best dollarstore buys

I love the dollar store, but not everything is a good buy.  I have been known to go in, looking for a few select items, and end up leaving with several bags.  I always shake my head and wonder, “How did I just spend $40 at the dollar store?”

It is easy to get distracted by items at the dollar store that appear to be a good deal.  But, how do you separate the bargains from the junk?  Here are the top 10 buys and a few suggestions of what NOT to buy.

Nicolette dollarstore post (7)

#1 Party Supplies

The dollar store has everything you need for any type of party: birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, graduations, etc.  The products are cute and the price, unbeatable.

Say YES to:

  • tissue paper-not only is it great as gift wrap, tissue paper can be used to make paper party flowers and much more
  • wrapping paper and gift bags
  • tape
  • plastic table cloths-so many fabulous uses!  They can be chair covers, ceiling drapes, and decor for any party.
  • party paper goods
  • party invitations
  • thank-you cards
  • party favors 
  • seasonal decorations
  • mylar balloons
nicolette dollar store collage 1

Buyer Beware of:

  • dollar store scissors- they are cheap and not very functional
  • plastic utensils- they break easily.  It’s better to spend an extra dollar for quality plastic-ware.
  • flimsy paper plates- great for cake and ice-cream, but not durable  enough for steak and potatoes.

#2 Seasonal Items

If you’re throwing a quick party, the dollar store can be a great place to find themed or seasonal items.  It’s easy to find fun treasures for every season.

Nicolette dollarstore post (3)

 Great finds:

  • Seasonal decor-  if you are selective, you can actually find some great decor items that can even last a few seasons.
  • Pool items- noodles, diving rings, and some pool toys
  • holiday party favors and decor

Steer clear of:

  • pool goggles- the seal is ineffective and a perfect waste of your dollar.
  • cheap plastic squirt toys-they break easily
  • yard lights

Nicolette dollarstore post (5)

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#4 Personal Items

Most dollar stores carry personal items like shampoos, conditioners, lotions, toothpaste, etc.  It seems like a steal to only pay a dollar for items you’d spend four times more on in a department store.  However, be aware of products that just aren’t what they seem.

Tried and true, definitely worth a try:

  • Pregnancy tests- it may seem strange, or even a little too personal, but HowDoesShe readers everywhere raved about their accuracy.  Pregnancy tests can be super expensive, especially if you are buying them often.  Worth a try!
  • Children’s toothbrushes
  • Reading glasses- a lot of HDS readers have been very pleased with dollar store reading glasses.  However, it’s always best to consult an optometrist if you have more specific needs.

Not worth the risk:

  • Anything applied to the skin- when in comes to lotions, bath washes, soaps, and hair care products, many products the dollar store carries may not be safe.  Do your research, but it’s probably best to buy products you already know and trust.  Be especially careful of products you apply to your baby.
  • Toothpastes and mouth washes-For the same reasons as above, these products may not be safe.
  • towels, hand towels, wash cloths- their quality is sub-par.  Quality towels will definitely last you longer.
  • razors

#5 Glassware

Your local dollar store has a great selection of plates, bowls, and glasses.  I love using them for party dishes and home decor.

nicolette dollar store collage 2

Great buys:

  • decorative glass bowls/containers- I constantly use these as vehicles for party treats and decor.  A friend was in shock when she learned I got them at the dollar store.  She bought identical ones for her wedding centerpieces and spent a small fortune.
  • deep glass bowls- perfect for cereal in the morning or a nice bowl of ice cream!
  • plates- perfect for a quick dinner party.  They come in classic white, or lots of fun colors.
  • wine and martini glasses
  • mugs, fancy glasses

Nicolette dollarstore post (2)

#6 Storage containers

When it comes to storage, the dollar store is one of the best places to go.  Just check out this fridge organization you could do using dollar store containers.  You could transform your shelves with these organization tips and a few great finds at the dollar store.  And we absolutely love this pantry transformation using a few dollar store baskets!

Nicolette dollarstore post (1)

Great buys:

  • toss and go food containers
  • aluminum food containers- great for taking food to neighbors or friends.
  • sandwich bags, gallon storage bags- a great deal alone, and many dollar stores accept manufacture coupons, making it a GREAT deal!  I scored these two Hefty bags for $1, making them .50 cents each!
  • baskets- perfect for gift-giving, pantry storage, drawer storage (I store all of my girls’ bows, headbands, etc)
  • cool containers

Nicolette dollarstore post (24)

#7 Office Supplies

You’ll definitely want to use your judgement when separating trash from treasures when it comes to office supplies, but there are some good buys to be had!

nicolette dollarstore collage 3

Go ahead, give it a try!

  • tape
  • notepads
  • sharpie markers
  • sidewalk chalk-so many HDS readers raved about the individually wrapped sidewalk chalk at the dollar store.
  • teacher supplies
  • envelopes
  • headphones

Buyer beware:

  • scissors
  • crayons- it is unanimous; crayons are a HORRIBLE dollar store buy.  Don’t waste your money!
  • pencils

 

#8 Household supplies

Nicolette dollarstore post (12)

Go for the:

  • Totally Awesome cleaners- so many of you RAVED about these cleaners.  As the name claims, they are…totally awesome!
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • name brand cleaners
  • pre-cut foil sheets
  • diaper sized trash bags- you can’t beat 75 bags for a buck!

Pass on the:

  • generic dish soaps- they hardly suds and are of poor quality.
  • large trash bags
  • light bulbs
  • batteries- they do the job for a little bit, but if you’re looking for something long-lasting, invest in the real things.
  • candles for scent
  • kitchen tools-like cheese graters, pizza cutters, etc.

Nicolette dollarstore post (11)

#9 Craft Supplies

Craft supplies can get expensive, so the dollar store can sometimes be a crafter’s dream.

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Craft items to buy:

  • cotton balls
  • foam blocks
  • glass vases and containers
  • faux fruits- I was so excited to find these fake fruits at the dollar store!  What a fun craft item.

Steer clear of:

  • glue sticks
  • picture frames
  • porcelain figurines

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#10 Toys and Candy

Any trip to the dollar store with kids inevitably result in a chronic case of the “Can I’s?”  “Can I have this?  Can I have this?”  As a general rule, the dollar store is not the best place for toys and food items.  Although it’s easy to justify buying a toy when it is just a dollar, but at the dollar store, toys really aren’t the best bang for your buck.  There are a few bargains, but mostly, beware of the junk.

