Web Culture

10 Things eBay Won’t Let You Sell (You Weirdo)

Yaara Lancet 18-09-2012

things you can't sell on ebayIf you’ve never ever sold or bought anything from eBay, please raise your hand (or leave a comment). In the 17 years eBay has been around, almost everyone has had some dealings with it, if only small and insignificant. I mean, come on, if you’ve never actually bought or sold anything, you must have at least looked for something on eBay, right?


Well, did you know that you actually can’t find everything on eBay? Yes, we already told you Go Back In Time: The First Ever YouTube Video, Tweet, Image, Website, Email, & More What was the first website to ever be published? What was the first Amazon item ever ordered? What is the first line to ever be tweeted? Curious? So was I. After several hours of extensive... Read More that the first item every sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer, and yes, you can find anything from old playing cards to used hats, but there are actually some things eBay won’t let you sell, not matter how much you want to (and we know you want to).

Read on to find out what these things are before you try selling your Tibetan prayer skulls. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Alcohol (Including Non-Alcoholic Beer)

things you can't sell on ebay

Got some leftover beer from last night’s party and thinking of making a buck on eBay? Think again. You can’t actually sell any alcohol on eBay, not even wine or beer. You could go as far as de-alcoholizing your beer, and still you won’t be allowed to sell it on eBay. That’s just the way it is.

In case you’re wondering why, this has to do with U.S. rules and regulations. The good news is you actually can sell alcohol on international eBay websites (not eBay.com). The bad news is, you can’t sell it to U.S. citizens. They’ll just have to go out and buy it in a store. How old fashioned.


Items Made From Marine Mammals

things you can't sell online

Just in case you were planning to sell your used seal coat – don’t bother. eBay won’t let you to sell anything that’s made from marine mammals, no matter which animal, no matter what item. Good decision, if you ask me.

By the way, you can’t sell any stuffed birds or eggs from many non-captive birds either, so don’t go around collecting bird eggs to sell just because you can’t list your marine mammals. It won’t work.

Used Underwear

OK, so you can’t sell beer, and you can’t sell bird eggs, surely you can at least sell your used underwear? Wrong. No boxer shorts, not athletic supporters, not briefs, thongs, panties or jock straps either. If you have any of these used items and don’t need them anymore, you might want to donate them or simply throw them away. eBay is not the place for them.


Surprisingly, you can sell used bras, pantyhose and spandex, as long as there’s nothing inappropriate about them and there’s “no indication that the item was worn as underwear”. In other words, just don’t tell them what you did with those bras, and you’re OK!

Used Makeup, Sponges & Applicators

things you can't sell online

No, you can’t sell your used makeup just because you’re not using it anymore. If you ask me, that’s a darned waste – who doesn’t have loads of used makeup at home (well, me, but never mind)? Alas, makeup and applicators come in direct contact with the body, and eBay can’t allow you to transfer your germs around. So no used makeup.

You can, however, sell opened makeup, as long as you haven’t used it, and cosmetic brushes that you’ve cleaned thoroughly. So you might still be able to make some money from your pile of makeup!


Event Tickets When Tickets Are Free

Doesn’t that sound good? Find a free event, get a bunch of tickets, and sell them for money on eBay! I’m afraid not. eBay’s on to you, and has restricted sale of event tickets when tickets are actually free to the public. This way they can protect you from people who’re trying to make money from other people’s ignorance, and also keep you from making silly mistakes you’ll regret later.

If you bought event tickets fair and square, you can resell them on eBay, as long as you’re not violating any laws.

Fake Stamps

This is just a funny anecdote, but did you know you actually can’t sell fake stamps on eBay? So if your hobby is drawing fake stamps and selling them, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.

Blood, Sperm & Organs

things you can't sell online


To answer the question you’ve been asking yourself since the beginning of this post – no, you can’t sell your blood, you can’t sell your sperm or eggs, and you sure can’t sell your organs. Oh, and you can’t sell other people’s blood and organs either, so please don’t try.

As a matter of fact, you can’t sell any body part or fluid at all, so save me from going into details. If you really, really want to sell a piece of yourself on eBay, you’d be happy to know you can sell hair, so go crazy.

