Some items in life just sit there gathering dust, forgotten and never used. Others, they become so essential you consider buying a backup in case they break or go missing. It’s weird and hard to conjecture. Price certainly isn’t a good predictor of a thing’s eventual usefulness. I’ve ignored expensive kitchen gadgets and fancy electronics, instead relying on cheap kitchen tools and tech items I bought on a whim. It’s the way with all aspects of life, which is one reason we love to hear about it when someone finds a cheap item so functional that it becomes essential. Want to hear lots of experience-based advice on this topic? Very vocal Amazon reviewers say they can't live without these 50 things under $25 that are ridiculously useful.
Take, for example, the insulated tumbler on this list. It’s not expensive. And it might seem like every other insulated tumbler (though not as pricy as some). But a combination of factors — the two lids with different functions, for example — make it so useful you’ll probably have it in your hand all day. Another good example is the silicone-bristled scalp massager. Maybe you never thought about owning such a device, but Amazon reviewers are waxing positively poetic about the thing, describing it as both necessary and blissful. And, when it comes to popping up some microwave popcorn, I have to agree — I love popcorn and have prepared it using every available method. This simple silicone bowl, though, beats them all.
What else will you find? Scroll on to find the unexpected little gadget of your dreams.
1. A compact Swiss Army knife that fits on a keychain
When a pocket knife suffers from feature bloat, it can become hard to carry with you everywhere. This classic Swiss Army knife gets this and stays slender, portable, and essential. It has everything you need — scissors, a toothpick, tweezers, a sharp blade, a screwdriver, and a bottle opener — and nothing you don’t so that it fits easily into a pocket or on your keychain.
2. The book that wants to rid your home of clutter
This book about decluttering is so wildly popular that it has become a meme. But the tenets of the Marie Kondo method for cleaning your house once, so you never have to do it again, hit a mark with so many folks that many reviewers say it changed their lives. Will it change yours? This Kindle version is an easy way to find out.
3. These snap-on lenses for better phone photos
Leave your bulky DSLR camera at home and take terrific close-ups and wide-angle shots using your phone by carrying this two-lens kit instead. The macro lens snaps over your phone camera for taking ultra-detailed close-ups of flowers, insects, and other small, intricate things. The wide-angle lens screws onto the macro for taking landscapes and other larger perspective photos. It comes with a carrying pouch, lens cover, and cleaning cloth.
4. An automatic beer opener that pops the tops quickly & neatly
If you want to remove a bottlecap without straining, this is the opener you need (it also removes caps without bending them, if you’re a collector). Just slide it onto the top of the bottle and press down — a spring-loaded mechanism pulls the cap off cleanly and quickly. A magnet holds it inside so it doesn’t drop to the floor. Since the whole thing requires almost no effort, it’s great for anyone with wrist sensitivities (and cap collectors).
5. This kit with everything for a luscious beard
If your beard is part of your look, treat it right with this complete kit of tools and grooming products. The shampoo, conditioner, beard oil, and beard balm are unscented so don’t interfere with other scents you rock — or let you just smell like you. It also comes with a pair of beard-trimming scissors, a boar-bristle brush, and a wide-tooth wooden comb.
6. A massage wand so you can treat your own sore muscles
This curved massage cane has firm balls in strategic locations, and is the tool you need when your neck aches, your back is stiff, or that last workout caused your glutes to spaz. The cane is firm and just the right length so you can get a good grip and some leverage, and go to town applying as much pressure as you like with either the single or double trigger-point massage balls.
7. This lightweight fleece hoodie at a buy-multiples price
This lightweight fleece hoodie is an ideal option if you want a layer of warmth, but don’t want something bulky (or high-priced). It has a soft fleece interior, comes in 22 colors, has a kangaroo pouch pocket, drawstring hood, and is 50% cotton and 50% polyester. Almost 52,000 people rate it a perfect five stars.
8. The weird pink paste for a fast & thorough clean
When your sink, tub, or shower door seem impossible to clean, this tough-stuff cleaning paste might be your best friend. Touted by all sorts of cleaning gurus and charting on Amazon with nearly 77,000 five-star reviews, it’s also simple to use. Wipe it over your mess. Wipe it off. It takes the mess away with it. “I have tried so many cleaning solutions to get out hard cooking stains on my stovetop and nothing worked!” says one reviewer. “This stuff took it right out without a problem!!”
