush it when you are done) We are apartment dwelling with a 6 yr-old daughter so non-toxic solutions are a MUST. Home Depot also sells Metal Rescue and it works well - but at $25/gallon it drains profits. I purchased 10lbs of citric acid on ebay for $25 plus shipping and I'll be using that for the next 10 yrs. Cheerios

    -Wendell (Wildshrooms of FunGuy Finds)

    1. Yes, the "magic eraser" is a great cleaning sponge. We don't fool with much rusty metal, but I love the idea of citric acid. Very smart.

  6. For cleaning shoes, use Folex. You can buy it at Lowes. I use it to clean the soles of my shoes, and there isn't much it won't clean. For the shoes that have marker on the bottom, use either mineral spirits or a magic eraser depending on the sole type. For leather you can even sand them with a high grit sandpaper. I sometimes will sand them if they are very dark just to lighten them up a bit so they don't look as worn. For Nubuck, wet a rag with folex and then put liquid shoe polish on the wet spot. Rub the leather and voila! I have sold thousands of pairs of shoes, and these are a couple of the methods and products I use.

    Oh, and after using mineral spirits, make sure you wash it off with folex. Some soles will degrade if it is left on them.