After tons of research, here are the 50 most clever & useful things under $30

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by Christina X. Wood

When most people are watching Netflix or napping on the couch, I’m here contemplating the best tool for chopping herbs, drying dishes, lighting the closet, or organizing the house. So when someone asks me if I’ve seen the latest Witcher or what I think of what just happened in The Expanse, I might be stumped. But I will be able to tell you how to spend your hard-earned dollars well when it comes to charging your phone or organizing your car. So, after tons of research, here are the 50 most clever and useful things under $30 on Amazon.

You won’t want to miss this fast, wireless phone charger that holds your phone at a useful angle, for example, if you’re tired of clutter on your bedside table. And there isn’t a room in your house that wouldn’t benefit from these magnetic hooks that stick to anything metal to hold your towel, utensils, or face cloth. And, if you love to write on paper and also love having all your notes editable and stored online, you need to know about this reusable notebook that is the best of both worlds.

So turn off the streaming for a minute and shop. I’ve already done all the work and, I’m telling you, you want some of this stuff.

1. A tiny strainer for canned foods

Instead of risking a slicing injury by jamming the sharp lid into your tuna can, use this clever strainer instead. It lets you press down to remove the liquid from your canned tuna or chicken (to pour right into kitty’s bowl, perhaps?) and works well for rinsing and straining canned vegetables. Just snap it right over the top of the can.

2. These 6 motion-triggered lights for all the dark corners

Brighten every dark corner by sticking these puck-shaped, motion-triggered lights to the inside of dark cabinets, under shelves, at the corners of a dark stairway, or in closets. The bright LEDs will come on when you approach and turn off when you leave. Since they are battery-operated, you don’t have to worry about plugs or wiring.

3. These padded silicone socks for your furniture

Slip these stretchy, silicone socks over the bottom of the chair or table legs to silence the disagreeable scraping of leg against floor. Since they fit tightly to the leg, they won’t fall off like adhesive protectors. And the felted sole protects floors from scratching. There are 32 pieces so you can do the entire house.

4. A roll-up dish drying rack that goes right over the sink

This simple tool — a set of metal rods wrapped in food-grade silicone — is poised to become an important one in your kitchen. Unroll it over the sink and set dishes, or fruits and vegetables, on it to drip dry after washing. Set it on the counter and use it as a hot trivet for pans or a place for cookies or bread to cool. When you aren’t using it, roll it up and slip it in a drawer.

5. The bamboo book stand that makes reading easier

When you’re reading — whether it’s a cookbook, tablet, textbook, or pages you’re transcribing — set your material on this bamboo book stand and adjust it to the perfect viewing angle so it’s easier to see and your hands are free. Two clips mounted to the front hold pages open and the whole stand folds flat for storage.

6. These quick & effective herb-cutting scissors

Instead of trying to chop herbs on a cutting board, use this five-bladed scissor tool to whip through large quantities quickly and precisely. The five blades cut small, evenly-minced pieces, and come with a fitted comb for removing greenery from between the blades. There’s also a cover case included that protects the blades when the unit is stored in a drawer.

7. A tiny clip-on trash can for small spaces

Hang this small trash can over the top of a cupboard to create an easy place to toss the castoffs from chopped veggies while cooking, or as a simple and handy trash can in a tiny bathroom. It folds up for storage, has a clip to hold a grocery bag or small trash bag securely, and also stands on its own.

8. A stainless steel magnetic rack for organized kitchen tools

Mount this 16-inch long stainless steel magnetic rack to the wall, a cabinet, or wherever it’s handy, to give yourself an easy place to both display and store knives or any metal kitchen tools. It works well for garage tools, too. It helps keeps blades sharp, frees up drawers, and makes your workspace more convenient.

9. The 20-ounce YETI tumbler for all your beverages

Pour your coffee into this big, 20-ounce YETI Rambler tumbler and it will stay hot all day. Wash it out and switch to water and it your cold beverage will still have ice tomorrow. The lid is secure — held closed by magnets — and it comes in 26 colors. The color coatings are super durable and will go with you anywhere.

10. This clever magnetic key rack that goes in a light switch

This genius solution to the universal question “Where should I store my keys?” comes in the form of two super strong magnets. They simply replace the screws in the faceplates of your light switches. A two-switch faceplate near the front door is a perfect place to create a handy spot for keys and leashes, though you could also dot them in one-switch faceplates around the home.

