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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

40 Things You Should Never Buy at a Thrift Store

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Whenever you can buy a secondhand or vintage treasure for your home, we say go for it! Buying used is often an easy way to find inexpensive, high-quality, and one-of-a-kind pieces. But in some cases, preowned or old items can be unsanitary, more expensive, and—in worst-case scenarios—dangerous. So the next time you scour your favorite thrift shop (or an antique store or garage sale), think twice about these items.

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Slow Cookers

We’ve all seen This Is Us. Who knows if the motor is burned out or the wiring is faulty? Skip the vintage appliances, and while you’re at it, double-check your smoke detector battery.

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Stuffed Animals

Yes, they’re adorable, but they’re probably dirty—or worse, infested with bed bugs or fleas.

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Laptops

Unless they have a solid state drive, laptops can be easily damaged when dropped, and when buying secondhand you won’t know until suddenly you can’t access your data.

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Furniture with Dated Fabric

Strong smells may be a sign that the couch you spotted is one of the 85 percent made between 1984 and 2010 that contain harmful fire retardant chemicals in its fabric, according to a study from the Green Science Policy Institute. The only way to be sure is to have the piece tested for toxins. Avoid old couches and chairs all together, or send a sample to Duke University’s Superfund Research Center for analyzing, and they’ll tell you what’s inside.

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Nursery Furniture

When it comes to furnishing a space for your youngster, it’s always best to err on the side of caution, which is why you should always buy new items that are designed to be safe enough for kids’ bedrooms and nurseries. If you purchase a thrifted piece, you can never be sure that it was created with little ones in mind.

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Pet Furniture

You’ll never know what previous pets were up to on secondhand pet beds, houses, crates, blankets, and toys. To prevent stinky smells from overtaking your space, and to ensure your furry friend has a clean place to sit or sleep, buy ’em something brand new.

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Upholstered Headboards

While everyone knows bed bugs love to nestle in mattresses, they can also make a home out of just about anything that’s upholstered, and tend to gravitate toward bedroom furniture, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Avoid fabric-covered headboards and be sure to carefully examine any thrifted item before you bring it home.

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Vacuum Cleaners

Gizmos like vacuum cleaners tend not to hold up for very long, according to Consumer Reports. So if possible, it’s always best to buy new. And if you are going to pick one up from your local thrift store, you should always test it—and all other electric-powered products—before you purchase.

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Bedding

This includes sheets, duvet covers, blankets, linens, and more. There’s no thorough way to sanitize these items, and because you’ll be spending so much time wrapped up in them (at least 8 hours a day, right?), it’s better to spend some extra cash to purchase fresh ones.

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Antique Crystal

At least not if you plan to eat off of it. Antique crystal glasses, decanters, and other crystal vessels were likely made following outdated standards, which means they could contain 32 percent or more lead oxide, according to The Washington Post. Try to avoid purchasing old crystal, which could contaminate your drinks and food, or use a lead test kit to determine an item’s level of safety if you really want to bring it home. And never use crystal to store food or drinks over a long period of time.

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Appliances You Can’t Test in Store

A word to the wise: Make sure you know it works before you bring it home.

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Old Dishware

They may look pretty, but vintage plates, bowls, cups, and platters could contain lead or other unsafe substances. Yikes! If you’re worried, play it safe by purchasing newer pieces—or just use your vintage pieces for display.

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Cribs

Over the decades, there have been millions of cribs recalled, in addition to improved crib safety standards put in place, according to HealthyChildren.org. Invest in a safe bed for your little one by purchasing one that’s new and up to latest standards.

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Construction Materials

There’s a good chance any doors, windows, and molding manufactured and/or painted before 1978 contain lead, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. If you have your heart set on a distressed window frame at your local thrift shop, ask to do a lead paint test with a quick kit before taking it home.

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Anything with Old or Chipping Paint

Always, and we mean always, test for lead if you’re thinking of buying a piece with old or chipping paint. “Not all vintage items contain lead paint,” the Minnesota Department of Health cautions, “however, painted items should be assumed to contain lead paint until they can be tested.”

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Vintage Hardware

There’s nothing we love more than a distressed knob or pull to embellish a door, dresser, or cabinet, but these items also come with a risk of lead exposure. Always test for lead before you buy.

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Mattresses

Two words: bed bugs!

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Used Cookware

They may look beautifully distressed, but scratched, rusty, or worn-down baking sheets, pots, pans, and other go-to kitchen supplies are likely not safe for actual use, according to Reader’s Digest. Chipping non-stick coatings and rust are not safe to consume food off of, and over-used cookware may seep harmful chemicals into your food. When it comes to vintage kitchen cookware, you may want to stick to just using them for decoration and not for food consumption.

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Rugs

Preowned rugs could contain years of stains, allergens, mold, and mildew. Buy a new one and your allergies will thank you.

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Anything That Stinks

That funky smell could be from mold, dust, pet stains, or a combination of chemicals from old paints or stains—and you’ll never what’s causing it since you don’t know the previous owner. Plus, removing odors from furniture can be costly and time-consuming. Save yourself the headache and skip that musty piece you had your eyes on.

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Upholstered Furniture

At the very least, you should plan to remove and replace all the upholstery from previously owned furniture to avoid bed bugs, allergens, and mold. Or, play it safe by skipping fabric-covered pieces altogether.

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Utensils

Cheaply made utensils can cause metals and chemicals to leach and contaminate your food, but sterling silver and stainless steel are safe to use.

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Strollers

Strollers can take a lot of wear and tear, but there are a myriad of reasons you should purchase a new one when you have a baby. The biggest concern is safety, as items may have been recalled or outdated and without the manual you’d never know.

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Helmets

It’s essential to wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorized vehicle, but in order to keep up with safety standards, most experts recommend replacing them every three to five years. Even if you find what appears to be an unused helmet at a secondhand shop, there’s no way of telling when it was made.

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Baby Toys

Baby toys, like a lot of the other baby items we’ve talked about, aren’t the best thing to pick up used. Between surface germs and outdated materials—that could contain lead—they aren’t items you’d want your baby to put in their mouth.

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Jewelry

Though pieces may look expensive in the store, they’re often costume jewelry, which was popular in the 1950s. Unless you love a piece, jewelry isn’t worth splurging on at thrift store, as it’s probably overpriced.

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Anything Damaged or Stained

You can find a ton of steals when shopping for vintage clothing, but it’s best to closely inspect items before making a purchase. Between stains, tears, and smells, you don’t want to get stuck with a damaged item and no where to return it.

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Shoes

The issue with buying shoes secondhand? The previous owner may have had skin or fungus conditions that you could easily contract. There’s no way of knowing, but the golden rule of thrift shopping is to only buy shoes that are brand new, never worn.

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Robert Miller
Go to the gym when I have some free time. I like to listen to music with headphones. In my free time I usually read. My family is very important for me. My best qualities are patience and creativity.

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