When shopping for a bargain, sometimes the dollar store is a great place to do business. In fact, you might be tempted to buy items that aren’t on your shopping list just because they only cost around a dollar.
See also: The best and worst things to buy generic
More tips: 30 things you should never buy without a coupon
But you might want to think twice before purchasing certain items. Dollar stores have come under scrutiny since the mid-2010s, with studies questioning the quality of the items being sold. Environmental groups have looked into potential health risks and their studies have shown that while some private label products have improved in quality in recent years, others still contain ‘chemicals of concern’, report says of 2021 from Campaign for Healthier. Solutions.
The thing is, some dollar store deals can be a terrible buy if you don’t know what you’re getting into. You might be compromising on quality or safety, and even $1 might not be the best deal for what you’re getting. Read on to see which dollar store items you’re better off going without.
1. Dollar Electronics Store
In a dollar store, it’s best to avoid the electronics aisle, according to consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.
“Most plug-in electronics are rubbish and don’t last long, especially HDMI cords and power strips,” she said. “When it comes to electronics, it’s best to buy from a legit electronics retailer or online store like Amazon.com for cheaper prices.”
Dollar store extension cords and USB cables were previously flagged for high levels of chlorine in a dollar store safety report released by the nonprofit Ecology Center and Campaign for Healthier Solutions. This indicated that the cords were polyvinyl chloride plastic, or PVC. And research has suggested that it is a carcinogenic chemical.
2. Dollar Store Hand Sanitizer
Some dollar store hand sanitizers contain methanol (also called wood alcohol), which can have dangerous side effects, including cancer, the Food and Drug Administration said. Substantial exposure to methanol can cause conditions such as headaches, blurred vision, seizures, and even permanent blindness, comas, and death.
3. Dollar Store Plastic Kitchen Utensils
The dollar store is a go-to destination when planning a summer block party or barbecue. But take a break before immediately heading down the aisle with the plastic kitchen utensils.
Plastic dollar store kitchen utensils – such as plastic slotted spoons, spatulas and the like – may contain bromine, a component of brominated flame retardants, also known as BFRs, which have been linked to cancer, obesity and diabetes, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Consider saving your money and buying better quality stainless steel cookware.
4. Dollar Store Toys
It might be tempting to buy a few dollar toys to keep your kids happy. Although a doll or action figure only costs a dollar at a dollar store, the short lifespan of toys might remind you of the adage “you get what you pay for”.
Many dollar store toys are made in China and are rarely tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Woroch said. “Especially for children under 3, the pieces can easily break off and be swallowed. A trip to the ER isn’t worth a few dollars saved.”
5. Dollar Store Tools
A $1 hammer might seem like a lot, but it’s probably not going to be something you’ll have in your toolbox for long.
Home repair guru Bob Vila’s website advises against dollar store tools due to the possibility of poor construction and the risk of them breaking, causing injury. Instead, the website recommends buying a premium kit that comes with a warranty.
6. Dollar Store Knives
When you’re prepping in the kitchen, you’ll need a knife that can get the job done. However, a dollar store knife might not live up to its duty, Woroch said.
“Some items in the kitchen section, like food storage containers, are a good buy. However, when it comes to knives, that’s a big no-no, as they won’t be sharp – and dull knives can be very dangerous,” she said. Whichever way you slice it, a knife from the dollar store might not be a wise investment.
7. Dollar Store Stacks
Batteries are one of those things that we need but hate to buy because they can be expensive. But you’re better off shelling out the dough for batteries from another retailer than from a dollar store, because they’re usually duds, according to Woroch.
“Cheap batteries can leak and damage your gadgets,” she said. “Save by buying them at the outlet store for the best deal or use a coupon.”
8. Dollar Store Back-to-School Supplies
Parents rejoice when it’s time for kids to go back to school. What might not thrill them so much are those endless lists of school supply requirements.
While a dollar store might seem like a logical choice, you could beat the $1 price tag if you wait out back-to-school sales at the big box stores or shop the specials at office supply stores like Staples and Office Max. You’ll likely get better value in bulk, as well as better quality, for comparable items.
9. Dollar Pet Food or Treats
When it comes to your furry family members, you might want to avoid buying pet food from a dollar store. “A lot of people have found that giving the dog cheap food or chews means having a seriously ill pet,” Woroch said.
For dollar store pet food, pay close attention to the expiration dates and ingredient list, just as you would any food product. Often, it’s best to stick with brand name pet foods, especially if there are dietary restrictions for your dog or cat. Plus, you may find that you get more for your money at the big box stores.
10. Dollar Store Makeup, Toiletries, and Medicines
Sometimes prevention is better than cure. While there may be nothing wrong with certain products in these categories, you may want to err on the side of caution.
“I would avoid these products,” said shopping expert Trae Bodge. “You probably won’t recognize the brands, and if you do, they may have been on the shelf for a long time.”
Even makeup can become less effective if it has passed its expiration date.
In November 2019, the FDA issued a warning letter to a dollar store chain describing “multiple violations of current food manufacturing practices” at locations where private label drugs and some cosmetics were manufactured.
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Jami Farkas contributed reporting for this article.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 10 Dollar Store Items That Aren’t Even Worth the Price