9. An electric candle lighter that never runs out of fuel
That frustrating moment when the lighters in the house are dead and you can’t even light a candle — that’ll never happen if you own this rechargeable lighter. The long neck bends so you can reach into the deepest of candles to light the wick, and it juices up via USB. A display lets you know when it needs charging again. Nearly 12,000 people love it and give it five stars.
10. This battery backup with built-in cables
Pocket this credit-card-sized battery backup and keep your iPhone charged no matter how long your day is. It’s tiny but powerful — able to charge an iPhone X from zero to 40% in half an hour — and has a Lightning cable built in to make charging easy. A USB-C port in the side lets you charge any other device, too. It comes in four colors.
11. A soothing lamp made of pink Himalayan salt
This glow lamp is made from as much as eight pounds of Himalayan salt, with a dimmable 15-watt bulb in the center. It sits on a neem-wood base and gives off a comforting and relaxing glow. “I bought this for my wife for Christmas, grudgingly, thinking it was trendy nonsense,” says one of the 19,000 five-star reviewers. “However, the light it puts out is the most soothing of any light I've ever owned. It makes going to bed so much more welcoming.”
12. These satin pillowcases that baby your hair & skin
If you wake up with bed head, pillow marks on your face, and a feeling of dry skin, it might be because those absorbent, rough-thread pillowcases you sleep on are wicking away the moisture from your hair and skin. These satin pillowcases are gentle, don’t catch and pull hair, and won’t absorb your natural moisture. They also feel delicious, look gorgeous, come in 22 colors, and get 162,000 five-star reviews.
13. The insulated tumbler with 2 lid styles
This tall, 24-ounce, double-wall, vacuum insulated tumbler has two lids to handle whatever beverage takes you through your day. The flip-top sipping lid seals tight so you can put coffee, water, or your daily brew in and sip away. Then close the lid and toss the tumbler into your bag. It seals leak-free! The straw lid is great for smoothies and on-the-go sipping. It comes in 37 colors and patterns so you can make it your own.
14. These 2 travel straws in a bamboo carrying case
Instead of adding plastic straws to the planet’s problems, pack along a reusable one and sip with ease. These two stainless steel straws come in their own sleek bamboo travel tube so they stay clean and handy in your bag. There’s also a cleaning brush sized that travels inside one of the straws. They’re long enough — at over eight inches — to handle most travel cups you’ll encounter.
15. This little cooker for perfect eggs with ease
If the challenge of perfect hard-boiled eggs is standing between you and a potential egg-salad habit, this rapid egg cooker is the appliance you need. Just load it up with eggs, push the button, and it lets you know when your eggs are perfect. It also does soft-boiled and poached eggs, as well as omelets. It comes in eight colors, gets almost 14,000 five-star reviews, and weighs only one pound so it’s easy to stash when not in use.
16. A leave-on exfoliant that helps with so many skin issues
With 2% salicylic acid, this easy-to-apply leave-on exfoliant is a terrific way to repair clogged or enlarged pores, smooth skin texture, brighten skin, and even out skin tone by exfoliating away dead skin cells that can cause breakouts and clogs. “This stuff should be called a miracle in a bottle,” says one reviewer. “When I use it on my (pretty dry) skin, it transforms it from congested, irritated, and bright red to calm, clear, and glowing, overnight.” Over 38,000 people give it five stars.
17. These patches that help cure & hide your breakouts
Instead of slathering pimples in concealing makeup that can make matters worse, apply one of these hydrocolloid patches that drain, heal, and protect your poor skin. Then apply makeup right over the patch. You can also wear them to bed and let them heal your breakout while you sleep. These little miracle workers get 57,000 five-star reviews from people who call them “witchcraft” and “a lifesaver.”
18. Th planner that helps you imagine & reach your goals
A planner can do more than help you remember appointments, and version by Papercode is loaded with goal-setting tools that prove it. Vision boards and mind maps help you see where you want to go. An undated planner lets you dip in and out without wasting pages. Monthly and weekly layouts help you get clarity on your time. Focus pages help you tune out distractions. And stickers make it all fun.
