Garage sale shopping can be an adventure. You never know what you might find and that makes it all the more fun. But, like any great adventure there are hazards you should be aware of; the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently named a handful of secondhand items unsafe. Know what these are before you drag them home.
Check out this cheat sheet to know what items to pick up and what to pass on, regardless of how ‘cute’ it is.
First the good news, the following items passed the test. They can be purchased without fear of harming your health or endangering your family.
Toys. Yes! Toys are okay. This is great news for anyone who brings their kids to a garage sale with them. Often the promise of being able to gather a dollars worth of plastic toys is enough to keep them happy for a little while. Be sure to look for the hard plastic kind of toy. Action figures, dolls, toy trucks and other sturdy items that can be run through the dishwasher are safe.
* Steer clear of anything made of foamy material, inflatable toys, bath toys or teething items. These could be teeming with germs or phthalates.
Books. Reading material also passed the safety test. Cookbooks, novels, children’s books and even magazines are perfectly fine.
* Books are fine, with just two exceptions; no water damage and no metal-bound children’s books. Those were banned because of lead.
Clothing. Parents will especially be happy to hear used clothing is fine. Children’s clothing is often priced to sell and you can load up on garments for the whole family for the price of a dinner out. Aside from baby clothes and children’s outfits, look for dresses, jeans and tops. Halloween costumes can also be picked up now.
*Heavily embellished children’s clothing is not a good idea. Outfits with heavy appliques, rhinestones or other trim can be a choking hazard. Simple garments will be your best bet.
Lighting. Surprise, lamps are typically okay to purchase from garage sales. There are a few things to check for, but overall they are a good purchase, and will typically be priced better than any retail store.
In order for a lamp to meet safety requirements they need to
*have a polarized plug, this means one prong will be larger than the other.
*shade will be undamaged, meaning no loose fabric or hanging lining.
*halogen lamps will have a wire guard.
If the lamp has the polarized plug, you can always replace the lamp shade and you can even request a free wire guard from CPSC.gov.
The following needs to be walked away from. These items pose a variety of safety hazards and could affect your health, safety or harm your children.
Water-stained Items. This is a simple rule, if it looks like it has been brought up from a basement that floods, or is in a box with water stains on it, don’t purchase the item. Water can carry harmful pollutants, mold, mildew, even rodent feces and bacteria. Some objects can be disinfected if they are made of a solid material and can be placed in boiling hot water or run through a cycle in the dishwasher. Other than that, walk away.
Cookware. Warped pots and pans are generally not safe. Cookware that has chipped surfaces can become toxic. Even cookware that looks fine could be made of non-anodized aluminum and needs to be tossed out, not cooked on. Cast-iron cookware is fine and would be a true treasure to find.
Furniture. Certainly not all furniture from garage sales are bad, but their are several offenders. Anything that looks as though it was purchased ready-to-assemble. Particle board items can be rotted, couch cushions could be harboring bacteria. If you truly fall in love with an item, ask questions, listen carefully to the response and determine if you can truly deep clean or repair an item before making a decision.
Refer to the Consumer Product Safety Commission when looking at a higher ticket item. Check to see if it has been recalled or has any noted issues.