Expired Food

things you can't sell on ebay

Those expiry dates are just a guess anyway, no one really pays any attention to them. Right? Well, eBay does. While you can sell certain food items on eBay, especially packaged and sealed items, you can’t sell them if they’re past their expiry date. So before listing your food on eBay, save yourself some trouble and check that date.

If you’re selling military MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), these actually can be expired, but for no longer than 3 years. Yay!

Gift Card Codes

Selling gift cards on eBay is sometimes OK, but you can’t go around selling codes or electronic gift cards. This means that if you win a cool software license from MakeUseOf, you can’t go around selling it on eBay (but why would you want to?!)


Kind of obvious, but just in case you were wondering, you can’t sell tobacco products on eBay. This goes for cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or any of those awful, awful things. In fact, you can’t even sell their healthier replacements, such as electronic cigarettes, herbal cigarettes, etc. So don’t try listing them and don’t look to buy them. If you really must have something, look for some nicotine gum, that’s allowed.

Your Turn!

This is by no way a full list of things you can’t sell or find on eBay. The list is very long, and contains many more things you’d be surprised about. Did you encounter a limitation while trying to sell something on eBay? Is there something you wish you could find by can’t? Tell us about it in the comments!

Image credits: obeck, libraryman, code_martial, blood image via Shutterstock, diwong

Related topics: eBay, Online Shopping.

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  1. Arlene Warren
    August 20, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Can you sell in an antique store antique pharmacy bottles that contain product, some have never been opened, others have. Some contents of the pharmacy bottles are part alcohol. Please reply

  2. Mary Jane
    July 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I tried to sell unused diabetic needles, they were the wrong size purchased for a diabetic dog. I listed them on EBay and immediately got a buyer. I sold them, got paid and sent them out (Yaaaaay!!!!!) before EBay sent me a note telling me to take down my listing!

  3. Anonymous
    March 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    You can't sell used underwear but you can sell hair, certainly more sanitary and not weird at all. Was wondering if you can sell used shampoo, conditioner and hair spray though.

  4. aninalos
    October 24, 2016 at 8:17 am

    One may now sell alcohol on ebay since April, 2016. Strangely, I sold champagne on ebay six or seven years ago over several months, A year later, they took my ad down and told me if I tried again they would suspend my account. They seemed to be all at sea with this one and I could never understand what all the fuss was about. They would not allow me to sell cigars either. They are American - you see.

  5. Bryce
    September 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Just curious. If I made pies, vacuumed sealed and shipped in dry ice, could you sell them on ebay. I can make all kinds of pie, from almond, pecan, to hazelnut pies easy. Everyone loved my almond pie and was just curious or if the fccla would stop it.

    • Kelly
      January 23, 2017 at 7:42 am

      No idea, but you can totally sell it up the wazoo on Etsy.com

  6. Danielle
    August 16, 2016 at 6:15 am

    lmao I bought a hookah pen from there and cigarettes y'all stupid.

  7. Pamela
    March 28, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    I am VERY SATISFIED and HAPPY for all the restrictions eBay has such as alcohol and cigarettes selling. It is very good the United States protects its citizens.

    • Anonymous
      March 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      It's not going to protect them from buying those same things at a gas station, Walmart or wherever.

    • Penny
      February 9, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      It's not about protecting its citizens when it comes to cigarettes and alcohol. That's about the sovereighnty of state law. Each state taxes those items differently, and where items are manufactured, the items naturally cost less. Therefore cigarettes in North Carolina may be significantly lower in price than those in New Jersey. If you could simply purchase them cheaper and have the shipped, the state would lose out on huge revenues. The only thing they are protecting with that is tax revenue. Which, yes, in the long run that does benefit the citizens of that state, but it does not protect them, per se.

  8. Anonymous
    July 27, 2015 at 9:18 am

    I collect old franking machines (used by companies to print postage instead of using stamps) and these are prohibited items.
    Very old machines can be in old money. When a machine is taken out of service it's dies are removed (thus rendering it useless) and with modern machines a license is needed in order to operate one, so it is impossible to defraud the GPO and use one - but they still ban their sale!!

