In tough economic times everyone’s looking for bargains. But while it’s a great idea to buy used bookshelves, books, and CDs, there are some things that just shouldn’t be bought at thrift stores. Here are the top ten:
Bike or motorcycle helmets
Helmets are meant to protect you from one accident. Sometimes damage isn’t visible, so buy a new helmet to make sure you’re getting all the protection you need.
Child car seats
A car seat that has been in an accident may not protect your child in another. Damaged car seats are common; about one in ten have been in an accident, found one survey conducted in England. Brand-new car seats can cost as little as $50, and safety technology improves each year. Don’t risk your child’s life.
If they’ve been in an accident, tires are likely to be unstable and unreliable.
Wet suits and swimsuits
Don’t buy used any extremely personal products, especially if they hug your body. Also, constant changes in water pressure wear out wetsuits, making them more likely to tear.
With bed bugs infesting homes in record numbers, chances are the critters could lurk in any used mattress. You might also end up sleeping with other people’s mold, mites, bacteria, and bodily fluids (yuck!).
Scores of crib recalls, as well as changing safety standards, make it hard to verify the safety of a used crib.
Laptops are more likely to be dropped, knocked around and spilled on, simply because they’re out in the world, while a desktop computer sits (mostly) safe at home.
It’s hard to determine how well TVs, DVD players, and other electronic devices have been cared for by their previous owners. If your plasma screen dies, it can cost thousands of dollars to fix or replace—sometimes almost as much as it would cost to buy a new TV.
Used shoes have been molded to their previous owner’s feet. Poorly fitting shoes can cause pain and health problems over time.
Hats are rarely cleaned before they are donated to thrift stores. They may contain remnants of hair products, sweat, or skin infections.