You can spend a lot of money keeping the bathroom stocked with essentials. But if you don't need to have a name brand, you just may find that the personal care aisle at the dollar store has many quality products that will do the job just as well. Again, please check prices in your area.

1. Band-Aids. For years I tried different store brands in an effort to save money. The individual strips were hard to open and the plastic was of such a poor quality that it would tear. I had all but given up when I discovered Medi-Care at my local dollar store. They are sterile, open easily and stay put. My store has them in packages of 60 regular or clear, five large size and children's cartoon designs. Johnston and Johnston bandages cost $3.27 for a package of 40 or a package of 10 large. The larger, patch type band-aids are 20 cents each at the dollar store. The brand-name ones, at the price I saw, would be about 33 cents each. The off-brands won't "cling in soapy suds" but under normal circumstances, they do the job very nicely, thank-you.

2. Purell hand sanitizer cost $4.87 for 237 ml bottle with a pump. The dollar store brand comes in a 236 ml. pump bottle for $3.87 less.

3. Anti-perspirant. The department store carries Dove Antiperspirant for $2.97. I tried and liked the dollar store brand which also goes on clear. I'm beyond caring about advertising hype. If a product works, it works, but this is definitely a more personal thing and only you know if a dollar store knock-off is right for you.

4. Disposable razors. These men's razors have three blades, an extra long handle with a good grip and a pivoting head. They come in a package of five for a buck. That's only 20 cents each. I saw 10-packs of Gillette disposables with pivoting heads for $6.46 or about 65 cents each. My husband, John, tried the dollar store razor and pronounced it "fine." My feeling is a razor blade is a razor blade is a razor blade.

5. Toothbrushes. The cheapest toothbrush I could find in the department store was a Colgate toothbrush with a tongue cleaner for $1.97. The two pack of no-names from the dollar store also have a tongue cleaner and nice handles. In my humble opinion, these are great toothbrushes for 50 cents each.

If you were to buy the name brand products mentioned, you'd be paying $19.54. The dollar store off-brands will only set you back $5 for the lot, a savings of $14.54.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes regular columns about budget decorating using only items from the dollar store.


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