Nicolette dollarstore post (19)

Dollar store toy and candy bargains:

  • coloring books
  • hard board books
  • glow sticks
  • Seasonal summer toys- like pool noodles, sand buckets, bubbles, etc.
  • movie theater candy
  • some bagged candy- most packages are smaller than usual, and you end up paying more money.  Just beware.

Don’t waste your money on:

  • hula hoops-great for occasional use and for making jumbo bubbles, but know that they bend easily.
  • crayons- horrible quality.  There is a reason why Crayola has been around for so long.
  • any battery-operated toy
  • dolls
  • music cds
  • most food items-be aware of expiration dates and quality.

 

Thank you to our readers, who submitted their tried and true dollar store experiences with us via Facebook.  Hopefully this will help you sort the trash from the treasure!  And if you have any more brilliant ideas or insights, feel free to share!

10 best dollar store buys

nicolette signature  

127 Comments
COMMENTS
  1. June 19th, 2013 at 7:10 am
    brandy says:
    Do not buy dollar store can openers. They bend!
    • September 19th, 2013 at 6:59 am
      Ninji says:
      Do not buy any reasonable priced can opener! Unless is an Ikea can opener, the only one I have found that actually works!
  2. June 19th, 2013 at 8:38 am
    Laura says:
    Dollar store is the only place we buy puzzles
  3. June 19th, 2013 at 8:59 am
    Bobbi says:
    I love these suggestions! Thanks for the tips!
  4. June 19th, 2013 at 11:11 am
    Shelley says:
    This post ROCKS!!!! I always buy the wrong things at the dollar store. Glad to have a guide for the tried and true. :)
  5. June 19th, 2013 at 11:50 am
    Emily says:
    I completely agree on the glassware!! I made everyone personalized glasses (everything from beer steins to martini glasses) last year for Christmas. I just used etching cream and Dollar Store glasses. I don't think I've ever had people go so crazy over a Christmas present! I already had the cream and the vinyl I used for stencils, so the only cost I had was the glasses. $1!!! Can't beat it!
  6. June 19th, 2013 at 11:57 am
    Kelli says:
    You have no #3.

    Also, you are wrong about stuff applied to the skin and mouthwashes/toothpastes. Skin products and toothpastes/mouthwashes CAN be an excellent deal at the dollar store, if you find closeouts of name brands (as you often do!). Just make sure you know the brand and all is well!
    • June 19th, 2013 at 6:05 pm
      Alyssa says:
      I agree, I found the hairspray brand that I normally use at the local dollar store. Same size bottle at a much more decent price.
    • January 5th, 2014 at 9:30 pm
      Tami says:
      OH, I forgot to mention the Lavoris mouth wash; it is great.
  7. June 19th, 2013 at 12:13 pm
    Lisa says:
    Don't forget GLOW STICKS! Those light ups are 100x cheaper than the theme parks/festivals. We stock up before Disney World trips!!
  8. June 19th, 2013 at 12:50 pm
    Ashley W. says:
    You can also get birthday candles (and if I remember correctly, it's a package of 80!) and I've noticed no difference in quality. And I get hot glue sticks there all the time.
  9. June 19th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
    Lisa Williams says:
    I loved this post!!! Great tips for a girl who loves the Dollar Tree! I never buy any party supplies unless they come from the Dollar Tree! Thanks again for a great post!
  10. June 19th, 2013 at 4:06 pm
    Christine N says:
    I believe you are spot on about things to buy in the post but I think some of the things in your don't buy column are way off. I buy personal products for skin all the time. Their are some that I won't buy again because the are inferiour and watered down but most of them I buy over and over. Your post makes it sound like $ store owners purposely sale products that will harm the skin and they DON'T! In fact, I've found some things like makeup and tooth paste to be brand name!

    Also, even though things like light bulbs are not as strong, the price difference more than makes up the difference. As far as toys (even dolls), if the kid likes it and there's nothing harmful like small parts, why not spend a buck for a special treat after a long shopping trip.

    I feel like the don't buy part of this post is misleading at that it should be more of a buyer beware...there are more things to list on your don't list that I purchase all the time.
    • June 19th, 2013 at 5:31 pm
      Cathleen Moses says:
      I agree with Christine N. I think your 'don't buy' lists are not very accurate. I also have found some good name brand 'personal' care items there as well as food stuff. And to get a few hand towels or washcloths for a buck is ok with me, especially if they are for around the house clean-ups. And the kitchen gadgets are ok. I have seen some name brands there too. I guess you have to really look at everything you get there and check expirations. But in the end I love our 'Dollar Tree'.
    • January 5th, 2014 at 9:34 pm
      Tami says:
      Yes, I agree, the makeup is name brand.
  11. June 19th, 2013 at 5:10 pm
    Charlene says:
    Hey! There were only nine items! You skipped, or edited out number 3! Makes me wonder what else I ought to avoid at the dollar store. And yes, I agree with don't waste your money on dollar store crayons! :)
  12. June 19th, 2013 at 5:18 pm
    chandra salisbury says:
    ialso buy photo grames at the dollar store they have some really nice ones
  13. June 19th, 2013 at 5:18 pm
    Ashley says:
    I disagree when it comes to the food at the Dollar store. It may not be the best quality, but I've gotten Campbell's soup and other brand name foods there (Uncle Ben's rice, etc.). There are plenty of great foods there. I often buy roasted red peppers at Dollar Tree because they taste great, and they're 5 bucks at my local grocery store. Don't knock it until you've tried it.
  14. June 19th, 2013 at 5:23 pm
    Amy Bateman says:
    The "don't buy" dolls makes me laugh. When my older kids were little, we had a neighbor that took them to the dollar store one time and let each one pick out anything they wanted. My second daughter came home with a baby doll that was the ugliest toy I have ever seen. The face was molded to look like a grandfather with wrinkles and everything. There were two creepy-looking teeth in the mouth. We called it the "old man" baby and gave her a hard time for years. Come to find out, she picked that one because it had a blue outfit similar to her favorite doll at home. I have to say, that was a dollar well-spent for the laughs it has given us over the years. ;)
  15. June 19th, 2013 at 5:23 pm
    Heather says:
    I have to disagree on the storage bags. You can get way more for about the same price with coupons at a regular store. The ones at the dollar stores only have maybe 5-8 per box, where at the grocery store, there are 25-50 in the box. I say don't waste your money on storage bags at the dollar store.
  16. June 19th, 2013 at 5:24 pm
    jeni says:
    I completely disagree about the scissors--at least the kid ones! Thought they deserved a mention. They're wonderful for my little ones who are still working on cutting. Even our OT uses them!
  17. June 19th, 2013 at 5:24 pm
    rollin' momma says:
    I swear by the diaper rash ointment you can buy at the Dollar store. It's called Butt-Aid and is in a yellow box-tube. It's pretty much the same as Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Nice and thick and creamy. But otherwise this post is fantastic.
  18. June 19th, 2013 at 5:30 pm
    Susan @SugarBeans says:
    Great run down of the Dollar Stores Dos and Don'ts. I totally agree with the items you chose as good buys and those that were best left on the shelf. Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings...
  19. June 19th, 2013 at 5:32 pm
    Stephanie says:
    I've bought the music CD's before and they were great for my 7th & 8th grade class. I would play the CD's while they were doing their journal writing. I had close to an hour of playing time on them and it was subtle enough music it wasn't distracting while they were writing.

