What Not to Buy When Shopping at a Thrift Store

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Shopping at your local thrift store can be a great way to save money. Often, you can get high-end clothing and various household goods at a fraction of their normal retail prices, making it a smart place to shop for anyone interested in keeping more cash in their pocket. However, there are certain things that should never be purchased used.

Not everything you find at a thrift store should be part of your shopping list, even if it is available at a great price. Here are a few items that should almost always be left on the shelves.

Stuffed Animals

Most children aren’t kind to their stuffed animals, and they often keep them close, carrying them to all sorts of places. These toys can harbor anything from germs and bedbugs to mold and allergens. Plus, since they can become disfigured when washed in hot water or dried with heat, cleaning them isn’t always an option and may not even be entirely effective.

Children’s Safety Equipment

If you have kids, your priority should always be to keep them safe. And buying items like car seats, cribs, and strollers used carries more risk than reward.

Safety standards change frequently, so used goods might not meet today’s stringent requirements. Plus, it’s hard to assess whether any damage has been done to the item that may pose a safety risk. For example, many car seats are only designed to survive one car crash, but it isn’t always easy to see if a used one has been involved in an accident. Plus, a lot of these items may have been recalled at some point, and finding that information when you’re at the store can be challenging.

Ultimately, it is almost always better to buy new when you’re shopping for children’s safety equipment.

Electronics and Appliances

If you’re considering purchasing anything that requires electricity, whether that involves plugging it in or inserting batteries, you don’t want to buy the item until you know it works. Typically, thrift stores don’t accept returned, so make sure you can at least test the appliance or electronic device before you bring it home.

Bicycle and Motorcycle Helmets

Similar to car seats, helmets are traditionally only designed to withstand a single impact. Since you don’t know whether a piece of headgear has been involved in an accident, it’s better to purchase new ones than risk using a secondhand helmet.

Additionally, all head worn items, like helmets or hats, could harbor lice or other infections, which is never a fun discovery.

Used Bedding and Other Linens

Items like sheets, towels, blankets, and comforters may have been exposed to bedbugs or other germs, and washing them in hot water might not be enough to remove all of the contaminants.

Often, you can get a good deal on bedding and linens if you catch a good sale at a traditional store, so it is often wise to wait for the right opportunity to purchase these new.

Underwear and Swimsuits

From a basic hygiene standpoint, you should never purchase bathing suits or underwear unless you know for a fact they have never been worn. Often, this means the original tags should be in place as well as any sanitary liners, if applicable. However, just because the tag is there doesn’t mean it was never used, so always proceed with extreme caution.

Upholstered Furniture

Sofas, chairs, and other upholstered furniture can also be contaminated with things like bedbugs, mites, mold, pet dander, and other dangerous germs. Generally, these items are tough to clean thoroughly, so purchasing used furniture when you don’t know its history typically isn’t worth the risk.


While a lot of people love vintage clothing, used shoes come with risks not associated with shirts and pants. First, the risk of exposure to skin issues or fungus from the previous owner is higher, and shoes are generally very hard to clean. Additionally, shoes mold to fit the feet of the original wearer, which may mean they won’t ever fit you properly and can lead to physical discomfort.

h/t Insider