Trash Picking – Return On Cleaning Investment

While prepping for our upcoming yard sale, the topic of effort vs return came up. At what point do you just write off a find because the effort involved in cleaning or repair doesn’t equate to what you’ll get out of the item? Naturally, this varies from person to person.

I refrain from picking up everyday items that require a little more than moderate cleaning. Mainly because I know there’s another one right around the corner (sometimes literally, and sometimes in the next few days), and probably in better shape – see commonly found items post However, if my microwave just quit on me, & I need one right away, then I’ll take the one that may take a good 20 minutes to vigorously clean If I find something that I’ll most likely want to put in the antique shop, as long as I can clean it & get a reasonable price in relation to the cleaning effort involved, I’ll take it grime & all. However, if I pick something up on a slow picking day merely because it was there & plan on throwing it in a yard sale, beyond brushing off some dirt, I’m not going to do much else. If I find a total keeper for me, short of rebuilding something entirely, I’ll pick it up. For example, I’ll pick up patterned, broken china for mosaics, or something I can add to something else I’m making – crafty trash post

I have found that my boyfriend is a little less stringent in his accepting of items that even I’d pass over. His carpentry skills are also an important factor, as he can fix most everything, is always building something, and he’ll see something for what it can add to his shop, hardware, or many, many, toolboxes (similar to me picking up craft/art stuff what-not, but his random bits are part of his actual livelihood). Yesterday, my boyfriend learned a valuable lesson regarding effort & return on cleaning investment. We found a sewing stool/box, but right after I got it out of the truck, I noticed the top was real sticky & tacky. I’ve encountered this almost identical situation before, and, removing the residue requires effort, time, and resources (basically, unless it’s a keeper or an item I know I can sell for at least over $20 at the store, it’s just not worth it to me). After about ten minutes of some all-purpose cleaner, ten more minutes & 1/4 bottle of Goo Gone, at least half a rag towel destroyed & FINALLY, ten more minutes of using some industrial strength goop stuff (that’s probably banned in 48 states) to get residue off of his hands that my boyfriend uses in extreme circumstances on the job, he began to realize the return on cleaning investment was…….very poor. I’m not a what you should do kind of person, but I did offer my previous experience with a similar item, PRIOR to his effort, but I guess his male hardwiring just heard, “blah, blah, blah, don’t, blah, blah, blah”.

How about you? Has there been a particular trash find that you were able to learn, discover, or hone a skill?

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