19. A handy stand for your Apple Watch
Give your Apple Watch a charge and turn it into a charming display by setting it up with this clever silicone stand. Your watch not only looks great sitting on it, but it becomes a usable alarm clock while charging. It’s made from durable silicone and comes in nine muted colors.
20. These LED light strips that transform your space with color
Make your home beautiful without painting or remodeling — it’s all about lighting. These LED strips are a smart, colorful way to create gorgeous ambient effects. Stick to the underside of the bed, desk, or counters so colored lights reflect off the floor. Or put them behind a dresser or headboard to light the wall. This is over 65 feet of lighting that you can trim to fit what you need, and and control with the included remote.
21. This insulated wine tumbler so you can sip wine anywhere
This affordable double-wall insulated wine tumbler will keep wine, cocktails, or any beverage cold or hot for hours, yet it feels like a wine glass in your hand. It’s one that won’t break, though, so you can tote it to the pool, outdoors, or anywhere you like. The lid keeps drinks from spilling and stops bugs from swimming in the vino. It comes in 15 colors and reviewers love it, giving it almost 13,000 five-star reviews.
22. The foam roller that treats all your sore muscles
Rolling sore muscles with a roller — against the floor, couch, or wall — is a great pain reliever. And this inexpensive foam roller has won hordes of fans by offering the right firmness in many sizes, and at the right price. “I would never have thought I had so many knots in my legs until this showed me right where they were,” says one reviewer. “After just the first session with it, I was glad I bought it.” It comes in five colors and five sizes.
23. A decorative alarm clock that’s also a mirror
Say bye to those faux-wood, shrill buzzers of yesteryear. This decorative alarm clock is easy on the eyes and also rich in functions. A big snooze button lets you grab a few more minutes of shut-eye — and you can set how long you prefer. It has three brightness levels and senses ambient light to adjust automatically. Mount it to the wall or use the included stand. It comes in six color options and the display turns off to use as a mirror.
24. This affordable face wash that’s gentle & hydrating
You don’t have to spend a fortune for a quality face wash that hydrates skin as you wash. This 16-ounce pump bottle of hydrating cleanser is loaded with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin to protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier while its gentle, paraben-free, fragrance-free, soap-free, non-comedogenic, non-drying, and non-irritating cleansers remove makeup, oils, and dirt.
25. A scalp massager for a pleasurable & effective shampoo
Take ablutions to the next level by upleveling your shampoo experience with this gentle scalp massager. It feels amazing. But it also exfoliates and invigorates scalp to improve circulation, and distribute product and natural oils throughout hair. “This thing is a life-changing experience for your head,” effuses one of the more than 78,000 five-star reviewers. “It’s an all-expense paid round trip to heaven and back for every single hair follicle on my head. [It] will make your hair sing with appreciation.”
26. The silicone popper that makes excellent microwave popcorn
If you love microwaveable popcorn bags for their convenience and the way they limit dirty dishes, this is the reusable silicone version you’ll love more. It lets you use your own ingredients, doesn’t create trash, and makes perfect corn every time. Just scoop some kernels into the base and add oil. Then microwave and season. It goes right in the dishwasher when you’re done. It comes in 13 colors.
27. A cozy smelling soy candle for days at home
When the weather outside is awful, light this balsam and cedar candle, make some hot chocolate, and get cozy around your real or imagined fireplace. The soy wax is hand-poured in Minnesota into a seasonal tin that looks decorative whether it’s lit or not. But when the clean-burning wax begins to heat up, it smells like a walk through the woods.
28. This rolling hand massager that works in 2 ways
When you spend long days at a keyboard or doing any activity that stresses hands, this dual-sided hand massager is an enormous relief. The single roller massages tight muscles in the palm, wrist, or back of the hand. The pincer rollers feel terrific on fingers or thumb. “Excellent for easing my aching hands,” says one reviewer. “It's also nice to use on my wrists, forearms, and neck. It gets in the little crevices between bone and muscle.”
