We all feel it. The impact inflation has on our monthly budgets is noticeable. Even when we stick to buying necessities, the bills just keep growing. Many consumers are looking for ways to save on basic household expenses. One of the easiest ways to cut back on spending is to swap to generic brands wherever possible.

Making the swap is easy if you know which products to buy to get the same quality for a lower cost. We’re here to help. Here are our picks for the generic household essentials that can save you the most money. We’ll also share the best generic grocery items and paper products in this money-saving series.


Cleaning Products

generic cleaning bottles in caddy

Generic cleaning products kill germs as effectively as name brands. You'll want to confirm that the product has a registration number from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the label.

The EPA reviews and registers household cleaning essentials that are effective against common pathogens. A product that has an EPA registration number has gone through testing to prove that the product protects against the germs it claims. Use the EPA’s search tool to review a product’s registration. This will confirm that the EPA has approved the product’s claims for disinfecting.


generic brand sunscreen spray

The most important things on a sunscreen label are SPF and broad-spectrum protection. The SPF should be at least 30. And you never want to choose sunscreen without broad-spectrum protection. Notice that the brand name is not included in either of these important factors. The FDA regulates both name-brand and generic sunscreen for safety and effectiveness. These regulations are also true for moisturizers and cosmetics that contain SPF.

CVS-brand sunscreens have gotten rave reviews when compared to their name-brand counterparts. Another favorite is Walmart’s Equate Sport Lotion SPF 50.

Over-the-Counter Medications

generic medication tablets

Big brands rely on our fear that generic will be somehow less effective than the name brand. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve all medications for safety and effectiveness, regardless of the brand.

Walmart offers a 100-count package of Tylenol Extra Strength 500mg gel caps for $11.47. Walmart’s own Equate brand has a 100-count extra strength 500mg pain reliever for $4.97. The active ingredient in both medications is 500 mg acetaminophen. The inactive ingredients do differ, but you’re paying for the active ingredient. You’re paying over 56% more for the name on the box, and you save over $7 by buying generic!

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generic batteries

Generic brand batteries will save you money. Whether they’re as powerful as their name-brand counterparts depends on the battery type and its use. Our tech experts, Mike Ahene and David Dritsas agree that generic batteries are a great budget buy. But this is only true when they’re used in low-powered items like toys, clocks, and TV remotes. For these items, you’ll always want to buy generic. When it comes to high-powered tech or items you use often, tests show that name-brand batteries do outperform generic brands.

Mike also suggests going with rechargeable batteries to save money in the long run. It’s a bigger investment, but you’ll spend less on batteries throughout the device’s lifetime. David advises that name brands like Energizer and Panasonic will outperform generic-brand rechargeable batteries in the long term.

Buying Generic Household Essentials

Buying generic brands will save you money. Read labels and confirm that the generic brand is comparable to the name brand you love. Work to change the mindset that brand names are better. This will help you start saving money on household essentials. If you do love snagging deals on brands you love, we can still help! Download our free app or set up deal alerts for your favorite brands to stay in the know about the best deals online.