50 cheap things on Amazon that are actually impressive

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by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

I love that feeling when I get something from Amazon, and, half expecting it to be tossed into the forgotten pile, discover that it’s well-made, overall awesome, and that I can get a ton of use out of it every day. It’s an experience that makes me want to take more chances. But that, unfortunately, often leads directly to the returns process, and I have to remind myself that not all inexpensive items are worth having. Allow me to save you the trouble of learning that hard lesson yourself by sharing these 50 cheap things on Amazon that are actually impressive.

For example, I have a beautiful coffee machine with a stainless steel thermal carafe. That coffee maker and I will never be parted, but I was struggling to get the carafe clean of coffee stains. Then I dropped one of these pellets into it and waited. An hour later, my carafe was spotless. Impressive! Then there’s the eternal problem of where to stow my bag in the car. After many rants about the short-sightedness of car designers, I discovered these hooks that fit right over the headrests and now I have a place for my tote, the grocery bags, and anything else with a handle. Simple. Amazing.

Sometimes, though, we’re faced with dilemmas that are small and, frankly, silly. The problem of pets that won’t sit still to have their picture taken is an absurd, first-world issue. But it still deserves a solution. And this treat holder that snaps onto your phone is that solution. Incredible, right?

There are 50 like this! And, I’m telling you, some of these might just become your new favorite things. So get reading.

1. The double-sided rings that let you hang shower curtain & liner

Upgrade your bathroom’s look and feel by hanging a decorative shower curtain toward the room, and a waterproof liner towards the water. The secret to doing this easily is these double-sided shower curtain hooks. Just loop them over the curtain rod, hang your decorative number on one side and the liner on the other. The metal beads make it slide easily on the rod. They come in five finishes and get 15,000 five-star reviews.

2. This tool that strips the leaves from herbs

If you like to cook with fresh herbs, you are no doubt familiar with that moment when you have to stop everything while you patiently pluck leaves from stems. This herb stripper tool turns that tedious task into a quick gesture. Just find the hole to match the stem of the herb you’re prepping and pull it through. The sharp edges in each hole cut the leaves right off. The edge of the tool can be used as a knife for chopping or trimming, too.

3. This mug warmer so your coffee stays at prime sip temp all day

If you find yourself repeatedly filling your mug because you forget to drink it until your beverage got cold, you need this cup warmer. Just set your mug on it and switch it on. It will gently heat the mug to keep coffee from going cold — without getting so hot as to burn your beverage. It’s a simple way to get more time with a warm drink. The light indicates when it’s on.

4. A notepad that captures your brilliant shower ideas

Why is it that the best ideas happen in the shower where you can’t write them down? It’s like a conspiracy of The Muses. But this in-shower notepad will foil them! Suction it and the included pencil (they both come with suction cups) to the shower wall, and jot your ideas when and where they happen. The 40 sheets of paper are waterproof so they survive the splash zone, and are perforated so you can take your ideas to dry land.

5. The trick to making a fast & even chopped salad

Do you love chopped salad? This weird slotted bowl is the hack that makes creating them fast and easy. Just fill the bowl with lettuce and veggies. Then turn it over onto its tray — there’s a moat to catch any juices — and use the slots to guide your knife as you chop. Next, rotate the slotted bowl in the tray and chop again. Flip it over and your veggies will all be chopped into neat, edible pieces. Just dress and eat.

6. This phone mount that goes into the CD slot

If you would rather listen to streaming music from your phone than keep a pile of CDs in your car — because it’s not really the ‘90s anymore — you need this phone mount that uses the CD slot. It has three points to firmly grasp your device in the very spot car designers deemed perfect for music management. There’s a quick-release button, it rotates 360 degrees, and securely pops in (and out of) the CD slot with ease.

7. This nifty under-cabinet hook for your bananas

Install this hanger hook once, under the cabinets, and forevermore when you return from the store with bananas, you will have the perfect place to put them. Bananas ripen evenly when they hang as if they are still in the tree, so your bananas will be better. And the hook folds back against the cabinet when empty so you’ll never even know it’s there... unless there are bananas hanging from it.

