Share on Facebook

32 Things You Should Avoid at a Garage Sale

Garage sales are great, but you should definitely steer clear of these items.

1 / 32
Father assisting son in wearing bicycle helmet in park on a sunny daywavebreakmedia/Shutterstock


Helmets are designed to protect you from one accident, and one accident only. Sometimes the damage isn’t visible, so buy a new helmet to make sure you’re getting full protection. On the flip side, if you see any of these things at a garage sale, make sure to snap it up!

2 / 32
Mother takes care about her daughter in a car, helps her and cheers upBlueSkyImage/Shutterstock

Child car seats

Like helmets, car seats are really only meant to protect in one accident. But damaged car seats are common; a survey found that one in ten have been in an accident. Plus, car seat technology improves each year. Keep your car clean inside and out with these awesome cleaning tricks.

3 / 32
Inside a garage - changing wheels/tires (shallow DOF; color toned image)l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock


If they’ve been in an accident, tires are likely to be unstable and unreliable. Make sure you can get an accurate history. Make your tires last and save hundreds of dollars by doing this one thing.

4 / 32
Colored bodice of bathing suit in a female hand White background. Top viewsomemeans/Shutterstock

Wet suits and swimsuits

Personal products that hug your body are technically safe if you wash them in hot water… and still we’re cautious. But constant changes in water pressure also wear out swimwear faster than regular clothing, so it’s likely a used wetsuit or swimsuit will tear. Are you the one hosting a garage sale? Think twice about buying these items at the thrift store, too.

5 / 32
Close up photo of young man demonstrating quality of mattressDima Sidelnikov/Shutterstock


Bed bugs could lurk in any used mattress. You might also end up sleeping with other people’s mold, mites, bacteria, and bodily fluids (yuck!). This is the way to get rid of bed bugs.

6 / 32
Cute baby in the crib looking aroundwavebreakmedia/Shutterstock


Scores of crib recalls, as well as changing safety standards, make it hard to verify the safety of a used crib. Find out what to do with the items that don’t sell at your garage sale.

7 / 32
Stack of used laptops for recycle , white backgroundAri N/Shutterstock


Laptops, e-readers, tablets, or mp3 players are more likely to be dropped, knocked around, and spilled on, simply because they’re out in the world. A desktop computer sits (mostly) safe at home, but even that would likely cost more to upgrade than buy new. Finally, here’s what you need to know about recycling old computers.

8 / 32
Old TV with OFF screen on a wooden shelf, Isolated backgroundR.Bordo/Shutterstock

Older TVs

It’s hard to determine how well TVs, DVD players, and other electronic devices have been cared for by their previous owners. Plus, technology changes so quickly that you can often get a better quality device. If you’re buying refurbished devices directly from a manufacturer, you’ll be covered by a warranty—but a random TV at a garage sale could be hit or miss.

9 / 32
shoes on shoe rackFamily Handyman


Used shoes have been molded to their previous owner’s feet—and poorly fitting shoes will make you miserable, or you’ll just never want to wear them. Plus, they might smell and you might not know this one trick to make shoes not smell.

10 / 32
modern bedroom with green pillows on bedWorldWide/Shutterstock

Sheets and bedding

Sure, you can wash them in hot water, but that might not protect against bed bugs. Check out this how-to guide on getting rid of bed bugs once and for all.

11 / 32
Baby bottle with milk on blue soft towelAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Baby bottles

While sanitation and cracks can be an issue, the real culprit is the chemical BPA that’s present in most older bottles—and as of June 2012, the FDA no longer accepts that as safe. Go with new bottles to make sure you’re getting the safest, most up-to-date bottles.

12 / 32
Pile of dishes For saleTAKLONGKORAT/Shutterstock

Worn plates, pots, and other cookware

Rust, flaky non-stick coatings and chemicals that leach out are just a few of the safety problems you can run into with older cookware. But if you see any of these vintage kitchen items for sale, they might be worth grabbing!

13 / 32
Background of compact disks or dvdsDelpixel/Shutterstock

DVDs, CDs and VHS Tapes

If you’re still using this technology and looking to scoop up a bargain, know that scratches have ruined many a DVD or CD—and VHS tapes lessen in quality the more times they’re played, not to mention disintegrate over the years. Know what the secret ingredient is for cleaning DVDs and CDs?

14 / 32
A warehouse with furniture such as sofas, chairs and

Upholstered furniture

Just like mattresses and sheets, any upholstered furniture can be home to bed bugs, fleas, and spiders, as well as unknown odors and stains. Unless you’re going to reupholster the piece, steer clear.

15 / 32
Woman Buying Children's Clothes In Charity ShopSpeedKingz/Shutterstock

Clothes that require a tailored fit

It might look like it fits—until you put it on. Unless you can try something on, it’s often not worth the money you’ll spend on alterations. Don’t miss these things thrift and consignment shop owners aren’t telling you.

16 / 32
Crazy, fun, joy, winners and looser! Young men are sitting on couch and playing video games indoors at home with beer and pizza, expressing emotions and feelings, gesturingRoman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Video games

You might want to quickly Google the video game—manufacturers are now including codes for one-user only play, either for the whole game or special bonus sections. But make sure you’ve got an incredible place like this arcade room, to play the game.

17 / 32
Brush and cosmetic isolated on a white background. Top view.FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock

Fragrance or makeup (new or old!)

