What To Buy (And What To Avoid) At The Dollar Store

I have grown to love the dollar store. I have three within a five-mile radius of my house.  There are things there that I buy in bulk because of the cheap pricetag. Then there are others I run from. Today I am going to break all of that down for you. I have learned the hard way that there are wonderful and not-so-wonderful products here. Some are great and some you don’t want to waste your money on.



Holiday Decor

This is the main reason I go to the dollar store. They have pretty cute holiday stuff for really cheap. Almost all of it has lasted year after year.

Paper Products

You can’t really go wrong with paper products from here. It’s kind of hard to screw up napkins.

Coloring Books

I stock up on coloring books and children’s books for my kids here. Perfect for when you need something to keep them busy while in the car or when you are trying to take a bath. (I’m kidding. My kids never let me take a bath.)


Candy is good to buy at the dollar store; HOWEVER you need to watch the price and how much comes in a bag. Sometimes you are better off going to a grocery store.

Children’s PJs

I have found some REALLY cute pjjs for my kids here and they are a lot less expensive than the sets found at Baby Gap and Old Navy. A big plus is that they aren’t treated with PBDE (fire retardant chemicals).

Shower Curtain Liners 

I used to get my shower curain liners at Target or Wal-Mart, until I saw my dollar store has them for a buck! I change our liners pretty often and that cost adds up. Buying them here saves a little bit of money and they are just as good as liners bought elsewhere.

Picture Frames 

I have kids and kids break stuff. Especially picture frames. The dollar store is an excellent place to buy picture frames because they are cheap and they are actually really nice. I love getting holiday printables printed from the Internet and these are perfect for that.

Office Supplies 

Tape, envelopes, packing materials are all great to buy here. They aren’t nearly as pricey as other retailers. Plus when your son uses all of your tape to make homemade band-aids (don’t ask), you wo,n’t have to spend a lot to get more.

Cleaning Products 

Another big reason I go to the dollar store is to buy cleaning products. (READ: Buy the name brand stuff only.) Another really good, frugal way is to make your own. Making your own is a lot better cost wise and less harmful, but if you love the smell of bleach (I do!), then getting it here is your best bet.

Ziploc Bags

I usually use reusable sandwich bags for snacks and lunches for work, but having ziploc bags on hand is useful, too. There is nothing wrong with using the ones found here.

Magic Erasers

These are just as good as the name brand kind, but at literally half the price. They hold up and clean just as well. I was skeptical about trying them at first, but I was pleasantly surprised.


We go through toothbrushes like nobodys business. This is where I stock up. Two for a buck? Awesome!

Disposible Foil Pans

Perfect for pot-luck dinners and holidays. This is where I get mine. They are the exact same as the ones in the grocery store but only cost a buck! They always have a variety of sizes to choose from, too.

Tumblers and Travel Coffee Mugs

Before I was paying upwards of $10 for a travel tumbler. Then I found these. FOR $3! They are pretty sturdy and work really well. Plus, they are actually pretty cute. The ones on the picture have bling on them. Holla!

Room Spray and Candles 

Love the smell of air? Then buy candles from here. Want something with an actual scent? Buy them somewhere else.

Towels and washcloths

Ok, I actually buy washcloths here, but not for their intended purpose. I buy them here because I use them to wash my face and for reusable baby wipes. They are thin. I’m talking paper thin, so they are basically a step-up from disposablle. Since they are so thin, I would never use them for my body. They would never hold up. However, they are perfect for washing my face and reusing as baby wipes BECAUSE they are so thin.


You would get more color out of using actual wax from candles. Crayola has the crayon formula on lock. Pass on these.

 Oven Mitts

Unless you want to spend your evening in the ER with third degree burns from getting your meatlof out of the oven from wearing these horrible things, spend a little more on mitts that actually protect against heat. These are decent for decoration and that’s it.

Potted Meat

Uh, well first it’s POTTED MEAT. Second, that’s pretty gross. Third, why would you buy this at the dollar store? DON’T DO IT!


It might be tempting to pick up a little toy prize from the dollar store for your child, but many of them could contain lead paint. Also, many might be too small for younger children or have many little peices. They are cheaply made, as well.

Bobby Pins

I thought it would be hard to mess up bobby pins, but somehow the dollar store has. While it might seem like a good idea to buy bobby pins from the dollar store, most I have found have been flimsy, cheaply made, and slide right out of your hair.


Do you enjoy bleeding? No? Then walk away.

Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups

I only feel safe with bottles and sippy cups that say they are BPA free. I have yet to find any here.


Medicine is one thing that I refuse to just buy anywhere. I prefer to buy my meds and vitamins from a reputable pharmacy or store. Most dollar store brand medicines and vitamins are imatations of name-brand meds. Spend a little more money and have peace of mind.

Baby Wash

The dollar store brand stuff is so diluted, I doubt it would get anything clean. Plus it actually smells like flea dip rather than baby wash.


More than likely, the batteries you find at a dollar store do not contain lithium, so they will not last. Spending a little extra is worth it.

Body Lotion

Dollar store lotion is basically like rubbing Elmer’s glue all over yourself: sticky and unscented.

Are there any other products that are worth buying at the dollar store? Anything else to avoid? Let me know!


To contact Misty, email her at Misty@themommydialogues.com

No Comments

  1. Jen B -  September 27, 2012 - 11:08 am

    I have never even heard of potted meat! gross! I hardly ever go to a dollar store but I may have to make a trip just for the great deal on foiled tins and shower liners. I pinned a project on how to use liners for making road play mats for all my boys’ cars. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Geneva -  September 27, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    I loved this post! Hilarious!! And my kid never lets me take a bath, either.

  3. Shelley Payton -  September 27, 2012 - 12:46 pm

    This is definitely going to be one of my favorite posts! Loved this, I alternated between laughing because I totally agree with some of that stuff (those candles and crayons are awful!) and being thrilled because I didn’t even know about some of that stuff (magic erasers and the disposable foil pans)! The one thing I would add on the list of stuff to buy is spices for cooking. I can get garlic powder and any other spice for $1 for a big bottle there instead of $6 at the grocery store, and I don’t taste the difference.

  4. Meagan -  September 28, 2012 - 9:57 am

    This is great!! I’ll add some things, I buy my daughters hair bows and ties from dollar stores, she loses them or breaks them regardless of how much i spend on them. I also buy her detangler spray there, only $1 and it totally works just as well, plus we mainly use it for my daughters hair time emotions. But i will admit their kids wash and shampoo is a big waste. it isn’t much more at walmart and works much better. I buy all my gift bags, and lots of party supplies there too. We usually just get the plain colored ones anyway, and they are just as good of quality.

  5. JeniferR -  October 4, 2012 - 6:05 pm

    LOL at the potted meat! I agree. Love this post. I never thought about the aluminum pans. I do lots of freezer meals so these would be a great cheap alternative!

  6. Amanda M S -  October 8, 2012 - 10:04 pm

    Haha! Loved this post! I’m glad to know the dollar store has shower liners. I like to change mine out like every 6 months and they’re about $7 at Target. Thanks for posting this!

  7. Jessica -  November 13, 2012 - 10:12 am

    I use cloth diapers, but I’ve noticed that the Huggies diapers at the dollar store are a few cents more expensive than the ones at Walmart

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