5 Useful Dollar Store Items Every Renter Should Have on Hand, According to the Pros

updated Feb 3, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

As a renter, you may not think much about home maintenance. But even if you don’t own your place, it’s a good idea to try to keep it in tip-top shape as best you can.

For one, your landlord will love you, which may even translate into keeping your rent from skyrocketing over time. Plus, when you do move out, you’re ensuring you’ll get that security deposit back in full, which will come in handy for moving costs or even your first mortgage payment if you take the plunge into home ownership.

Taking good care of your apartment is also just part of being a responsible tenant, and if and when you do a buy a home, you’ll already have some practice at maintaining your dwelling.

One place that can help you do that? The dollar store. It’s a magical spot where you can score bargains on everything from holiday decor to pantry staples, but it’s also where you can pick up a lot of the stuff you need to maintain your rental. We talked to some home maintenance experts to get their dollar store picks — here are five awesome finds they recommend renters should buy.

1. A mop

Ashley Peeling of CLV Group, a Canadian property management company, loves the dollar store for cleaning supplies, including essential tools like mops.

“For the most part, there’s not much of a difference between a $5 mop and a $30 one,” she says.

Why pay for a fancy (and expensive) mop, when a basic one will get the job done at a much lower price?

2. A plunger

Sooner or later, you’re going to need a plunger. When that time comes (ahem, probably in the middle of a dinner party!), you’ll be glad to have one on hand.

“They don’t call the plunger the ‘plumber’s helper’ for nothing,” says Mark Dawson, COO at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. “From overflowing toilets to clogged drains, your plunger is the plumbing tool you may find yourself reaching for most often. If you’re not familiar with proper plunger technique, take a moment to learn the ropes, and consider keeping a little tub of petroleum jelly, which can also be found at the dollar store, under the sink to help you plunge more effectively.”

Credit: Nor Gal/Shutterstock

3. Caulk

When it comes to small maintenance tasks or repairs, there are definitely some that you can DIY as a renter (with permission from your landlord). Nadira Foster-Williams of REAL New York recommends having caulk on hand for when you need to seal up the inevitable crack in the bathroom tiles or the tub.

“You don’t need to look further than your own two hands to do it on the cheap — and easily,” she explains.

4. Spackling paste

Spackling is another filler that Foster-Williams says will come in handy for renters.

“Things happen. That couch that seemed like it would be a seamless fit, but maybe hit a wall — literally, for example,” she says. “Spackling is a dollar store find that spreads easily and doesn’t shrink or crack when covering those oopsies.”

5. Pliers

As a renter, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a full-on toolkit with six different types of screwdrivers. However, Dawson recommends having a simple pair of pliers on hand for small jobs that require turning, tightening and loosening.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 5 Useful Dollar Store Items Every Renter Needs, According to the Pros