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Things You Should Never Buy at Garage Sales

…Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s a bargain.

With the economy the way it is and money tight for most of us, it is natural to look for ways to save a few bucks here and there.  In my family we go to garage sales and thrift stores in search of that great item, with some life left in it, for a reasonable price.


Good deal or not, there are a few things that you should avoid when shopping the garage sales or thrift stores.  Sometimes new is the only way to go.  I’ll cover a few of the top items that we stay away from when buying used…  Reader’s Digest recently covered this topic and I’ll list their “stay away from” items as well.


Mattresses — This is something that when I was younger and living on my own, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a used mattress from a garage sale or get a free one from a friend, but with bed bugs invading homes in record numbers, chances are the sneaky little blood suckers could be laying in wait in any used mattress. Also, think about the idea of there being mold, mites and other people’s bacteria, skin cells and bodily fluids! Gross!

Sheets and other Bedding — Do I even need to explain this one?  …just read above. Yuck!

Baby Bottles — Baby bottles are cheap enough new that you can pass up the great deal on the 500 used bottles for $10 you find at the garage sale. This is another item that is on the “gross out” border line.  Chances are these used bottles had breast milk in them, another bodily fluid from a stranger.  …that’s right, Gross!

Upholstered Furniture — This one comes from the Reader’s Digest list.  I have to be honest, I didn’t have this on my list originally but if you think about it, how is a big, over-stuffed couch and different than a used mattress when it comes down to storing all of the microscopic creepy and gross stuff?  I suppose if you are going to have the piece recovered, then it wouldn’t be bad.

…I think every piece of furniture in my first apartment was used and came from friends, garage sales or just found on the side of the road.

Stuffed Animals — You might think of a stuffed animal as falling into the “toy” category but you should really think of it in the “Gross bed bug and bodily fluid” category.  Unless you are sure you can wash the little stuffed critters in the machine on extra super, close to the temperature of the sun, hot cycle, I’d stay clear of the stuffed stuff.

Shoes — This is where Reader’s Digest and I differ a bit.  They suggest passing on used shoes all together because shoes that are broken-in to fit one person will not be comfortable on another’s foot, and I’ll go along with that however, we have purchased “used” shoes for our kids that looked new and they were perfectly fine.  I would stay away from kid’s shoes that were all worn out.  But as fast as kids grow, used shoes are the only way to go for us.  …even for adults, I feel that as long as the shoe is not close to the point of being worn out or its shape has obviously changed to fit the previous owner’s feet, used is OK.  …Oh, and the “gross” can be cleaned out of used shoes with Lysol and or other industrial disinfectants.

Hats — Here’s another on for the “too gross to buy” list.  Think about what that “cool” looking hat has in store for you…   Someone else’s hair, sweat, skin, who knows what else.  …I won’t even let my kids try on hats in department stores.

Bathing Suits — Do I need to say anything?

Underwear — Really? I’m not even going to list one reason why you should not buy used underwear.  If you can’t figure this one out, then buy all of the used underwear you can find, you deserve it.

Tooth Brush — …I’m done

There are other items that you should avoid buying used due to safety reasons and we might take a look at those in a future article.

Everyone loves a good bargain but there are some things that just can’t pass the “too gross” test.  There’s a time to save a few bucks and there’s a time to spend, when it comes to your physical and mental wellbeing, there are some things that have to be new.

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