Home Items You Should Never Buy At Target

Did you know that 75% of people in the U.S. can drive to a Target store in about 10 minutes? That's right — it has stores in every state and sells everything from food to sneakers to home appliances. A typical "Target run" can leave you with an overflowing shopping cart and a long receipt, but are you getting the best bang for your buck? You can't go wrong when buying things like cleaning supplies and toys here, but like other big box retailers, having so many product categories can go hand-in-hand with fewer offerings in each. And since Target is not a high-end retail outlet, you won't be finding things like fine art and $500 place settings there.

Since Target sells such a large variety of retail goods, it's just not possible to have every box checked on your shopping list each time you need to buy things. Reader's Digest claims that the store "specializes in almost everything," but some selections can be limited. Its online inventory is definitely more extensive, but many shoppers prefer to see the products in person. Either way, it helps to know which items not to shop for at Target before getting started. It is the right place to buy certain things for your home, like cleaning supplies, small appliances, school supplies, and dorm room bedsheets. For other staples and larger items, you might do better at other outlets.

Shop for large furniture elsewhere

Target has living room, bedroom, office, dining room, and kitchen furniture, but it is more comparable to what you'll see at IKEA than at Ethan Allen. When shopping for furniture, remember that solid wood pieces are more durable than fiberboard and that you will pay more for stronger materials. If you want higher-end or vintage pieces for less, you might have better luck at HomeGoods or a furniture outlet store. These can be hit-or-miss, though, so shopping at a regular furniture store can yield more choices and educated shopping advice from on-site sales associates. For that kind of service and selection, Wit & Delight recommends West Elm, Akron Street, CB2, and, yes, IKEA.

Target's furniture can work well in dorm rooms, playrooms, and basements. You may also want to look at its office furniture if you're in the market for that. Remember, the pieces here will not be heirlooms that last for generations and will be handed down to your great-grandchildren. They will serve their purposes, and you won't have to get as upset if scratches and dents appear. You can also spruce up your decor with some of Target's accent pieces, like ottomans and coffee tables. It also sells nursery furniture like cribs and rocking chairs.

Furniture stores generally offer fee-based delivery service, but will sometimes provide this at no cost. Some of Target's furniture can also be shipped, while others must be picked up. This information can be found on the product description pages on its website. If you're lucky, you may be able to snag free shipping, as with this $350 library cabinet.

Target also offers an at-home assembly service by Handy, and you can pay for this in advance when purchasing your furniture. It charges different fees for the services, and more complicated projects are priced higher. For example, it charges $68.99 to assemble a medium-sized piece of furniture and $106.99 for a dresser assembly.

The TV selection can be lacking

When it comes to selection, appliances and electronics chains like Best Buy often have more extensive inventories and more competitive prices than what you see at Target. These chains often have viewing rooms where you can watch and compare the different models while relaxing on a chair or sofa. Kim Komando adds that Best Buy is also likely to have more home theater options and that the staff may be better equipped to answer your more technical questions. You might even be able to negotiate a better bottom line at a chain store, but check the competitors' prices first. However, you can find plenty of small electronics at Target, like cameras, computers, and cell phones, and usually for a great price. Be sure to download its app and check out your Target Circle offers in addition to the "top deals." The Circle offers are usually customized toward what you're shopping for, so you might get an unexpected 20% off coupon.

Target does have a decent return and exchange policy for electronics purchases. Like many retailers, this window is shorter than for other products it sells. You can return or exchange electronics and entertainment items within 30 days if you have the receipt. With most other unopened items it sells, you have up to 90 days to make an exchange or return. However, if you purchase a TV from Target from October 6 through December 25, that 30-day window for electronics does not start until December 26 in accordance with its extended holiday return policy. This is good to know, as many people buy these as holiday gifts. 

Target's store brand paper towels: Thinner isn't always better

When it comes to paper towels, Target's budget-conscious Up & Up and Smartly brands are not always that much cheaper than familiar names like Bounty. And even if you think you are getting a deal, those store-brand sheets can be thinner when made with fewer fibers. Few things are as frustrating as having a paper towel shred up when trying to clean up a messy spill! 