11. The chopper that quickly turns veggies into the shape you desire

Want to add some punch to your salads or stir-fries? This vegetable chopper with four blades lets you chop, slice , or spiralize everything from carrots and onions to zucchini and apples quickly. The clear bin catches your creations — and stores them — and a safety handle keeps your skin away from the sharp edges.

12. An organizer for all your storage container lids

End the interminable hunt for the right lid for your lunch container by creating order out of storage chaos. This smart storage lid organizer is a game changer. You can adjust the width of each separator to suit your collection, and it stands all the lids on their side so you can easily see them all at once.

13. The permanent solution to jar-opening woes

You can forever stop struggling to get jars open by installing this brilliant jar-opening solution under a cabinet. Instead of trying all the tricks on the internet to open your jar, just slide it into this triangle with grippy edges till it stops. Then turn. The clever design will accommodate everything from small condiment jars to big pickle jars, and you can use both hands to turn if necessary.

14. These coat hangers that expand your closet space

These clever hangers turn what was space for only one garment into space for five. Hang it in your closet and hook your current clothes hangers into the five slots. Then remove one end from the closet rod so these space savers drop and hang vertically. They turn your clothes into a series of five-garment displays.

15. This magnet that alerts everyone to the state of the dishes

Add a bit of functional decor to the front of your dishwasher with this sliding magnetic sign. Slide it over to “clean” when you run the dishwasher, and back to “dirty” when you unload it. No one will ever stand there wondering if it’s okay to drop a dirty dish in. It looks cute in either setting and over 12,000 people give it five stars.

16. A hilarious method for cleaning the microwave

Angry Mom looks like a toy, but she is actually a very clever and effective microwave cleaning tool. Fill her with water, pop her in, and microwave away. The water turns to steam and makes it look as if she’s blowing her top. But when she calms down, all the crud in your microwave will be soft and easy to wipe off.

17. The handy shelf that clips to your bed

If you sleep in a bunk bed, have a small bedroom, or just have no room for an end table, this bedside shelf clamps securely to the side of your bed and gives you a place to put a book, glass of water, and your phone. There are three adjustable screw-down clamps underneath, it holds 50 pounds, and comes in black or white.

18. A set of 6 magnetic hooks for all your tools

Stick these magnetic hooks to the side of your fridge, metal shelves, microwave, or filing cabinet to create storage for all the things you want to keep handy. The super-strong magnets will hold up to 50 pounds, and the steel hooks add a nice decorative touch while they do their work.

19. This elegant insulated tumbler with two different lid styles

This 20-ounce double-wall insulated tumbler is everything you want in an everyday drinking container. It keeps coffee hot for hours. Ice in your water will stay frozen overnight. The flip-top sip lid doesn’t leak when you put it in a bag. And its additional straw lid is perfect for iced coffee and smoothies. It comes in 37 colors.

20. A clip-on strainer that’s easier & saves space

If your kitchen is too small to accommodate a giant colander just for times when you need to strain water from a pot, snap this clip-on strainer directly to the pot instead. Straining water from pasta becomes a swift operation, and the strainer is small and so easy to store. It comes in four colors and is made of heat-resistant silicone.

21. A 2-pack of webcam covers so no one can see in

Want to be absolutely certain that no one is peering into your home through your webcam? This is very easy to mitigate. Just peel-and-stick one of these webcam covers over the lens, and slide the cover to the closed position. It doesn’t affect the use of your webcam because you can slide it right open again. But it does make sure that even if someone hacks into your camera, they won’t see a thing.

22. The battery organizer with a built-in meter

Keep all your spare batteries organized and save yourself the hassle of installing ones past their prime with this battery-storage case complete with a battery meter. Keep it in a drawer or mount it to a wall so you can quickly see what batteries you have on hand. And, before you use any of them, touch them to the tester and make sure they’re good to go.

23. A memo board & phone holder for your monitor

Mount this clear acrylic memo board to the side of your computer monitor for a place to post reminders and appointments right where you can easily glance at them. There’s a ledge on the bottom to hold your phone and a clip at the top so it doubles as a document holder. It’s a one-stop office shop.

24. The phone stand that’s also a fast wireless charger

Save yourself the end-of-day hassle of fiddling a puny plug into a tiny port and set your phone down on this charging phone stand instead. It holds your device at an angle that makes it more useful as an alarm clock while charging. It works with any Qi-compatible phone and juices up phones quickly.