29. The stick that connects your TV to all the streaming channels
Plug this Roku Express stick into the HDMI port on your TV and unlock all the streaming channels out there. It connects to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and much more. And it streams in sharp, 4K resolution without hiccups or glitches. But the part you’ll love most might be the remote, which can manage all your devices — eliminating that remote pile on the coffee table — and lets you call up content simply by asking, because it’s voice enabled.
30. A lap desk that brings order to working from the couch
With two cushions that rest on your legs so that the angle is perfect and you’re comfortable, this lap desk makes working from the couch much more effective and organized. A lip stops laptops from sliding down, while a built-in mouse pad improves efficiency and gives hands a break. There’s a slot that keeps your phone handy so you can see notifications and make calls. It comes in six colors and patterns and people give it over 33,000 five-star reviews.
31. This pour-over brewer for an easy & delicious morning joe
This pour-over coffee maker brews the most delicious cup of coffee with the bare minimum of effort, expense, and space. The shape of the carafe is the secret. The included stainless-steel mesh filter fits perfectly up top so all you have to do is scoop grounds into it, and slowly pour hot water over them and into the heat-resistant borosilicate glass container below. The cork bib protects hands from heat when pouring that tasty brew into your cup.
32. An inflatable ball for your desk chair or home gym
Sit on this anti-burst exercise ball at your desk if you want to incorporate a little core work, balance, and movement into your day. And when it’s time to work out, it doubles as stretching ball, helps with Pilates exercises, or acts as a balance challenge for a host of workouts. It comes in eight colors and five sizes, and shows up with a hand pump, two air plugs, a valve remover tool and access to online training workouts.
33. The cool-touch bamboo blanket that can help you sleep
The fibers of this lightweight bamboo blanket feel cool to the touch so sleeping under it is wonderful in hot weather, overheated bedrooms, or for anyone who sleeps hot. You can always find a cool surface to touch even if you use it in combination with other blankets. “This thing is amazing! It really does keep you cool,” says one of the nearly 7,000 five-star reviewers. “Even on the hottest days, I can have this on me without feeling warm.” It comes in nine colors and three sizes.
34. This guillotine slicer for perfect bagels (and intact fingers)
Cutting bagels can be dangerous but this guillotine makes it safe — and much cleaner and easier. Drop the bagel — or roll — into the clear cutting channel and drop the serrated V-shaped blade (also encased in a safety chamber) on it. It cuts the bagel perfectly in half and never endangers your extremities. It doesn’t even leave crumbs on the counter. Bagel lovers give it 12,000 five-star ratings and it comes in four colors.
35. The hand warmer that’s also a backup phone battery
When you go out into winter weather, your hands get cold. Also? You don’t want to be stranded and unable to call for help because your phone is dead. These are reasons you want this hand warmer that doubles as a phone battery. It has three heat levels so you can use it to stay warm by tucking it in an inside pocket, or use it to heat up after you’ve gotten too cold by really pumping up the heat. When you’ve had enough but your phone is dead, the high-capacity battery will bring it right back.
36. A travel pillow that morphs to the shape you need
This memory-foam neck pillow is not locked into the standard scarf-shape that’s so typical of travel pillows. You can twist it into whatever shape feels best. Use one end to lean against the window, tuck it under your neck or knees if you find a place to stretch out, or even put it to work as lumbar support if your seat is terrible. Just snap it onto your luggage when you’re dashing through the airport and pull off the cover to wash it when you get home.
37. This fabric shaver that keeps fabrics looking pristine
When your new sweater is covered in fuzzies after the wash or your favorite cashmere has seen too many winters, pull out this battery-powered fabric shaver and bring it back from the brink. It has three depth settings so you can get the shave as close as the fabric wants. The handle is easy to hold, it’s portable, and comes in six colors. Over 58,000 people give it five stars and some of them have become quite obsessed.
38. The cold butter knife you never knew you needed
If you thought all butter knives were the same, you haven’t met this easy spreader. There’s a serrated edge on one side, perforations on the other, and a hole in the tip. When you start spreading cold butter, these things all make sense. The serrated edge cuts a clean pat. The perforated side peels long tubes of easy-to-spread buttery goodness that melts into toast. And the end pulls off a big curl that’s pretty and meltable.
