5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Photo by Dmitri Ma / Shutterstock.com

What’s in a name? Well, in the case of many brand-name products like bleach, mostly marketing costs.

We consumers are easily swayed by ads that portray products as somehow more effective, more prestigious or of higher quality when in fact there are store-brand or no-name products that are essentially identical and cheaper. We identify plenty of them in “32 Products You Should Always Buy Generic.”

But there are exceptions, times when going upmarket or with a known brand does make sense, even if it costs a little extra.

Take the following products for example. In these cases, spending a little more means better flavor, higher quality, less hassle or less risk.

1. Laundry detergent

We’re not saying you need to use laundry detergent. Some say you’ll get decent results omitting soap entirely, as we report in “3 Easy Ways to Get Laundry Soap for Nearly Nothing.” The article also includes a budget-friendly recipe for making your own laundry soap.

If you’re not convinced that you can forgo detergent, or prefer to buy your laundry soap off the shelf, it’s good to stick with the top brand names.

The Spruce compared laundry detergents recently. Every one of the home publication’s top 10 recommendations is a brand-name product.

One more benefit of a premium laundry soap: It can double as a stain remover.

A recent Consumer Reports test pitted two brand-name detergents — Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release and Persil ProClean Stain Fighter — against six spray-on laundry stain removers (all of which happened to be brand-name products as well).

Pretreating stains with the detergents was more effective than five of the stain removers and came close to matching the other stain remover, OxiClean MaxForce.

In fact, Consumer Reports noted the detergents “came close enough to the cleaning power of the OxiClean MaxForce that some people might want to use these detergents to pretreat stains and wash your laundry.”

2. Electric toothbrush head replacements

Should you pay more to buy brand-name replacements for your electric toothbrush heads? The Wirecutter reports:

“In short: Yes.”

What’s at stake? In many ways, the generics that The Wirecutter tested were just as good. They fit nicely on the toothbrushes and had the same colored rings that help you identify your brush head from another family member’s. The difference was in the feel.

The heads — as you know if you use an electric toothbrush — should be soft enough to avoid irritating your gum tissue. The Wirecutter, a product comparison site owned by The New York Times, concluded after spending six months testing generic and brand-name heads that Oral-B and Philips Sonicare heads are best, especially because they are gentler on the gums than generics.

Marcelo Araujo, vice president of the Science Institute at the American Dental Association, told The Wirecutter:

“Soft is a layman term we use to say that [the toothbrush is] safe.”

3. Liquid dish soap

If you’ve washed many dishes, you know that suds matter and that wimpy, watery dish soaps may be cheap, but they don’t do the job.

Good Housekeeping, long an arbiter of household products, recently named Dawn Platinum Dishwashing Soap as overall best after testing dish detergents.

GH says Dawn Platinum is so concentrated that it cleans twice as many dishes, concluding:

“Dawn cuts grease and cleans so well that it’s the gold standard we hold others to in GH Cleaning Lab tests.”

4. House paint

“You get what you pay for” with house paint, professional painters told The Wirecutter.

The best paints require fewer coats to cover, last longer and simply look better than cheaper paints, the site found. Half of its panel of eight professional painters named Benjamin Moore Regal Select as their top choice.

Lower-quality paints contain a lower percentage of essential pigments and binders, The Spruce learned in its testing of interior house paints. It’s conclusion: The best quality paints are from Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, Valspar and Behr.

5. Ice cream

Store brand ice cream? Good for saving money. Often good for reducing calories.

If you’re in pursuit of the best flavor, though, don’t veer from premium brands, whether big ones like Häagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s, Talenti or Blue Bell (to name a few) or your local creamery’s finest products.

A peek at the label should reveal just a few ingredients: milk, cream, sugar and maybe eggs, plus the natural flavorings, crunchies and crumbles you love.

What brand-name products have earned your loyalty? Share with us in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score
7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score

A seemingly small stumble can cause your credit score to plummet.

7 Unexpected Perks of Downsizing as a Retiree
7 Unexpected Perks of Downsizing as a Retiree

Downsizing your home offers many benefits, including some you may not have anticipated.

7 Ways to Save Even More at Dollar Stores
7 Ways to Save Even More at Dollar Stores

Yes, it’s possible to pay less than a buck for items from a dollar store. Here’s how.

5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail

Here’s how to keep unwanted mail from clogging your mailbox and trash can.

8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress
8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Current events have you feeling anxious? These Amazon products can take the edge off.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

5 Ways Joe Biden Wants Social Security to Change
5 Ways Joe Biden Wants Social Security to Change

Here’s where Biden — as well as Trump — stands on the future of the Social Security retirement system.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them
15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.