The 7 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Tree

A few items are seriously risky.

Dollar Tree is the ideal one-stop shop for errand-running days. Where else can you find toilet paper, toothpaste, snacks, decor, and more in one place—and all for the price of $1.25? But while Dollar Tree is certainly convenient—especially if you live in close proximity to one—it can also cause you to overspend on items that are disguised as deals. Not to mention, some products at this super-savings store simply aren't up to par. To ensure those items don't make it into your shopping cart, read on to discover the seven worst things to buy at Dollar Tree.

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Nonperishable foods.

boxes of original capn crunch and peanut butter capn crunch at the supermarket

Recently, Dollar Tree upped the price of each of its products from $1 to $1.25. And while that 25 cents might not seem like much, smart shoppers have made some changes to their savings strategies. YouTuber Bargain Bethany explained in a video that it discouraged her from buying brand-name, non-perishable foods, such as cereals and canned vegetables. "[Dollar Tree's] cereals tend to come in three-ounce bags," she said. "With the 25-cent increase, you're paying even more per ounce. For the same three-ounce bag that I'm going to pay $1.25 for, I can go to Walgreens and get 11 ounces for $1.99; or I can go to Target and get a family-size that has 15 ounces and pay $3.59." Additional Best Life reporting found that for some cereals—in this case, Lucky Charms—the price per ounce at Dollar Tree was nearly double.

Anything with a plug.

Close-up of a hand using a hot glue gun

For these items, it's not the price that's the issue, but the safety. Consider this: In April 2022, Dollar Tree recalled more than a million hot glue guns due to a malfunction that posed fire and burn hazards when plugged in, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Unfortunately, the glue guns caused four fires and one skin burn. While no other Dollar Tree electronics have been recalled in the past two years, this is a case where it's better to be safe than sorry. An item that costs just a few extra dollars will likely hold up better in the long run, anyway.

Frozen meat.

Raw meat

Dollar Tree employees say if there's one item they avoid buying at their stores, it's the $1.25 meat and fish. "I don't eat any of the frozen fish or rib eyes because I don't trust frozen seafood or meat that costs a dollar," one worker told Mental Floss.

Another employee told the publication that they would "never buy the steak." "I've heard from more than one person that it doesn't cook [well] and it feels like rubber," they added.

Indeed, in 2016, television station WCPO conducted a taste test with the local fire department. Unsurprisingly, the $1 steaks didn't fair well. "It's pretty chewy, tastes a little rubbery," observed one tester. We'll pass.

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Laundry detergent

bottle of laundry detergent and stack of towels
Shutterstock/New Africa

This is another item where you won't get much bang for your buck. "Dollar Tree has Tide detergent for $1.25 for 10 fluid ounces—that's about 17 cents a fluid ounce," said Bargain Bethany in her YouTube video. "The same type [of detergent] at Walmart is $0.11 per fluid ounce or $3.29 for 31 fluid ounces. So yes, I'm going to pay more initially, but in the long run, I am saving money." She notes the same thing is true for name-brand fabric softeners and dryer sheets. In most cases, shopping elsewhere and in larger quantities will save you money.

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Hand sanitizer

Close Up Of Boy Washing Hands With sanitizer At Home To Prevent Infection

We all want to stock up on hand sanitizer these days, but it's best not to do so at Dollar Tree. In July 2020, the retailer recalled two brands of hand sanitizer due to the detection of methanol, a chemical that can have serious health effects, including vomiting, headache, blindness, and even death, according to the CDC. Of course, you'll still want to keep your hands clean—but it may be best to spend a few extra bucks for some higher-quality stuff.


vitamins and supplement aisle in the store, best multivitamin for men

Staying healthy means loading up on vitamins and minerals. However, you may want to skip the ones at Dollar Tree. According to a 2012 test conducted by Consumer Reports, some dollar store multivitamins didn't contain the number of nutrients listed on the label. Because vitamins are integral to your health, it might be best to get expert advice from a medical professional. If you want to be extra safe, you can also shop elsewhere for them.

School supplies

close up view of an assortment of crayons pointed up

The reason you'll want to avoid Dollar Tree's school supplies is that they simply don't offer enough value for the price. "It doesn't make sense to go to Dollar Tree for things like crayons and markers—especially if you're going to be buying the 'Jot' brand, which is the Dollar Tree brand," said Bargain Bethany on YouTube. "Those tend to have very poor quality in that they dry out really fast. I'd rather go to Target or Walmart or somewhere else and get Crayola." She noted that a 16-count of Crayola crayons at Dollar Tree costs $1.25, while a 24-count of Crayola crayons at Target costs just 14 cents more. "In my opinion, it makes more sense to go to Target," she explained. Same quality, (almost) the same price, and six extra colors to choose from.

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Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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