Everyone loves a good discount.
And one-third of people say they buy used items regularly.
With that said:
41% of people say they prefer a new home and car over something previously owned.
But here’s the deal:
Sometimes it just makes sense to buy used.
Take college textbooks, for example. Did you really want to pay full price for something you only used one semester?
So when I first started focusing on saving money, I was inspired by America’s Cheapest Family.
Annette and Steve are a family of 7 who lived comfortably on $35,000/year for the first 12 years of their marriage.
One part of their book talked about buying secondhand items.
I was hooked. But when it comes to saving money – which secondhand items should you avoid at all costs?
Let’s find out.
Item 1 | Mattresses
Good mattresses can cost a fortune.
So it’s no surprise that buying used seems like a good deal. But, it rarely is.
Used mattresses almost always have bacteria trapped in them. Bodily fluids, dirt, and pounds of dead skin cells embedded deep into the fabric.
But the biggest reason to avoid used mattresses is small with a big impact:
Bed bugs and dust mites.
Here’s the deal:
Mattresses are breeding grounds for these tiny little creatures. Once infested, these bugs can easily spread to other areas of your home.
Think rugs, clothing, and other furniture.
But it gets worse.
While bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, they usually hide in cracks and crevices. So you might not even see them at first.
As if that’s not reason enough to stay away, then dead skin definitely should be.
Think about this:
The average person sheds 1.5 pounds of dead skin each year. Since we spend several hours each night sleeping, imagine how much skin gets shed on our mattress.
And guess what feeds on that dead skin?
Unlike bed bugs, dust mites can’t be seen with the naked eye, so you won’t even realize the mattress is infested.
And since a dust mite’s favorite food is our dead skin – these used items can hold up to 10 million of these little creatures.
Plus, dust mites are a major contributor to allergies and asthma.
So unless you’re looking to grow your own colony of bed bugs and dust mites, don’t go looking on Craigslist for used mattresses.
There are better ways to save money.
Item 2 | Car Seats
Only get used car seats from people you know and trust. The others you should avoid at all costs.
Because even though a car seat may look fine, it can be hard to tell if the plastic has cracked or weakened over time.
A recent car seat safety study found that 1 in every 10 used car seats had been in a car accident before.
And according to Consumer Reports, the main reason not to buy used car seats is safety.
Here’s the scary part:
Car accidents are a leading cause of death among children in the US, according to the CDC.
And accidents from previous owners can weaken the car seat and put your baby in danger.
So here’s the thing:
Unless you’re getting it from someone you trust, you can’t be 100% sure that the seat hasn’t been misused, involved in a crash (making it ineffective), or recalled.
And since most car seats are made of plastic, it means they also come with expiration dates.
As plastic ages, its tensile strength starts to degrade.
Because car seats are pulled in and out of cars and moved around, the plastic will not hold up over time.
You also have no idea who, or what touched that seat before you bought it. Baby stuff is expensive, but your baby is too precious to pinch a penny over this.
Check out the Safety 1st Grow and Go and Evenflo Triumph LX for good quality car seats instead.
Item 3 | Upholstered Furniture
Much like mattresses, upholstered furniture can harbor a colony of bugs.
And the worst part:
When you’re buying used from someone you don’t know, it can come back to bite you in the long-run.
No pun intended.
Blood, urine, and other bodily fluids can lurk deep within the stuffing of used furniture. The truth is, many used items are filthy. And a slipcover would only hide the problems.
Besides, the most common ways bugs are introduced into a home is through used and discarded furniture.
This is why I don’t recommend picking up used sofas from the side of the road.
What’s the bottom line?
No matter how much you try to clean it, you’re still better off if you just avoid it at all costs.
Plus, you’ll prevent anything from spreading in the first place, which can end up costing more money.
Only buy used upholstered furniture from people whose cleanliness you trust – not from random strangers.
Item 4 | Tires
Anytime you buy a used vehicle, you want to inspect it for quality.
If you’re not buying certified pre-owned, it’s always a good idea to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection before you decide to make a purchase.
Most dealers will let you do this, and if they don’t – red flag.
Have you ever seen those tire lots that advertise tires for 30%, 40% and sometimes 50% off?