    I've also bought the slim CD cases for storing my clear stamps.
  20. June 19th, 2013 at 5:34 pm
    Jenn Quinn says:
    It looks like you took all those pics at a chain we call Deals here in nyc and i must say i disagree with a lot of it. I get food there all the time. I just make sure the off brand stuff isn't from China. and the brand names usually are the same size as the grocery store. I also buy my kid toys there. I've found fischer price, matchbox cars, disney toys all for a steal. All my picture frames are from deals and i've had them for years. Sure there are junky ones but there are some really nice ones. I did silver ones for a bridal shower goody bag last year. Most of my kitchen gadgets and gizmos are from there and a few have way outlasted the ones i got from bed bath & beyond (pizza cutter i'm lookin at you).Meanwhile the wrapping paper and tissue paper are a rip off. They start tearing while you are wrapping. If you are a fan of a tight wrap that is not the paper for you. It is cute and i'm cheap so that's why i keep buying it.
  21. June 19th, 2013 at 5:40 pm
    Crystal says:
    great tips. have learned from trial and error on a few things. the glue sticks are usually partially dried up. but they are still great for toddlers who are learning. just like most of the art/craft/office supply. every time i go to the dollar tree i never come out under $50 and have left there spending up to or over $132 in one trip. i make diaper cakes, diaper bouquets, and seasonal wreaths. so i love the dollar tree for seasonal ideas. and the material i need is great compared to going to walmart etc to buy those items. the only thing i have come across that isnt worth buying is toys... they are mass produced so they do not last obviously and some food. must watch the exp. dates. but one thing that is cheaper at walmart than the dollar tree is the renuizit air freshners. they are always 97cent at walmart or cheaper occasionally. use best judgement. and best advice go in with a certain dollar amount in cash. no cards. lol
  22. June 19th, 2013 at 5:58 pm
    Roxie Moreland says:
    In my dollar store the toothpaste and mouthwash are name brands such as Colgate etc. Otherwise I wouldn't use them.
  23. June 19th, 2013 at 6:03 pm
    Abbey says:
    I have to disagree about the batteries! I have seen several studies done about batteries and how most battery brands work exactly the same, regardless of price. I buy them all the time and I find they work just as we'll. I have bought them to power my flashes when photographing weddings, because they are cheap and last quite a while. They even make specific batteries for low or high-drain devices. I'd give them another chance!
  24. June 19th, 2013 at 6:04 pm
    Juliane says:
    I agree with almost everything on the list except glue sticks because if you stumble upon the "Elmer's Craft Bond" glue sticks (which I have a few times), buy them out because they are the real thing (at least at my Dollar Tree they were) and they go for more than double at the craft stores!
  25. June 19th, 2013 at 6:06 pm
    Becky says:
    I made the goggles mistake once. They literally broke in the parking lot, so I went in right away and exchanged for another pair, which immediately broke again. Yikes!

    My friend has a Dollar Store toy rule that she doesn't buy anything with moving pieces :)
  26. June 19th, 2013 at 6:07 pm
    Libby Sawyer says:
    I would have to disagree with you about the picture frames. Some are the cheapy kind with the cardboard back. That's no good unless you just need a random frame. But I have found ones with the nice velvet backs like you find at Michael's for 10 times the price.

    I'm interested to know why you say to pass on kitchen utensils. I haven't tried them but have considered it.