25. This fob that keeps track of your keys

This little keyfob will solve all your lost-key problems. Just attach it to your keychain (or whatever you tend to lose) and connect it to your phone via Bluetooth. Misplaced the keys? Look at the map on your phone and it will show you where they were last seen. If they’re within Bluetooth range, you can tap your phone to make the fob beep. If they’re further away, you can tap into the anonymous Tile network to be alerted if someone finds them.

26. A gooseneck tablet holder for hands-free viewing

This flexible tablet holder will keep your tablet precisely where you want it for optimal viewing while doing video calls, watching your shows, reading recipes or music notation, or whatever you might use your tablet for. A clamp holds the mount securely to a counter or desk, the strong gooseneck is flexible but holds your tablet steady, and adjustable arm clips hold phones or large tablets firmly. It rotates so you can view the screen in landscape or portrait positions.

27. This cloud-saving notebook you can keep using forever

When you jot notes in this 36-page dot-grid notebook, you can also send them to the cloud — to Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, Slack, or wherever you like — and they will land transcribed and searchable. So, you don’t have to give up pen and paper in order to have notes you can edit and forward. Even better? When the notebook is full, wipe it clean and start again.

28. The labeler with a full QWERTY keyboard

Labeling file folders, spices, plants, gifts, and everything else that could use identification is a particular joy, and this labeler is everything you want for the job. The full QWERTY keyboard means you can label at top speed and can change fonts, line numbers, and the size of the letters with a touch of a button. It’s battery operated so you can pull it out and start labeling instantly. Nearly 20,000 label-lovers give it five stars.

29. This set of plugs that makes outlets smart and works with Alexa or Google Home

These four smart plugs let you set schedules and turn appliances on or off from anywhere via an app on your smartphone. Connected to Alexa or Google Home, you can use your voice to control everything. Who doesn't want to wake up in the morning, shout “Good morning!” and have the coffee brew, the music start, the lights turn on, and the heater begin to warm the breakfast nook while you catch 10 more minutes of sleep?

30. A portable charger for all your devices

This pocket-sized charger will power everything from your phone to your headphones wherever you are. It trickle charges small devices while amping up the charge for your power-hungry phone. And it’s so small you’ll forget it’s in your bag till you need it. It comes in black or white and gets over 32,000 five-star reviews.

31. This car phone mount you can install 3 ways

You can install this phone stand by suctioning it to the dash or windshield, clipping it to the vent, or by dropping it into the cup holder. That means it will fit whatever car you have, and morph for whatever driving situation is happening. It cradles your phone gently, turns the screen 360 degrees, and the height and angle are super adjustable.

32. This cleaning gel that’s much easier than dusting

Whether you’re detailing your car or cleaning your desk, this cleaning gel is the key to getting it done quickly (and with a little Play-Doh-like joie de vivre). Just roll some in your hand, squish it into all the hard-to-reach crevices, and pull it out full of crud. It’s fast, easy, smells like lavender, and is reusable.

33. A set of hooks that creates storage in your car

Instead of tossing your bag, groceries, and jacket onto the back seat, hang them all from these hooks that clip over the back of the headrests. They are nearly invisible when not in use, but so handy for storage. There are four in a package and you can choose black or beige to complement your interior.

34. An expander so your cup holder can manage big cups

Instead of letting your huge water bottle roll around on the floor of your car, drop this cup-holder adapter into place and, presto, your bottle now fits. It expands the diameter that a cup holder can accommodate up to almost four inches. Installing it is as simple as plopping it into the holder.

35. A trunk organizer so your gear is tidy back there

Clean up the trunk and stop all your sundries rolling around when you take corners by installing this trunk organizer. There’s a big, divided interior, lots of pockets around the outside in an assortment of sizes, and a tie-down clip to hold it in place. You can lift all your gear out at once with the two sturdy handles.

36. This travel backpack that has thought of everything

From the charger port that lets you charge your phone on the go, to the expanding water-bottle pockets, to the strap to keep the pack secure on your roll aboard suitcase, this roomy travel backpack punches well above its price point. The padded back, adjustable straps, top handle, and front hanging clasps make it comfortable to carry, and the many pockets keep your gear in order.

37. The infinity scarf with a hidden pocket

No pockets? This infinity scarf has one, and it’s a super handy place to keep your phone, a spare mask, your valuables while traveling, or a pair of earbuds. The knitted jersey scarf is cozy, comes in nine colors, and the secure, zippered pocket is big enough to hold a smartphone, your wallet, and keys.