  9. Natasha Fields
    May 31, 2015 at 2:59 am

    but they let you sell your soul on there lmao

  10. bleuluver
    March 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Hi- ran across this on Google. Very interesting! Another prohibited item or maybe it's "restricted", are USED shoes. There's huge foot fetish community that buys used shoes so eBay will ban your used shoe listing! There's a loophole- if you say shoes have been cleaned than you're ok. Lots of girls make $ selling their worn shoes :-)

  11. Colin Ryan
    October 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Amusing story.

  12. Adrian Rea
    October 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Yep they will let you sell your soul though :D

  13. Theo Reisinger
    October 9, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Hadn't realized eBay restricted so much. But it makes sense

  14. macwitty
    September 28, 2012 at 12:36 am

    I tried to sell my sister (no use for her anylonger) but it didn't work, couldn't find a category to put here ;)
    Anyhow giftcards, exp to iTunes store is frequuent on ebay so their rules don't seems to work in all cased

  15. vali
    September 25, 2012 at 4:00 am

    tokens to replace coins in supermarket trolleys were considered to be lockpicking devices

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 26, 2012 at 1:18 am

      That's pretty funny. :)

  16. andrew brown
    September 24, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    the only thing that I ever bought on ebay was a used gun barrel. That was seven or eight years ago. ebay no longer permits barrels to be sold (I think because of paypal) although other parts and accessories are sold. (The US government even allows complete guns to be sold online, although they must be shipped through licensed dealers who process background checks.)

  17. IamAshMcLean
    September 24, 2012 at 2:02 am

    and Used Toilet Paper?? hahahaha, i think i saw it on your FB MUO page... xD

  18. Mark
    September 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    can i sell some of the sky?

    • flower
      September 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      ill buy it if has no rain clouds

  19. Guest
    September 22, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I would guess bodily discharge includes waste products of living beings. Fertilizer derived from manure I'm not sure about, but outright bathroom junk is probably a no. Toe and fingernails, probably, too, and probably hair from -- NSFW. :-O

    How about breast milk? You can't market the containers on Facebook either. ;-) What's their sperm policy? Female eggs are much more difficult to harvest!

    Anything that's dead is probably a no too, Jerry Garcia posters notwithstanding. ;-)

    Drugs, maybe, R X included (please don't mark this as spam -- I'm including a legitimate list item). :-)

    How about pets/animals, are they on this list? I'd hate to think of people profiting off an eBay puppy mill! :-(

    I saw a Jay Leno clip where someone sold a Brussels sprout for, I think a hundred bucks. It wasn't even one of those foodstuffs that allegedly resembles a religious figure. It was just a Brussels sprout, a regular Brussels sprout, nothing special about it. My guess is eBay has changed its food policies since the clip aired some years back.

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      This is a pretty good list. :) Most of what you've included is actually banned. If you're interested, you can dig eBay to find their banned items and explanations. I'm pretty sure sperm and eggs are a no no.

      I've never heard about the Brussels sprout story... but somehow I'm not surprised. eBay is probably one of weirdest places on the Web. :)

  20. Tim Brookes
    September 20, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Great post Yaara, I can tell you had a lot of fun writing it :)

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks Tim, it was indeed lots of fun. :)

  21. Darren Reynolds
    September 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Train tickets. I bought some train tickets for London to Edinburgh and couldnt use them in the end. Rather than throw them away, I thought Ebay!!! Wrong they wouldn't let me....

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Yeah, that figures. Too bad!

  22. Jim
    September 19, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    American Indian artifacts that have eagle feathers are not allowed

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Yes, I think many Native American artifacts are not allowed on eBay in general.

    • Bben
      January 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Re: Eagle feathers - this is a federal law - you are not allowed to buy or sell them and cannot even posses any eagle feathers without a special permit. I learned this from an American Indian who has a permit for the eagle feathers used in his dance regalia. As far as I know (or he knows) there has never been a raid on a PowWow to check eagle feather permits though.

  23. Jim
    September 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    tons of wine on ebay

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Yes, wine specifically can be sold under some restrictions. But mostly, you can't sell alcohol at all.