    Also, add to the DON'T BUY list: timers and locks. They just don't work. I bought a lock and it split in half when I turned the key.
  27. June 19th, 2013 at 6:19 pm
    Dawn says:
    I love this post and wholeheartedly agree with the what to buy and what to stay away from. Just wondering what happened to category #3?!
  28. June 19th, 2013 at 6:21 pm
    Angie Barth says:
    I buy hair coloring there it works great.
  29. June 19th, 2013 at 6:33 pm
    Meekie says:
    I disagree with you about the scissors. All of my favorite pairs of crafts scissors have been from the Dollar Tree.
  30. June 19th, 2013 at 7:09 pm
    Barbara says:
    Dollar store glow sticks are great! Stock up on them for power outages. A large one, the sword type, will light up a whole room for hours.
  31. June 19th, 2013 at 7:13 pm
    Natalie says:
    I love this post! Thanks for all the suggestions, I always wonder when I go into the Dollar Store what a good buy would be compared to the quality, so this was just what I needed!
  32. June 19th, 2013 at 7:37 pm
    Heather says:
    Actually I have bought the outdoor solar lights and they have lasted me years! Where others the cheapest I can find is like 3 dollars (usually more), granted they are small. But, I find if spaced between the larger more expensive ones, they help me not have to buy so many expensive ones as the dollar ones fill in the gaps. I do every one other one dollar tree & expensive ones to line my outdoor walk ways. Otherwise I would have to spend twice the amount on the expensive ones, and not be able to afford the really nice ones.
  33. June 19th, 2013 at 7:47 pm
    Melissa says:
    I tell my kids each time we go in there that I will not buy their toys, crayons, pencils. It seems like my list keeps growing. Great blog!! I love their dusting rags. It is so soft, and different colors.
  34. June 19th, 2013 at 7:57 pm
    karen says:
    I disagree with the yard lights. i bought some $ solar lights and rocks and they are great!
  35. June 19th, 2013 at 8:41 pm
    Jen M says:
    My experience with measuring spoons and cups from the dollar store is that they are not accurate at all. So, if you buy them check with your tried and true ones to make sure they are as much as they should be and not more!
  36. June 19th, 2013 at 8:44 pm
    Sara says:
    I love shower curtain liners from the Dollar Store! It's the cheapest deal you'll find. Of course, I only like the ones that have magnets to weigh down the curtain, but that's just me.
  37. June 19th, 2013 at 8:45 pm
    Desiree says:
    I buy soap and toothpaste there all the time. They do have name brands there so I feel fine doing so. For example, they have crest and Colgate.Also, ivory soap.
  38. June 19th, 2013 at 9:08 pm
    mary says:
    this is beyond relevant. i ALWAYS go in thinking i need 3 items and come out spending $60 easily. i agree with a lot of your "do buy"s including party items although i have had no trouble at all with their plastic utensils...and they come in every color that the other party supplies come in! i did a rainbow themed baby shower for my sister (who did not want to know the sex of the baby) so i went to the dollar store for colorful party supplies. everything held up well! i also got some of those square vases/candle holders that are pictured for centerpieces for her shower. (you can order large amounts of ANY item online, too!) which brings me to another good item. for my wedding favors, i ordered a bunch of mini black picture frames and put the names of all my guests in them so they doubled as escort cards. i also am TTC (and have been for several years) so the pregnancy tests they have are perfect. i keep several in my possession at all times. they really do work well. for those that are curious about relying on a dollar store pregnancy test...heres why they are cheap: if you go to a drugstore, the name brand ones (basic kind) are pricey, but the generic ones that are comparable are usually about 10 or so. but most of them come in packs of 2 or even 3. NOW thats about $5 a piece. the dollar store kind are simple a test strip inside of a plastic case...you cant pee right on it. you have to pee in a cup and use a dropper to transfer the pee so its "$4 less sophisticated". many clinics actually use the kind you find at the dollar store. i disagree that candles arent a good buy. they burn a little quicker, but smell good, and even make good favors or little gifts. they have good incense also. DONT bother with dollar store nail polish, unless its a brand that they would normally have in a drugstore. i tried a "quick dry" clear polish, and it was JUNK. it NEVER dried. and it smelled worse than most polishes! my FAVORITE thing to buy at the dollar store is glass items. my new favorite thing to do is glass etching...if you are into that, or hosting parties or if you have just bought glass etching cream (its popular now on pinterest) you can find all kinds of awesome things to etch at the dollar store. they have jars, vases, beer mugs, wine glasses, etc. i make so many personalized gifts. you can even find little mirrors to etch. (note: pyrex usually does not accept the etching cream)
    i like stickers from the dollar store, but they dont always have them. also, i bought all of my dishes there and they are awesome! i would skip the flatware, though. and when i buy wrapping paper, i usually buy plain red or another plain color so i can use it for multiple occasions (if its red or green it works for christmas and any birthday, too!) AND be sure to check the dimensions on the roll, especially at christmas time with christmas wrapping paper...they have less "attractive" patterns or more boring patterns with MUCH more paper on the roll.
  39. June 19th, 2013 at 9:09 pm
    Nicolette says:
    Thanks Kelli! I just resolved the #3 issue. I'm glad you've had a good experience with skin products. I've been hearing about how dollar stores buy knock-off "name brand" products from China. They are packaged to look identical to their name brand counterparts but state "Made in China." That is the only reason for a "buyer beware" on those. Also here is a link to two interesting articles that talks about taking caution with health, beauty, and food products:
    http://voices.yahoo.com/dollar-store-shopping-know-526504.html?cat=46

    http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/12663661-danger-at-the-dollar-store-from-food-and-toys-to-electrical-cords-video

    Here is another about finding lead in some products: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500395_162-3098551.html

    Thanks for replying!
  40. June 19th, 2013 at 9:16 pm
    Nicolette says:
    Awesome! I'm glad you've found some CD treasures at your Dollar Store. As a former English teacher, I think that is a great idea for journal writing!
  41. June 19th, 2013 at 9:52 pm
    Jill says:
    This is off-topic, but the pantry organization you linked to was NOT done with dollar store baskets/storage containers. I know because I have some of both kinds of container, and they came from Target for much more than a dollar each.
    • June 20th, 2013 at 9:35 am
      Lorena says:
      Actually, our Dollar Store does carry these Betty Crocker containers, etc. They also have decent quality B.C. kitchen tools. :)
  42. June 19th, 2013 at 11:59 pm
    alison says:
    This is an awesome post!!!! Great pics too:)
  43. June 20th, 2013 at 6:22 am
    Katie says:
    Thanks for the tips! I often wonder about what is a good deal and what is junk at the dollar store. I'm anxious to get back to my dollar store and see what treasures I can find! I've been looking for some glass storage containers and I'm hoping that one of the local stores has some. Also, I'm glad that you mentioned the plates. They always seemed like they were decent, but I was never really sure.
  44. June 20th, 2013 at 6:43 am
    MonicaBerry says:
    Awesome! Thanks for this.
    A note on the glow sticks, at the Dollar Tree I frequent I was getting party favors for my daughter's last birthday & grabbed some 5 packs of glow bracelets & then had to go back for more & discovered that they had 15 packs as well! (Of course, the same price.) I noticed no difference in quality, the design was only barely different.
  45. June 20th, 2013 at 7:16 am
    Courtney says:
    Love the dollar store and this list is awesome!
    But a warning, don't buy the chalk. I had a friend who used the cheap chalk and her daughter ended up with lead positioning from it. I've steered clear since :-/
  46. June 20th, 2013 at 9:02 am
    Andrea says:
    I like the article, although some things I will disagree on. I havent come across any expired food items at Dollar Tree and alot of things are name brand and even off brand are still good, including frozen foods. I buy the brand name toothpaste from there as well. Another plus for me...nail polishes AND hair decor. I buy all of my headbands from there as well as alot of my nail polishes, I have about 150 plus bottles, a bit of a junkie I admit. I often come across, Sally Hanson, Sinful is in stores now too and Revlon. I havent had a bad experience with body or hand wash. But I usally buy Dermasil from there and my sprays and lotions come from Bath and Body Works. Also, socks for my son. I usually buy the 3 pack for a dollar. One time I found a 6 pack for a dollar and I cleaned them out. He looses them all the time, so I'd rather he loose a 33 or 16 cent pair of socks than a $1 pair of socks. :-)
  47. June 20th, 2013 at 9:11 am
    Jill says:
    Love this post! IT is easy to get wrapped up in "it's just a dollar" and then buy a bunch of useless stuff.
  48. June 20th, 2013 at 9:54 am
    Elizabeth says:
    I always check prices though. I almost bought my little boys toothbrushes at dollar tree and decided to wait until we went to walmart right after. I got two light up toothbrushes that flash for 60 seconds (to brush either top or bottom teeth then you restart) for $1.88. I have bought many pregnancy tests at dollar tree and have never had a problem.
  49. June 20th, 2013 at 10:13 am
    Lori says:
    PLEASE be careful when buying cups. They may contain LEAD. I got a shot glass at the dollar store and when I turned it over to remove stickers it had a lead warning, YIKES!!
  50. June 20th, 2013 at 10:15 am
    angee says:
    Great tips!!! Thank you!!
  51. June 20th, 2013 at 9:37 pm
    Angela says:
    Thanks for this! I do have to say that I've recently started buying batteries at the dollar store & they work great ...you cannot beat a pack of 8 double As for $1!! I've been buying the brand sunbeam, which i've heard of before.
  52. June 20th, 2013 at 10:10 pm
    Nicolette says:
    Wow! You readers are on the ball! I love everyone's comments; thanks for adding your own tried and true opinions. You guys rock!
    • June 27th, 2013 at 10:02 pm
      Jenilee says:
      Love this post!

