Stop! 15 Things You Should Never Buy Used in 2018 (and How You Can Still Find Them Cheap)

Everybody loves a good bargain, and a larger percentage of Americans than ever before is a huge proponent of reducing, reusing, and recycling. However, just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s safe, and these 15 products in particular are worth the extra money to never buy used.

There are some items that you should consider spending the extra money on. It’ll keep you and your family safer, protect you from some nasty germs, and may just be a better investment in the long run!

1. Car seats

Baby Seat

Used car seats may not be safe. | Halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images

Little known fact about car seats: They have a “shelf life,” or a literal expiration date. Most expire after six years, a date often printed on the owner’s manual (which we doubt you’ll get when buying it secondhand).

Plus, technology improves over time. The safest car seat for your child will likely be a recently manufactured one. There’s also no way to know if the seat has been involved in an accident, a fact that the seller likely won’t tell you if they’re trying to pawn their used car seat.

Next: You’re risking your health if you buy these used

2. Shoes


Used shoes probably won’t fit you well. | LeszekCzerwonka/iStock/Getty Images

  • Skip the secondhand store: DSW has name-brand shoes on sale that have never been worn

Buying shoes used poses the standard issues as other clothing items — the potential skin fungi the previous wearer had — but they can also seriously harm other parts of your body. Previously-worn shoes likely molded to the past owner’s feet, which means they won’t fit you as well.

Poorly fitting shoes can cause back problems and serious discomfort over time. It’s especially tempting to buy used shoes for your children since their feet grow so quickly. However, since their feet are constantly developing, it’s smarter to invest in supportive and new shoes.

 Next: These devices are frustrating enough as is

3. Smartphones like iPhones and Androids

iPhone 5

You’re better off buying an older-generation phone than a refurbished used newer model. | PressureUA/iStock/Getty Images

  • Buy an older generation phone rather than a used, newer model

It usually seems like a smart investment to buy a used or refurbished smartphone, especially when the new models run nearly $1,000 per phone. However, refurbished smartphones have had a life before you and their restoration quality is completely subjective to how skilled the technician was.

You’re better off buying the older generation phone completely new (example: a new iPhone 6 instead of a used iPhone X) to ensure the battery life is intact, it doesn’t have any software issues, and the camera still works as good as new.

Next: The stakes are even higher with your larger technology

4. Laptops


Refurbished laptops can be a good deal, but do your research first. | Ipopba/iStock/Getty Images

  • Buy a refurbished computer, but do your research!

Laptops are portable and therefore subject to the wear and tear that desktops are spared. If you’re not careful, think back on all the times you’ve dropped your laptop or left it loose in your bag to bump into all your other electronics. If you buy a used laptop usually don’t get the warranties and tech support you get buying a new device.

However, a refurbished laptop is less of a risk than a refurbished phone. They’re generally inspected and cleared for resale. To be safe, do your research on both the brand and the tech company reselling.

Next: The high price of a new one might give you a headache, but a used on will give you a backache

5. Mattresses


Who wants to run the risk of inviting bed bugs into their home? | Vadimguzhva/iStock/Getty Images

  • Buy online: Most ship in a compressed box, offer a free 100-day trial, and are cheaper than in-store

Just because most people put mattress toppers, multiple layers of sheets and comforters on top of their mattresses doesn’t mean it’s a safe bet to buy the mattress used. The mattress still could have been subject to mold, mites, bed bugs, and other various bacteria over time.

A used mattress can be terrible for your back, too. Even top-quality mattresses are only intended to last eight to 10 years.

Next: Buy new to avoid concerning chemicals

6. Cooking pots and pans


Use coupons to save on new pots and pans. | Heinteh/iStock/Getty Images

  • Look for deals and coupons through retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond

You may be able to get used cookware for cents to the dollar, but it’ll prove costly for your health (yes, this goes for the hand-me-down pans your grandma gave you, too). The chemicals in nonstick coated pots that have worn down can seep into your food while cooking.

You may think the used pot or pan is rid of germs, but there’s always a chance it comes drenched in unsavory chemicals and carcinogens you didn’t know about. Experts recommend you replace your cookware every three years anyway, so you’ll save money in the long run by buying new pans instead.

Next: If you want to keep your house clean, we recommend you buy this new.

7. Vacuum cleaners

Vacuum cleaner

People are usually getting rid of used vacuum cleaners for a reason. | Pioneer111/iStock/Getty Images

Vacuum cleaners are usually one of the heavier household appliances that also prove difficult to clean. It’s unlikely a used vacuum cleaner will ever work as well it once did, and they’re also fairly expensive to fix — even pricier than if you just bought a new one, to begin with.

