10 Things to Never Buy at a Dollar Store

dollar store

Dollar stores have become quite popular and there are definitely deals that can be found at your local dollar store. While you may want to visit your local dollar store to see if you can score some of these deals, there are also products at the dollar store that are anything but a deal. It’s important to remember that just because it is inexpensive doesn’t make it a good deal. Here are ten things never to buy at the dollar store:

Laundry Detergent and Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies are expensive, so you might think that buying them from a dollar store is saving you some money. However, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies from the dollar store aren’t made from quality chemicals. The supplies tend to be watered down and the chemicals used are often an off-brand, and they occasionally leave an unpleasant odor or stain after you use them. If you want to save money on these products, consider making your own laundry detergent and making chemical free cleaning supplies.


Most of the batteries for sale at dollar stores aren’t brand name batteries that you can find in the convenience store or supermarket. You can usually find a package of 4 AA or AAA batteries for $1, but the batteries won’t last as long as the brand name batteries. Their life expectancy is around 1/16th of the life expectancy of a brand like Duracell. This is caused by the chemical makeup used in the dollar store variety batteries. You don’t want to keep having to replace your batteries every few weeks, do you? If you are in need of a lot of low quality batteries, you may be able to get free batteries from your local drug store.

Sandwich Bags

If you constantly take sandwiches or snacks to work or school, you know how quickly you can go through a box of sandwich baggies. Dollar store sandwich bags usually come in boxes of 13 or 25. At a regular grocery or convenience store, sandwich bags usually come in a pack of 150 for around $3 or $4. If you have a coupon, you can buy them for as low as $1.50.

Boxed Mixes

It might seem like a great deal to buy a box of brownie or cake mix for $1, but you’re actually losing money. Most of those boxes are only 9 oz, which is half the size of the normal cake mixes in the supermarket. For a normal cake pan, you’d need to buy at least two $1 boxes. Cake mix in the supermarket is around $2.99. But cake mixes are constantly on sale for $1. Even with a $1 off coupon, you’d only be paying $2. It’s worth it to buy boxed mixes at the supermarket and get the full sized box instead of the smaller 8 or 9 oz version.

Substitute Products

Many dollar store items are generic or off-brand products. For some items, this won’t make a difference. For others, this makes a gigantic difference. Substitute food items should particularly be avoided. Items like sugar replacements, syrups, sauces, or spices, for instance. Generally, the content within the package will be lower, such as 40 packets instead of the normal 100, or 6 oz instead of 12 oz. But the ingredients used in the product are also questionable, as well as something you should avoid at all costs.


Like the other food products on this list, the quantity of candy is less than what you’d find in a convenience or grocery store. Those small bags of generic candy are usually around 8 oz and full of more air than candy. You’d be better off buying one of those giant tubs or candy from the supermarket or paying for bulk candy at a discount store.


Buying razors from a dollar store is great if you’re in a pinch and need something as soon as possible. However, buying them for constant use should be avoided. Dollar store razors are made from very cheap materials and won’t provide a thorough shaving job. Shaving razors are definitely something you might want to spend more money on so that they last longer making your per use cost lower. You can even further reduce the costs of razors by extending their life.

Vitamins and Allergy Medication

If you’re worried about the cost of vitamins and allergy medications at the pharmacy, don’t make the mistake of buying a cheap knock-off alternative. The generic brands at the pharmacy are usually suitable if you’re looking to save money. The versions at the dollar store aren’t generic brands, but rather imitations that are close to the original vitamin or medication. “Close” means that the medication or vitamin could have some unusual substance added, which could negatively affect you. When it comes to your health, better to be safe than sorry! You may also want to consider the many other alternatives to saving money on vitamins.

Extension Cords and Power Strips

Extension cords and power strips are items that almost every home has. Buying them from a dollar store isn’t a good idea, though. They’re made with cheap, flimsy plastic that is not only a fire hazard, but won’t protect your electronics. When it comes to your electronics, it’s better to buy these items from a department store or hardware store. At most, they’ll cost you $10, but they’ll last you for a long time and will protect your products.

