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17 Rip-Offs at the Dollar Store

You're at the dollar store for a quick purchase when you come across what seems like a good deal. Whether it's a sale item or an everyday low-price deal, looks can be deceiving. Here are 17 rip-offs to steer clear of at the dollar store.

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Medicine and Vitamins

Those packages of painkillers may seem like a good deal, but when it comes to your health, stick to name brands for medicine and vitamins from stores you know. Those sold at dollar stores may be counterfeit, expired or simply ineffective. Plus, see how a magnetic strip can transform your medicine cabinet.

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Kitchen Knives

When it comes to buying kitchen knives, it’s best to choose quality over price. Many dollar store knives are cheaply made and are dull which may lead to cut fingers and hands. Stick to well-known brands from a reputable retailer. Sharpen your knives with this simple technique.

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Tools

That $1 pair of pliers isn’t going to hold up well. If you’re an avid DIYer, avoid buying tools at the dollar store as they are often cheaply made which means they will break or even worse — may result in injuries. These are the five fantastic tools all DIYers should own.

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Baby Food

While most baby food sold at the dollar store is just fine, it is better to just skip it. Some may be expired and it’s generally not much cheaper than the baby food sold at well-known retailers. No pantry? No problem! Here are 11 no-pantry solutions for those on a budget.

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Toys

Toys sold at the dollar store often break easily and may contain hazardous materials. Plus, the flimsy design may mean broken pieces which could easily be swallowed. Don’t take the chance. Check out this awesome DIY toddler busy board!

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Batteries

If you’re buying batteries in bulk, you won’t get the best deal if you buy them from the dollar store. Instead, you can find better deals on large quantities of name-brand batteries at larger retailers. This is the proper way to dispose of old batteries.

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Pet Food and Toys

Pet food sold at the dollar store may seem like a bargain, but it may lack the nutritional value found in popular name brands, or it may even contain harmful ingredients. Toys for your furry friends at discount chains may also be made from inferior materials and contain chemicals that could be hazardous to your pet. Here are 40 perfect pet projects to show your pet some love.

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Candy

Don’t let the candy aisle distract you. If you’re looking for larger quantities of candy, you’ll likely get a better deal at a larger retailer. Plus, double check the expiration date as food sold at dollar stores may be expired. If you celebrate Sweetest Day (the third Saturday in October), check out this collection of Sweetest Day gifts for DIYers!

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Disposable Plates, Napkins, Cups

If you’re getting ready for a party, you won’t get the best deal on disposable plates, napkins, cups or cutlery at the dollar store. Not only are the prices often higher than other retailers, but the quantity isn’t always what you’d hope for. These 12 tips will help you plan the ultimate backyard barbecue.

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Bottled Water

Skip the bulk packages of bottled water at the dollar store. When comparing prices, you’ll often find you pay more per bottle at the dollar store than you would at other retailers. Check out these 21 nifty ways to reuse plastic jugs and bottles at home.

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Extension Cords

Extension cords sold at dollar stores are often low-quality, which may cause them to short out and even cause a fire. Stick to extension cords made by reputable companies and sold at reputable retailers. This is how you repair a cut extension cord.

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Toothpaste

Take a closer look at that discounted tube of toothpaste. It may seem like a good deal, but dollar stores often sell smaller toothpaste tube sizes than you’ll find at other stores so the deal is probably too good to be true. Here are 50 things you never knew you could do with toothpaste.

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Sandwich Bags

Dollar stores often sell boxes of plastic sandwich bags in smaller quantities than other retailers. So in the long run, you’ll end up paying more per sandwich bag when purchasing them from the dollar store. Also, who knows what that plastic is made of? This DIY ice pack is perfect for your lunch box.

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Oven Mitts


Those oven mitts may come in fun designs and colors, but skip them as they may not stand up to extreme heat. Instead, pick up quality versions to make sure your hands are protected.

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Food


The dollar store isn’t the best place to stock your pantry, as the quality of the food may be questionable, especially when it comes to sell-by dates. If you do buy food at the dollar store, check the date and weight of the item, as many are sold in smaller bottles or packages than what you’d find at your regular grocery store.

Check out how to build a taco holder after you get back from the grocery store!

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windshield wiper fluid shopping Sergey Ryzhov/Shutterstock

Windshield Wiper Fluid

That windshield wiper fluid may have a $1 price tag, but it’s better to pay a little extra for the name-brand version. Dollar store fluid may not have the same ingredients and may not work as well at clearing ice in colder climates.

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Plastic kitchen cooking utensilsGreentellect Studio/Shutterstock

Plastic Utensils


While the dollar store may be a great place to stock up on disposable forks for a picnic, avoid the plastic kitchen serving and cooking utensils because they may be made from cheap plastic and contain unhealthy chemicals. Pay a little more for stainless steel versions instead.

Find out how to repair scratches in stainless steel appliances.

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.