      I bought the solar powered yard lights at Dollar Tree this year. Two each of pink, blue, and green. They look adorable and are at least two times bright than their more expensive friends tucked in around them! I get SO many compliments on them and wish I had grabbed more!!! Totally worth a dollar - even more really!!!
  53. June 21st, 2013 at 2:03 am
    Mark says:
    I agree about the food. Some are lower quality, but some you can find the same supermarket foods in dollar size packages. Like Jif single-serve peanut butter, and sliced cheese (3 oz instead of 8 oz). Dollar Tree generally has good stuff, but the indies vary widely.
  54. June 21st, 2013 at 4:57 am
    Andrea Hewitt says:
    I'm surprised you recommend the sidewalk chalk, but not the crayons. The sidewalk chalk is also subpar. If your readers are raving about it, they've obviously never bought crayola. It last at least 10x longer. As you said, there's a reason why they've been around so long.
  55. June 21st, 2013 at 8:47 am
    Jessica says:
    I also have to recommend the puzzles in the toy section - my son is addicted to puzzles, and even though he loves doing the same ones over and over, we often need new ones to challenge him. You can't beat $1 for the kind of use you're going to get out of it if you have a puzzle lover!!
  56. June 22nd, 2013 at 5:38 am
    Evelyn says:
    Hi! This was a great article, and it's always nice to save money! I knew the dollar store had its good items and bad and this article is a great reference! I'm happy with everything on here except for the plastic containers. Do any of you guys know if they are BPA free?
    If you don't know what it is here is an expert from the wiki page.
    "BPA exhibits hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in consumer products and food containers.".." A 2010 report from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of possible hazards to fetuses, infants, and young children." Although BPA is now banned from baby bottles, the plastic containers at the dollar store could be used by moms to store baby food, like myself I store a lot of snacks in plastic containers which most of the time aren't cheap. So does anyone know if they are BPA free? Anyways thanks and hopefully my comment gave some info to you guys! Hopefully it didn't freak you guys out either!
    • June 24th, 2013 at 9:06 pm
      Nicolette says:
      I'm not sure Evelyn. That is definitely worth looking into.
    • June 25th, 2013 at 11:22 am
      Annie~SavorThisMoment says:
      I also look for containers (and anything) that are made in the USA. Dollar stores had a surprising number of things that are American made, including some of the plastic zip bags and containers, foil pans, etc. Most items that are BPA-free are labeled as such, so look for those, too!
  57. June 24th, 2013 at 12:02 am
    Angie says:
    She took the pictures at Dollar Tree; I would recognize those green tags anywhere. We have both Deals and Dollar Tree here in Ohio, and they're two very different chains. Everything in a Dollar Tree is $1, but the prices vary throughout the store in Deals. Therefore, while the two carry some of the same merchandise, their stock does differ.
    • June 24th, 2013 at 9:09 pm
      Nicolette says:
      True, I did head to my local Dollar Tree. I've never been to a Deals before, but it sounds like you've found some great deals there too!
  58. June 25th, 2013 at 7:39 am
    That Redheaded Stepchild says:
    I also LOVE getting bath "poufs" at the Dollar store!!! Love these tips
  59. June 25th, 2013 at 8:48 am
    Nicole Copeland says:
    Great List..I LOVE the Dollar Tree!!!
  60. June 25th, 2013 at 10:11 am
    Shannon says:
    Definitely a good list. Pretty much covers what I do and do not buy at the dollar store except for toothbrushes. Tried them (twice)! They start off nice but seem to turn really hard quite quickly. I wouldn't use it for more than a month.
    Also not only do the hula hoops bend easily, they also tend to be so light that it is very difficult to do any actual hula-ing. lol.
  61. June 25th, 2013 at 11:15 am
    Andrea says:
    The Hefty slider bag coupon states 12 ct or larger. Please don't use them on the 8 counts at dollar stores. That is coupon fraud and it hurts all of us.
    • June 30th, 2013 at 12:30 pm
      Wendy says:
      But using them on the 15ct (also pictured) is A-OK!
  62. June 25th, 2013 at 11:59 am
    Lyndee says:
    I totally scored on teacher supplies for my new classroom at the dollar store. I also agree to beware of food items. I find that you usually get a better deal at Walmart.
  63. June 25th, 2013 at 12:04 pm
    Tonya says:
    I agree with almost everything on here except the wrapping paper. I used to use it but I really, really hate it. It is see through and rips way too easily.
    • June 30th, 2013 at 12:33 pm
      Wendy says:
      I agree; I much prefer getting really nice wrapping paper at Marshall's for $3/roll.
      However, for kids' gifts the dollar paper does the job, and if they can see through at all, kids get all excited that they can "guess" what's inside!
  64. June 25th, 2013 at 7:30 pm
    Marianne Wrenn says:
    I am a daycare teacher and a mom and usually means im on a budget so the dollar store has been a saving grace since my college days love your article a year or so ago our dollar stores raised their prices claiming the cost increase would allow them to bring in more quality items but most things would. sta y arounda dollar mark frankly I haven't seen much quality to justify the increase like your article states its buyer beware I agree with most of your barnot gains and What not to buy guide items I buy the wrapping paper and so far have not had any issues for kids birthdays its ok,i also love the wooden items such as the bird houses in spring I buy one as a craft for my dd and students we painted them and add bird seed great science activity, im also a crafter so your right itass a blessing.
    As for battery operated red flag it if it flashes go past it I once had a pair of flashing Christmas tree earings explode while wearing them. Also from dollar store.
  65. June 25th, 2013 at 9:58 pm
    Melisa says:
    After an unfortunate accident left all but 3 of my Pfalzgraff plates and bowls broken, I purchased new plates, soup bowls and glasses at the dollar store. The plates and bowls are made by a well known company in the US and the glasses are by Libby also made in the US. The dinnerware is white and each has a slight blemish such as a small bump in the glaze or a rough spot but honestly so what?. We have a family of 8 so to be able to replace all those things for $24 plus tax was quite a deal. Not to mention that if the boys break these we're really not out a whole lot.
  66. June 25th, 2013 at 10:52 pm
    kathi says:
    Dollar General and Dollar Tree both have the best greeting cards. I hate spending more than a dollar on any card that ends up in the trash a day later. Both have nice Christmas deco items, and gift bags. I love spending only a dollar on Renuzits air fresheners for my musty old basement. Unfortunately it's so easy to spend $40. there, but you do get to take home a bagful of fun stuff!
    • July 6th, 2013 at 10:00 pm
      Brittany S says:
      I love Dollar General's cards too! I haven't checked out The Dollar Tree's! Thanks for the tip!
  67. June 25th, 2013 at 11:36 pm
    Stephanie says:
    Awesome list Nicolette! The dollar store is the best for so many items. I love to treat my kids once in a while and tell them they can each choose a few things - they look at me like we must have won the lottery or something - lol! Makes their day.
    • July 19th, 2013 at 7:52 am
      Amanda Olson says:
      Thats exactly what i do too! WIth Six kiddos, its a must, lol! But i do stay away from their crayons and any plastic toys, like the guns, water guns, and horses..they break on the car ride home! But we have found some very solid horses my girls adore!
  68. June 27th, 2013 at 4:58 am
    Marsha Anderson Corns says:
    Great list! I think measuring cups & spoons are the #1 Dollar Store bargain. Great quality & if you follow Weight Watchers or cook a lot, you can never have enough measuring tools!
  69. June 27th, 2013 at 5:04 pm
    LP says:
    Actually, on the diaper trash bags, you CAN beat 75 for $1 - they're cheaper at Walmart. :) But obviously this is an exception, as generally the dollar store is a much better deal on the stuff that's listed. Thanks for posting; this gave me some new ideas and will also help me remember what to avoid!
  70. June 28th, 2013 at 12:02 pm
    Jamie says:
    Another good buy is Epsom salt if you only need a little (I use it all the time so it pays for me to buy in bulk) but for the occasional sprained ankle or sore muscle, it's a great buy.

