It’s the sign of the times; high unemployment, continued layoffs, forced furloughs, and not a pay raise in more than three years. Things have been tight and every penny counts, so most people are couponing and trying to save as much money as possible when they purchase the things they want.
If you are in the market for furniture, forget the second-hand sofa, recliner, or beds. Don’t buy anything that comes with cushions, because it is impossible to know if they contain bedbugs. Wood, plastic, metal, and wicker furniture pieces and bed frames are fine, as long as you inspect every inch of them before buying and taking them home. You can either make or buy new cushions for them.
Stay away from used pillows, blankets, comforters, and even stuffed animals and toys. Though they may have been washed, there is no guarantee the washing killed the bedbugs or lice that may be living in the fibers. Possible nits waiting to hatch into lice, as well as nasty bacteria, which may cause scalp infections can be lurking in a used hat or helmet. They shouldn’t even be tried on for fun.
Used shoes, especially tennis shoes, should be avoided. Once shoes are worn a few times, they begin to take the shape of the owner's feet, which may be quite the opposite of yours. Outside of the dried stench that will activate into a nasty odor with the next sweaty foot, Athlete’s Foot and other fungi or bacteria that linger on feet may be silently awaiting a new owner to attach itself to from inside a used shoe.
Used clothing can sometimes be a problem. If it is an outer garment, such as a sweater or coat it will probably be safe, but the closer to the skin a garment has been the more of a chance it could be carrying something personal from the last owner that can cause you skin irritations or infections. Skip the bathing suits, negligée, girdles, garter belt, under shirts, or any type of underwear no matter how new they may appear.
Second-hand makeup could be a problem also. It is many times difficult to tell if, or how much a particular makeup may have been used, and makeup is usually applied to intimate body parts, like the lips. If the makeup has never been used and it was stored over a year, it won’t be as effective, considering that age makes creams, eyeliner, and mascara clump, and anything with color fade.
Computer software and video games can make great purchases at a low price, but many of these require to be registered to a particular user. If this is the case, you will not be able to register them to you once you’ve bought them, making them worthless.
Baby items should be closely examined. A well-inspected crib is okay, but get your own mattress. Forget the stuffed toys, but completely intact washable plastic toys can be all right. Do not buy used baby bottles. Many older models may have the chemical BPA in the plastic, which will be harmful to your baby. Baby bottles are relatively cheap, so buy new ones that are safe for your child. Used infant car seats can be risky if they are too outdated or have been in an accident. Older models aren’t nearly as failsafe as newer models. If you don’t know the real history of the infant car seat, get a new one you can depend on.
Old electronics are generally on their last leg before the owner departs with them. Mistreated computers, VCRs, television sets, CD players, etc., could have been dropped, had something spilled on them, or reached the point of hardly working properly, with less than a year’s worth of life left in them. Unless you know the owner personally and the history of the item, don’t waste your hard-earned cash on second-hand electronics.
Though many used items can be a great deal, be cautious and use your common sense. Remember, you need to be careful not to bring home more than you bargain for.