  24. Michael
    September 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm
  25. Uncle Ed
    September 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Their policy on emergency vehicle lights and sirens has changed in the last several years. When I was a volunteer firefighter, I bought a light bar with the colored lenses I needed and an electronic siren. Now the light bars can have only clear (white) or amber bulbs/lenses/LEDs and a few of the ads said the electronic sirens now must be sold with the fuse removed. Motorized sirens, both modern and antique, can be sold intact--not that there is much you could do to disable one without destroying it.

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      That's really interesting, I had no idea!

  26. Bernardo Delapasion
    September 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    did they include the banning of selling oneself

  27. Freecycle Me
    September 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    This is very reassuring, as I not only would not like to buy any of the above, I certainly do not want to meet a person who does!

  28. Rob Hindle
    September 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I imagine at least some categories of weapons are on the list too.

    I wonder how effective they are at policing it.

    Google Adwords have limitations on what they let you advertise too but they are rubbish at policing it.

    I tried to help a guy selling Fireworks set up Adwords several years ago. After a couple of weeks Google killed the ad and said fireworks ads were prohibited. Other sellers ads kept popping up - and after a few days those usually disappeared too but new ones took their place. We complained because that gave them an advantage over us - unfair discriminatory practise on the part of Google.
    At one point they said it was OK if you were advertising a service to provide a fireworks display rather than selling the fireworks. But most of those also offered either DIY display packs or a link to their sister site that sold individual fireworks.

    Complaining didn't have much effect. In the end we adopted a slightly devious strategy and managed to have ads running for a few days each - enriching Google by £thousands in the process.

    Gave up because the sales it generated didn't justify the advertising cost (But of course we clicked on any fireworks ads that did pop-up, we knew just how much each click was costing our competitor!)

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      That's a really interesting story, I never worked with Adwords so I had no idea.

      As for weapons on eBay, there are many complicated restrictions. Mostly, you have to be in the US and sell to the US. You can read about it here:

      • Larry Bates
        September 24, 2012 at 4:28 am

        I have been a eBay user since they started and my store Knives4Less was one of the first stores on eBay. Their policy on knives is constantly tightening and I have been kicked off eBay several times, when their policy changed without notice.

        The two worst things about eBay are the poor sales results in recent times (post Meg Whitmam) and the lazy, incompetant, lieing CSRs.

        The CSRs do not understand the difference between a knife named Butterfly and a butterfly knife, for example. There is no sense trying to explain it to them as they do not read messages -- just scan them for key words and send previously prepared replies.

        The only way to handle a suspension is to complain to the BBB. You will get a personal reply from a person who will actually read your message and reply. No compensation for lost sales or their fees, however.

        The problem with sales are that they are rare. Out of 50 items listed each month, I can expect one (1) sale. These are items that sell very well in my brick & mortar (actually plank and nail) store and many of the items used to sell well on eBay.

        eBayers will not pay more than wholesale and expect free postage. Fortunately, I deal with over 50 suppliers and am able to sell some closeout items that are priced low enough to allow about $1 in profit, given the eBay and Pay Pal fees.

        My average selling price is $20. If I were paying $0.60 for each listing, I would loose $29 for each sale, just in listing fees. Fortunately, eBay allows 50 free listings each month -- that is the reason I only list 50 items each month compared to the 200 items I kept in monthly rotation in the Whitman days.

        • Yaara Lancet
          September 26, 2012 at 1:16 am

          Thank you so much Larry for taking the time to write this. I don't think I've ever actually talked to a serious eBay seller before. It's very interesting to hear about these experiences.

          The way you're describing it, it almost sounds like it's not worth while to sell things on eBay when you have your actual store. Why do you even bother with it?

  29. Manuel Reyes Jr.
    September 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm


  30. Alexis Akridge
    September 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    being a makeup artist myself, I surely appreciate knowing that I shouldn't have to run across used makeup or brushes :)

  31. Muhannad Agha
    September 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Never knew that, thanks for the info!

  32. susendeep dutta
    September 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I don't like to buy used stuffs hence never used eBay.

    Other than that,eBay has changed its logo after long time.

  33. Angel Vinod
    September 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

    why would anyone sell that?

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      You'd be surprised what people sell or want to sell on eBay...