Oven Mitts and Work Gloves

If you’re looking for a cheap pair of oven mitts or work gloves, dollar store products might suit your needs, but think twice before purchasing them. The gloves are often made from very cheap materials, making them incredibly thin. You wouldn’t want to take a pan out of the oven only to feel the heat through the oven mitts, would you?

Next time that you head to the dollar store, remember to consider more than the price when making purchases. By focusing on the good deals and avoiding the bad ones, you will find that you get the most from your dollar store visits. Are there other items that you would definitely never buy at the dollar store?

(Photo courtesy of Cosmic Kitty)

This entry was posted in Food / Groceries, Frugal, Personal Finance, Saving Money, Shopping and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to 10 Things to Never Buy at a Dollar Store

  1. I totally agree with this article. The quality of the products sold at Dollar Stores are just not worth it especially the items from the list above when it comes to my families health and safety.

    I often think of the children’s toy’s that were from China with the lead in/on them. I use to shop at flea markets and see some these same products from many third world countries even cheaper than a dollar and found the quality way below regular store products.

    You think you are saving money but what you might be risking is you and your families health.

    Stay safe.

    Great article.

  2. Marv says:

    Then what is ok to buy?

  3. Jeffrey says:

    There was a link at the beginning of the article: dollar store finds

  4. Wendy says:

    Not all the candy is poorly priced. The dollar store near me has name-brand candy at a savings. The ten pack of small Reese’s pb cups is $1, but it’s $1.25 to $1.50 at the grocer’s or the drugstore. What I really like is getting the candy from my childhood there. It’s hard to find the caramel creams that my grandma bought me-but they have it at the dollar store.

  5. max says:

    The purpose of buying at the “Dollar” stores is because they are cheaper then other stores. Today, you have to sometimes buy these cheaper items to stay on budget. I buy my Tide there and get the same quality, but pay up to $5 less a box. I also but Dawn, and save $2 a bottle over my local grocery store. Do these products differ from what Walmart has to offer?

  6. Dee in RI says:

    Shopping the dollar store is the same as shopping any other store. Know your prices, and what is stocked at the dollar stores in your area. Dollar stores are not always equal, and some are dollar stores in name only, but still carry some cheaper-than-elsewhere goods.

    My dollar stores carry a mix of brand and off brand items, and one accepts food stamps.
    Some of my great dollar store finds:
    Yes actual working headphones with a 4 foot long cord. Perfect for late night TV and my neighbor who’s bed is on the other side of my thin TV wall.


    Candy in movie-theater size boxes.
    Baskets and containers to organize my cabinets and drawers.
    Sunglasses to wear over my prescription ones to drive.

    Thin cloth gloves that are rubberized on the palms, making grabbing and moving anything so much easier.

    Brand name tissues, plastic spray bottles, a springy mesh back rest, and snack size baggies only when they have boxes of them with “blank % more” in the box, making them cheaper than elsewhere.

  7. steve says:

    I disagree with this in total. Observe the average persons buying at dollar stores and you may find they will put up with more than middle class types are willing to in order to be able afford things. The only thing I have found is some of the off brand foods are not as tasty as some brand names.

  8. CindyM says:

    I agree with Steve. There are several dollar stores I hit and some have a great variety and better quality goods for that buck. The Deal’s near me has a huge freezer section full of frozen vegetables, among other different items, the variety of which I have never seen at the big grocery stores around me. I’m not in a dollar store expecting the products there to last forever anyway. Some items you don’t even want to last forever, so it’s great to pay a buck, use for a bit or even once then pitch it like those dusting wands or outdoor work gloves, which I manage to destroy doing some of the yard work I do. Nope, the quality of the stuff I get there seems every bit as good as the name brand stuff elsewhere. Love the makeup (all name brand – including Revlon lipsticks that run as much as $7 to $10 elsewhere. You won’t catch me buying cough medicine or aspirin anywhere else, either.

  9. Jim says:

    Some things you should buy at the dollar store are cables for your tv. I’ve even got ipod cables there for just $1.

    Their batteries? terrible and not worth it. Probably even bad for the environment based on how crappy they usually are.

