If you have a limited budget for toys, buying new toys for your children can be expensive. Buying used or consigned toys, is a great way to stretch the budget, and is eco-conscious too! Here are some tips for shopping for used toys for kids and making an old toy “new” again.
Look for advertised garage sales, local consignment shops, consignment sales or charity stores to find used toys. Keep an open mind, but we have often found great curbside finds on trash day and at the swap section at our local town sanitary waste center too. Don’t forget to put the word out to family and friends who may be looking for an opportunity to pass along old toys and outgrown baby gear. Lastly, eBay and Craigslist are two other online sources for people selling or giving away items.
Before purchasing a used toy, check out resources such as cpsc.gov and kidsindanger.org for any information on product recalls to ensure the toy is safe. Even if it is, consider the features. Is the battery compartment easily accessible or does it need to be unscrewed? This answer may depend on your comfort level and the age of your child.
Speaking of batteries, carry a few types of batteries (AA, AAA, C and D batteries) while you’re hitting the sales to test battery operated toys on site. Make sure to check the battery compartment for leaked battery acid. In order to neutralize the leaked alkaline, you’ll need a household acid like vinegar or lemon juice. A Q-tip or old tooth brush can help scrub the leakage from the electrical contacts. Always use household gloves and glasses and work in a well-ventilated area.
Clean acid-based batteries with baking soda and a little bit of water on a Q-tip or old tooth brush. Never put water directly on the acid.
Before your child starts play time with your garage sale find, wipe down the plastic toy or electronic device with disinfectant surface wipes. If a used toy is stained, you can try rubbing alcohol to remove the stains. For stubborn stains, try cuticle remover, allowing it to set for 30 minutes before wiping off. If the fabric is removable, throw it in the wash or take a steam cleaner and steam clean it in place.
Found the perfect toy, but don’t have the right type of battery? You can bring any old toy or electronic device into your local Batteries Plus store where associates can repair the existing battery pack, find the right batteries, or even build a custom battery to bring it back to life. Amazon is another great place to find unique or hard to find batteries and always remember that you can call the original toy manufacturer. They may be a great resource to point you in the right direction or send you copies of product manuals.