12 things you should never buy at dollar stores

Dollar stores are the perfect place to buy super cheap items, especially if you’re trying to save money on gas and all the other items that have gone up in price. They may be great for party decorations, greeting cards or perhaps home decor items like candles.

But dollar stores may not always be the best place to find a bargain. You may be able to get an item for less money elsewhere or you may be better off spending more money for better quality.

Next time you head to your favorite dollar store, here are a few items you should leave on the shelves.

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1. Batteries

You may want a cheap option for all the batteries you use for remote controls or game consoles, but skip the dollar store batteries. They may not last as long as more expensive batteries, which means you may have to buy more for the same amount of power as pricier options.

And dollar store batteries may not be made either, creating a larger bill if you have to replace items due to leaking batteries and damaged electronics.

2. Vitamins

Check the packaging of vitamins that you may want to get at the dollar store. Vitamins may not undergo the same scrutiny as brand name or more expensive versions, which means they may be less effective.

You may also want to skip any medication, as it may not pack the same effect as a well-known brand if you are sick.

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3. Kitchen utensils

Everyday kitchen utensils are likely to touch your food on a regular basis, so invest a little money in something you know may be non-toxic or won’t add chemicals to your food, especially when it comes to plastic utensils.

Instead, save some cash and invest it in more expensive kitchen tools like pots and pans or knives. They may cost more money upfront, but they can also be more durable pieces that you can use for years to come instead of spending money every year to replace them.

4. Sunscreen

Before you stock up for the summer, you might want to steer clear of the dollar store sunscreen. The SPF in sunscreens can break down over time, making them less effective than they were before they ended up at the dollar store.

Using dollar store sunscreen can burn your skin if the SPF number on the bottle doesn’t match what’s in it anymore.

5. Make-up

Beauty products such as makeup may be cheaper at dollar stores than brand-name brands, but you may be taking a gamble with these products, especially if you have sensitive skin or can react to ingredients in beauty products.

Spend a little more on products that may not be as harsh on your skin.

6. School supplies

Shopping for the new school year can be expensive, but it could cost you even more during the year if you buy products at dollar stores instead of using name-brand brands.

Pens may run out of ink faster or sticky sticks may dry out faster, which means you may have to buy more to replace items that are no longer usable.

And depending on the time of year, you may be able to save money on back-to-school sales at retail stores instead of picking up items at the dollar store.

7. Electronic accessories

Skip the dollar stores if you need new chargers and cords for phones, extension cords, or power plugs for your electronic devices.

These items tend to break easily and can damage expensive electronics.

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8. Play

Toys may be one of those dollar store items that get the most wear and tear once you bring them home. But cheap toys can break easily, which can mean tears or serious problems for children.

Instead, skip the cheap trinkets and go for toys that may cost a bit more but can withstand daily play by kids.

9. Paper products

Dollar store toilet paper can be coarse and fluffy, which means you may use more of it to get the same results as higher-ply toilet paper. The same idea might apply to paper towels, which makes them more expensive because you need more to clean up spills and grime.

Compare the unit cost per bundle at a dollar store to a larger bundle at a retailer. You may find that dollar stores may actually cost more when you divide the price per roll.

10. Wrapping paper

Taking a gift to a friend’s party or gift wrapping for the holidays? Skip the cheap paper at the dollar stores. The quality may be lacking, meaning that the paper may tear easily or the thin paper may reveal what is inside before the presenting recipient opens.

Instead, see if there are other options like gift bags that can still work to make your gifts stand out. Or find out if a Boy Scouts or sports team sells wrapping paper as a fundraiser.

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11. Food

Perishable and non-perishable items may be closer to their expiration dates than foods you buy at the grocery store, so you may want to be careful of any dollar store food items.

If you’re on a tight budget, there may be better ways to save money on groceries, including signing up for a customer loyalty card, clipping coupons, or checking sales at your local grocery store.

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12. Tools

If you need to fix things around the house or repair items, you may want to skip the tool section at your local dollar store. Tools can break easily if they can’t handle the work or may not do the job you want them to do.

Instead, consider investing in a good hardware kit from a local hardware store, which can last longer and may be more reliable.


Dollar stores can be a great way to shop and save, but not all of the products on the shelves are worth it. Instead, consider splurging on a few items that you might be able to get more use out of. It may be worth earning extra money to invest in higher quality items.

Sometimes the deal may turn out to be a waste of money. You might be surprised how much you can save when you’re not shopping at a dollar store.

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