5 Generic Products Totally Worth Buying (And 5 to Skip)


generic paper towelsI am all for saving a few cents here and there ... alas, I'm not a big coupon gal (I never remember them and then when I do, they've expired), so I had to find an easy way to save some cash. So I've been buying generic. Buying the store-brand of whatever it is I'm needing.

Good idea, right? Yes, in theory. The sad thing is not all generic items are, well, very good. In my quest to pinch pennies, I've discovered a few things that I will never, not ever buy generic again and some fabu generic scores in the grocery store aisles that can save you $$$$! Let's all do the thrifty dance as I pass my list on to you ...

What I never buy generic:

1. Paper towels -- Really, there is nothing worse than cleaning. When you have to don your housework cap, you want it to go quickly, efficiently, be done with it ASAP. Generic paper towels just don't cut it. They dissolve within one swipe of the table, they leave behind little paper towel turds (the rolled-up little remnants that look like some small rodent pooped them out), they make me work harder ... which Mama doesn't like.

2. Trash bags -- You're loading up the trash can, peeved that your husband didn't take out the trash before he left for work. You hoist it up and rrrrriiiiippppppp. Yes, that has happened to me -- but only when I bought generic trash bags. I am not sure why these bags aren't like the rest, but they do feel a tad flimsier. Flimsy. Not a word you want to describe what's holding your trash during "clean out the fridge" week.

3. Tampons -- Do I really need to illuminate this reason? It is that time of the month, you're making your way to Hormonalville on the Crankypants Train ... and the tampon you're using doesn't quite, ahem, work as it should. Another pair of underwear ruined.

4. Antibacterial lotion -- You know those hand sanitizers. You may think the store-brand is just as good as the brand-name kind, but it isn't. Look at the percentage of alcohol -- it isn't enough to kill the germies. Also, the smell of the generic one is aw-ful.

5. Toilet paper -- If there is one thing in life I need, it's a nice-feeling tushy. Be kind to your tushy and your tushy will be kind to you (and do its best to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans). The generic toilet paper just doesn't cut it, folks. Scratchy, coarse, linty. Not good, not good at all.

What I always buy generic:

1. Ibuprofen -- I am getting old. How do I know? Every morning I wake up a little sore. Not a lot, but a little. Not to mention all of the aches and pains still left over from carrying Kiddo for 40 weeks. I pop the ibuprofen often. Even your doctor will tell you the generic kind is just as good.

2. Sheets -- Now, I'm not saying to grab the negative 83-count sheets from the dude on the corner, but stores like Macy's and Wal-Mart have their own lines of homegoods and sheets, which are just as good as some of the designer sheets you may be drawn to purchase. Especially as your back-up set of sheets, store-brand is the way to go. 

3. Antibacterial soap -- Different from its lotion cousin, generic antibacterial soap is a must if you have a pretty soap pumpy-thing and buy the big jugs of hand soap. Read the ingredients on the store-name antibacterial soap. Same as the brand name. Same does-not-exist-in-nature shade of orange. Grab it.

4. Light bulbs -- Not sure why there is even a distinction here ... you can only make a light bulb so different. At the end of the day, they all are made of glass and filament wires. What makes the most difference: a good lamp shade.

5. Printer paper -- You don't need fancy-schmancy heavyweight paper anymore ... because who is printing out photos these days anyway? For random school forms or address labels to return those shoes that didn't fit, just nab the cheap store-brand ream of paper (look for recycled paper and help the planet).

What do you buy generic? What don't you buy generic?


Image via Tony Crescibene/Flickr

budget finds, bathroom, chores, home finances, home life, thrifty solutions


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Taralyn Miller

Q-tips and Bandaids. Generic just isn't the same! Other than thatm i buy generic whenever I can. I agree about the Target trashbags too!

ZaisMum ZaisMum

We buy generic "Puffs" (the baby munchies), and generic medicines (excedrine, tylenol....), I have to have Diet Coke though :)

Magen Kauffman

I agree with the other person who said that they DON'T buy the generic chocolate syrup. The generic crap is not as good as Hershey's. I also don't buy generic ketchup or hot dogs either, they just don't taste as good.  Same thing with cereal, the generic is NEVER as good as the name brand. I do buy the generic ibuprofen, cold meds, allergy meds (basically any kind of OTC meds) b/c they work just the same as the originals and cost a LOT less. The one med I will NEVER buy generic is my rx thryoid medication. I insist on the name brand. I have tried both the generic and the name brand and the name brand definitely works better, I have the blood tests to prove it! Generic is great, but it's just not the same for certain items.

clean... cleanaturalady

I buy a mix of name brand and generic.  I do not like generic saltines, that is one of the things I can think of at the moment. 

buffa... buffalove23

I'm a big fan of anything generic that's from the Target line...a lot of the time I like it better or the same as the real stuff


ok i agree with all this except the last line of printer paper because i am a scrapbooker and i print tons of pictures and i only use name brand printer paper, ink and photo paper, because it is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better. well worth the price.

healt... healthymocha

Don't buy antibacterial soap, either!!  I thought that was common knowledge.... spread the word!!


Jennifer Kupper Swan

Namebrand for paper towels, toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent.

Tampons, cleansers (admittedly I make my own), diapers, formula, wipes, storage bags - store brand only.  Frankly Walmart's brand of tampons are the only one that don't cause leaks for me.  Publix diapers are the only ones that don't cause leaks for her or nose leaking for me with faux powder scent.  But everyone is designed differently - my boys could only use Luvs.

BTW - all hand soap is antibacterial whether it labels for it or not.  Proper handwashing with soap and warm water will eliminate the germies and bacteria.

nonmember avatar Lp

You have to have brand name thyroid meds, generics have up to 33% less medication in them. And if you were to switch suddenly if would reek havoc on you body and Bl. Count!

Jennifer Kupper Swan

healthymocha - judging by how hard it is to buy non-anitbacterial soap these days, only a few of us have a clue about it's dangers and false advertising. 

Baby wipes or an alcohol wipe is just as effective as the antibacterial lotion which is merely meant to be as a stop gap until you can get to a sink to wash your hands properly.

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