What about the pricing, though? A dozen-pack (669 square feet total) of Bounty Essentials double paper towels is $15.69, while a similar Up & Up version with 12 rolls is $14.99 for 530 square feet. Remember: The thinner the paper towels are, the more you will need. So if you're tearing off two or more from the roll to clean up your messes each time, you will run out much sooner and have to head out to buy more. 

There are other brands that perform better than the Up & Up versions, too. Wise Bread explains that paper towels need to be strong when wet, gentle enough so they won't scratch anything, and absorbent. It mentions Bounty as a favorite, and also Brawny, VIVA, Sparkle, and Scott. You can also choose the "select-a-size," "pick-a-size," and "multi-size" versions for all of these brands, which allow you to use less or more depending on the clean-up job at hand. So instead of just buying paper towels in bulk, get quality ones so you'll have less waste and more cleaning-up power.

DIYers can shop elsewhere for home improvement items

Target sells home improvement items like shower faucets and hammers, but not specialty items like cut lumber, certain paint colors, and metal finishing. Home centers and hardware stores will be more likely to have what you need, and the employees might be more knowledgeable about those products and how to use them. If you're planning to make a Target run and need things like a new light fixture, nails, or grout, it will most likely have these basics at slightly inflated prices. Looking for a specific part to repair your front door could be an exercise in futility, though.

The Money Pit adds that independently-owned hardware stores are good places to visit when you need advice on planning your project and choosing the right supplies. Often, these shop owners and their store associates thoroughly understand home improvement tasks and products. And if you need a specific part that the same manufacturer makes as your faucet or window, you can try searching online first to find what you need. 

It's unlikely that you'll see home improvement contractors shopping for supplies at Target, so do yourself a favor and shop at hardware stores as the professionals do. Few things are as frustrating as not finding the supplies you need when you're in the middle of a home improvement project — and having to head back to the store because you bought the wrong item.

Don't buy these if you hate doubling up on garbage bags

While generic store brands can save consumers money much of the time, it is worth paying more for brand-name garbage bags, which are usually stronger. If a trash bag fails while carrying it out to your trash can, you will have a big mess on your hands. Cheaply made ones can break and stink up your trash can, according to The Strategist. Generic and store-brand garbage bags frequently need to be doubled up to prevent those problems, so you can end up using more at a time. Some of The Strategist's top brands include Glad and Hefty, also sold at Target.

The price differences between the store's brand and the more prominent names are not that different, as long as you read the packages to ensure how many you are getting inside. At $9.99 for 60, Target's Up & Up 13-gallon drawstring kitchen garbage bags get 3.7 stars on SheSpeaks and four stars from Target reviewers. These cost .16 a bag. You'll pay $12.59 for 45 Glad ForceFlex 13-gallon drawstring bags — or nearly .30 a bag – but these have a higher rating. Or, get a box of 50 Hefty Ultra Strong Fabuloso 13-gallon trash bags for $10.99, which will cost .22 a bag. Be sure to note the different package sizes when shopping since one might be 60 bags while another might be 50, and so forth.

It might not be the best place to buy kitchen appliances

Be advised that if you head to Target with plans to purchase a large fridge, stove, or oven, you will leave empty-handed. Target does not sell large kitchen appliances like stoves and dishwashers, and its selection of refrigerators is pretty much restricted to compact models and mini-fridges. It has a decent selection of small appliances like microwaves, slow cookers, and air fryers, though. You might also want to check out its selection of high-end wine coolers if you're in the market for one of those. But for full-size fridges/freezers, RV and Playa recommends shopping at a retailer specializing in large appliances. These stores will have the models you're looking for, but you might have to wait a while to get items that are out of stock. Delivery will cost extra in most cases, but the cost of removing the old appliance is often included.

However, you will find many air fryers, bread makers, coffee makers, food processors, indoor grills, and other small appliances at Target. The prices can be competitive, and you can comparison shop at other retailers before making your purchases. One more word of advice: Take measurements of your space and bring them with you when shopping for things like dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, and so forth.