39. This portable memory foam lumbar pillow
If your desk chair leaves you with a sore back or driving your car long distances feels like torture, try strapping this angled, memory-foam lumbar support pillow into the seat so it supports where you need it. This simple adjustment helps fix slumped posture, which relieves many chair-induced pains. It’s covered in a breathable and removable mesh cover, comes in black or grey, and has two adjustable straps to hold it in place.
40. These fridge drawers that organize your fridge stash
Instead of letting small items disappear into the fridge never to be found again, install this hanging drawer that brings them front and center. It slides onto the shelves, hugs the underside of those same shelves, and glides out with sandwich supplies, fruits, eggs, and other small items neat and in reach. It installs easily with no tools required.
41. The wired earbuds you’ll always have with you
When your wireless earbuds have no charge or won’t connect, you’ll be glad to have this affordable pair of old-school wired earbuds in your backpack or tucked in your pocket. They are small, sound great, come in five colors, are available with or without a microphone for phone calls, and sport comfortable silicone earbud covers.
42. These produce bags that are a lot better than plastic
End the interminable struggle with those flimsy plastic bags in the produce aisle by packing in these mesh, reusable bags that are much more pleasant to use and don’t end up littering the ocean. These nine, roomy bags are transparent so you can see what’s in them, let the checkout scanner read the bar codes, breathe so your produce lasts longer, and go into the washer to clean up.
43. This caddy that adds pockets to your couch, bed, or coffee table
This clever organizer caddy makes it easy to keep glasses, the remote, or your phone nearby without cluttering up the coffee or bedside table. Just tuck the anchor under the mattress, couch cushion, or a pile of books and let it hang where you want it. A big pocket holds a magazine or laptop while three mesh pockets hold smaller items.
44. A rack to keep cutting boards & baking sheets in order
Storing cutting boards, baking sheets, and cupcake pans is a challenge in any kitchen, but especially a small one. Don’t let them eat up an entire cupboard. Stand this organizer rack inside a cupboard or on the counter and store them on their sides. They take up a minimum of horizontal space, and so you can grab the one you want without digging through a noisy pile.
45. The tiered shelf with a drawer for smart storage
In the typical cupboard, canned goods that get pushed to the back tend to get forgotten because you can’t see them through the things in the front. This three-tiered shelf elevates items in the rear the way stadium seating does, so you can see all the goodies way in the back. And there’s a drawer for small items that tend to get lost altogether.
46. A place for everyone’s keys and mail
When there’s a place for everything, it’s a lot easier to put everything in its place — this wall basket and key hook is a great one. Mount it at the entryway and you can empty your hands when you get home without cluttering counters. And when you’re looking for that missing bill or your keys, you’ll have a great place to start. It comes in eight colors and the mounting hardware is included.
47. These weird five-bladed scissors that cut herbs fast
Cut down the time it takes to prep meals with fresh herbs by keeping a pair of these five-bladed scissors in the drawer. You can cut herbs directly into the pan or salad quickly and precisely. They create minced cuts and save you from having to chase tiny leaves all over a cutting board. The included plastic cover doubles as a tool to clean between the blades, and protects the sharp edges in a drawer.
48. A genius solution to broom & mop storage
When unwrangled, brooms, mops, rakes, and long-handled tools end up consuming an unreasonable amount of space. They also fall over and become a general nuisance. This wall mounted holder solves the problem permanently. Just push the long handles into the ball clamps and your tools stay put on the back of a door, or tidily and quietly on one wall of the closet. The six hooks also hold dusters, hand tools, and other hanging items.
49. The role-up rack that every kitchen needs
Every kitchen needs this super useful steel and silicone rack that opens over the sink to drip-dry pans and other hand-wash items. Even if you already have a dish rack, this thing is handy for overflow. It also serves as a hot trivet for pans, a place to cool bread or cookies, and will hold a pan under the faucet — even when the sink is full — for filling with water. When it’s not in use, it rolls up and tucks into the edge of a drawer.
50. This memo board that mounts to your monitor
Where do you jot reminders, phone numbers, and notes when you are working at your computer? This memo board takes advantage of space that’s empty (and that you’re certain to look at) by mounting to the side of your monitor. There’s a ledge at the bottom to hold a pad of sticky notes or your phone, a clip at the top you can use as a document holder, and plenty of display room for sticky-note reminders.