One of the best parts of thrifting is the thrill of the hunt. Thrift stores offer items at bargain prices, which makes it hard to pass up a great find. However, there are some risks that may come with buying secondhand items.
Here are 10 items you should avoid buying at a thrift store — at all costs!
THE WHY: The cosmetics industry is not required to print expiration dates on their products, so the only way to know whether makeup is still good will be based on how long you’ve had it.
THE RISK: Brand new makeup sitting under the sun that eventually makes it way on to the shelves a thrift store can still be expired. Plus, there’s the chance of buying someone else’s germs from old makeup. It’s best to do a little research on where to buy affordable and safe cosmetics.
THE WHY: First of all, they tend to be a magnet for germs. Stuffed animals can’t ever be cleaned well enough due to their absorbent nature and tendency to hold onto odors no matter how many times they are washed.
THE RISK: Stuffed animals from thrift stores are most likely second-hand, which are probably infested with bacteria that could lead to infection in the baby’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Choking hazards and loose parts like small marbles or beads that could come off the toy is also dangerous.
THE WHY: There’s no way to predict with certainty how long a shoe will last and how it will stand up to repeated wear and tear. And conditions in which used shoes are stored can play a factor in their condition (humidity levels and temperature extremes can cause some materials to break down).
THE RISK: Running shoes are designed for about 500 miles of running, and after that, you’re likely to get injured. If you love running and do it often, investing in a great pair of running shoes is a good idea. Wear what fits and feels right!
THE WHY: There is no denying that helmets can be damaged even with just one impact. They should be replaced once they have been involved in a crash or fall because this makes them less effective at protecting the user’s head.
THE RISK: Most cheap/secondhand helmets are refurbished ones that have been previously damaged or used by someone else. A damaged helmet can not effectively protect the user from any head injury while riding a motorcycle. You may save a few dollars upfront but in the end, those few dollars could very well cost you much more!
THE WHY: Mattresses are home to many creatures like bed bugs. If you want to ensure you’re not bringing unwanted house guests home with you, pass on the second-hand mattresses and bed frames at thrift stores.
THE RISK: Treating bed bugs can be difficult and costly, so it’s important to prevent them from getting into homes in the first place. Thrift stores are especially prone to harboring parasites because they receive so many donations. Since these furniture pieces are used daily, buying new might be a better bet for good shape and durability.
THE WHY: There’s no way of knowing who used the item before, and what they used it for. The blades in old blenders might be dull and not cut through food properly. It can be more trouble than it’s worth.
THE RISK: Buying a used blender from thrift stores or garage sales, not only threatens the safety of your food by using an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous appliance, but you could also end up spending more money than you had planned.
THE WHY: Saving a few dollars is not worth it to find a rare pair of vintage underwear. These are very personal garments and could be just plain worn out. If you want quality and comfort, stick with new ones.
THE RISK: The problem with buying used undergarments is that you may not even realize you have become infected until it’s too late. Although hand washing can help reduce some of the bacteria that might be present on the clothing, there is no way to completely eliminate all traces of germs.
THE WHY: Even if you don’t mind the possibility of using an older product, there’s no telling where it came from. A crib in a thrift store could have been recalled two years ago and then shoved onto a shelf.
THE RISK: When buying used from a thrift store, the issue of recalls can be troublesome. It might also be damaged, which could lead to a hazard for children.
THE WHY: There are no guarantees that a used car seat will have been tested or approved by the US Product Safety Commission. Even if it’s been stored for years in the original box, there’s no way of knowing how well it’s been looked after, or if it has been recalled.
THE RISK: The plastic on car seats tends to become brittle as time goes on, and over time can lose strength – even if it doesn’t appear to have been damaged in any way. A new car seat is a relatively large purchase, but it’s one that can save your child’s life.
THE WHY: Most vintage items were designed in a time when safety was not a top priority. Older models of halogen lamps lack protective barriers, making them extremely flammable. While we don’t want to discourage anyone from buying vintage items, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with them.
THE RISK: Thrift stores don’t usually test products for safety, so it is best to avoid purchasing halogen lamps from them. It’s tempting to save a few dollars by buying one at the thrift store or from a garage sale. But that bargain might not be worth it after all.
In the end, it’s all about weighing the risk versus reward. While there certainly are things that you should never buy at a thrift store, there are also great items to be found if you know how to shop. Use your best judgment when shopping for secondhand goods, and remember: your best option is usually to buy the item if the price is low enough, but not if there’s a high chance of it being a fake or a low-quality product