The dollar store is a handy destination to get a quick bargain. That said, there are some products you’re better off getting someplace else.
Case in point? Batteries. Sure, that huge econo-pack is tempting. How many times have your batteries died at exactly the wrong time, like the middle of a blackout? Having a ready supply on hand is a good idea. Check out these 11 items you should always get from the dollar store.
But experts say that the batteries you can buy at dollar stores are lower quality, Kiplinger reports. The carbon-zinc batteries that dollar stores typically sell don’t last as long as the alkaline name brands. In a comparison, Wired found AA batteries from the dollar store had less stored energy than those from Energizer and Duracell:
Dollar General: 2,983 joules
Energizer: 10,798 joules
Duracell: 9,398 joules
Even worse, dollar store batteries are likely to leak. For example, the “heavy-duty” packages of batteries you might find at the dollar store from brands such as Sunbeam and Panasonic may seem like a bargain at $1 per pack. But both packages were stamped with a warning that recommended you use them only for “low-drain devices,” such as clock radios. Find out the difference between Dollar Tree and Dollar General.
To preserve your gadgets, you’re better off buying your batteries from regular retailers, Gobankingrates.com reports. That doesn’t mean you can’t still get a bargain, however. “Save by purchasing these from the warehouse stores for the best deals, or use a coupon,” consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch says. Next, don’t miss 14 more things you shouldn’t buy at the dollar store.
Although they’re considered a bargain at dollar stores, and they’re super convenient in terms of organizing your kitchen, plastic food containers may contain pthalates. which cause reproductive problems in lab animals and are found in high levels, especially in women, in the U.S. population. Over 30 percent of some dollar store products tested had higher levels than are recommended in products used for children. They may also contain bisphenol-S (BPS)—which you’ll find in many BPA-freeproducts and which might be just as dangerous as BPA—the chemical just hasn’t been researched as much.
Plastic wrap and packaged foods
Like plastic food containers, wraps and the plastic commercial packaging on food products from candies to meats may contain pthalates and BPS. With that in mind, you may want to rethink your use of plastic wrapping. Here’s how Saran Wrap has tried to detox their plastic wrap.
Toys made before 2008
Just because an item doesn’t have an expiration date doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to buy it. Sometimes dollar stores sell factory closeouts, which means some of their stock may be old, and sometimes that means that as far as the consumer is concerned, they’re past their expiration date. For example, plastic toys made before 2008 are more likely to contain pthalates than toys made since 2008, the year that pthalates were banned from being included in children’s toys.
Pthalates are also used in just about everything made out of vinyl—they keep the vinyl flexible. Here’s a list of items made with vinyl. At the dollar store, you are very likely to see vinyl placemats, shower curtains, bibs, backpacks, novelty watchbands, mattress covers and pool toys.
Power cords and other electronic accessories
When Healthy Stuff, a project of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, tested a variety of dollar store items for toxic chemicals, they gave Dollar General an F on their report card. Among other things, they found that many electronic accessories such as USB cords, cell phone chargers and extension cords tested high in chlorine, a toxic chemical of concern and also a sign that the items are made from vinyl. You might want to stick to electronics stores for these accessories.
Speaking of formaldehyde, this list also contains personal care products you are likely to find in dollar stores that may contain formaldehyde, especially if they are factory closeouts. Some of the more recognizable brands include Irish Spring, SoftSoap, and even Gerber.
Bromine, which is linked to cancer and birth defects, is a component in some flame retardants. It’s been banned, but it may have made its way into cheaper, older versions of the ubiquitous black plastic kitchen utensils. It’s best to avoid buying these in the dollar store: stick with stainless steel utensils instead.
No one likes a pantry pest, but if you try to eliminate them using chemical pesticides, you may be increasing your risk of cancer. Chemical pesticides are also found in flea collars and tick-repellents. Some natural oils seem to repel ticks and are also safe for people and pets. Peppermint, thyme, eucalyptus and cedar oil are a few. But you probably won’t find those at the dollar store!