Usually, they’ll have stacks of tires sitting outside the building. Be cautious buying used tires from dealers you don’t trust or don’t have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
According to Consumer Reports, used tires could have been driven overloaded, under-inflated, or to excessively high speeds.
Tires directly impact your safety every time you get into your car, so make sure you inspect your tires for quality.
Instead, here’s something to consider:
New car take-offs are a better way to save money. See if you can find a reputable dealer in your area if you want to maximize your savings.
Item 5 | Makeup
Used makeup from strangers can make you sick.
And yet you can still find used lipstick, eye shadow, and eyeliner at thrift stores, yard sales, and online.
There’s even a Reddit message board for people who want to swap their “gently used” makeup with other people online.
Here’s the deal:
Be careful about putting used items on your skin. They can be contaminated with bacteria and fungus that put you at risk for a serious infection.
Plus, makeup tends to harbor bacteria that you don’t want near your eyes, nose, and mouth.
This is also why dermatologists recommend following the expiration date on your products.
Because the last thing you want to do is spread dirty makeup all over your face and put yourself at risk for pink eye or cold sores.
Buying vintage makeup to collect is fine as long as you don’t use it. Everything else you can avoid at all costs.
Item 6 | Swimsuits and Undergarments
You know this one.
But there’s still someone out there that needs to hear it.
I’ve seen my fair share of used underwear and bathing suits online and in store, so someone must be buying them.
Let’s face it:
The underlying theme here is that most of this stuff shouldn’t be bought used because it’s unsanitary. Swimsuits and undergarments are no exception.
They’re worn too close to the body (someone else’s body) to consider buying secondhand.
Item 7 | Breast Pumps
A mother’s milk does so much more than just feed a baby. That’s why it’s often called “liquid gold” for infants.
Along with fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, it also supplies hormones and stem cells that help your baby develop and fight against infection.
So for many moms these days, a breast pump is a part of their brand new baby items list.
But here’s the deal:
Commercial breast pumps are designed to be used by one person. Hospital grade pumps are built to be rented and used by multiple people.
You should avoid buying commercial breast pumps that have already been used.
Why? Because these used items can trap old moisture and milk.
That other moisture can then get mixed with the milk you’re pumping and can lead to a sick baby.
If you do buy a secondhand breast pump, then you should consider replacing all the necessary parts.
And if you’re going to go that route, it might just make more sense to buy a new one in the first place.
There are some really great breast pump options out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
And the best part:
You won’t have to worry about getting an unsanitary pump.
Item 8 | Pet Supplies
Gently used pet toys and food bowls are usually fine once sanitized.
But, you’ll want to avoid bedding and toys that have been a little too well loved.
The truth is:
For the same reason you wouldn’t buy a used mattress or sofa for yourself, you wouldn’t want to do so for your pets.
A friend of mine had used dog bedding cleaned and sanitized, but it still didn’t kill all the flea eggs.
And because she had carpet and rugs – the fleas starting running rampant around her house. Once they started laying eggs, it took several weeks to kill them all.
Plus, fleas are uncomfortable for your pet to have to deal with.
And another thing:
Old stains and smells tend to ferment in used pet supplies and toys.
Have you ever walked into someone house and realized they had pets just because of the smell?
As a pet owner, this is something I try to be aware of.
I stay away from secondhand pet food and treats because they could be expired, recalled, or even infested with bugs and eggs themselves.
Item 9 | Stuffed Animals
I know I’m not the only one who has made this mistake.
So here’s the thing:
As most moms already know, kids usually keep their toys close. This means they can get dirty and dingy over time.
Sometimes a hot wash cycle or a good hand wash will do the trick, but be wary of getting stuffed toys from just anyone.
Because of their fabric, these used items are also prone to dust mites, allergens, or other bodily fluids.
And those are things you don’t want in your home.
But here’s the worst part:
You can’t always tell if something is infested. Cleaning it isn’t a foolproof method of getting rid of germs, either.
Dust mites and other bugs are notorious for lingering inside the fabric and stuffing after being sanitized.
So if you’re buying used toys – plastic toys are a better option because they’re easier to clean and disinfect.
Once cleaned, it’s hard for bugs and germs to linger on the surface of plastic (versus hiding inside fabric).
So which secondhand items do you avoid at all costs?
Thanks for reading.