  34. Donovan
    September 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Lucky for me the allow the selling of expired photo film. That silver nitrate is so delicious!

  35. GrrGrrr
    September 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

    I have never bought anything/sold at ebay.

    but thanks for bringing out the facts/information

  36. Iskander LG
    September 19, 2012 at 7:57 am


    Looks like I'll have to find somewhere else to sell my used whalebone boxers then.

    They're just so uncomfortable...

  37. Patrcik Saunders
    September 19, 2012 at 7:24 am

    How about pieces of the Universe? Planets, stars, Moon real estate, comets etc.

    • Donovan
      September 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Well everything is part of the universe, including you.

    • ????
      January 27, 2015 at 5:40 am

      You can buy pieces of the moon and Mars and sometimes pieces of the planet/asteroid vesta

      • God
        November 22, 2017 at 10:26 am

        Those sales would be illegal as the person you pay could not possibly already own them, but if you insist I`ll be happy to sell you a galaxy or two...

      • God
        November 22, 2017 at 10:29 am

        Such sales would be illegal as they don`t own the moon or mars.... I do.

    • ????
      January 27, 2015 at 5:45 am

      You can also buy cigarettes only if you don't open and smoke them. Mainly sold as a collectable.

  38. Harish Anim
    September 19, 2012 at 4:25 am

    so what about medicines and other stuff

    • Doc
      September 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Only sealed, non-prescription medicines.

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      And you can't sell herbal medicine that claims to do something similar to illegal drugs.

  39. Debbie Strain
    September 19, 2012 at 4:00 am

    Interesting! Actually I have never thought about it but it makes sense

  40. bonioloff
    September 19, 2012 at 3:28 am

    I ever heard someone ever try to sell her husband and grandmother in Ebay, and now they make a new rules to FORBID selling human in EBay.. :D
    I ever see the video..

    • Charlie
      September 19, 2012 at 6:51 am

      Forget people..., in 2001 some guy bought Iraq for a dollar :D

      • Mark
        September 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

        LOL...this should be included in the list.
        "You cant sell a country"

  41. Wendy
    September 19, 2012 at 2:59 am

    You can sell textbooks, but not the teacher's version with the answers.

  42. Jacob Twitchel
    September 19, 2012 at 2:31 am

    I am new to ebay and haven't sold anything yet. I have only bought old computer hardware. Never really thought about how you can't sell anything on ebay. I guess something to keep in mind even though I know I will never want to sell any of this stuff listed above. lol I think it is also against the rules to sell expired concert tickets. I read that once before. But I think its kinda common sense but I know someone is going to try it!

    • Dennis
      September 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      What if you wanted to buy some pristine Led Zeppelin tickets from the 70's.
      I doubt anyone would be fooled into thinking they are going to see them.

  43. Keren
    September 19, 2012 at 2:20 am

    You can't sell used modern cloth nappies or old fashioned flat nappies either, no matter how clean they are. A bit silly really considering there's such a big market for them.

  44. Cryptic
    September 19, 2012 at 2:09 am

    I've bought Steam codes on eBay before, so they must not be too strict on the gift card/code thing.

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      They might have some exceptions to the rule in this case. They have all sorts of rules and exceptions going on...

  45. josemon maliakal
    September 19, 2012 at 1:45 am

    That's cool, I didn't know that

  46. Erasergirl
    September 19, 2012 at 1:32 am

    You can sell intact nip bottles but usually at collectors prices

  47. Greg
    September 19, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I quit using Ebay, their seller fees add up fast!

  48. Joshua L
    September 19, 2012 at 12:28 am

    I guess I'll have to look elsewhere to sell my old underwear....

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      Disappointing, isn't it?

      • Douglas Mutay
        October 31, 2012 at 8:38 am


  49. michael alexander
    September 19, 2012 at 12:16 am

    can't sell items made from ivory, thank God

    • Donovan
      September 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Did you know crabs make a type of ivory for their claws? And confusingly Ivory Crabs can refer to a type of crab (Cardisoma guanhumi) that stays white instead of blue.

  50. richard williams
    September 18, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    anything that originally required a prescription to buy like cpap machines, hoses and face masks.