20 Things You Should Never Buy at a Thrift Store

Unless you want lead poisoning...

things to never buy at thrift store
Getty ImagesEmma Gutteridge

Whenever you can buy a secondhand or vintage treasure for your home, we say go for it! Buying used is often an easy way to find inexpensive, high-quality, and one-of-a-kind pieces. But in some cases, preowned or old items can be unsanitary, more expensive, and, in worst-case scenarios, dangerous. So the next time you scour your favorite thrift shop (or an antique store or garage sale), think twice about these items.

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Furniture with Dated Fabric

Strong smells may be a sign that the couch you spotted is one of the 85 percent made between 1984 and 2010 that contain harmful fire retardant chemicals in its fabric, according to a study from the . The only way to be sure is to have the piece tested for toxins. Avoid old couches and chairs all together, or send a sample to for analyzing, and they'll tell you what's inside.

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Nursery Furniture

When it comes to furnishing a space for your youngster, it's always best to err on the side of caution, which is why you should always buy new items that are designed to be safe enough for kids' bedrooms and nurseries. If you purchase a thrifted piece, you can never be sure that it was created with little ones in mind.

RELATED: Antiques Joanna Gaines Always Hunts for at Flea Markets

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Pet Furniture

You’ll never know what previous pets were up to on second-hand pet beds, houses, crates, blankets, and toys. To prevent stinky smells from overtaking your space, and to ensure your furry friend has a clean place sit or sleep, buy 'em something brand new.

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Upholstered Headboards

While everyone knows bed bugs love to nestle in mattresses, they can also make a home out of just about anything that's upholstered, and tend to gravitate towards bedroom furniture, according to the . Avoid fabric-covered headboards and be sure to carefully examine any thrifted item before you bring it home.

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Vacuum Cleaners

Gizmos like vacuum cleaners tend not to hold up for very long, according to , so if possible, it's always best to buy new. And if you are going to pick one up from your local thrift store, you should always test it—and all other electric-powered products—before you purchase.

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Bedding

This includes sheets, duvet covers, blankets, linens, and more. There's no thorough way to sanitize these items, and since you'll be spending so much time wrapped up in them (at least 8 hours a day, right?), it's better to spend some extra cash to .

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Antique Crystal

At least not if you plan to eat off of it. Antique crystal glasses, decanters, and other crystal vessels were likely made following outdated standards, which means they could contain 32 percent or more lead oxide, according to . Try to avoid purchasing old crystal, which could contaminate your drinks and food, or use a to determine an item's level of safety if you really want to bring it home. And never use crystal to store food or drinks over a long period of time.

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Appliances You Can't Test in Store

A word to the wise: Make sure you know it works before you bring it home.

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Old Dishware

They may look pretty, but vintage plates, bowls, cups, and platters . Yikes! If you're worried, play it safe by purchasing newer pieces—or just use your vintage pieces for display.

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Cribs

Over the decades, there have been millions of cribs recalled, in addition to improved crib safety standards put in place, according to . Invest in a safe bed for your little one by purchasing one that's new and up to latest standards.

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Construction Materials

There's a good chance any doors, windows, and molding manufactured and/or painted before 1978 contain lead, according to the . If you have your heart set on a shabby chic window frame at your local thrift shop, ask to do a before taking it home.

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Anything with Old or Chipping Paint

Always, and we mean always, if you're thinking of buying a piece with old or chipping paint. "Not all vintage items contain lead paint," the cautions, "however, painted items should be assumed to contain lead paint until they can be tested."

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Vintage Hardware

There's nothing we love more than a distressed knob or pull to embellish a door, dresser, or cabinet, but these items also come with a risk of lead exposure. Always before you buy.

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Mattresses

Two words: bed bugs!

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Used Cookware

They may look beautifully distressed, but scratched, rusty, or worn-down baking sheets, pots, pans, and other go-to kitchen supplies are likely not safe for actual use, according to . Chipping non-stick coatings and rust are not safe to consume food off of, and over-used cookware may seep harmful chemicals into your food. When it comes to vintage kitchen cookware, you may want to stick to just using them for decoration and not for food consumption.

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Pillows

Bringing home any sort of used textile or item covered with fabric puts you at risk for a bed bug infestation. In fact, bed bugs can survive up to one year in upholstered pieces, according to the . And with cute throw pillows available for just $10-20 on and , it's both affordable and wise to go for something new.

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Rugs

Preowned rugs could contain years of stains, allergens, mold, and mildew. Buy a new one and your allergies will thank you.

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Anything That Stinks

That funky smell could be from mold, dust, pet stains, or a combination of chemicals from old paints or stains—and you'll never what's causing it since you don't know the previous owner. Plus, removing odors from furniture can be costly and time-consuming. Save yourself the headache and skip that musty piece you had your eyes on.

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Upholstered Furniture

At the very least, you should plan to remove and replace all the upholstery from previously owned furniture to avoid bed bugs, allergens, and mold. Or, play it safe by skipping fabric-covered pieces all together.

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Utensils

Cheaply made utensils can cause metals and chemicals to leach and contaminate your food, but sterling silver and stainless steel are safe to use.

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