Things It Doesn’t Pay To Buy Generic


One of the common ways to save money which people often suggest is to buy generic. In many cases, this is good advice. Many generic products these days can hold their own against their name brand counterparts, but this isn’t always the case. There are some generic products that end up costing you more money due to being poorly made. Here are ten generic products that you want to avoid:

Paper Products

Generic items are cheaper for a reason. They’re usually made from less expensive materials, creating a product of poor quality. Generic paper towels and toilet paper fall into this category. These generic products are made with fewer fibers, causing them to have less overall absorbance. While you might pay less for generic toilet paper or paper towels, you’re going to use more of them.

Garbage Bags

Similar to paper products, generic garbage bags are often made with cheaper materials. Generic bags are usually thinner and weaker than brand name bags, and they often hold less as well. We use trash bags to dispose of our waste, so there’s no need to buy a cheap bag that will only break. Cheaper generic brands are more likely to tear, and no one wants to deal with that mess.


You should never buy generic paint for a couple of reasons. First, it’s usually watered down, causing it to become thinner. Second, it rarely lasts for an extended period of time. Third, because it’s thinner than brand name paint, it takes more to cover one area. Brand name paint may be more expensive, but it will save you time and money in the long run. You won’t have to constantly buy more paint in order to repaint your walls.


Diapers are incredibly expensive and you go through them fairly quickly. So, of course, generic diapers seem like a great idea. But while generic diapers are cheaper and have the same absorbance as brand name diapers, they’re ill-fitting and leaky. Unless you want to deal with cleaning up the extra mess or soothing diaper rash, generics aren’t the way to go.

Food Extracts

Most recipes call for vanilla extract, but a lot of others call for peppermint, lemon, or a variety of other flavors. Most supermarkets will sell pure extract for a few dollars more than the generic version. Pure extracts are called pure for a reason, and it’s because they contain more flavoring. Generics contain less flavoring and more added alcohol, essentially “watering down” the extract. This often alters the taste, so it’s worth it to buy the pure extracts over the generic brands.

Food Colorings

Like food extracts, generic food colorings are often made from cheap ingredients, which means the final product isn’t as great as its brand name counterpart. Generic food colorings sometimes even include ingredients that drastically alter your food, leave a funny aftertaste, or stain your mouth. For the price you’re paying, it’s not worth it to buy generic food coloring. Stick with a brand name.


Generic electronics are something you should never buy. They’re usually made from refurbished parts of older or pre-used products. This means they’re less likely to work at full capacity and are more likely to break upon use. If they break, you’re rarely offered a warranty for the product, forcing you to try to scrounge for new parts or buy an entirely new product. There’s a reason you never see anyone using a generic computer or mp3 player. It’s because they don’t work as well as brand name electronics.


Generic kitchen knives are also something you should avoid buying. They’re generally cheaply made, dull, and need to be replaced fairly often. You also run the risk of the knife breaking while you’re using it. Generic brand knives are also prone to becoming dull very quickly. If you prepare a lot of your food with kitchen knives, it’s worth it to spend a little more money and buy some quality products. They’ll last you for far longer.


Mattresses are expensive, so buying a generic brand might seem like a great way to save money. But, as with most products on this list, generic brand mattresses are usually poorly made. Your mattress should last you for years and provide you with a comfortable night’s sleep. A cheaply made generic mattress will not only provide you with a poor night’s sleep, but will probably need to be replaced soon. Better to spend a little more money and have a mattress last for years than have a cheap one that needs to be replaced after a year or two.

Gas Grills

Gas grills are considered a luxury item, but many people still prefer to buy a generic brand in order to save money. Like electronics, generic brand gas grills are made from cheap, repurposed parts and won’t last for a long time. You don’t want to have to replace your gas grill after only a year do you? Think about it this way: you can buy a generic grill for $50 that lasts for one or two years or you can buy a brand name grill for $125 that lasts for five to seven years. The brand name one saves you the most money in the long run.

As with most shopping, just because a generic item is priced less doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a better deal or value. There are just some generic items that it isn’t worth buying. What other products do you never buy generic because there simply is not the value in buying them?

(Photo courtesy of Paul Jerry)

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5 Responses to Things It Doesn’t Pay To Buy Generic

  1. Jay says:

    Many prescription drugs; An example, Insulin, varies widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Check with your Doc and Pharmacist, and consistently use the recommended brand.

  2. Noel says:

    Disagree with diapers. Have used loads of generic brands for my son and honestly, generic brands like Target and Shoperite were better fits than expensive brand names. Even for absorbency Target was way better than say Huggies.

  3. Wendy says:

    Store Brands are not necessarily the same as generic brands. We prefer our grocery store’s brand of paper towels and garbage bags over the name brands. On the other hand, our grocery store’s house brand of frozen waffles is awful. You try things, and you make decisions.

  4. Minny says:

    It depends what you mean by ‘generic’. Store brands of many items are just as good as named brands. As Wendy says, you have to try these things out. I’ve done this for many years with a very small failure rate.

    I also buy store brand ibuprofen, paracetamol and hay fever tablets, they always work. I do think that if a person has a ‘brand names are better’ mindset they will never find store brands as good!

  5. Gail says:

    For the most part generic brand drugs are just as good as name brand and many insurances won’t pay for the name brand or charge a whole lot more. If you doctor thinks the generic is okay for you to use, they will say so on the prescription.

    As to diapers, what about cloth diapers? I’m not sure where this craze for throw away diapers came fromm but cloth diapers do work and laundering them doesn’t cost any more than buying them. I raised two babies in cloth diapers and the only time they got diaper rash was when I had to use disposable diapers such as for day care. In the meantime you aren’t overloading landfills and you miss the soothing feeling of hanging them on the line or folding them which I always felt was a very calming activity.

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