16 Dollar Store Duds That Are a Total Waste of Money

Whether you’re rich, middle class, or somewhere in between, you can get more for your hard-earned money at a dollar store. 

Of course, not everything at a dollar store is priced at a dollar. Many of these retail outlets have slightly higher price points that offer a greater variety of useful items. 

But while you can score many great deals at discount shops, keep reading to see 16 things you should never, ever buy at a dollar store if you don’t want to waste money.

1. Tools

Toolkit
Image credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Unless you’re the type of consumer who likes to replace items every year or so, avoid tools sold at dollar stores. That’s especially true if you’re a DIYer looking for quality tools that’ll last. You won’t have trouble finding hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, and other handy hand tools, but the quality won’t match what you’ll get at a big box store.

2. Detergents

laundry detergents clothespins and towels
Photo credit: New Africa / Shutterstock.com.

Dollar stores usually sell detergents that are noticeably cheaper than supermarkets. But there’s often a catch that many consumers don’t realize. Unless the packaging includes expiration dates, you can’t be sure how long they’ve been sitting on the shelves. The problem with this is that detergents lose some of their cleaning strength if they’ve been sitting for too long. So, you could be paying too much for an inferior product.

3. Toys

white-and-brown-dog-plush-toy
Photo by Clarissa Watson on Unsplash

It’ll also be a good idea to avoid the toy section. Chances are you’ll see lots of toys from manufacturers you’ve never heard of before. That’s because the products are often cheaply made knock-offs of other toys from established toy makers.

4. Plastic Food Storage Containers

Woman holding stack of plastic containers with fresh vegetables
Photo credit: Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com..

Plastic food storage containers can save the day when you have extras and don’t want them to go to waste. But the plastic containers you’ll find at most dollar stores won’t be safe to use for your edibles. You need plastic containers made with BPA-free or other plastics that are safe to use. You’re unlikely to find that at a dollar store.

5. Smartphone Charger Cords

Adapter cord charger of smart phone
Photo credit: DAMRONG RATTANAPONG / Shutterstock.com..

You can get a smartphone charger cord inexpensively at a dollar store. But the quality of products usually leaves something to be desired. It’s not uncommon to buy one, have it work okay for a few days or weeks, and then have it work intermittently or not at all.

6. Toilet Paper

Persons Hand Using Toilet Paper
Photo credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com..

Let’s face it. Does anyone want to use single-ply toilet paper when nature calls? Considering how many times you’ll have to wrap toilet paper around your hand before clean-up, you might as well buy something better and more comfortable on your rump.

7. Paper Towels

Woman using paper towels in kitchen
Photo credit: New Africa / Shutterstock.com..

Buying paper towels from a dollar store can be like using the leaves of a tree to dry your hands. You might find paper towels for an attractive price point at a dollar store, but what’s the point if the quality leaves much to be desired?

8. Batteries 

Batteries
Image credit: studiomiracle / Shutterstock.com

For one thing, dollar stores don’t normally sell high-quality batteries to begin with. Add to that the fact that the batteries at a dollar store are likely older than the batteries at a department store, and you might find that the cheap dollar store batteries aren’t worth it.

9. Umbrellas

Photo credit: Svetlana Danilova / Shutterstock.com

Have you ever seen umbrellas sold at dollar stores? They might be okay for a light pitter-patter rain shower. But they won’t hold up to any severe inclement weather. In fact, a calm breeze might be enough to cause catastrophic failure.

10. Plastic Kitchen Utensils

multicolored plastic tableware
Photo credit: Dream79 / Shutterstock.com..

While plastic kitchen utensils from a dollar store might pass the eye test, it’s what you don’t see that can hurt you. Unless the plastic is BPA-free, leave the plastic kitchen utensils alone.

11. Ceramic Dishes

Colorful Ceramic Dishes
Photo credit: BearFotos / Shutterstock.com..

There are lots of options for ceramic dishes at dollar stores. Even so, you should probably pass on those products and buy them from a department store. The ones you find at a dollar store might have toxic elements like cadmium or lead. 

12. Garbage Bags

hand holding garbage black bag
Photo credit: lovelyday12 / Shutterstock.com..

Save your money by spending more. Yes, you can buy low-cost garbage bags at the dollar store, but they won’t hold up. So, you might have to double-bag your garbage. Spending more on quality bags is a better investment.

13. Canned Food

Young woman buying canned food at grocery store.
Image Credit: Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock.com

Finding canned peas, corn, or other produce for a buck or so at a dollar store might seem like a great deal. But how long have those tins been on the shelves? Consider, too, that you can often get canned food for less at grocery stores.

14. Vitamins and Medicines

Colorful pills and medicines
Photo credit: Lunatta / Shutterstock.com..

Are you looking for some Vitamin B or Tylenol? While you can find vitamins and medicines at dollar stores, you’re better off getting them at drug stores. Dollar store vitamins and medicines may be past their expiration dates, rendering them ineffective.

15. Pet Food and Treats

Dry and wet pet food in feeding bowls
Photo credit: New Africa / Shutterstock.com.

Your pet deserves the very best. But you might not get that if you’re buying your pet food or treats at the dollar store. Considering the various recalls for pet food and treats over the years, you’re better off buying what your pets need from a pet food store. 

16. Gift Wrapping Supplies

colourful gift wrapping supplies
Photo credit: luanateutzi / Shutterstock.com.

Yes, the prices might be right. But if you’ve ever dealt with low-quality wrapping paper and masking tape, you know that wrapping gifts can be a task that would test the patience of a saint.

Avoid These Dollar Store Items if You Value Your Money

Well stocked aisle in the Dollar Store
Editorial credit: Patrick Hatt / Shutterstock.com.

You work too hard for your money to spend it on products that won’t hold up or are ineffective. Don’t let low prices fool you. Sometimes, it’s best to spend a bit more to save money in the end.

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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