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Is Amazon the Cheapest Place to Buy Household Products? We Do the Math

We compared prices on a slew of household products from Amazon, Walmart and a popular grocery chain. The results will surprise you.

Cleaning products in a bucket
You might think you're saving money by buying household items on Amazon, but are you really?
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Household items may not have the pizazz of some other things you'll buy throughout the year, but trash bags, paper towels and toothpaste and soap are things we all need, and it's always better to be looking at them than looking for them. You may think Amazon is the cheapest place to buy household staples including toilet paper, body wash and cleaning products, but we wanted to put that theory to the test and the results were surprising. 

We Do the Math badge

For Amazon Prime members, ordering household supplies is easy and fast and the e-commerce giant's prices regularly appear cheaper than those at Walmart or the local supermarket. But are they? I did the math, comparing the cost of 25 household items when purchased from Amazon, Walmart and grocery chain Kroger

While Amazon proved slightly cheaper than Walmart, it turns out you'll actually save the most by buying your household items from Kroger (if you have one nearby) along with the rest of your groceries. Here's a full price breakdown. 

For more price comparisons, check out how much you can save by shopping at Trader Joe's, if it's cheaper to buy meal kits than groceries and if shopping for groceries online is less expensive than in the store.

Amazon vs. Walmart vs. Kroger


AmazonWalmartKroger
Cheapest






Overall total$254.86$261.19$218.78
Kroger






Bathroom items






Angel Soft toilet paper (8 rolls)

$7.30

$19.98

$7


Kroger

Colgate Total toothpaste (4-pack)

$13.34

$20.84

$14.98 (2 packs of 2)


Amazon

Softsoap Warm Vanilla and Coconut Milk

$2.48

$2.48

$3


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

Purell Hand Sanitizer

$9

$3.47

$4


Walmart

Tampax Pearl Regular (50-count)

$9.04

$9.04

$11.49


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

U by Kotex (40-count)

$9.27

$9.27

$11.08


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

Gillette Fusion 5 Razor Handle and 2 Blade Refills

$12.97

$12.97

$13


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

Old Spice deodorant

$4

$3.47

$3.69


Walmart

Dove Invisible Solid (2-pack)

$11.88

$6.88

$6.88


Tie: Walmart/Kroger

Barbasol shaving cream (4 units)

$19

$7.36

$6.76


Kroger

Suave Milk and Honey Body Wash

$2.19

$1.88

$2


Walmart

TRESemmé Rich Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner

$10.79

$9.98

$10.49


Walmart

Total$111.22$107.62$94.37
Kroger






Kitchen items






Bounty paper towels (6 rolls)

$28

$11.77

$11


Kroger

Cascade Platinum ActionPacs (62-count)

$19.67

$19.94

$22


Amazon

Dawn Platinum Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap

$3.49

$3.24

$3.59


Walmart

Scotch-Brite blue sponges (6-count)

$5.79

$6.06

$6.79


Amazon

Melitta coffee filters (200-count)

$13.93

$9.75

$3.49


Kroger

Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, 13 Gallon

$9.72

$9.72

$10


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

Ziploc Sandwich and Snack Bags (90-count)

$4.89

$13.40

$5.49


Amazon

Total$85.49$73.88$62.36
Kroger






Other household products






Clorox Concentrated Formula Regular Disinfecting Bleach

$6.39

$5.58

$6


Walmart

Windex Original Glass Cleaner

$3.48

$3.48

$4


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

Glade Cashmere Woods Air Freshener

$1

$0.97

$1.19


Walmart

Lysol Disinfectant Wipes (80-count)

$4.16

$4.16

$4.37


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

Lysol Disinfectant spray (2-pack)

$11.97

$11.97

$14


Tie: Amazon/Walmart

Tide Pods with OXI (61-count)

$21.24

$33.55

$21.49


Amazon

Gain Fabric softener (240-count)

$9.94

$19.98

$11


Amazon

Total$58.18$79.69$62.05
Amazon

How I did the math

To figure out where Amazon falls on the price spectrum, I picked 25 essentials a household of two might need at any given time. I looked at items my wife and I have around our house that we buy regularly to keep our home up and running. I came up with a list of these items, and then things got tricky. 

Some brands and quantities aren't sold across all three stores. Looking up "toilet paper" on Amazon will give you dozens of pages of results. You'll see Scott, Charmin and the Whole Foods 365 brand toilet paper in varying sizes. Do this same experiment for Walmart and Kroger and you might find that one store carries Scott but not Charmin and vice versa, and each store also has their own brand of toilet paper. If all three have the same brand of toilet paper, the quantities might be different between each store. 

I tried to find the same items with the same quantities across each store's website to make this as fair as possible. There was one instance (Colgate toothpaste) for one store (Kroger) where I had to add the price of two packs together to make the quantities equal for all three stores. Otherwise, I found each item in each online store. (A caveat: I looked up all these prices on the same day in November, but it's possible that they will fluctuate over time.) 

06-groceries-walmart

Shopping for groceries at Walmart can help you save, but not as much as you think.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why compare Amazon, Walmart and Kroger?

Amazon, Walmart and Kroger lead the online grocery market in the US, according to Statista. Walmart represents nearly 28% of grocery e-commerce sales, Amazon has about 21% and Kroger has about 10%. Kroger has also proposed a merger with grocery chain Albertsons, which would help bolster Kroger's online sales if it goes through.

Verdict: You can save more at Kroger despite not having the lowest prices on most items

The overall total for these 25 items at Kroger was $218.78. The total at Amazon was $254.86, and the total at Walmart was $261.19.

There were plenty of items that were cheaper on Amazon and Walmart, and the two tied for the lowest price of an item eight times. Kroger, by comparison, was only the cheapest option for four items, but Kroger maintained competitive prices for almost every other item. Where Kroger was the most expensive option for a given item, it wasn't significantly more expensive -- and ultimately saved you when you added it all up. 

The prices for some Amazon and Walmart items, on the other hand, were considerably higher. A six-pack of Bounty paper towels, for example, costs $28 on Amazon compared to Walmart's $11.77 and Kroger's $11. Similarly, eight rolls of Angel Soft toilet paper costs $19.98 at Walmart compared to Amazon's $7.30 and Kroger's $7.

What about the cost of membership programs?

I didn't include the cost of membership programs above because you don't need one to order these items from the three online stores. However, these memberships do offer fast shipping, and if you're going to buy all your items from one online store, it might save you money on shipping over time. 

If we include the cost of Amazon Prime, Walmart Plus and Kroger Boost, Kroger stays the cheapest, but Walmart takes second place and Amazon becomes the most expensive option.


Amazon PrimeWalmart PlusKroger Boost
Cheapest

Yearly membership

$139

$98

$100


Walmart







Overall total + yearly membership

$393.86

$359.19

$318.78


Kroger

If you buy all your household essentials at one place, you would save the most by buying them through Kroger. Even including the cost of membership programs, Kroger remains the cheapest.

For more, check out whether Costco is really cheaper than a grocery store and how much you can save with streaming services versus cable.

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