As the holiday season sneaks up on the calendar, many of us already have a gift list going and are checking it twice.

But before the gift shopping begins, don’t forget to stock up on essential household items for when guests arrive.

We need things like toilet paper, batteries and dishwashing pods all year long, but they seem to disappear much faster in a house full of friends and family. Buying these household items in bulk may seem best if you can afford it and if you normally stop at a warehouse store to stock up.

But perusing AmazonBasics got me wondering whether buying online might be a better option. AmazonBasics is the company’s own brand of products that includes everything from electronics to home goods to garden items. Costco offers something similar in its Kirkland brand.

Where to shop for household items

Before we perform an in-depth cost-comparison for household basics, we’ll consider a few other factors.

Cost of membership

Both Costco and Amazon have membership options.

Costco’s least expensive yearly membership is $60 and you can’t purchase most items unless you have a membership.

An Amazon Prime membership costs $14.99 per month or $139 per year. For the purposes of this article, know that customers are able to buy most items on Amazon without an Amazon Prime membership, but may forego free shipping or quick delivery. The household items compared below would either need to be included in an order over $35 for quick shipping, or would take five days or longer to reach your home. 

Convenience

For some, the ease of home delivery will trump any other factor. Those in this camp are likely already Amazon Prime members and should consider AmazonBasics for household necessities.

But others may enjoy the browsing involved in shopping at Costco. Wandering up and down the aisles and maybe tasting a sample or two is something they like and they appreciate the option of happening upon an item they didn’t know they needed.

Use of voice assistant

If you own an Alexa-enabled device, you may enjoy being able to order Amazon items with your voice. You can simply say, “Alexa, order more toilet paper” for an easy purchase.

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Cost comparison: Costco vs. AmazonBasics

Once you consider factors like convenience, it’s time to think about item costs. Here is a breakdown of the costs of five household essentials and the pros and cons of each when ordering from AmazonBasics or Costco.

Dishwasher pods

AmazonBasics has an 85 count of dishwasher pods for $16.99 and Costco’s Kirkland brand is $13.99 for a 115 count. That makes the AmazonBasics pods $0.20 each, and Costco’s $0.12 each, a big $0.08 difference with each wash.

Costco wins here for giving you more pods per purchase at a cheaper cost.

AA batteries

Costco and AmazonBasics both offer a 48-pack of AA batteries: Costco’s comes in at $17.99 (making each battery $0.37), while the AmazonBasics pack costs $15.44 ($0.32 each).

Saving a nickel per battery adds up over time, plus Amazon’s batteries have a shelf-life of 12 years, while Costco’s only come in at 10 years. AmazonBasics wins this round.

Paper towels

Both AmazonBasics and Costco’s Kirkland brand offer packs of two-ply paper towels with the option to choose the size of the sheet. While Costco gives you slightly more sheets, Amazon comes in at $0.02 cheaper per sheet. A slight nod to Amazon on this one.

Toilet paper 

The toilet paper from both private label brands is also two-ply, and this time, Costco comes in $0.02 cheaper per sheet. Costco also gives you more sheets with each purchase. The winner is Costco.

Garbage bags

Both AmazonBasics and Costco’s Kirkland brand offer the option of buying 200 trash bags with a drawstring top at a time. Amazon charges $24.51 ($0.12 each) and Costco charges $20.49 (at $0.10 each.)

Although $0.02 per bag isn’t that big of a savings, the Kirkland brand wins this comparison for another reason: While both bags are 0.9 millimeters thick, the Costco offering has a 2-inch section at the top of each bag that thickens to 1.8 millimeters to create a reinforced top. That subtle design difference could save people a lot of time cleaning up after ripped bags.

Final considerations

Keep in mind that subscribing to one of these products on Amazon saves you another 5%. Subscription purchases can come to you as often as every two weeks or as spaced out as six months. If you subscribe to five or more products, Amazon gives you 15% off. 

But overall, the savings of buying from either AmazonBasics or Costco’s Kirkland brand isn’t drastically different. So your decision on where to shop may come down to the other factors mentioned above, specifically the personal joy you take in browsing and convenience.

If you shy away from brick-and-mortar stores, having Amazon deliver everything could be your choice. But if you like walking the aisles of a warehouse store and maybe grabbing a sample or two along the way, then Costco may be the right fit for you.