Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store

Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store

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Today, I want to talk about things you should not buy from a thrift store. The thrift store is the perfect place to visit to find good deals, a variety of great items, and a fun place to go treasure hunting. Many people like visiting different thrift stores because of the thrill that comes from not knowing what you’re going to find while you’re there.

Each thrift store has its inventory full of exciting gadgets, clothes, accessories, and more, leaving that element of surprise that gets people excited. You could find nostalgic items that remind you of your childhood or high-quality name-brand items in excellent condition that are listed at deeply discounted prices. 

While the thrift stores have a lot to offer, some items aren’t worth buying there. Knowing what not to buy is essential so that you can avoid running into issues. You don’t want to waste money on items that will collect dust or possibly put your health at risk, so check out this list of the things you shouldn’t buy from the thrift store! In case you missed this post, What You Should Buy At Thrift Stores

“Prepare You Family For Survival” by Linda Loosli

Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store

Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store

Plush Toys/Stuffed Animals

Don’t waste your time on plush toys at the thrift store. First, you truly don’t need them. How many times do these plush toys end up in the corner of a room to collect dust?

If you don’t want to contribute to dust and clutter in the home, it’s better to avoid plush toys altogether. Besides collecting dust, these items may not be in the best condition and could potentially be hosts for different pests, such as fleas and bed bugs.

You can never be too sure. Most thrift stores will wash these items before putting them on display, but it’s hard to tell if that is happening at all thrift stores.

Of course, you can always make an exception. For example, if you find some collectible plush toy that you’ve searched for over the past several years and couldn’t find, you’d want to grab it, and that would make sense. For the most part, however, plush toys aren’t worth purchasing from the thrift store.

Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store

Car Seats

Understandably, you might think getting a car seat from the thrift store is a good idea because these seats tend to cost a lot of money on a regular retail basis. While you may want to save money by cutting corners as you purchase used items, in this case, it isn’t a good idea.

Unfortunately, car seats from years ago get donated to the thrift store, many of which may no longer meet proper safety standards. You wouldn’t want to put your child at risk by using an outdated car seat that might not provide enough protection if you get into an accident.

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Even the safest drivers can get into accidents, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Avoid any car seats you see at the thrift store, even if you think it’s a fantastic deal! It’s not worth the risk.

Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store


Buying laptops and computers from thrift stores are risky. While they’re often marked down to significantly lower prices that make them more affordable, there is no telling if they’re going to work correctly or not.

Why would you want to buy something that could potentially fail in a short time? These are a few other reasons not to buy laptops and computers from thrift stores:

  • You don’t know if someone downloaded spyware on them to see everything you do when logged into the system.
  • These laptops and computers could have viruses on them that make them unstable.
  • They may be so old that they don’t have the kind of storage you need.
  • If they’re outdated, there is a good chance that the laptops and computers will run too slow for you.
  • It’s very possible, if you have problems with one you won’t be able to find replacement parts due to their age.

Of course, you want to get a good deal. However, there are better ways to go about finding a good laptop or computer. For example, you can get open box items from “Best Buy” and many other stores marked down significantly.

Computer and Laptops


Never buy a mattress from a thrift store. Even if it’s large, looks comfortable, and is available at the lowest price possible. Avoid getting your mattress from the thrift store because it could quickly turn into instant regret. Not sure why you shouldn’t get a mattress in the thrift store when you see it available at a low price? These are a few good reasons:

  • You don’t know who used the mattress before you, and you don’t know what hidden stains may have been temporarily removed!
  • Bed bugs are a real thing. It’s hard to see them, but it’s a challenge to get rid of them once you have them in your home. You wouldn’t want to buy a mattress that has bed bugs! Our local thrift store here will not take mattresses or pillows because bed bugs may be present.
  • It could have an odor that is difficult to remove. No one wants to sleep on a stinky bed.
  • Usually people discard their matresses because they just don’t provide much support any more. It may feel ok at the store, but after a few hours of use at your home you may find it has spots that sag you didn’t see when stacked at the store.

Bike Helmets

Like the car seats, you shouldn’t buy bike helmets from the thrift store. Bike helmets don’t last forever and need to be replaced from time to time. So you could potentially buy an old bike helmet that doesn’t provide the protection you want and need when you or a family member is riding their bicycle.

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In addition to a lack of safety provided by some old, used bike helmets, there is always that small chance of lice being inside the bike helmets. It’s the kind of problem you don’t want to experience, so it’s better to avoid the helmets altogether.

From Teddy, If a helmet is dropped, it needs to be replaced. Period. Internal cracks can occur, usually not visible, which will allow failure of the helmet when it is needed to protect the head and brain. Bicycle helmets need to be properly fitted, and always worn over the head Only. Remove that cap or hat, keep the hood of your jacket on top of the bicycle helmet or throw the hood back. Keep the strap properly tightened. Teddy is a certified bicycle helmet fitter.