    Headbands and other hair accessories are also good especially when they carry the name brands (like Goody). I bought like 10 asst. items the other day. The same stuff that sells for $2-$6 at Walmart or Target.

    Make up and nail polish (especially the glitter polish) in name brand items can also be found often such as Revlon, Loreal, Sally Hanson, etc. It seems I'm always grabbing a bottle or 2 of nail polish every time I stop in.

    Oven mitts I've also had good luck with cuz it seems I'll mess one up no matter how expensive or cheap it is. Just make sure you stick your hand in it to see how thick it really is. Obviously a thin one won't do the trick but I've found many thin ones in dept. stores too.

    And no matter where you shop, it's always a good idea to know what you're buying.:)
  71. June 28th, 2013 at 6:17 pm
    HawaiianLibrarian says:
    Awesome list for when we go to the mainland since I don't think there are dollar stores in Hawai'i. Mahalo for sharing.
  72. June 29th, 2013 at 7:30 am
    Sarah says:
    I see candles are listed as something not to buy. I bought some small pillar candles last fall (vanilla & cinnamon) to use in craft projects. They smell really good and are much cheaper than I could purchase them anywhere else. Worth a try in my opinion.
  73. July 5th, 2013 at 9:14 am
    Betsey says:
    A few things I'm a big fan of that aren't on the list:

    - the snack sized Ziploc bags. Why pay 4x the price when my toddlers go through them like water?

    - their store version of powdered Oxiclean. I add a scoop of the powered Oxiclean to every laundry load & I find it really helps keep stains away so the dollar store version is a great way to save some $$$.

    - I also stock up on shower curtain liners when I go. They're thin, but I'd rather go through them slightly faster at $1/each than spend $8-$10 on the heavy duty ones at Target.

    - Another thing I grab when I see them (I don't think they're always there) are coin roll wrappers. They're not as good as the waaaay more expensive ones from Staples, but who cares? I just need to get the coins rolled & to the bank! :)

