7 Items You Should And Shouldn’t Buy Used

When I was younger, I was a manager at a thrift store called Plato’s Closet. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a young adult clothing store carrying trendy clothing in good shape. While working there, I learned a lot about used clothing and accessories, and I also learned a lot about people’s perceptions of…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

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7 Items You Should And Shouldn’t Buy Used

When I was younger, I was a manager at a thrift store called Plato’s Closet. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a young adult clothing store carrying trendy clothing in good shape.

While working there, I learned a lot about used clothing and accessories, and I also learned a lot about people’s perceptions of used items.

There are many people out there who are completely against buying anything used. In fact, I know a person who is actually disgusted by “used homes” and looks down on people who live in them. Yes, this is a real person!

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying used items. I have bought a variety of used goods, and I don’t see that ever changing. There is a lot of value to be found in buying something used.

However, that doesn’t mean all used items are worth their savings. While you may be able to save a lot of money by getting a used item for cheap or even free, there are some items you should be wary of.

Below are seven items you should and shouldn’t buy used.


Buy: Used clothing.

Due to the fact that I used to work at a used clothing store, I’m going to include this one first.

Buying used clothing, no matter how young or old you are, can be a great way to save money. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars a year by purchasing secondhand clothing.

Now, before you think you need only the latest and greatest new clothing out there, there are many used clothing stores selling designer labels, trendy clothing, and more. Sometimes you can even find new clothes with the labels still on them.

A new website I recently heard about and have come to love, is ThredUp. It’s an online thrift store with a HUGE selection of great clothing. 

Related: How Thrift Store Reselling Is Good For The Environment And How To Do It


Skip: Used underwear.

Enough said.


Buy: A home that someone else has lived in.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few people out there who won’t buy a home that someone else has lived in. While I didn’t know about this until recently, I think it’s crazy that some have this opinion about “used” homes!

A “used” home may have character, you may be able to renovate it into your dream home, you may receive better pricing, and more.


Skip: Used helmets.

Many of the helmets out there are made only to endure one big hit. This is something many do not realize.

If you buy a used helmet, you may be putting your life at risk because you don’t know if the helmet has ever been involved in an accident.

Due to this, it’s always best to buy a new helmet so you know it will protect you if something happens.


Buy: Used baby clothes.  

Babies outgrow clothing crazy fast, and most people have more than their children will ever use.

By purchasing used baby clothes, you may be able to score great deals, plus you don’t have to worry about wasting money on clothing that may only be worn for a short period of time.


Skip: Used mattresses.

While mattresses can be expensive, you should always try to buy a new one if you can.

Mattresses usually carry a lot of bodily fluids (yup, that was gross typing that), dead skin cells, and possibly even bed bugs. Bed bugs are a HUGE problem and something that a person never wants to deal with. Even if you are just renting your home, you should still be thinking about bed bugs.

One of my friends recently rented an apartment and she had to sign an agreement stating she would not bring bed bugs into the building and if she did, she would have to pay $10,000. Yes, that’s how big of a problem bed bugs are!


Buy: Used textbooks.

Used textbooks can help a person save a decent amount of money over purchasing a brand new textbook. You can usually get the same book for half the price of a new textbook.

Yes, there may occasionally be a highlighted sentence, but who cares about that?

If you’re looking for another way to save on college textbooks, I also recommend renting from CampusBookRentals. I rented the majority of my college textbooks and saved a good amount of money, plus there was less hassle because I didn’t have to worry about selling it after the class was over.

What items do you tend to buy used? What would you never buy used?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Vanessa Jencks

    Also, never buy a used carseat. There’s no way to know for sure that the seat wasn’t used while in a car wreck. I would also say bedding and pet bedding are no-no’s for buying used.

    I so miss thrift stores in China!

    1. Oh yes, that’s one that should definitely be on this list!

  2. How about a used car? Buying a 2-3 year old car saves you a ton of money. Love the skip items, there are just certain items you need to buy new. 🙂

    1. 2-3 years old doesn’t always save 🙂 My husband used to be a new car salesman and sometimes they take a loss in order to move them.

      1. I would stay away from a dealer and stick with the private market.

  3. Great list!

    Due to the resurgence of bed bugs, I’m hesitant to buy used indoor furniture, unless it’s from someone I know well enough to be sure that there won’t be any hitchhikers coming along to my place 🙂

    I would buy used bicycles, used DVD’s, used playground sets for the backyard, and used outdoor furniture.

    1. True! I didn’t think about that when it comes to used furniture.

  4. I definitely have a used mattress!! Ha. They’re so expensive! However, it is used from someone I know and she’s a clean person. There are no bed bugs! 🙂

  5. Michael Belk

    I do not have a problem with used clothes because once you wash jeans they are used and they look the same as thrift store jeans.

    It is totally a waste to buy a 100.00 pair of jeans when you could get 10 for that price in a thrift store.