Helmets on a Family

Motorcycle Helmets

Harry H. mentioned to me (he’s a motorcycle enthusiast) that motorcycle helmets must be replaced every five to six years. It makes sense to upgrade your helmet earlier if a new helmet on the market has improved safety or comfort features. If you have dropped your helmet hard you may want to replace it even earlier just to be safe.

Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store

Scratched Pots and Pans

The scratched pots and pans in the thrift stores are a big no-no. You don’t want them! They’re not in good condition. Even if you need one of those pots or pans and they’re sold for 25 cents, it’s still not worth it.

The remnants of non-stick surfaces of the pots and pans can get into your food and cause potential health risks. When pots and pans get scratched up by utensils, they’re no longer good to use and should get thrown out in the trash.

Don’t waste your money on these products! Remember we recently talked about those pans where the non-stick coating started flaking off? Obviously, we would not buy those.

Things You Should Not Buy From a Thrift Store

Final Word 

Thrift stores have a lot of great items to offer. However, some items aren’t worth buying when you’re shopping there. Now that you know what not to buy, you can avoid making a purchase that you’ll regret in the future. If you’ve had experience with a purchase you wish you hadn’t made, please let me know and we’ll pass the info on to my readers, they’ll appreciate the input. May God Bless this world, Linda 

Copyright Images: Stuffed Animals AdobeStock_27850543 by monticellllo, Little boy and baby in car seats Depositphotos_184737122_s-2019, Mattresses Depositphotos_57171161_s-2019, Computer Lab Depositphotos_8588319_s-2019, Helmets Depositphotos_79250078_s-2019, Old and New Pans Depositphotos_463070292_s-2019, Three Bears Depositphotos_182621738_s-2019, Motorcycle Helmets AdobeStock_420195727 by Oleg

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  1. You gotta watch for bed bugs.

    I’ll admit to buying a used bike helmet but not for riding. It’s a hail helmet. The wife don’t move like she used to and we got the snot beat out of us getting her into the shelter one night by hail that preceded the tornado. So I got her a hail helmet that hangs by the back door.
    We generally don’t wait to get in but this particular one came up fast.

      1. One of our hospitals will take new car seats if they haven’t been used. They have, at least they did at one time a place that would do a safety check on car seats. One of my son’s friends got 3 car seats for shower presents. So they took the extra seats to the hospital. So I would check the hospitals to oif they have a program like that.

    1. Omg that’s crazy! I’m deathly afraid of tornadoes. Hail helmet, huh? Smart!

      I have found myself looking at used bike helmets many times but always pass, they’re always cracked and beat up. I have purchased throw pillows, sanitized them as best as I could and then purchased or made covers for them. I have purchased cast iron pans and those huge covered enameled roasting pans you pretty much only use on the holidays. And baskets! How many baskets does one person need. Too many. Oh, and rolling pins and bread boards, a la farmhouse. 🙂

      I’ll admit I love going to thrift stores. This last life restart (years ago) I furnished and decorated my house almost entirely from Craigslist, OfferUp (formerly LetGo, which was far superior) and thrift stores. Not even kidding. My chicken coop was free on Craigslist! I found most of my stuff during lockdowns believe it or not. Everyone was throwing their old stuff away and buying new stuff. I was happy to take it all off their hands.

    2. Matt,

      I figured you’d be smart enough and prepared enough to have a storm shelter. The hail helmet is a great idea!

      When I lived in SE KS we had both a basement, and a storm cellar that doubled as a root cellar. We’d also get hail large enough to kill livestock–and people if they were caught out in it. I once had to shelter under a flat bottomed, aluminum fishing boat that I flipped over on a river bank while baseball-size hail hammered big dents in it. Think being inside a metal barrel while a madman beats on it with a sledge hammer.

      I’m in AZ now and I do NOT miss having to dodge twisters–we have them but they are small (F1-F2) and very rare. And what hail we get (exceedingly rare) is graupel and small at that.

  2. Hi Linda. I must say, I do buy stuffed toys at my local thrift store, but they are for my dog. He gets a new one every year for Christmas. He’s past the age of ripping them apart and loves his new “Santa” toy. Because I’m on a very low income, most of the time it’s the only place I can get him something for either Christmas or his birthday which is 4 days later. I did, yesterday, get some really good canning jars there to dry can some Anasazi beans I just ordered. When I need something, I always look at the thrift store first before buying new. Sometimes I get lucky and find just what I’m needing. Have a great day!

