Dollar stores — discount retailers that sell inexpensive household items — might seem like an ideal place to find bargains. But although many items cost just a dollar, not every product is a steal.
That’s not to say you can’t find worthwhile buys at discount stores, but it’s always important to do your research before you shop so you’re not duped into buying items that either lack quality or are simply not the best deal.
The warnings extend to USB cables, chargers, extension cords and really anything in (and out) of the electronics aisle. A study showed that cheap cables found in dollar stores tested positive for chlorine. It’s a sign that they’re made with PVC, a chemical known to have caused cancer in the people working at the factories where these products are made.
2. Certain Plastics
Another plastic you shouldn’t buy at the dollar store: cooking utensils. The plastic cooking utensils sold at most of these stores might contain bromine, a flame retardant, and known carcinogen. According to the National Institute of Environmental Sciences, bromine, and any brominated flame retardant (BFR), is also linked to birth defects and neurological problems.
3. Beauty, Skin And Hair Products
Most of the negative reviews on the known brand products aren’t about health or safety concerns, they’re about the durability of the brands. Consumers have found that brand beauty, skin, and hair products sold at the dollar store cost less, but they include a lot less product than their grocery store counterparts.
The myth that the dollar store sells you expired food and consumables is strong…and a lie. The real concern comes from the lesser-known off-brands. A report by the Ecology Center found low levels of antimony in some of the eyeshadows in L.A. Colors, a known dollar store makeup brand. This chemical is—you guessed it!—a known carcinogen.
4. Canned foods
There are plenty of reasons why you should opt to get your canned goods at the grocery store instead. The most important one? Safety. A report by ToxicFoodCans.org showed that the dollar store’s off-brand (or private-label) canned goods contain worrisome levels of BPA. These chemicals can harm healthy development in children and reproductive health.
What about grocery store brands found at the dollar store? You’re still better off getting grocery store brands at the grocery store! You can find canned beans, canned meat, and canned fruit for 60-80 cents a piece in most grocery stores, which is cheaper than the full buck at the dollar store.
We already covered the electronics part, but batteries truly deserve a page of their own. Cheap dollar store brands are often made of carbon zinc instead of alkaline. This means that off-brand batteries at the dollar store don’t pack as much “energy juice” as Energizer and Duracell. They can also leak easily, damaging your electronics beyond repair.
6. Metallic Beads
The dollar store and Mardi Gras beads may seem like a match made in heaven, but these necklaces test very high in bromine, which indicates that recycled plastic was most likely the filler ingredient. It’s estimated that a single year’s inventory of Mardi Gras beads could contain up to 900,000 pounds of hazardous flame retardants.
7. Window And Removable Wall Stickers
Schools and children’s bedrooms are often adorned with these temporary decorations, but they tend to contain PVC. According to the American Public Health Association, PVC is among the most hazardous of plastic materials and strongly advises these products to be removed from places like schools, homes, and hospitals.
8. Silly Straws
Things like silly straws may sound like staples of dollar stores and things kids instantly gravitate towards. However, silly straws have tested high for levels of DEHP, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system. DEHP exposure has been linked to asthma, allergies, and type 2 diabetes.
10. Pet Food Or Treats
You love your pet so you want to make sure that you’re feeding them well. Cheap pet food and treats from the dollar store can contain sub-standard ingredients, which makes it important to check what is in it especially if your pet has dietary restrictions.
11. Oven mitts
When it comes to protecting your hands from hot objects that could burn you, you don’t want to cheap out. Dollar store oven mitts generally offer much less protection than quality ones that you would buy elsewhere. If you cook often, invest in a good pair of oven mitts to avoid any risk of burning yourself.
12. Plastic bags
There isn’t anything harmful when it comes to dollar store plastic bags, but they are low in quality. If you’re fairly light with the garbage you produce these bags may work for you. However, these bags rip when it comes to heavier loads, which results in more of a mess than what you started with.
The fabrics that makeup towels from dollar stores tend to be low-grade materials and won’t be very durable. This low-grade fabric won’t absorb water as intended, which means they may be cheap, but they won’t do their job. You’ll end up having to buy twice as many dollar store towels as you would a good one.
Meat from the dollar store doesn’t sound appetizing, but it doesn’t mean some don’t sell it. Remember that the dollar store isn’t a grocery store and the same preparation process is not involved. It’s best to completely steer clear of dollar store meats as they will most likely be tasteless and could make you sick.
Vitamins aren’t cheap at grocery stores, which prompts customers to seek cheaper options. However, the dollar store shouldn’t be an option. Daily Finance did a study that found half of the 18 multivitamins they tested were missing vital ingredients. These vitamins may not be dangerous, but you’ll be paying by losing money.
16. The Obvious Stuff Is Office, School, And Craft Supplies
It’s cheaper than any specialized store, and if you go to a big location, you can find a lot of variety. When it comes to one-off school projects the durability of the material doesn’t matter. You can easily use the cardboard, paint, and brushes sold at the dollar store.
17. Party Supplies And Gift Wrap
Seasonal decorations, gift bags, wrapping paper, and cards—Hallmark has nothing on the dollar store. Dollar stores dedicate aisles for this kind of stuff and it’s what they’re best at, particularly temporary goods for things like events. Party prep is never fully done without a trip to the dollar store.