The Secret to My Amazing Goodwill Finds? Elbow Grease

by Katy on March 20, 2019 · 16 comments

Walk into a Goodwill thrift store and you can pull a like-new items off the shelf. That’s great, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a project. Something I can mend, glue back together or scrub back to life. Something that requires a healthy dose of elbow grease.

Something like this Trek brand children’s bicycle. The tires were caked with mud, and the rims were crusted over with rust. However, it was a quality bicycle and priced at a mere $4.99 and worth the gamble. Especially since the current equivalent of this bike would set you back $210!

I’ve successfully used Bar Keeper’s Friend in the past, so I thought I’d see what kind of magic I could conjure using nothing more than scouring powder and elbow grease.

And boy howdy, did a simple scrubbing do the trick! Check out the mirror finish on the rims, as well as the mud-free tires, which came back to life using nothing more than water and a cleaning brush.

May I remind you how rusty/crusty/disgusty this bike’s wheels were before I worked my magic?

Another Goodwill find brought back to life! Not too shabby for five bucks and 20¢ of Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Want to know more about Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette and how they serve our community? Check out and

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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This post was sponsored by Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. All opinions my own.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Madeline Theresa Kasian March 20, 2019 at 3:45 pm

WOW! Not only is this a testament to Bar Keepers Friend.. it reminds us that in the USA consumers throw away and give away really awesome goods with LOTS LIFE LEFT IN THEM!!!

I am so glad to see recycling in action!

Some kiddo is gonna enjoy that gorgeous bike!!!!


Kathy March 20, 2019 at 4:15 pm

I volunteer at the Assistance League Thrift Store. It amazes me the NWT clothing and household items people donate. Some of my best gifts come from thrift stores.


Sandra March 20, 2019 at 5:32 pm

So impressed. With this gorgeous spring weather that hot little bike is going to sell in a heartbeat. Let us know when and for how much. Curious minds want to know.


Ellen March 21, 2019 at 3:51 am

Bike looks brand new! Can’t wait to see what you sell it for!
They are a good brand bike!
Both my kids and my nephew have a trex bike! So I know they are a bit on the higher price point!


Debra March 21, 2019 at 4:11 am

Katie, you introduced me to Bar Keeper’s Friend and it is a miracle product! I scrubbed a set of pots and pans to a sparkling clean shine which made me LOVE that set of pans. And this bike renovation is one more shining example of what that product can do.


Linda March 21, 2019 at 4:24 am

Beautiful job!


Diane Black March 21, 2019 at 4:38 am

Wow! Impressive. I wonder if it would work on those pesky stove top metal inserts under the burners? I hate to keep buying new inserts when mine get grubby so fast.


Connie C. March 21, 2019 at 4:58 am

Great job! I love BKF! Works on everything!


Kara March 21, 2019 at 6:44 am

Sometimes things are in the thrift store because they have finished their useful life with their current owner. I’m so thankful people donate instead of throwing away. And well done, Katy, for shining that bike up! I’m sure the next owner will be thrilled.
I am a new empty nester and I am re-homing many items that have completed their useful service in my house and can happily go on somewhere else. Some things I have given to individuals I know, but some loads just had to go to the thrift store.


Jennifer March 21, 2019 at 7:15 am

Great job, this is quite an improvement! This gives me a few ideas of things I can clean.


Diane C March 21, 2019 at 10:48 am

I think this every time you do one of these posts, so I’m finally going to boldly ask. I would love to hear about some of your success stories. What has sold for the most over acquisition cost? The fastest? What finally sold after the longest listing time? Any amazing coincidence stories or tales from someone who finally completed their collection of whats-its with an item you pulled from the bins? Best before and after transitions? I know this shiny bike’s not the only tale you have to tell. I am waiting with bated breath (not bad breath, I hope) to hear more! Thanks, Katy.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl March 21, 2019 at 12:17 pm

That looks so awesome, Katy! You’ll have to let us know how much it sells for.


A. Marie March 21, 2019 at 12:50 pm

(1) I’m with other commenters in hoping for an update when the bike sells. Great job!

(2) Bar Keeper’s Friend has been a go-to for DH and me for many years. Its alternative name might be Landlord’s Friend.

(3) Finally, I’m reminded of a memorable line from an early Two Fat Ladies episode (the only cooking show I’ve ever loved, as long-time commenters know): Clarissa Dickson Wright advised viewers to whisk up something or other vigorously by saying, “Put some elbow grease into it.” She subsequently mentioned getting a lot of letters (remember that this was a late 1990s show, pre-Internet) asking, “What is this elbow grease, and where can I buy some?” 🙂


Kathy Sell March 21, 2019 at 1:23 pm

When I was a kid with a nice bike, I always used automobile wax on it after cleaning. Shiny!


pinoy lambingan March 22, 2019 at 11:52 am

A good secret revealed. I will try to do this..!


Marybeth March 23, 2019 at 7:46 am

Let us know what it sells for.


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