    I wonder if those same people would buy a used car?

    1. Yes, I have no problem with used clothing either 🙂

    2. Jane Allen

      I agree with you. I think it’s all about your income flow and priorities at every point in time. If your budget doesn’t support a $100 jeans purchase, the wisest thing is to buy used and clean it. No one would know.

  6. Paige

    I wonder if the ‘new’ house people feel the same way about things like antiques and family heirlooms?!? Do they look down on people who buy Picasso’s or who wear Grandma’s ring?

    Something I always buy ‘used’ is dogs! Head on over to your local shelter or rescue, you won’t regret it ??

    1. Yes, “used” dogs are amazing! 🙂

  7. I agree with everything on your list! We have a consignment store around here that costs a tiny bit more than Goodwill, but they’re extremely picky about what they sell. I’ve found some great stuff! We also have an amazing used book store. They have a great kids section so we go there to buy books for nieces and nephews. Everything is like new and at least a quarter of the price – those baby board books can be expensive full price!

  8. This is a great post. Just to add here, I tend to avoid the following when I want to buy used items:
    – used baby bottles (I have a kid and I never bought used bottles for her)
    – Car seats (just because car seats for babies do have expiration dates)
    – Swimsuits or swimmear
    – Vacuum cleaners (I just don’t know what particles are there in the vacuum cleaner
    – Tires (I just don’t if the tires have been in accidents)

    Sometimes, buying used items are necessary but there are always exceptions. When it comes to safety and sanitary, I really and won’t buy used items.

    1. Thanks Allan. All great points!

  9. I think you could probably get a steal on used exercise equipment. How much of it is purchased new and used but a handful of times? Probably more falls in that category than doesn’t!

  10. I would never buy used tires…never know what they’ve been through. I also probably wouldn’t buy a used computer. I know many people do but with technology moving as fast as it is and with how cheap they have become, buying one 3-5 years old already just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

  11. I just bought four of my friends’ kids a ton of super cute used clothing-that they will grow out of! It is a great way to save money and keep your kiddos well-dressed and affordable LOL!

  12. I buy used clothing (ThredUP is great!) and used cars, and my house is used too! (gasp!) hahaha

  13. I have to admit, buying used gives me the heebie jeebies! Hand me downs from people I know … I’m all over that! My kids had nothing but hand me downs in their elementary years.

    I once acquired a used piece of furniture only to find out the paint had lead in it.

    We did have a ‘used’ duplex but enjoy our home that we bought new!

  14. Used mattress cracks me up! Peach and I see all sorts of junk on NYC sidewalks and he will always jokingly go, “LOOK! We can get this beautiful mattress with only a few suspicious stains.” It’s easily one of the more disgusting of used items to recycle into your home. Thanks for the online thriftstore tip. My favorite, Threadflip, just recently shut down after getting acquired.

    1. Hahaha I bet you see some interesting stuff in NYC 🙂

  15. Anne

    Used mattresses are one I will get up on my high horse about – it’s just so GROSS! In fact, many places actually have laws against selling used mattresses because of all of the risks you mentioned.

    But I agree with the poster who said used pets – all my pets have been “used” and they’re the best!

    1. Yes, same here! Love “used” pets 🙂

  16. Tyler @ Oddball Wealth

    While I was in college, every semester I would try to purchase used textbooks if I could. I was able to saved a lot of money by doing this as new textbooks were crazy expensive! I was always mad whenever they switched to a new addition or version of a textbook, and was forced to buy new.

    Good post! I never thought about the dangers of buying a used helmet

    1. Yes, I hated it whenever I would get to the bookstore too late and there would only be new ones!

  17. Sandi M

    I live in a wealthy beach area. The deals I can get are amazing! People buy and sell their beach properties furnished and the new owner doesn’t like what’s there and has the resale places come get it. They also tire of what they own quickly. I’ve been able to purchase a brand new West Elm down filled sleeper sofa with the wrapping still on the mattress for less than half price. I have buttery soft leather chairs from Restoration Hardware that were barely sat on. My list goes on….
    I also love to buy “used” plants. Many gardeners sell or give away their excess native & perennial plants. It’s a great way to begin or add to your landscaping for less. The Atlanta area had a farmer’s bulletin available. Craigslist also sometimes.
    Buy used furniture, just be diligent when looking it over
    Buy used bicycles, tools of all sorts and lawn equipment, well kept clothing, toys (not plush toys), books, vehicles, plants, jewelry
    Skip – mattresses, any kind of headwear or gear since lice has become so prevalent, comforters & bedding

    1. Oh yes, used plants are the best! I know so many people who have landscaped their huge yards this way.

  18. Ha yes, I always see underwear!

  19. I can’t tell you how many posts from people in search of a used mattresses I’ve seen on a local (to me) FB group this week alone. Most people want the used mattress delivered to their house for free. Demanding much?

    I also saw a FB post of someone is search of used indoor house paint. She didn’t care what color it was or how much was left.