    By the way, I still regularly use a plastic mixing bowl and serrated steak knives that I bought at the Dollar Store when I moved into my 1st apartment almost 15 YEARS AGO! Both regularly see the dishwasher & I don't need to worry about wear & tear. I think I've gotten my money's worth!
  74. July 5th, 2013 at 9:47 am
    Natalie says:
    Instead of buying a gift bag or wrapping paper, I like to buy the cloth purses/bags to put the gift inside (when gift giving to a girl). Not only will it hold your gift but can be reused and be part of the gift.
  75. July 5th, 2013 at 10:45 am
    Carolyn says:
    What about all the lead in the plates, bowls, glasses etc.... These items can contain serious health damaging chemicals.... Just as you should be cautious of personal items and food you should be very cautious of the tableware and glassware.
    Walmart also has this issue. If it says made in China don't eat directly off of it. Use it as a charger or a decorative piece but don't eat from them and never store food on them.
  76. July 5th, 2013 at 11:03 am
    Rachel says:
    I have seen a "pin" on how you can buy the creepy figurines and repaint them in one solid color. Like a porcelain rabbit... then just paint the whole thing white or brown and it looks nice as a table decoration for Easter. Just an example. I haven't tried it myself but it seems legit! I love The Dollar Tree! I'll definitely have to try out those awesome cleaners!
  77. July 5th, 2013 at 11:32 am
    Elise says:
    These are great tips! I hardly ever shop the Dollar store anymore, don't know why though! When I was getting married, I too bought a bunch of glass place for table center pieces at our wedding. The bonus is, now we have plenty of dinner plate when we have company! :)
  78. July 6th, 2013 at 8:44 am
    Screendoorgirl 3 says:
    Thanks. Great post. I will add my 2 cents. I love the long click lighters for candles, the grill, etc. , the 5 minute teeth whitener, bag of tealights, and the cookies called Almondette at Dollar Tree. They are excellent. I think anything is worth a shot for a buck!
  79. July 6th, 2013 at 8:35 pm
    Lindsey says:
    I've found name brand hand soap and dish soap at the dollar store! Made moving outand into my own place way cheaper than expected. I always look there if I need something before I go somewhere else. And when the dollar store is right next to Walmart....it really only takes one trip :-)
  80. July 7th, 2013 at 2:19 am
    shy says:
    I have had really good luck with the CDs at Dollar tree. I've got over 20 instumental ones for me, and I work at a daycare, so I always pick up kid friendly ones when I see them. They have fun, upbeat, child friendly songs that children can dance to.

    Another thing not listed is books. I buy hard bound books with a retail price of $20 at the dollar store (you can read about my ratings on these books, and how much I love buying books at the dollar store in my blog.)

    I also love the dollar pedometers.

    I frequently buy shoe laces from the dollar store and love them

    I love the wall clings & window clings! way cute and SO much cheaper than anywhere else

    Hair ties and bobby pins
  81. July 7th, 2013 at 8:54 pm
    Destiny says:
    These are great ideas. Lots I already we some I didn't. It's a perfect list to re read. I have had good experiences with glue sticks and some scissors but not all.
  82. July 9th, 2013 at 9:40 am
    Tonya says:
    I am an avid dollar store shopper. I love reading all the blogs about what to buy and what to avoid. I have to disagree with you on one of your "Stay clear of" items. I have purchased their picture frames many times and love them! Some have plastic fronts and some have glass, I stay away from the plastic ones. The glass ones are great! I highly recommend the frames!
  83. July 9th, 2013 at 10:28 am
    Vanessa says:
    I love the glassware from the dollar store. I'd have to agree with crayons, ugh, they are horrible. I will say though, Some of the best scissors I've had have come from the dollar store, though
  84. July 12th, 2013 at 10:42 am
    Lauren says:
    I love this post! Great ideas and very accurate!

    However, I have been buying picture frames from Dollar Stores for years and love them! They come with actual glass and wood frames FOR ONLY A DOLLAR! Granted, some of them are low quality or have been broken during shipment. You just have to pick through and find the good ones.
  85. July 19th, 2013 at 7:47 am
    Amanda Olson says:
    I have to say, my 7yr old wanted a hoola hoop for her bday, so we bought her one at walmart for $10! Yes $10 for a flippin hoola hoop. It cracked within two days! A couple weeks later, we were at the dollar store and by the register were nice, solid round Rubber hoola hoops! There's no breaking those! So yes, we bought 4 and they're takin a beatin!
  86. August 4th, 2013 at 6:04 pm
    Kay says:
    I have to disagree with you on several things you mentioned. First, the scissors are not crap. No, I probably wouldn't use a pair to cut up an entire chicken or to cut expensive material, but they are FINE for random, around the house uses that involve cutting paper and plastic. I keep a pair in a drawer in just about every room of my house. I think I have had them all for 3 or 4 years now and not one pair has broken. Also, the tooth paste and mouthwashes are fine as well as the hand soaps and other beauty needs.

