I love a good yard sale because I really do believe that one person's trash can be my treasure. Over the years, I have been able to score some really great furniture, kitchenware and household tools.
My favorite part about yard sales is the element of surprise. If you're willing to dig through piles and piles of junk, you will surely find a thing or two of value.
However, after being to many neighborhood garage sales, there are some things that I have learned to avoid even if I can get them at a steal.
To make sure you don't end up making the same mistakes I did when I first started scoping out yard sales, here are eight items you should avoid even if the deal seems irresistible.
Although some people take the warning lightly, it's true that you can get a nasty toenail fungal infection just by sharing shoes. The stubborn fungus can live in shoes for a long time after it has been worn, so this is just one of the reasons why you should say no to a secondhand pair of shoes.
Shoes also usually take the shape of a person's feet, which means that a used pair may not fit as well as they should, and this can cause issues like foot and knee pain.
What many people don't know is that tires, even if they aren't used, expire after six years. Most of the time when you pick up tires from a garage sale, you may not know their exact history.
The rubber degrades with age, so you run the risk of buying tires that are unreliable, which could lead to flats, and even worse an accident.
You're better off buying new or used tires from a trusted retailer. Many stores will even offer you a warranty on a new set.
3. Baby Gear
Like tires, car seats can only be used for a certain amount of time before they expire. Safety standards for these seats change often, so there is a good chance that a used one does not meet the minimum safety requirements, which can put your child in grave danger.
However, if you do end up deciding on a used car seat, then search online or contact the manufacturer to make sure it was never part of a recall.
You should also be very careful when buying other baby-related items, including strollers, toys, and old cribs.
Not only do mattresses get filled with dust mites they longer they're used, they're also hosts to bed bugs. Once they enter your home, these pesky bugs are extremely hard to get rid of. You may eventually need to contact an exterminator.
Used mattresses can also have stains, odors, pet hairs, and even mold, all which can be really difficult to remove and bad for your health. The deal you're getting isn't worth the headache you end up with, so stick to new mattresses only.
Even if you're able to test used electronics, it's probably for the best that you don't go home with them.
Technology evolves very quickly, so the model you find at a yard sale is likely to be an older one. You can get it at a discounted price through the retailer or online on sites like Amazon.
You should also avoid electronic appliances and devices that use batteries. “If something is battery operated and it doesn’t work, there is a good chance the batteries that are in it have corroded, making it unusable,” says Chris Heiska from Yardsale Queen.
Swimsuits and underwear are in the same category - they should never be shared. Not only is it gross, but chances are the swimwear won't fit properly.
A secondhand swimsuit also won't last nearly as long as a brand new one because the chlorine in pools causes the fabric to break down and the colors to fade.
7. Non-stick cookware
Nowadays, most non-stick pans are made with Teflon, which often contains substances, like PFOA and PFOS, that many fear are harmful to our health.
Over the years, popular companies like 3M have stopped using these chemicals, but older pans still contain them. So you're better off leaving non-stick cookware behind at yard sales, especially if they're scratched or chipped.
8. Board games
It may not always be the case, but board games and puzzles purchased from yard sales could be missing some important pieces. You may not realize it until you get home, and that's only going to lead to frustration.
If you're unable to open the box to double check that everything is intact, skip it.
The only exception is collectible games or game pieces. If you can score these on a bargain, you could resell them for a large sum of money, but you really have to know what to look for.
“Having a bunch of generic black and red plastic checker pieces doesn’t do you much good. But if you had vintage clay checker pieces, it might be a different story,” Laura Niebauer Palmer wrote for The Pennyhoarder.
Have you purchased any of these items from a yard sale? Let us know!