8. This strap that updates any bag in seconds

Clip this guitar-style strap to any purse or bag and update its look in seconds. The wide straps come in 15 patterns, adjust from just under 30 inches to over 49 inches, and make even the most out-of-date purse easier to carry and more on-trend. Wear that bag crossbody, over your shoulder, or any way you like. The wide strap is comfortable, too.

9. These 4 pairs of clawed & traditional garden gloves

Gear up for gardening with these four sets of gloves that cover — and empower — your hands for digging in the dirt. Each set (one purple and one green) has a stretchy, puncture-resistant pair of gloves that protects your skin as you prune, plant, and pull weeds, and another pair with claws on the end of the four fingers to make digging up stubborn weeds and scratching holes for plants easier. Each set comes with a cute storage bag.

10. This weird cleaning gel that gets into crevices

This cleaning gel is the quick, easy, and fun way to clean your keyboard, all those little crevices in your car, and anything else with hard-to-access dirt and dust. Just press the cleaning gel gently into the cracks and small spaces, then pull it out slowly. It will bring all the dirt with it. You can keep using it till it turns black and then just throw it away. It even smells nice.

11. A set of markers & crayons that repairs the furniture

If you like to color with crayons — and who doesn’t? — you’ll get a thrill from this set of wood repair markers and crayons. Because when you get artsy with these, they save your damaged furniture. Choose a wax crayon that matches the color of your deeply scratched coffee table and draw until that scratch is gone. Pick a marker and color away that watermark. It’s so effective that 13,000 people give it five stars. And it comes with a crayon sharpener.

12. This clever soap hack for the laundry room

Stop struggling with that giant laundry detergent bottle and set it on this dispensing rack. It’s angled so the liquid soap is always primed and ready to pour into your measuring cup, no matter how much is left in the bottle. There’s a tray underneath the spout to set your cup on and catch all the spills. Its rubber feet keep it in place, and if you want to keep it atop the machine, it comes with a tie-down strap.

13. The peel-&-stick wallpaper that’s so easy to use

Instead of detail-painting that piece of furniture or wall, peel-and-stick this lovely trellis-patterned wallpaper there instead. It offers a bit of water resistance, some visual interest, and you only have to cut — there are grid lines on the back — and stick it to the surface. It’s great for creating a pretty interior for shelves or drawers, covering furniture that’s on the ugly side, or to spruce up walls.

14. These smart lightbulbs that work with Alexa

You need not get up from the couch to manage your lighting —just screw in this smart bulb that connects to Alexa. Use your voice to turn that light on or off, change its colors (there are 16 million to choose from), or dim the brightness. You can also add it to schedules and routines (such as saying, “Alexa, I’m home!” to turn on all the lights.)

15. The easy way to clean water bottles or thermal coffee cups

Just drop one of these biodegradable, environmentally-safe bottle-cleaning tablets into your stained thermal coffee cup, moldering water bottle, or the thermal carafe of your coffee pot, add some warm water, and wait for about 15 minutes while it effervesces and removes all the ick. Your bottle will be spotless, and you won’t need that bottle brush (or elbow grease) anymore.

16. A magnetic wrist band that holds all your tools & parts

Before you climb that ladder or crawl under the sink, strap on this sturdy ballistic nylon wrist band and stick every screw and drill bit you’re likely you need to its magnetic surface. You can also strap it to the ladder or your toolbox handle and the 10 strong magnets embedded within will save you so much time because everything you need will be within such easy reach.

17. These brilliant hooks for a place to hang bags in the car

These four simple-yet-genius hooks solve a universal car problem in about two minutes. Just hook them over the posts of the headrests in your car, and you have four hooks for holding grocery bags, purses, and backpacks. Your belongings shall no longer tumble about the car, and are easy to grab when you park. When you aren’t carting bags, the hooks are hardly noticeable. They come in black and beige.

