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Ultimate Guide to Buying Second Hand Toys

The UK is the fourth largest toy market worldwide. UK shoppers spend £3.3 billion on toys in 2018. They bought more than 370 million toys. In 2019, the average UK household spent £364 on newborn and toddler toys in the first two years alone.

Toys are synonymous with key milestones in early learning, crawling, sitting, walking and talking. But many families feel the financial impact of a new baby. The good news is, families don’t have to spend a lot of money buying new toys. They can purchase second-hand toys cheaply and still ensure their kids have fun.

Want to know where you can buy second-hand toys for your children? in this guide, we explain how to buy second-hand toys.

What Toys Are Best to Buy Second Hand?

Here are some of the best toys to buy second hand…

  • Play Kitchen Sets
  • LEGO figures and bricks
  • Building blocks
  • Wooden train sets and tables
  • Dollhouses
  • Bikes
  • Battery-powered vehicles and planes
  • Basketball hoops
  • Trampolines
  • Soft toys and more

Before buying second-hand toys, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

  • Steer clear of phthalates and PVC
  • Avoid flexible and bendy plastic toys
  • Avoid toys with flaking paint or lead-based paint
  • Make sure the toy is BPA free
  • Be sure to clean the second-hand toys thoroughly
  • Buy toys appropriate for your child’s age
  • Check the toys for loose parts
  • All second-hand toys should have a lion mark

Saving a few pounds is not worth jeopardising your health and that of your children. Make sure each second-hand toy you buy meets safety standards.

How Much Can You Save Buying Second-Hand Toys?

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in demand for second-hand toys. New parents are no longer rushing to a local toy store or online to buy new toys. In fact, they no longer enjoy the thrill of spending a lot of money buying new toys for the first two years of their child’s life.

Instead, they are shopping for second-hand toys at charity shops, eBay and other retailers. The reason is simple; people no longer want to waste their hard-earned money.

Research shows that UK families save between £100 to £300 by buying second-hand toys instead of new toys. If you combine the savings from purchasing second-hand toys and items such as cots and clothes, UK families save more than £1,500.

Where Can You Buy Second-Hand Toys?

There are several places you can buy second-hand toys in the UK.

Facebook Marketplace…

You can buy second-hand toys in the UK on Facebook Marketplace. The platform has great deals on second-hand items as well as new items. You can buy soft toys, battery-powered vehicles, dolls, dollhouses and much more.

To buy second-hand toys from the Facebook Marketplace, download the Facebook app and look at the app’s bottom. If using Facebook on your web browser, you’ll find the Marketplace icon on the left side of the web page.

While the Facebook Marketplace offers great deals, it does not provide any protection to buyers.


eBay is a global e-commerce platform that facilitates consumer to consumer sales. Founded in 1995, it’s one of the best places to buy second-hand toys. On eBay, you can buy action figures, construction and building toys plus games, creative toys, RC model vehicles and toys.

To shop for toys, visit the eBay site, sign up for an account. It’s free and takes less than 3 minutes. Visit the Toys and Games category and browse the available collection. You’ll find toys selling around £1 to £50 or more. If you find a toy(s) you like, click ‘Buy it now’ or ‘Add to basket’. eBay is best for big bundles of toys, branded toys or larger toys. Unlike the Facebook Marketplace, eBay offers buyer protection.


Gumtree is a UK based online classified ad website. Founded in 2000, the community website is today a subsidiary of eBay. On Gumtree, you can find thousands of second-hand toys on offer. Examples include LEGO, dolls, doll houses, and train tables. You can find larger items people are unlikely to give to a charity such as outdoor equipment.

To find second-hand toys, visit the Gumtree website, register for a free account, search the site by keyword and postcode or location. Alternatively, you can download the Gumtree app to your smartphone or tablet.


Like Gumtree, you can find classified ads for second-hand toys and games on Preloved, second-hand toys and games sell for as little £1. Examples of toys you can find on Preloved include Board Games, LEGO and outdoor toys such as Children’s slides and climbing frames. Buying second-hand toys is hassle-free. Visit the Preloved site, sign up, search for second-hand toys, and respond to the advert for additional information if you find one you like.


Freecycle is a site where you can post ads for items you want to give away or sell. The site has more than 9 million members and over 5300 groups. To find second-hand toys, visit the Freecycle website and click ‘browse groups’.

Carboot Sales…

Carboot Sales are a fantastic source of deals and bargains on second-hand toys. You can buy anything you want from soft toys to RC model toys. In fact, you can find some real gems, and they are phenomenally cheap.

What Are the Safety Markings UK Toys Should Have?

There are two well-known safety marks found on toy labels.

The Lion Mark…

The Lion Mark is a consumer symbol developed in 1988. It’s used to identify toys that are of high quality and safe. The Lion Mark has a red and white lion in a triangle with green borders and a yellow background. This symbol is only used by the British Toy & Hobby Association members. They include international and European companies.

The CE Mark…

The CE Mark is another safety symbol. In the EU and UK, all toys sold must have the CE mark along with the supplier’s name and address. The CE Mark proves that the toy meets all safety requirements of the European Toy Safety Directive.

When shopping for second-hand toys, look for both safety symbols – Lion Mark and CE.

Tips How to Clean Second Hand Toys

Cleaning Soft Toys…

To clean second-hand soft toys, take a large bucket, add water until 1/2 or 3/4 full. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda then place soft toys in the bucket and allow them to rest in the bottom.

Another method for cleaning soft toys is by using your washing machine…

Simply place the toys in your washing machine, add a mild detergent and use the gentlest cycle. Machine drying is fine but make sure to use the low heat setting. Newer washing machines have a baby and toddler cycle. This ensures deep cleaning of the soft toys.

Wooden Toys…

When you buy second-hand wooden toys, you need to disinfect them. Prepare homemade bleach solution with 40g of bleach per litre of water. Pour the bleach solution in a spray bottle, spray each wooden toy and lay flat to dry.

After disinfecting the toys, use a damp cloth and mild dish soap to clean. Don’t forget to use it sparingly. To avoid the wooden toy getting dull, simply rub them with a 50/50 mixture of olive oil and organic beeswax or coconut oil. Leave the toys for a couple of hours to soak in and wipe off any excess.

Cleaning Plastic Toys (such as LEGO)

Take a damp cloth and wipe off any excess grime. Add a litre of water in a bucket and add 40g of bleach. Place the toys in the solution for five minutes then rinse with water. Leave them to dry before you give your children to play with them.

Alternatively, you can clean LEGO and plastic toys by hand using water. The water should be no hotter than 40°C, or 104 degrees F. Use a sponge or soft cloth. Using hot water will affect the quality of the part.

Do not put LEGO pieces in the dishwasher or washing machine. Also, do not dry them in a microwave, oven or with a hairdryer.

Final Thoughts

As your children grow older, you’ll need more toys. Instead of buying expensive toys, check out eBay, Gumtree, Preloved, Freecycle and Carboot Sales. You’ll find great deals appropriate for your children. For old toys, you can donate them to charity shops or give them to relatives and friends. Alternatively, you can make some money selling the toys on eBay, Gumtree or Preloved.