    1. My local goodwill charges too much for canning jars. I wish that they didn’t because I have elderberries to make into jelly. I find, at least around here, it’s cheaper to buy a flat of them than purchase singles from goodwill or the local thrift store. My local Goodwill even charges $1.49 MORE on an item I know originally came from the dollar store. Ugh!

      1. I shop on Senior Day. I got mine for .99 each. I agree, goodwill is over priced here as well, so I’m careful on what I buy. That’s a great idea about the Dollar Store. Hadn’t thought of looking there. Thanks for the hint.

          1. I totally agree. Years ago when I moved from Arizona back to Texas I asked someone at Goodwill why their prices were so high. The lady said, “Because the area allowes for higher prices.” I was shocked. There’s some other thrift stores down in the Springs that are less expensive and I do check them out when I’m down there which isn’t often. Thus, I’m stuck with Goodwill up here. Occasionally, I do find a good bargain but not often.

          2. Hi Pam, I have a sister that lives in Austin, and she has the best thrift stores! She buys some very expensive clothes with many of them with price tags attached. I have never seen any clothes here compared to her city! Linda

    2. Hi Pam, I should have added that to the post, my daughter buys stuffed animals for her dogs at thrift stores. It’s awesome to look at gently used before buying new, why not? It saves us money and it makes us happy to find something we need at a huge discount!! Linda

  3. Hi Linda, great follow-up to your what you should buy at thrift shops! However in my experience, thrift shops do not accept things like car seats, strollers, playpens or even pack and plays anymore because of possible litigation for being old or defective. I tried to donate these things and, one was even brand new still in the box. They said to throw all that stuff away. Broke my heart but did as they said. Some shelters will put you in contact with someone in need but will accept no responsibility for anything.
    Stay safe and God Bless…

    1. Hi Bill, now that you say that, I do remember hearing that! It’s been years since I need a car seat or two!! LOL! You are correct on that because of the liability! Great comment!! Thank you for reminding me!! God bless you, my friend! Linda

  4. Linda,
    When you said bike helmets, as a motorcycle rider, I immediately thought of those helmets until I read that you were referring to bicycle helmets. Motorcycle helmets should be replaced every five to six years with NEW helmets, but definitely not with used thrift store helmets. LOL!! Now you know another thing about this crazy Texan. HEH!

    1. Hi Harry, oh my gosh, I did not know this about motorcycle helmets should be replaced every 5-6 years. I’m adding that to the post right now. Thank you my favorite Texan, you are not crazy!!! LOL! Great tip!! I love it! Linda

  5. Hi, Everyone! If a helmet is dropped, it needs to be replaced. Period. Internal cracks can occur, usually not visible, which will allow failure of the helmet when it is needed to protect the head and brains. Bicycle helmets need to be properly fitted, and always worn over the head Only. Remove that cap or hat, keep the hood of your jacket on top of the bicycle helmet or throw the hood back. Keep the strap properly tightened. I am a certified bicycle helmet fitter. As the other guys say, undamaged helmets need to be replaced, whether they have been worn or not. With helmets, age is important.
    We have bought stuffed animals in the past from thrift shops, which then got special washing and cleaning care to ensure they are bug-free. Right now, with Covid, I would not buy any textiles from thrift stores. That includes the stuffed animals.
    Thanks, Linda!

    1. Hi Teddy, oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment, we need to hear this, thank you!! I will add that to my post, thank you. I’m with you on the Covid and any textile product! You are awesome! Linda

  6. Thank you, Linda! You are the
    awesome one! You spend a lot of your time to educate and inform! Thank you for that!!
    Matt’s idea of the hail helmet is brilliant! I’m adding that idea to my toolkit and passing it along. On a humorous note of uses for bicycle helmets, a lady was spotted in our area a couple years ago wearing a bicycle helmet in her convertible! The top was down. Quite the sight!
    Have a blessed day!!

  7. Hi Linda, just looked this up about Covid on clothes: “Research suggests that COVID-19 doesn’t survive for long on clothing, compared to hard surfaces, and exposing the virus to heat may shorten its life. A study published in found that at room temperature, COVID-19 was detectable on fabric for up to two days, compared to seven days for plastic and metal. However, when it was exposed to high heat, the virus became inactive within five minutes.”

    So, if you want, throw them in the heated dryer for a few minutes and then wear them

  8. I am a volunteer at a thrift store in my town. We do not sell any of the above items. Stuffed animals go to an organization that cleans them and redistributes them to children in need. Helmets are a no go due to potential unseeable damage. Mattresses are a definite no no for more than bed bug reasons. Car seats in our state may not be sold due to motor vehicle requirements regarding crashes. All newer car seats have expiration dates on them. Scratched pots and pans are gross and get sent to trash along with worn housewares. We do not offer any electronics for your above mentioned statement. This was a great article and I am happy you posted it.

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