    The batteries are a different story. They are crap.
  87. August 5th, 2013 at 7:47 pm
    Alysa says:
    I actually bought some if the dollar store relaxation CDs to put in gift bags for a baby shower. I really like them, and know that a few if the ladies went to buy some more!
  88. August 6th, 2013 at 7:59 am
    Jessi says:
    Keep a lookout for expiration dates on the candy. I have found a few stores will sell them after they expire.
  89. August 7th, 2013 at 6:42 pm
    Meagan says:
    I also recently had really bad experiences with painter's tape and the scrubbing wand you use to wash dishes. Both were a total waste of a dollar.
    • January 7th, 2014 at 12:45 am
      Mandi says:
      The scrub brushes with the bristles work great, and last a long time. I throw mine in the dishwasher when it gets yucky and i only have to replace them when the bristles get too bent down. I also bought a sponge tipped one with the compartment for my shower, with a little dish soap and vinegar it's great to clean your shower. Though i haven't used them on dishes so i can't comment on that use of them. But i do suggest using the bristle ones, a dollar here and there sure beats what you can end up paying elsewhere.
  90. August 16th, 2013 at 8:59 pm
    Sydnee says:
    I saw that you said 'no' to porcelain figurines. Is it because they are cheaply painted? I am into the whole painting-things-white look right now and wouldn't mind buying little knick knacks like this for that exact project. Even if I paint them white would you say it's a no go? Love the post, by the way!
  91. August 23rd, 2013 at 7:53 pm
    Maggie May's Gifts says:
    Great Post. I LOVE the dollar store, but you're right some things are worth paying more for. Great "do" and "don't" breakdown. Thanks!
  92. November 2nd, 2013 at 12:33 pm
    Carolyn Elder says:
    This site really.helped me. I shop here every year with my 2 grandchildren for the Christmas Shoe Boxes, or "Operation Christmas Child". (Franklin Graham was the founder of this awesome project) Anyway, we spend about 100.00 trying to make 6 boxes to send to the needy children. I always buy crayons, markers, books as well as tooth brushes, tooth paste, stuffed animals and dolls. Thank you for this great article that has given us do's and don'ts for our yearly project.
  93. November 29th, 2013 at 9:34 am
    Alyssa says:
    I almost always shop at the dollar store first. I have found a pair of scissors that I LOVE there. They came as 2, have gray handles with some orange, and I bought them for my classroom because always loose them so I decided to go cheap. MY FAVE SCISSORS! PLASTIC TABLE CLOTHS!!! Use them in class instead of bulletin board paper. Looks SO much better than paper and doesn't fade.! Plus its reusable!
  94. December 25th, 2013 at 10:11 am
    Christina @ Life.Home.Projects. says:
    I get picture frames at the local Dollar Tree often. They generally don't have larger than an 8x10 though. These frames are good if you pay attention to which ones you are getting. There are of course some stinkers in there, but you can find a nice wooden one too. They also paint well, so you can customize. I use them where they may get knocked over or fall because I wouldn't want expensive frames getting broken. They are also best for kids rooms since most don't have glass, but plastic instead. No need to worry about it breaking and the kids getting cut.
  95. December 27th, 2013 at 5:22 pm
    Laura says:
    I bough a glass vase from the dollar store once , a couple weeks later it exploded... I figured from the pressure of the pennies I put in it ... so I bought another, same shape colour everything. a couple weeks later it exploded while I was on the computer... Nothing was in it or around it.. be careful of what you buy!
  96. December 28th, 2013 at 7:02 pm
    Shelby says:
    Love this post and will use it to learn from your (and other commenters') experiences! I'd like to add some of my personal favs. I shop at Dollar Tree and love their spices -- good-sized containers for a buck! (I always check the food for expiration dates.) I found a great deal on Post Honey Bunches of Oats that were dated "best by" a couple of months from the time I bought them, so look for the bargain bins. I also like the Sunbeam light bulbs, the large indoor/outdoor recessed lights. Postal supplies like the brown craft paper are an awesome deal. This past holiday season I got some rolls of parchment paper and sheets which I'd never seen there before. Two things that I wasted my money on were the knock-off Swiffer mop with wet pads and plastic sandwich containers (like the Wonder Bread square boxes).
  97. January 5th, 2014 at 9:20 pm
    Tami says:
    I would like to comment on a few items from the Dollar Tree:
    Fabulous Items:
    1. LAVENDER SOAP
    2. OATMEAL SOAP
    3. DERMASIL LOTION
    4. DERMASIL HAND SOAP
    5. FOOT SCRUB
    6. RENUZIT AIR FRESHENERS
    7. TOOTHPASTES
    8. VITAMIN C GUMMIES
    9. MINI TOOTHBRUSHES WI/TOOTHPASTE IN THEM ( 4 PACK )
  98. January 7th, 2014 at 12:37 am
    Mandi says:
    It's hit and miss but they actually do have good scissors sometimes (not childrens though). The kitchen supplies are also hit and miss, they do have sharp knives and for a dollar its so much nicer than spending so much for the same thing. I also have a Betty Crocker colander from there that i love. But honestly, a lot of things are hit and miss there.
  99. March 4th, 2014 at 3:06 pm
    Chey says:
    Some Dollar stores carry Crayola crayons, We always buy Crayola at our $$ store, can't beat $1.25 for a 24 pack of crayolas. Ours also often has brand name hair products like Dove, herbal escensed and Some salon brands when the packaging changes. I have also found Method cleaners and body products at the $$ stores near me. You have to check often because it is always changing.
  100. March 6th, 2014 at 12:10 pm
    Paula says:
    The plastic spoons ore great colors for cocoa gifts, or party favours chocolate peppermint for Christmas was great. They sometimes have great deals on European food too,
  101. March 26th, 2014 at 4:16 pm
    Amy says:
    I love dollar tree, so many good things there. Their nasal strips are surprisingly great. they work as well as breath right, if not better. the regular breath right strips didn't seem to do much for me, so I used to use their double strip ones. I HATE how the glue sticks to my skin and is impossible to get off. I don't have an hour to screw around trying to scrape their glue off my face in the morning,I have to get to work. But the nice thing about dollar tree's strips are, they work good and don't lave glue on your skin. They have had two kinds though, both packaged in the same boxes. I don't know why they changed the strips, but the ones that are the best are the ones that are like a flexible bandage. their other ones are stiffer and I don't like them as much. But you get6 for $1, a heck of a lot cheaper than breath right.

    http://www.dollartree.com/MaxAir-Nasal-Strips-6-ct-Boxes/p322472/index.pro
  102. April 26th, 2014 at 12:20 pm
    Jen says:
    FYI - dollar store pregnancy tests DO work! Proud mom of 4!
  103. May 16th, 2014 at 8:47 am
    Haley says:
    On the crayons- around July or August, Toys R Us puts their 24 pack of Crayola crayons on sale 4/$1 ( limit 8). They do this sale a couple of times before school starts, so I stocked up and still have about 8 packs of crayons!
  104. May 19th, 2014 at 12:43 pm
    Elle C says:
    I agree with everything you said, but I would like to add this, if you have pets, don't buy their treats or chew toys there. For exactly the same reason you don't buy toothpaste and mouthwash etc. You don't know what's in pet products, if you love your pets, buy only good quality toys and treats. Remember all the pet food recalls? All of that stuff came from China, where most dollar store products come from.
  105. May 20th, 2014 at 9:36 pm
    danielle says:
    I worked as an assistant manager at Dollar Tree and I would never buy any sort of dishes/glassware. ALL of the boxes have a warning on them that they cant be sold in California due to a product may contain a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer/reproductive harm. If its not good enough for people in California its not safe for me! Something that holds your food that can cause cancer stay far away its not worth $1.
  106. June 4th, 2014 at 5:06 pm
    Louise says:
    I find crayons at my dollar store all the time, so for me, crayons are a must buy at dollar store! Otherwise, great post
  107. June 18th, 2014 at 2:01 am
    Buffee says:
    Back in school, I'm doing so much lenirang.
  108. June 23rd, 2014 at 2:55 pm
    Belle says:
    I'm always wary of buying ceramic or "stoneware" dishes from the dollar store, since many things are "Made in China" and may still contain lead in the clay, paint or glaze.
  109. July 27th, 2014 at 5:06 pm
    JoAnna says:
    I am wary of the ceramic type cups, bowls and dishes. The glaze may contain lead or other toxins which are extremely unsafe for food consumption.
  110. July 28th, 2014 at 7:01 am
    Ann B. says:
    Great article, but disagree with towels. I buy my kitchen towels in dollar stores because I like simple thin cotton ones and wash them every day so I need a bunch. Use them instead of paper towels, and want them NOT very absorbent or heavy. They last forever and sometimes I get two or a dish cloth plus towel for $1. They are better than Walmart's batch of cheapie towels.
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