38. These slippers that clean the floors

When you’re wearing these microfiber slippers, shuffling around the house will actually clean your floors (in addition to being just precious). The long chenille fingers in the sole grab dirt, dust, and spills. Or, you can spray the floor with a cleaner and shuffle through that. The slippers are adorable and comfy, and come in 16 styles, too.

39. A rechargeable electric callus remover

If your feet are cracked, rough, and covered in calluses, this waterproof foot buffer is about to become your favorite self-care tool. Charge it in any USB port, soak and then dry your feet, turn on the callus remover, and gently apply it to your rough heels. It works quickly to bring your feet to softness. And you can keep using it regularly until your feet are smooth as a baby’s.

40. This exfoliating shower kit for softer skin

Take this exfoliating scrubber kit into the shower and get to all the hard-to-reach places. The fabric easily lathers up and the loofah-like texture removes dirt and dead skin. Wear the gloves to scrub feet that have worked hard in work boots or elbows that need some TLC. The back scrubber — with handles — will reach wherever you need it.

41. A multitool that fits in your wallet

Remove some irritation from your life by always having the tool you need for whatever comes up within easy reach. This wallet-sized multitool has a screwdriver, bottle opener, box opener, can opener, cellphone stand, eyeglass screwdriver, fruit peeler, hex wrenches, and a ruler, among other things, on a clearly labeled, steel card that fits in a credit card slot in your wallet.

42. These LED gloves that will become your superpower

Pull on this pair of flashlight gloves, slide under the sink, and fix that leak without first shouting, “Can someone hold a light for me?” These have powerful LEDs in both the thumb and forefinger, and an easy-to-reach on/off switch on the back of the hand so you can shine light wherever you’re working. The wrist straps adjust so they fit any size hand.

43. This gap-eliminating hack for your car

Ever dropped your keys or phone between the seat and the console? Getting them back requires the limberness of a gymnast — and is dangerous if you’re driving. This neoprene gap filler makes that chasm go away. Just fit it in between the console and seat, thread the seatbelt buckle through the hole, and it will stop everything — even your pocket change — from disappearing under the seat. This set includes two so you can fix the gap on both front seats.

44. This pet fur remover that works quickly & easily

If you have pets, you have fur in places you don’t want it. You have also, probably, already tried a lot of ways to mitigate it. But this ChomChom roller works. Roll it back and forth on any fabric — furniture, clothing, or carpets — that’s covered in fur and it will remove it and stash it in the chamber behind the roller. Just empty that bin and keep going. Nearly 72,000 people give it five stars.

45. This long-reach grabber for picking up anything

When that piece of trash is too far away or you dropped your keys somewhere out of reach, this long-reach grabber makes retrieval fun. The arm extends to 32 inches, the grabber rotates 360 degrees, a magnet on the end makes grabbing keys and other metal items a snap, and the ergonomic trigger is easy to pull.

46. A place to set a drink on the arm of your chair

When there is nowhere handy to set a drink near your armchair or couch, this natural wood, sofa-arm table is the perfect solution. Just drape it over the arm of the chair. It holds on with a non-skid fiber underbelly and provides a felt-top tray for your drink, phone, or remote(s).

47. An oil sprayer for easy cooking with better oils

When a recipe calls for spray, you can use whatever oil you prefer by putting it in this oil-sprayer bottle. It distributes a light, even coat of oil on baking pans, meats, or whatever you plan to grill. It’s an effective, and less wasteful, way to dress a salad or oil a sandwich for grilling. There’s no pumping or hassle. Just press the large spray button and aim it at your food or pan.

48. The long, skinny spatula that gets the last bit out of jars

This skinny silicone spatula is perfectly designed for getting the last bit of mayo or peanut butter out of the jar. It’s formed all in one shape so there are no difficult-to-clean crevices, the handle is over 11 inches long, it’s made from heat-resistant silicone, and the steel core gives it strength and durability.

49. A hand-crank grater and mandoline for fast kitchen prep

Run everything from cheese to nuts to vegetables through this hand-crank grater to turn them into ground, chopped, sliced, or julienned pieces quickly. Just choose the right circular blade, put the food in through the feeder, and turn the handle. Your hands never touch the blades and it’s super fast.

50. A set of 4 collapsible funnels

Arm your kitchen with every size of funnel that you are ever likely to need with this bright and colorful set of collapsible, silicone funnels in large and small sizes. They store easily in a drawer and you will turn to them constantly for filling to-go bottles or mixing beverages.

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