Used Clothing: How Safe is It?

In the March issue of ShopSmart, put out by the publisher of Consumer Reports, experts analyzed used baby gear to determine “when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.”  I am devoting several posts to discussing their findings.  (This is the last in my series of “used gear safety” posts.  Whew!  Check out my posts on secondhand baby bath tubs, car seats, cribs, high chairs, strollers, and toys.)

Here are ShopSmart’s views on hand-me-down baby garments:

Safe: As long as buttons and snaps are on tight and none of the thread is unraveling from the fabric, the used clothing is fine.

Unsafe: Pass on any article of clothing with drawstrings because they pose a strangulation hazard.

It appears that used clothing poses fewer risks than many other secondhand finds.  Of course, I’ve got to point out that clothes with loose buttons or snaps or unraveling threads would probably be a great bargain, and anyone with basic sewing skills could fix the problems.  Also, it’s fair to say that many new garments often have these same issues.

Would you consider buying secondhand clothes for your baby–and would you buy damaged clothes with the intention of mending them at home?  Although I haven’t bought damaged clothing and fixed it up myself, I’ve got to admit that it’s a very green idea.

Used clothing worked very well for me.  For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check out We are THAT Family.


  1. Great Tips. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your articles.

  2. I LOVE used baby clothes..I buy all of mine used! At the end of the month I’m going to a huge “Moms of Multiples” clothing sale and I plan on stocking up on clothing for my daughter to wear for the next year or so (or whatever I can find).

  3. We LOVE second hand clothes here! We have 5 little ones, ages 6 to 3 mos., and we have only spent MAYBE $200 on childrens’ clothing EVER for them!! We have been so blessed by others giving us their second hand clothing! AND of all the clothes that we have purchased, most were second hand!

    Thank You for your post!!

  4. I love buying used. It is a great way to get name brands at much cheaper prices. Children’s consignment stores are far better in my opinion than a regular thrift store.

  5. We get probably 95% of our clothing through hand-me-downs. We let it be known far and wide that we will take ANYTHING and that if we don’t want it, we’ll dispose of it. This means that it’s really helpful to other people to get rid of clothes by giving them to us. We then comb through the clothes and “file” them away by size. We don’t get as many shoes, socks, or underwear as we need, but we do get plenty of most everything else.

    We have a problem here now in that the goodwill no longer sells anything for children, including used clothing because of CPSIA.

  6. I also love used baby clothes, though used may not be the correct word since much of the little stuff appears never to have been worn, or worn once. What I do not understand is the advice on avoiding drawstrings. They are dangerous to be sure, but also stupidly easy to remove.
    I have not bought stuff to be mended, but have brought home stained things that were free from the shop I volunteer at to be washed.
    One more thing, snaps are hard to repair.

  7. I would say 98-99% of our clothes are used. We have a couple of friends with children a step ahead of ours, so we get their hand-me-downs. It’s fantastic! I would never turn down something that someone was giving me for free 🙂 We also shop thrift stores and garage sales.

    I would never throw out a garment just because it was in need of some mending. My only caution about buying things to be mended or altered is this: Make sure you are actually going to do it! I have a whole pile of clothes that have “just one little thing” to fix. Who knows if I’ll ever actually get around to it!

  8. We have been very blessed with people who have given us loads of cloths! We pass then on when we are done and some of them have gone through 4 sets of kids (that I’m aware of, maybe more).

  9. It’s so great to hear a chorus of responses that echo my experience as a new parent. I can’t imagine spending more than a few dollars on any garment, and very often end up inheriting pieces from friends and family for free. It amazes me that people are willing to spend $30+ dollars on a single piece of name brand baby clothing that will then just be worn for a few months. What a waste!

  10. In the words of my very practical sister-in-law, “why would you NOT buy used?” I mean seriously, it makes sense on so many levels. I have bought used and I have bought things that needed repairs. My Grandmother used to seek out the damaged items in stores and ask for a discount (which she always got) and then repair them to good as new. Even better though is hand-me-downs. I have given and received these and it is such a great way to bless and be blessed by your friends and family. There was a time when money was so tight, I don’t know what I would have done if not for hand-me-downs and I now gladly return the favor to my family whose kids are a little younger than mine. I LOVE seeing my nephew running around in my son’s old clothes. It brings back such sweet memories of when he was that age.

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