The quality of both can lessen over the years (and yes, they do expire!). Even if makeup is brand new in the box, skip it unless you can tell that it was recently manufactured. Learn why synthetic soap is better for your shower.

18 / 32
Soft toys in a child's bedroomPixavril/Shutterstock

Stuffed animals

Stuffed animals can be hard to send through the extra-hot cycle on a washing machine, and like mattresses and upholstered furniture, they can be full of creepy crawlies and other unsavory finds. Of course, if you spot one of these valuable childhood toys, you might want to snap it quickly. Put those toys in the right place with this storage idea.

19 / 32
Kitchen appliances on table against brick wall background. Interior elementNew Africa/Shutterstock

Blenders and other electronic kitchen appliances

Your go-to smoothie maker’s blades and mechanisms can become dull and wear down over time, even if the machine looks fine on the surface. Just keep your appliances working well and know how to make 10 common appliance repairs.

20 / 32
Runner feet running on road closeup on shoe. Sportsman fitness sunrise jog workout welness concept.WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

Running shoes

Used running shoes are often devoid of the cushioning that runners need; stick with new shoes for the cushioning and fit that will protect knees, feet, and legs. Just be careful if you want to try to wash running shoes, they could end up looking like that sweater you ran through in hot water.

21 / 32
Several safari sun hats hanging at the entrance of a base campAndrew Paul Deer/Shutterstock


How’s this for gross: Hats may contain remnants of hair products, sweat, or skin infections. Here is why you never put a hat on a bed.

22 / 32
Vinyl record with copy space in front of a collection of albums (dummy titles), vintage processDelpixel/Shutterstock

Vinyl Records

For every Beatles “Butcher” album find at a garage sale there are about a million Captain & Tennille records to wade through. Not to mention the condition the records could be in. Picking up vinyl records at a garage sale simply are worth the effort. What is worth the effort is these free things on Craigslist.

23 / 32
Dirty white painted soaked short two wooden brushes placing on color bucket round plastic lid cover, with space frame backgroundSarah121/Shutterstock


If you’re trying to pawn off old paint at a garage sale, don’t, try this instead. If you’re trying to find the right color paint for your home at a garage sale, think again. Who knows if that color is still around and whatever is at a garage sale likely isn’t going to be enough.

24 / 32
Color shot of a vintage draughts or checkers board game.Alexandru Nika/Shutterstock

Puzzles and games

Puzzles and games are a staple of garage sales but so are missing pieces to those things. Imagine your favorite Monopoly piece missing from the board you bought at a garage. How can you play Monopoly without being the thimble? Get a grip on those unruly board games and toys with these incredible ideas.

25 / 32
A battered vintage steel power tool isolated on a white backgroundAnthony Hall/Shutterstock

Power tools

The types of power tools you’re going to see at garage sales will most likely be relics. It’s best to avoid them because who knows how long they’ll continue to function before they fade away. Get a clue on cordless tools before going out and buying one.

26 / 32
Christmas lights on a floormikecphoto/Shutterstock

Christmas lights

How many strands of Christmas lights return useable each year for you? The ratio can’t be much better at a garage sale. Unless you like to gamble, save your money. Find out how to fix Christmas lights and how to store them.

27 / 32
Elliptical cross trainer machine in exercise room for sportGOLFX/Shutterstock

Exercise equipment

Old exercise equipment is definitely some of the things you should get rid of but picking some up at a garage sale is another story. As pristine as it looks, who knows how much life is left with that exercise bike or elliptical.

28 / 32
child playing behind safety gates in front of stairs at homeronstik/Shutterstock

Old baby gates

The old accordion-style baby gates are to be avoided at garage sales. Though there shouldn’t be many left, gates manufactured before February 1985 have an entrapment and strangulation hazard, and might still find their way into garage sales of older adults. See how to baby proof your home in nine steps.

29 / 32
Black hair dryer isolated on white backgroundgutval23/Shutterstock

Old hair dryers

Electrical shock protection is required on all hair dryers but sometimes they can get manufactured without them for a short time. In 2007, there was a product recall for a hair dryer that did not have electrical shock protection. The hair dryers with a large rectangular plug and a laboratory testing mark typically have electrical shock protection. Thinking about a bathroom remodel, then check out the transformation of this 1950s bathroom.

30 / 32
Propane tank ready for grilling.Daryl Marquardt/Shutterstock

Propane tanks

Some old propane tanks can’t be recycled but people still try to sell them. You might want an extra propane tank but forget getting one at a garage sale. Propane tanks that are 20 pounds have 12 years from the manufacture date before they need to be re-certified. Find out the easy way to tell how much propane is left in the tank.

31 / 32
Soft focus The breast pumpLesterman/Shutterstock

Breast pumps

Open-pump systems are especially troublesome because it’s impossible to clean entirely, making them susceptible to possible contamination.

32 / 32
Shopping bags with inscription "50% OFF" on wooden backgroundGood Mood/Shutterstock

Grab bags

The thrill of the find in a garage sale grab bag is difficult to replicate but the misery of finding anything good seems like the more prevailing trend. As tempting as those cheap grab bags look, you’ve just paid someone to get rid of their trash. Don’t miss more things you should never, ever buy at yard sales.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Newsletter Unit

CMU Unit

Subscribe & SAVE Save Up To 84%!