Next: Ever skinny dipped?

8. Hot tubs

Hot tub

Why spend time and money cleaning out an old hot tub when you can buy one new?| Hemul75/iStock/Getty Images

A hot tub is an expensive purchase — a mid-tier model will cost you in the $5,000 to $8,000 range — but it’s worth it to buy new. If you’ve ever watched a friend properly clear out their hot tub jets, you’ll see why.

It takes a ton of chemicals and effort to clean a hot tub thoroughly … it’s probably easier to sell the thing then to clean years of human hair and bacteria out of it. It might be tempting to save yourself a grand or two, but that’s nearly how much money you’d put into having it repaired in the future.

Next: If you wouldn’t buy a used hairbrush, don’t buy this used either.

9. Hats

Sun hat

Buy a cheap hat at Target rather than picking up a used one. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

  • A Target or Walmart hat will get the job done just as well as a designer brand!

Have you ever figured out how to clean a straw hat? Nope? Then it’s a safe bet that the person selling you their old vacation head cover hasn’t, either. A used hat may come cheap, but it also probably comes with skin infections, old sweat stains, and the remnants of hair gel or, even worse, dead skin.

Next: It’s tempting to save on screens

10. A television

Smart Curved TV

If your used TV turns out to be a dud, repairing or replacing it will be costly. | Scanrai/iStock/Getty Images

Good TVs don’t run cheap these days, so we understand the appeal of buying a used one off Craigslist or a friend. However, repairing a TV can cost nearly as much as replacing it depending on the damage level.

Similar to other technology, the smartest way to buy is to invest in an extended warranty that covers potential damage or malfunctions. Since you can’t purchase an extended warranty with a used TV, it’s a worthy investment to buy new.

Next: Ask for it as a gift, instead

11. Jewelry


Unless  you’re a pro, it’s easy to get ripped off buying used fine jewelry. | CarlosAndreSantos/iStock/Getty Images

Buy your costume jewelry where you’d like, but be more cautious when it comes to thrifty high-end pieces. Unless you are a master when it comes to identifying jewelry’s value, there’s a solid chance you’ll be ripped off.

However, where cheap jewelry is concerned, you should still tread lightly: Some types of costume jewelry contain small amounts of toxic substances. If you have a nickel or lead allergy, play it safe and steer clear altogether to avoid a reaction.

Next: Buy new for full volume

12. Speakers


Used audio equipment may not perform well. | Stockmorrison/iStock/Getty Images

  • Buy a smaller, less expensive speaker. The cheapest option may come with a cord, however.

Most people don’t handle and take care of their speakers the same way they do their smartphones and televisions. However, they’re still fairly sensitive technology. The audio equipment doesn’t hold up as well as many think.

Next time you go to buy a used speaker, think about how the performance might be compromised by how loud the former owner blasted their music. The damage won’t be obvious so use caution if buying a used speaker.

Next: Watch where you walk

13. Rugs

Sofa and a rug

Some nasty stuff could be lurking in that used rug. | Image Source/iStock/Getty Images

Rugs have two purposes: complementing your room’s aesthetic, and being stepped on. Buy a new rug to avoid stepping all over the same rug someone else’s feet have. Sure, you can always hire a carpet cleaner, but bacteria aren’t nearly as visible as stains.

Next: You’ll save on a trip to the doctor’s office if you buy these new

14. Stuffed animals and children’s toys

Box of toys

You don’t want another child’s germs of your kid’s toys.  | Artisteer/iStock/Getty Images

  • Buy the off-brand doll or the smaller stuffed animal to save money without compromising quality

No matter how well you know the family you’re inheriting hand-me-down dolls and stuffed animals from, their kid is still just that … a tiny human with little regard for germs. That means they have probably chewed on, sneezed on, or infected the toy in the way only children can.

Next: Don’t buy this used if you value your pet’s health

15. Pet supplies

Dog playing with toy

Used pet toys might not be safe for your pup. | Alexei_tm/iStock/Getty Images

  •  Buy pet beds and toys on sale or at discount stores. We promise, your dog won’t know the difference

Similar to how you wouldn’t (or, at least, shouldn’t) buy your baby a used bed or toy, you should always buy your pet new supplies. Animals can spread fleas and fungal infections just by contact, so you risk bringing those diseases into your home by buying a used dog bed or cat trees.

Besides, no matter how well you wash it, do you really want to subject your pet to sleep on a bed that’s been home to another animal’s saliva and potential infections?

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