18 Common Household Items That Are a Complete Waste of Money

There are countless products out there promising to make our lives easier, more efficient, and better overall—but not all live up to the marketing hype. In fact, some of them are total duds! Here are 18 everyday household items that frequently become obsolete or unused and are a waste of your hard-earned money.

Single-Use Coffee Pods

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While convenient, Nationwide Coffee warns against purchasing expensive, single-use coffee pods and writes, “One of the most glaring issues with single-use coffee pods is the sheer volume of waste they generate.” Even if you ignore the high cost compared to ground coffee and reusable filters, the single-use plastic and aluminum pods are far from ecologically friendly!


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Appliances that can only perform one specific function, like a dedicated egg cooker or a rotisserie chicken roaster, often end up taking up valuable counter space and eventually become dust collectors after the initial novelty wears off. Avoid things like juicers and consider investing in multi-functional appliances, like pressure cookers or air fryers.

Bottled Water

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Bottled water can be hundreds of times more expensive than tap water and offers no provable health benefits. It also comes with significant environmental costs associated with the production and disposal of thousands of plastic bottles. Instead, invest in a water purifier (if needed) and a reusable, vacuum-style water bottle for chilled and affordable hydration.

Expensive Cleaning Products

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Many brand commercials boast about their products’ “magical” cleaning power, often at a premium price. However, The Guardian reports that many branded floor cleaners are no more effective than water, and some are even worse! Don’t be swayed by clever marketing—choose cheaper options or try home remedies like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.

Fabric Softeners

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While fabric softeners promise softer clothes and a pleasant scent, they can actually damage your clothes when used consistently. They coat cloth fibers with a waxy film that reduces their absorbency and can irritate sensitive skin. Using a splash of vinegar in the rinse cycle can naturally soften fabrics without the downsides or expense of commercial softeners.

Pre-Cut Fruits and Vegetables

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Unless you have zero time and opportunity, pre-cut fruits and vegetables aren’t worth the extra convenience. The premium price tag simply isn’t reflected in the taste, texture, or nutritional value. As soon as fresh produce is cut, it loses its freshness and nutrients, becoming soft, wilted, brown, or even contaminated with bacteria.

Air Fresheners

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Cheapism lists air fresheners as a wasteful, costly, and ineffective way to improve odors in your home. They can also contain harmful chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to indoor air pollution and trigger allergies or asthma. Focus on the problem instead of masking it by ensuring adequate ventilation, extraction, and cleanliness.

Expensive Workout Equipment

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Before investing in a bulky treadmill or weight set, consider starting with free bodyweight exercises or exploring other low-cost fitness options like community centers, online workout videos, or outdoor activities. Even if you can afford a fully equipped gym with various options, workouts at home can quickly become a dull and repetitive chore.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

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Chemical drain cleaners may work, but they are often overly harsh and expensive. The chemicals can damage your pipes, while the fumes can cause eye, skin, and lung irritations. Try equally as effective, but cheaper and more natural, solutions like baking soda and vinegar for minor clogs, or grab a plunger for tougher blockages.

Brand-Name Vitamins

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Cleverly marketed as health-boosting necessities, brand-name vitamins are often identical to generic or store-brand alternatives. Express warns that supplements, in general, are often a waste of money unless you’ve been directed to take them by a healthcare professional. Try a healthy, balanced diet instead—it’s cheaper and more beneficial!

Fad Diet Products

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You don’t need a juice cleanse or a calorie-counting gadget to lose weight; you only need the willpower and motivation to make a positive change. Fad diets promise quick and easy weight loss, but they’re rarely sustainable or healthy in the long run. Products like diet pills, detox teas, and meal replacements are always expensive and rarely effective.

Unused Subscriptions

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While not technically a household item, digital subscriptions can be a massive waste of money. It can be all too easy to accumulate subscriptions for services like streaming platforms, online magazines, or gym memberships that rarely get used. Regularly review your subscriptions and cancel any that you don’t use regularly or no longer find valuable.

Cleaning Gadgets

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Despite being marketed as innovative solutions, many cleaning gadgets offer no advantages over traditional cleaning methods and are often short-lived and easily broken. CHOICE says that products like cheap stick vacuums promise convenience and powerful suction but are often underpowered and ineffective—they recommend using a standard vacuum instead.

Dryer Sheets

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Like fabric softeners, dryer sheets can coat your clothes with chemicals that reduce absorbency and potentially irritate skin after extended periods of use. Additionally, the anti-static properties of dryer sheets often come from harmful chemicals like quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS). Use dryer balls made of wool or silicone as a natural and eco-friendly alternative.

Expensive Makeup Removers

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Many expensive makeup removers contain harsh chemicals and unnecessary fragrances that push the price up but actually negatively impact our delicate facial skin! If soap and water makes your face too dry, opt for natural alternatives like coconut oil, olive oil, or micellar water, which are all gentler on the skin, and cheaper as well.

Brand-Name Paper Towels

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Have you ever compared heavily marketed, brightly packaged brand-name paper towels with dull, generic store varieties? There really isn’t any difference in quality or absorption ability, so buying expensive paper towels is often a waste of money. If you’re interested in reducing your environmental impact, look for options made from recycled paper.

Carpet Powders

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Carpet powders may seem convenient for spot-cleaning spills and pet accidents, but most leave behind a residue that attracts more dirt and can be difficult to remove altogether. As well as being over-priced, they also contain harsh chemicals that can irritate pets and children. Use a natural cleaner like vinegar and water or baking soda for a more effective, cheaper alternative.

Pre-Washed Fruits and Vegetables

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The premium price tag that comes with pre-washed and ‘ready to eat’ fresh produce doesn’t make up for the minimal reduction in cooking preparation times. Commercial washing can also be less effective and doesn’t account for any mold spores or bacteria that may have accumulated during transportation, storage, or after purchase.

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