Its special cooking and baking supplies selection is skimpy

While you can find basics like sheet pans and mixing bowls in its aisles, Target is not primarily known for specialized cooking and baking tools like unusual cookie cutters and potato ricers. You might be able to locate a few things like this on its website, but its in-store inventories will likely have even less. Experienced chefs and bakers know that these products can be easily found at online specialty stores. So if you are in the market for these supplies, Kitchn likes five websites: Layer Cake Shop, FancyFlours, KitchenKrafts, Bake it Pretty, and NY Cake.

Of course, not everyone is a gourmet chef, so if you only need basics like a rolling pin, quality cookie sheets, and mixing bowls, Target will have what you need. Don't wait until the last minute to order specialized cooking and baking supplies, no matter where you purchase them from, though, as they might be out of stock. Plus, you will need to wait on delivery time. As far as gourmet ingredients go, Target does offer a limited selection. AllRecipes likes Target's Good & Gather private food label, but check online first to see its offerings. Here you can find things like black truffle oil and imported cheese.

Stick with brand-name water purification pitchers and filters

CNET posts that water purification filters and pitchers can improve your drinking water's quality and taste, and claims that these products are very easy to use. On top of that, these simple systems can save you a lot of money otherwise spent on bottled water, and they produce almost no waste. Target sells a variety of water purification pitchers and replacement filters, including two of its store-brand water filter pitchers: a 10-cup capacity for $27.99 and a 35-cup version for $29.99. The store also carries other brands like Brita, PUR, and ZeroWater.

Good Housekeeping reports that Brita's Everyday Water Filter Pitcher with Longlast Filter is its "best overall pick" and also its cheapest pick since its price and filter replacements are budget-conscious. With this in mind, you might as well shell out a little more for better quality. You can upgrade to Brita's 10-cup Stream Rapids pitcher, which Target has for $36.99. This one fits neatly in refrigerator doors and has an electric indicator.

Get arts and crafts supplies at large craft stores

While Target has a good selection of back-to-school supplies like pencils and paper, its arts and crafts department can be small in comparison. You'll find better selections at large craft stores, which have more categories and larger inventories with things like oil paints, textiles, fabrics, and metal stamping kits. Insider points out that while some art supplies can be pricey, you need not spend a lot of money to get quality materials, so shopping at discount retail stores is not always necessary. Things like canvas and oil paint sets will cost more, but you will see the results in your finished work.

If you just want to make some basic and inexpensive holiday crafts, Target stocks up on these supplies when those special days are approaching. You can also find reasonable prices on things like white glue, scissors, children's craft kits, and crayons. The retailer might be getting more into the arts and crafts game, too. USA Today reported that in 2021, Target launched its Mondo Llama arts and crafts brand, which is geared toward families. The best advice here is to shop at Target for basic crafts supplies and visit craft stores when you need more variety and higher-end quality.

Target's store-brand sheets might not be snooze-worthy

Well-made sheets, comforters, and blankets are essential for a good night's sleep, and you will be able to feel the difference when you pay a bit more for quality. Target has a wide selection of bedding at different price points, and its store brands for this category include Room Essentials, Threshold, CGK Unlimited, and Color Sense. Its Threshold fitted sheets start at $15 for twin-sized, and you will want to get a matching flat sheet (same price) to go with it. Target's website shows a queen 400-thread count set by Threshold for $65.00 and another one by CGK Unlimited on sale for $89.99. 

If you plan on spending that much or more on its higher-end sheets, it might be better to shop at a linen store or a department store specializing in bedding. According to Vero Linen, luxury sheets can last from 10 to 12 y ars if properly laundered and stored. They have a higher grade of cotton, making them last decades rather than a few years. According to HGTV, sticking with 100% cotton is not mandatory. Modern processing techniques have improved fabrics like polyester, and sheets made from this can feel incredibly soft. They are also less likely to wrinkle, which is an added bonus. 

Some of Target's branded bed linens can be perfect y fine, but you might want to splurge elsewhere for sheets that feel softer and last longer. For guest rooms and dorm rooms, though, Wirecutter likes Target's 400-thread Threshold twin XL set. These can do the job they are made for and can be donated or tossed after school is over. College students are not known for caring for their bedding, and guest room sheets don't get as much use. To make all of your sheets last longer, be sure to follow the laundering instructions on the labels.