    Candy you still might want to consider. I’ve gotten the theater sized box candy for just $1 which at a lot of stores can still cost up to $1.50 or even $2.

  10. Ron says:

    I shop at Big Lots and mainly purchase health and beauty items. Shaving cream $1.25 tooth paste $0.90 spray deodorant $2,25. They are all name brands. I also buy wrapping paper and other items when I believe the price is right. If not I pass them by

  11. Jo says:

    The light bulbs we bought lasted only two months.

  12. s. magallanes says:

    I don’t totally agree with this list…not everything is quality of course but, there are a lot of great things….i always buy my batteries there and they last just as long as the expensive ones I bought before (which is why I switched)…the trick is the dollar tree usually has 2-3 brands and you need to pick the right one..because one of them does drain quickly (can’t remember the name)….the other thing to consider is sometimes when you really need something but, you really don’t have the money and have to buy it and you had to take money out of your change jar to get it…it’s nice to find you can still buy some items you usually buy in a smaller package to get you through till you can afford to buy it in the regular size…i live fabuloso (I lived in Mexico and that is the #1 all purpose cleaner…it has a great sents and it’s great on floors and added to whites)…sure I can get a big bottle for $2 something at Walmart but, sometimes I just don’t have the money…and I always buy my paper good there (tp & paper towels)..that is just my opinion.

  13. christina says:

    i love the dollar store.. somethings are better to buy at say your local wally world, but my cleaning supplies work just the same as all the others.. cleaning supplies are not supost to smell good. there for cleaning… i get my candy there as well.. you just have to try it out for your self. i love it….

  14. Cabby says:

    I totally agree with Steve, it is no different than buying an off brand name at a grocery store, is it?

  15. ruth says:

    sure the dollar store has some off brand and inexpensive products but they also carry just about everything in both the generic and name brand items. don’t let this article fool you. the quality of the generic is not the same but you have options. this article makes you think all that is available is the generic brands. i shop here becuase i want to not because i have to.

  16. malcolm says:

    You must be referring to the “Store Brand” razors, because I buy Gillette razors at the dollar store and the are they same as Gillette razors sold anywhere, except they are cheaper. However, last week I bought four 2packs of Energizer D size batteries at the dollar store (they were indeed cheaper) but they were all DEAD. So who’s to say what is best and what isn’t?

  17. Becky says:

    I can only partly agree with this. Some of those items are ok
    If you make extra sure you’re getting a good value. What I’m
    surprised isn’t mentioned is that no-name facial tissues or
    paper towels are no good.

  18. leaper says:

    CRACKERS TASTE LIKE SOAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Mom says:

    I purchased laundry soap at my local dollar store. I was in a rush and thought ok this one time….BIG mistake. I broke out in hives which lasted for a week and ended up having to re-wash everything I had already washed. Wasted time AND money.

  20. rob says:

    Dollartree is the better dollar store the quality is better and the glassware is comparable to some dept. stores and the candy, gum, and most of the food are name brand and they accept coupons

  21. mc says:

    Seems like this article has something against the Dollar Tree.I get most of medications from there as long as made the USA. Toothbrushes and toothpaste I buy without hesitation as long as from the USA, also first aid supplies. Just read the labels and do research on Google with the pharmaceutical companies.
    A lot of the food items are made in the USA, so why not trusted here but trust in the supermarket? I like when I can going to store spent $17 and get 17 items.

  22. Karen says:

    I had a severe allergic reaction to the Family Dollar store Migraine/Headache relief. I usually take Excedrin with no problems. Ran out of those and thought I’d buy the Family Dollar store brand. Same Ingredients listed, Expiration date ok and the seal was not broken (I checked). A few hours later my entire face started swelling up, got a itchy, burning rash on my torso, neck and legs. My tongue started swelling up along with my eyes. Went to the emergency room and they diagnosed an angioedema caused by a severe allergic reaction to the medication. Had to be put on high doses of Cortison for days, ( still phasing out of those) and allergy meds. I never had a allergic reaction before to anything. Doc said to NEVER buy knockoff brands again!! You never know what else they put in there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *