The Dangers of Thrift Store Shopping: How to Avoid Buying Toxic Home Items

Monica Gray - February 7, 2023

Medical Supplies Can Be Harmful And Tampered With

Stocking up on medical supplies is never a good idea. First of all, they might not be cleaned properly. Face masks, thermometers, and hand sanitizer are always better purchased new. They can also easily be tampered with, so buying them from an accredited store is your best bet. The same goes for medication. It can be very dangerous to purchase medication that wasn’t prescribed by your doctor. Even Tylenol or Advil should be bought, new, from the pharmacy (Country Living).


Helmets Are Only Made For One Accident. Never Buy Used.

Similarly to strollers and children’s items, buying used helmets is never a good idea. Helmets are built to only withstand one impact, which means if someone used it and got into an accident, it doesn’t work anymore. That could very possibly be one of the reasons it’s at the thrift store. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to helmets for your children (Insider).


Don’t Buy That Dirty Mattress, Ever

Even though it’s unlikely you’ll find a mattress in a thrift shop, you may come across one. It’s never a good idea to buy a mattress in a thrift store, just as it’s not a good idea to buy linens or pillows. In general, bedroom furniture always runs the risk of carrying bedbugs and other mites that are toxic to you and your family. They may also carry smells, mysterious stains, and other bacteria. Bringing them inside your home could create a ton of problems that is never worth saving a couple of hundred bucks over (Insider).

NY Times

Used Underwear Is Off Limits

This one is obvious, but we’ll subtly remind you that used underwear is off-limits. Buying undergarments secondhand is not something you’ll ever want to do. Unless it’s clear they’ve never been worn, don’t buy them. Preworn underwear or swimsuits can carry tons of bacteria, fecal matter, and even STDs. Because of where they sit on the body, it attracts tons of bacteria. Swimsuits also wear out easily, so you’re not saving much money in the long run (WebMD).

Langley Vacuum and Sewing Center

Vacuum Cleaners Don’t Last Very Long, So Just Buy It New

Vacuums are another item that’s best bought new. Since you don’t know the history of the vacuum, it’s hard to tell if it works properly or not. The money saved in the long run isn’t worth it. If you need the vacuum, make sure you test it at the thrift store beforehand. It also runs the danger of bringing someone else’s dust into your home (Fool).


That Old Rug May Make You Sneeze

Did you buy a used rug from a thrift store and suddenly, you’re sneezing? That’s because the pre-owned rug can contain mildew, mold, allergens, dust, and stains. Even worse, it could contain black mold, which is incredibly harmful and toxic to your health. Carpet mold comes in black, white, or green spots, so if you see this on the rug, leave it at the shop. If you bring this mold into your home, you run the risk of spreading it to other areas of your home. If you or your family are sensitive to mold, you might experience sneezing, sniffling, itchy eyes, or itchy skin (GP Inspect).


Outdated Furniture May Contain Multiple Toxins

If you see a couch or other furniture that dates back to 1984, leave it at the shop. It may be one of the 85% of furniture that contains harmful fire retardant chemicals in its fabric. In 1975, a “California furniture flammability standard called Technical Bulletin 117 led to the use of harmful and ineffective flame retardant chemicals in furniture and children’s product foam. This California regulation was followed across all of North America.” This toxin is associated with a lower IQ in children, hormone disruption, cancer, and a host of other health problems (Green Science Policy).


Construction Materials Have Lead, Especially Before 1978

Just as many other items on this list may contain lead, windows, doors, and molding manufactured before 1978 may also contain lead. Leave the construction materials at the store, where you found them. Lead poisoning is a serious issue, and it’s never worth saving money. To prevent this, you can do a lead paint test before taking it out of the store (Country Living).

The Healthy

Used Makeup Contains Yucky Bacteria, Avoid It Altogether

Wearing other people’s makeup is never a good idea, especially because it can lead to skin infections. Even with unopened cosmetics, you don’t know the expiration date or if someone happened to tamper with the item. It’s always better to spend the extra money and buy high-quality makeup. You’re putting it near your eyes, nose, and mouth, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry (Country Living).