    One of the best purchases we ever made was a used Toyota Tacoma. Those trucks are built to last. Unfortunately, the Valley Fire destroyed the vehicle.

    I like buying cotton fabric from thrift stores or garage sales. It’s a cheap way to build up a fabric stash.

    I like used travel trailers too. You can get a good deal buying used.

  20. Trish

    Once upon a time I objected to buying used dishes at tag sales. Then I realized eating in a restaurant is eating from used dishes and food cooked in used pans. You can’t even be sure they were cleaned well. I won’t buy used Tupperware or Rubbermaid since I feel like it “absorbs” unlike glass or ceramic.

    Though I would not purchase a used mattress, the same goes for staying in hotels and bed and breakfast places. You are sleeping on used mattresses and sitting on used furniture even in the best places.

    1. Yes, true! This is why I have an RV though haha. Mattresses at hotels always make me a little nervous.

  21. I still find it interesting that people donate underwear to thrift stores. I find it even more crazy that the thrift stores actually attempt to sell them. That’s just nasty.

  22. Kaitlynn Marie

    People that refuse to buy anything but brand new houses and clothes (except underwear because duh) always confused me. What’s the big deal? But I didn’t know that about helmets, so thank you for that!


    1. I didn’t know about helmets until around one year ago. I was rock climbing and someone actually told me that. While I didn’t have a used helmet (mine was brand new), I didn’t know that it can only withstand one hard impact.

  23. Very useful post, towards directing ways to save more, but unnecessary second hand buying needs to be avoided to escape any unwanted or unknown spread of disease. Otherwise, buying second clothes or houses are beneficial step.

    1. Again, please start using your real name or I will unfortunately have to start rejecting your comments.

  24. I love to buy used furniture that is not “lived on”. For couches and things that get a lot of use daily, I would rather buy quality. However, coffee tables, media centers etc are worth looking around for at local thrift and consignment shops. Furniture stores charge crazy amounts for good solid wood furniture and you can find them at a fraction of the cost.

    I definitely agree about used clothing for kids as well. I have a daughter who is turning 6 on Thursday and a 7-month-old. The 7 month old is growing faster than the need for him to actually get dressed everyday. He received new outfits as gifts for Christmas and I’m pretty sure that he’ll outgrow them before he even has the opportunity to wear all of them. This is why I spend my money on used kid consignment shop clothing. I’m paying cents on the dollar for name brand clothing.

  25. I used to have hang ups about buying used clothes but my wife now works near a thrift shop and finds name brand clothes that are in great condition and some that are even brand new. Baby and toddler clothes are often gently used because they grow up so fast. I also have only bought used cars…I’d rather the new owner take the depreciation hit.

  26. fehmeen

    Along with skipping used mattresses, I think it’s a good idea to skip used furniture too because you may end up buying something that termites have previously attacked. I’m not a fan of buying used clothes, but I am totally happy with hand-me-downs from people I know.

  27. Amy @ DebtGal

    Great list! I would not purchase a new car, or a used carseat. I used to not borrow books from the library (definitely used) out of fear that previous borrowers had taken them into the bathroom with them. I do now, and I REALLY try not to think about it. 🙂

    1. Haha that’s a fear that my husband actually has. He just got over it, kind of.

  28. Jessica

    We buy used clothing for myself and two school aged daughters. I stay at home and homeschool so it’s a no brainer. However, since my hubby works for a bank, all of his clothes are bought brand new. Plus, we never buy shoes used, only snow boots. Mainly because everyone has a different wear pattern from walking and it can sometimes affect the fit of the shoe. Other than that, we buy whatever we can “used” as long as it makes sense!

  29. I bought a lot of used clothing for my twins. Great on the environment and the pocket. Ear phones used is where I draw the line!

  30. Good list! We bought a lot of baby clothes, toys, and gear used. When we were done with these things we re-sold them so we could use the same money to buy things we needed for their next life stage. If we have another baby in the future then we will have to buy the same things again, but we are ok with it because we live in tight quarters and don’t have room to store stuff “just in case”.

  31. Hey Michelle , How post is really informative and easy to understand. The question of things one should or should not buy used is more of a common sense like you said underwears are out! I believe the condition of the used item is a big factor when am considering if to buy a used item. Though no furniture for me too due to bed bug situation. Great post.

  32. You are spot on with most of these. I’m not sure why anyone would want to buy a used helmet. Thanks so much for your advice!

  33. Lindsey

    I always buy my dvds and videogames used. There is a second hand store called edward mccay’s near me that sell dvds even box sets for as little as $3 at times. You can also buy discounted books there. I bought all of the twilight books there when the movies had just come out for $10 total!

  34. Kemper

    Informative article. I also heard about Plato’s Closet store. They are now the famous secondhand cloth seller. Whatever I also like to buy secondhand things like the smartphone. Thanks for sharing. 🙂