19 Items You Should Never Buy Secondhand

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By Jonathan Trent

Buying secondhand items is a fantastic way to save money and help the environment through recycling. Yet there are many used things you should never buy because of safety and hygiene reasons. Here are 19 items you should avoid buying secondhand.


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This one might be surprising, as a thrifted pair of shoes can often be a money saver. Yet, depending on the condition and type of shoe, you could be risking reduced support from worn-out soles. Not only that, there’s an increased risk of foot infections or fungus in shoes you don’t wear socks with.


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Buying a used mattress can be hygienically problematic due to any allergens or bodily fluids that might have been on it from the previous owner, not to mention bedbugs. Healthline explains that the right mattress can help to improve sleep quality, so brand new is always best.

Car Seats

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We know baby items can get expensive, but secondhand car seats are something to be wary of. They may carry safety risks due to potential damage or expiration of parts. The lack of manufacturer support on a used seat also means that buying a new one is the safest choice.

Makeup and Skincare Products

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You should never share or donate makeup products, and you most certainly shouldn’t buy them used. Buying used from an unknown person means there’s a risk of contamination, as well as the potential for allergic reactions or skin irritation. It’s unhygienic—always buy new!

Baby Cribs

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The biggest risk with secondhand baby cribs is any structural damage that’s hard to see. Hidden damage is dangerous if it affects the integrity of the overall crib. There are also other safety concerns from outdated or recalled models. A secondhand crib may also have been exposed to toxins from its previous home.

Bicycle Helmets

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Bicycle helmets may have been compromised in their ability to protect if bought secondhand, especially if they’ve been used a lot. It can also be difficult to tell whether they’ll efficiently protect simply by looking at them. Wear and tear may have also affected the structure, increasing the chance of the helmet shifting.

Laptops and Electronics

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Older electronics, particularly laptops, may have outdated hardware and lack warranty coverage. USA Today Reviewed also explains that “batteries quickly lose their charging capacity over time,” meaning a used laptop will likely have a short battery life and a higher electricity bill.

Undergarments and Swimwear

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If you buy used swimwear or underwear, you risk serious hygiene concerns and bacterial infection. Even with bikini tops and bras, you risk potential discomfort from worn-out material and lack of elasticity, which could cause irritation. Always buy underwear and swimwear new.

Safety Equipment Such as Fire Extinguishers

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Safety equipment needs to be a recent model and in its best condition for maximum functionality. Older safety equipment may have even expired. If you can’t verify the maintenance history of any piece of equipment, you can’t guarantee it will work – and that’s not what you want to learn in an emergency.

Personal Hygiene Items

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If you buy personal hygiene items secondhand, you risk contamination and bacterial growth. There’s also the potential for unknown infections to spread and a lack of effectiveness due to wear and tear over time.


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Unless you’re buying a verified ‘just like new’ used tire from a reputable supplier, it’s best to avoid buying secondhand tires. Without professional input, you won’t know the history of wear and tear, which increases safety hazards and reduces the tire’s lifespan.

Upholstered Furniture

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With upholstered furniture, the problem is that you don’t know how hygienic the previous owner was. There’s the risk of pests, allergens, and even mold. Southern Living also explains that secondhand upholstered furniture runs the risk of needing to be reupholstered if out of shape, so that’ll only cost you more to fix.

Makeup Brushes and Sponges

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While you shouldn’t buy used makeup products or skincare items, you also shouldn’t buy used brushes or sponges—even if they look like new. There are hygiene and contamination risks, and the product may not work as it should due to being worn down.

Cooking Utensils

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Even if a cooking utensil looks clean, it could still cause contamination from residues you can’t see. It’s difficult to properly clean and sanitize a cooking utensil if you don’t know what’s been on it before. There’s also the risk of older utensils no longer being able to do their job properly.

Vacuum Cleaners

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You really don’t know what the vacuum cleaner has been exposed to during its previous use. Risks include allergens or bacteria inside the machine that you can’t properly detect. It’s also difficult to know how long a vacuum cleaner will last if you don’t know its full maintenance history.

Motorcycle Helmets

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Motorcycle helmets are essential for bike safety, yet a used helmet could risk that. If you don’t know whether the helmet has suffered from previous impacts, you won’t fully know whether its protection has been compromised. Used helmets are also more likely to fit badly, which means you won’t be properly protected.

Outdoor Camping Gear

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If you can bag a good bargain on gear that’s only been used once, then a secondhand deal can be cost-effective. But if you’re shopping for outdoor gear that’s had a long history of owners, the gear could then be less effective due to wear and tear. And that could compromise your outdoor safety.


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Secondhand lamps can often be unique and quirky, but they come with a safety risk. They should be checked by an electrician before you use them, as the wiring may be faulty or the electrics may not have been tested for a long time. As ROSPA  highlights, “unsafe electrical equipment can kill you.”

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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PPE is designed to keep you completely protected, so used PPE could be dangerous. If you don’t know what it’s been used for or exposed to in the past, it could be lacking much-needed protection. It’s also very difficult to verify the authenticity of secondhand PPE if it’s much older.