20 Things You Should Never Buy Used

Reconsider reusing these 20 items.

Used books, vintage T-shirts, sports equipment for kids, even cars — there are some items that lend themselves to buying used. Purchasing secondhand items is not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for your wallet. Buying certain items that were pre-owned can save you some serious cash. But there are some items that are better buying new. Melissa Garcia, founder of the money-saving shopping blog Consumer Queen shares her insights about some things you should never buy used.

Cribs and children’s furniture

Kids do things to furniture that most adults don’t, like gnawing on crib rails or climbing bookcases. To keep them safe in their rooms, you might consider buying new furniture with up-to-date safety standards. Also, since cribs and other children’s furniture (think dressers and rocking chairs, too) are prone to recalls, this is yet another reason why you might be better off buying new items so you can keep better track of any recalls associated with your kids’ furniture.


About one-third of life is spent in bed, which means that the mattress is a pretty important piece of furniture. Since they have a relatively short lifespan — between seven to 10 years, according to the Sleep Foundation — they’re an item that’s better bought new. Lastly, there’s just too much unknown with buying one secondhand. For instance, allergens like dust mites, mold or even bedbugs.


If you spy a cute swimsuit at the consignment shop, use your best judgement. “I would definitely not buy used, but that is more of a personal preference for me,” Garcia says. “However, I have friends who will totally buy secondhand hand and just give it a good wash. I just don’t know about other people’s hygiene, and that is a close contact item.”

Pillows and bedding

When you buy used items, it’s important to know your own personal tolerance for things like allergens and other people’s bodily fluids, especially when it comes to oft-used and close contact items like bed pillows, bed sheets and comforters. “Buying used, you have to worry about allergies, pet dander, stains and weird smells,” Garcia adds.

Car seat

Reusing car seats poses another safety risk. Michelle Pratt, owner and founder of Safe in the Seat, recommends buying a new car seat if you can’t verify answers to several questions about the hand-me-down seat you’re eyeing: Is it missing parts like stickers, inserts or manuals? Is it broken or damaged? Are straps frayed or parts compromised? Has it been in a crash? Has it been recalled and the issues haven’t been fixed? Has it expired? Is it unsanitary, or does it smell bad? Has it been cleaned with unapproved products (like bleach, for instance)? If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions, you should steer clear.


Whether to slip your feet into someone’s old shoes is really up to your preference. For some people, the mere idea of hand-me-down shoes is a no-go, but for others it’s perfectly acceptable. “It depends on the condition of the shoe,” Garcia says. “If they look brand new and only been worn a couple of times, I say go for it. I used to buy a lot of my kids’ shoes at garage sales during the summer.”

Pet toys

Keeping Fido or Fluffy stocked with toys might seem difficult, especially if they chew or claw them up as soon as they get them. But you might want to skip buying used pet toys or goods, as they could come with the previous canine or feline’s dander, stains and odors.


A vacuum might seem like an appliance that would be a no-brainer to buy used, but Garcia recommends thinking again. “You don’t know how well the previous owner has taken care of their vacuum,” she says. “If you have allergies, a used vacuum could have allergens or weird smells. It could also have electrical problems.” Paying full price for a new vacuum also gives you access to a warranty, which could be helpful if you need to replace it down the road, she says.


It might be tempting to pay secondhand prices for already opened (and often expensive) medicines, but Garcia says this is a no-no. “Never buy medicine secondhand,” Garcia says. “You never know why it was returned or if it might be tampered with. It’s a buy-at-your-own-risk item.”


Rugs are high-ticket items, so it’s understandable to want to buy them used. Garcia, however, cautions against this. For people who have pet allergies — or people who have pets themselves — rugs are often better bought new. “Rugs are notorious for absorbing pet stains,” she says.

Stuffed animals

Although your son or daughter might beg you for a stuffed animal at a yard sale or consignment shop, you might want to turn them down, Garcia says. Children are prone to germs, she says, and stuffed animals could also bring unwanted pests into the home. “For me, it’s a hygiene thing.”

Perfumes or colognes

Purchasing an expensive perfume or cologne secondhand might seem like a great way to score a deal on some expensive items, but Garcia begs to differ. She says that you might not want to run the risk of putting anything on your body that that could’ve been contaminated in some way. “Anything you run on your body is likely absorbed in your skin within 10 minutes of putting it on.”


Like perfume, already opened makeup is also a no-go. If you’re considering hand-me-down makeup, consider that you might also inherit the previous owner’s eye or mouth infections. Skip the used makeup and buy new.


Helmets protect your head while you’re riding everything from bicycles to motorcycles. It’s an understatement to say that they’re important. Because helmets expire after a couple of years, and they become ineffective if they’re involved in any sort of crash, it’s smart to just buy new. Plus, secondhand helmets also carry around the previous owners’ head sweat and likely bacteria.


Although secondhand hats don’t pose as much as a safety risk as hand-me-down helmets do, they are still prone to absorbing the previous owner’s sweat, bacteria, hair products, etc. If you can’t wash the hat in hot water, you might want to opt for buying a new one.


Anyone who has worked on a 500-piece or 1,000-piece puzzle knows the frustration of nearing the end only to find that you’re missing a piece or two. If you buy an already opened puzzle at a consignment shop or yard sale, you run the risk of that frustration.

Plastic bottles

Plastic water bottles or baby bottles are better bought new unless you can clean and disinfect them really well with hot, soapy water or steam — and unless you can confirm that they weren’t made with BPA.

Nonstick cookware

More and more research is finding that the coating on nonstick pots and pans can he harmful to your health, especially over time as the cookware gets chipped or otherwise degraded. To avoid the risk, buy new and maybe opt for cookware that isn’t nonstick.


Unless you can inherit the warranty that comes with a secondhand laptop, you’re better off buying new since you don’t know what the laptop has been through before coming to you. Even still, you should test it to make sure you’re not buying a lemon: Be sure to examine the screen for damage, the keyboard, the battery life and the ports.

Plasma, LED and HDTVs

It’s hard to tell if that TV you’re buying secondhand is a properly working one. If you must buy one of these electronics used, you might want to go through a reputable manufacturer or a certified refurbishing company, so you have some sort of recourse if something goes wrong.

Items you should buy new

— Cribs and children’s furniture.

— Swimwear.

— Pillows and bedding.

— Vacuums.

— Medicines.

— Rugs.

— Stuffed animals.

— Perfumes or colognes.

— Makeup.

— Car seats.

— Shoes.

— Mattresses.

— Helmets.

— Nonstick cookware.

— Puzzles.

— Laptops.

— Hats.

— Pet toys.

— Plastic bottles.

— Plasma, LED and HDTVs.

More from U.S. News

How to Shop and Save at Secondhand Shops

How to Save Money When Online Grocery Shopping

How Long Do Recessions Last? What We Can Learn From Past Recessions

20 Things You Should Never Buy Used originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 07/27/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up