14 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store

It may be better to search out deals or spend a little more somewhere else.

shopping with a plan
Updated July 18, 2024
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Dollar stores are easy on your wallet if you’re on a tight budget but still want to save on everyday essentials like things for your home or office.

However, some options may not be worth spending even a few dollars on when you can get better quality or better deals somewhere else.

Before you head to your favorite dollar store, here are some items you may want to scratch off your shopping list.

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Toys

BillionPhotos.com/Adobe colorful toys collection on desk

Toys can be pricey when you’re trying to buy things for kids to have fun.

But be careful when picking toys at dollar stores. The lower level of quality could mean you’re buying toys that can break more easily and cause harm to kids playing with them.

Tools

whitestorm/Adobe assorted tools

You may want to pick up a screwdriver or hammer to make an affordable home repair instead of paying someone to fix something.

But, a good repair needs good tools, which you may not find at dollar stores. Invest a little extra cash in sturdy tools that will hold up.

Oven mitts

brizmaker/Adobe kitchen with modern interior

Kitchen items can be hit-and-miss at dollar stores, but you should probably steer clear of the oven mitts.

The cheaper flimsy material could cause burns and other issues compared to other options that may be more expensive but also more protective.

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School supplies

RomanR/Adobe different school supplies

It can be hard to find the money to pay for all the school supplies you need in the fall, but you may want to skip dollar stores to fulfill your kids’ supply list.

Stores like Walmart and Target may have better deals on school supplies around the beginning of the school year, so compare prices before you default to buying supplies at dollar stores.

Laundry detergent

vladdeep/Adobe pouring laundry detergent

You may want to spend a little extra on items like cleaning supplies and laundry detergent rather than shopping for them at dollar stores.

The extra cash you spend on laundry detergent, for example, could be noticeable when you get your freshly cleaned clothes out of the laundry with name-brand detergent compared to a dollar-store find.

Batteries

Gudellaphoto/Adobe batteries

Batteries can be expensive, but you don’t want to pick up dollar-store versions for your home electronics.

Batteries at dollar stores may not have the same power as name-brand batteries. They could work for a bit in remote controls, for example, but you don’t want to power anything bigger than that with batteries from dollar stores.

Knives

fotofabrika/Adobe set of knives on stand

Knives can be expensive, which is why you may be tempted to pick up some at a dollar store instead of more expensive retailers.

But a lower quality isn’t the only issue when you buy knives from dollar stores. Cheap or dull knives could also pose a safety hazard so it’s best to just leave them on the dollar store shelves.

Food containers

Pixel-Shot/Adobe holding stack of plastic containers

It’s a great idea to take leftovers to work or prepackage your meals for the week so you can save money.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a good set of sturdy food containers so you don’t have to worry about spills and other issues that can arise from the flimsy plastic containers at dollar stores.

Electronics

Tricky Shark/Adobe usb cables adapter packed

It’s easy to lose phone chargers or have to replace them when they break, but you’ll want to replace them with a good charger that may cost a little more.

Electronics at dollar stores may not be made as well, which can cause them to break or potentially be a fire hazard.

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Toilet paper

roman/Adobe soft toilet papers on table

The quality of toilet paper at dollar stores could mean you’re using more of it because it’s thin or just not as comfortable.

You can find deals for toilet paper and other paper goods at other stores, especially when they are on sale, and get better quality for a reasonable price.

Makeup

New Africa/Adobe different luxury makeup products

You can get some great deals on makeup at dollar stores, but be careful and try to stick to name brands that you have used before.

Dollar stores may carry cheaper makeup, but it may cause issues if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to some ingredients.

Cookware

White bear studio/Adobe set of different kitchen utensils

Pots and pans need to be sturdy and good quality to handle the rigors of making meals at high temperatures.

So be careful when buying cookware that could be subpar and break or cause injury and try to spend a little more on cookware that you know will last longer.

Garbage bags

Pavel Kubarkov/Adobe garbage bags rolls

It may be a good idea to splurge a little more on heavy-duty trash bags that can handle the everyday wear of a home or office.

Low-quality bags could lead to more of a mess that you’ll have to deal with on its way out the door.

Soda

Steve Cukrov/Adobe soda cans in ice

Check your local grocery store for soda before you pick some up at your local dollar stores.

Grocery stores put soda on sale regularly so you may actually find a better deal there than your neighborhood dollar stores.

Bottom line

Syda Productions/Adobe woman with food basket at grocery

Dollar stores can help you stop wasting money on everyday items that can add up.

But sometimes you may want to spend just a little more to get better quality that can help you entertain or take care of typical house issues without worrying about the lack of dollar store finds holding up to the rigors of use.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.