Good chef's knives don't come cheap, so you might be tempted to pick up a blade or two at the dollar store. Just remember that you get what you pay for. The reason good knives are expensive is that you're paying for quality—something dollar store knives are not known for. Safety is also an issue: Because dull blades are more difficult to use, they can lead to dangerous cooking accidents. You’re better off investing in a sharp knife that will last a lifetime.
Plastic Kitchen Utensils
Anything that touches your food should be safe and nontoxic. While the plastic cooking utensils you buy from the dollar store may look harmless, they could contain questionable chemicals like brominated flame retardants, which have been linked to serious health issues. Instead, purchase metal, bamboo, or BPA-free plastic spatulas and spoons from a trusted retail brand.
Medicine and Vitamins
If something is too good to be true, then it probably is. Case in point: cheap, generic medicine and vitamins from the dollar store. These drugs haven't necessarily been subject to the same testing and regulations as name-brand products and may not even have any active ingredients, so there’s no real way of knowing what’s in the pills. If the drug hasn't been cleared by your physician or you aren't sure of its integrity, skip it.
Pet food is another dollar store item that may not contain all the ingredients you think it does. Sure, it's cheaper, but do you really want to compromise your beloved pet's nutrition for a couple of dollars in savings? Instead, watch the circulars at the local pet or grocery stores to spot deals and coupons for better brands.
As with a number of the items on this list, there’s something mysterious about what's actually in beauty products. Many makeup brands list the ingredients on the back, but be aware that even if a generic beauty product uses the same ingredients as a similar brand-name item, it may be using a cheaper version to keep prices low. While that may not pose a problem for everyone, those with sensitive skin should probably stay away from these products and stick to reputable brands.
Sunscreen isn’t something to mess around with. Even when buying name brands, it’s important to purchase only new bottles because the lotion's effectiveness diminishes over time. There's a chance that those dollar store sunscreen bottles have been sitting on the shelf long enough to lose some of their protective powers. Another worrisome detail? Dollar store sunscreen sometimes gets mislabeled, so that SPF 50 you grabbed could actually be SPF 15.
Cheap toys are made with cheap materials. Some budget toys may not be guaranteed to be toxin-free, and others may simply break with normal wear and tear, making them a safety hazard for young children who might then pop these harmful objects in their mouths.
Batteries from the dollar store aren’t as effective for a couple of reasons. First of all, dollar store batteries are often older than the ones you'll find in other retail stores. Secondly, generic batteries are typically made from carbon zinc, which doesn’t last as long as lithium, the preferred ingredient. Plus, cheap batteries are more likely to leak, which can damage your gadget. You’re better off spending a few dollars more on good batteries rather than hoping for the best with generics.
There’s a reason you’re able to find inexpensive electronic accessories in dollar stores—they aren’t made well! From extension cords to phone chargers, these products don’t meet the same standards as the gadgets made by the companies we're all familiar with. Not only do dollar store electronic accessories break quickly, but they can also end up damaging your phone, computer, television, and more. Spend a little extra money on a trusted brand rather than risk a gadget disaster.
Oven mitts have one job—to protect your hands from intense heat. Unfortunately, many dollar store varieties are made of thin, cheap material that can't protect your fingers from hot cookware. If you can't resist picking up a cute seasonal pair of oven mitts, consider using them as decorative items in the kitchen rather than your go-to kitchen helpers.
Tools should be sturdy and durable enough to stand up to tough work. A high-quality tool kit often comes with a warranty, so even if something breaks on the job, you can rest easy knowing you can replace it at little or no cost. Tools from the dollar store, on the other hand, are poorly made and won't last long. In fact, they could even lead to injury if they break at a particularly inopportune moment or while you're doing major construction.
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