9 Things Not to Buy at a Garage Sale

Whether or not you’re a big fan of hitting numerous garage sales on the weekend, it’s good to have an idea of what NOT to look for. Make sure you don’t spend money on gross stuff. And stuff that’s supposed to keep you safe. And stuff like shoes and mattresses. If we spend 2/3 of our lives on our feet and backs, why would we want to go cheap on that stuff by buying it at a garage sale?

Here’s some more items to avoid even while you’re trying your best to be thrifty.

Pots and Pans

Avoid buying pots and pans that are warped, uneven or rusted. Those just aren’t worth taking home.


Don’t count on hats having been cleaned before they’re set out for purchase. The super-gross nasty buildup of hair, sweat and weird head insects are probably still there in residue form.


Have you ever tried on used shoes? They feel awful. That’s because the shoes have contoured to someone else’s feet. That is bad for you—for your back and your feet.

Plasma TVs

These could potentially be a rare and good find. But you’ll want to see it turned on first before you purchase it. For one, the screen may not even work. If it does, are there any images burnt into it?


Scores of crib recalls make it impossible to verify the safety of a crib on sale at a garage sale. An uneven frame or missing screws or supports can make a crib something you don’t want to put your new baby in.

There are many unwelcome guests on this mattress.


Although I’m not totally opposed to buying used mattresses (see 5 Things You Should Not Go Cheap On), I think you should buy a nearly new one not more than a year old. And it should be purchased from someone you know.

People’s homes can have some weird infestations. And who wants to buy a mattress that could have become a bizarre bug’s breeding ground?


It’s strange I know, but I’ve seen these at some hillbilly garage sales. Holes and punctures can be totally unseen by the eye. And you don’t want to buy tires that have uneven wearing compared to each other.

Used tires are never a good idea.

Child Car Seat

Products get safer every year. Why not get the latest in safety? And you don’t know whether or not that particular car seat has been in an accident. If it has, it may not protect the next child in an accident.

Bike or Motorcycle Helmets

As with child car seats, sometimes damage isn’t visible. And you want to make sure you’ve got something protecting your brain that’s never taken a hit.

Garage Sale Guru?

So what are your thoughts on things to look out for, and avoid, at a garage sale?


  1. I very rarely go to garage sales, but there are definitely certain items I would avoid. I’m not totally against buying used tires though. I worked in a tire shop for a while and sometimes used tires would be in great shape. If it has a puncture or hole that you can’t see, chances are it can be repaired for a very low price. The garage sale host would have to fill it up with air very recently to really hide it and most garage sales hosts aren’t that dishonest since you know where they live.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      MM-those are good thoughts. I might actually edit that point. B/c holes insignificant to the eye probably can be patched up. If you get a good deal, and your willing to spend the time, I could see used tires being a good pick up.

  2. So just like that used tires went from 1 of 9 things NOT to buy at garage sales to being a good pick up? lol

    • Todd Mayfield says

      Ha, well I haven’t changed the point. What he wrote makes sense. But then again, I don’t think I would buy used tires from even a dealer, so I plan on leaving it as is after having given it more thought.

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