18. The gloves that light up your workspace

Instead of trying to find someone to hold a light for you, pull on these flashlight gloves. For your next foray into plumbing, car repair, fishing, or even dog walking, they provide easy, hands-free lighting with two bright LEDs built in to the thumb and forefinger. The on/off switch is on the back of the hand. All you have to do to shed light is point your hand where you want to see. They run on a tiny button battery.

19. This lap pillow that props up your tablet, book, or phone

Get comfortable when you’re reading (or watching) in bed or on the couch by setting book, tablet, or phone in this pillow stand that’s angled perfectly for easy viewing. There’s a lip to keep your tablet in place and a handy pocket on the side for your glasses, phone, or snack. It’s soft and light, has a carrying handle on top, and comes in four colors.

20. The notepad that makes meal planning easy

Ready to make a weekly meal plan? Stick this 90-page planning pad to your fridge or any metal surface and make that process easy. The entire week’s meals are on the left, and the shopping list you’ll need to make those meals goes on the right — with a section for notes on the bottom. The page is perforated so you can easily grab the shopping list and leave the plan on the fridge.

21. This smart doorbell that’s wireless & weatherproof

Want to set up a smart doorbell without dealing with wires and a complicated setup? Get this wireless one that’s sturdy, too; it’s waterproof and weatherproof. Yep, that means it’ll withstand snow, sun, and rain. The under-$30 kit includes everything you need: two outdoor doorbell transmitters, a smart plug-in receiver, double-sided tape, anchors, screws, and the batteries to power it all. It’s a shopper favorite with over 26,000 five-star ratings on Amazon.

22. The reusable popper for perfect popcorn

Invest in this reusable popper and you can forever skip the expensive single-use popcorn bags. It works just as easily in the microwave, and it’s made of food-grade silicone that’s conveniently dishwasher-safe. One reviewer — from thousands of enthusiastic ratings — wrote, “This is a must-have accessory for anyone who loves popcorn. The investment is minor and the utility of making great popcorn is unmatched.” Plus, it’s collapsible for slim storage. Choose from over 20 vibrant colors.

23. These straps that make sure the bed stays made

If your sheets are constantly popping off while you sleep, this sheet-cinching system will put an end to that. Just clip holders to your fitted sheet and make the bed as usual with the Scrunchie at the end. Next, pull the Scrunchie to cinch, and it pulls the sheet tight and keeps it that way till you release the catch on laundry day. It’s super clever, very effective, and gets nearly 6,000 five-star reviews.

24. The lamp that brings sunlight to you

When winter weather has you down in the dumps, bring out this light therapy lamp and bask in the intense, UV-free light it emits. It emulates natural sunlight to send your body and brain signals that help elevate your mood and energize you. Set a timer to bask in 10 minute intervals up to an hour. It’s small enough to be portable, has 10 brightness levels, and can be hung on the wall or propped on its kickstand.

25. This wine stopper that filters & aerates for a better pour

This wine stopper not only works to re-cork an open bottle — that won’t leak all over the fridge or picnic basket — but it filters and aerates wine as it flows through it. This improves the flavor of the wine, and if there’s any sediment, or the cork fell apart as you were opening the bottle, it’ll filter that out. When the wine is gone, just toss the stopper into the dishwasher to prep it for the next bottle.

26. This ergonomic kitchen squeegee that’s so helpful

This is the kitchen squeegee you didn’t know you needed but, it turns out, do. Use it to thoroughly scrape food off plates and into the trash, to push water or spills off counters, and to get grease or oil out of your pans or air fryer so it doesn’t go down the drain. The squeegee is designed to look cute standing next to the sink and will save you time and, perhaps, a lot of paper towels.

27. A clever organizer for your purse or tote

If you carry a purse or backpack, drop this organizer insert inside and bring order to the interior. It gives you lots of pockets and two big compartments that make it easy to find what you need, has a zippered middle section for important documents, and puts your keys on an easy-to-find lanyard. It comes in 18 colors and seven sizes to fit whatever bag you carry.

28. These shoelaces you never have to tie

Sure, learning to tie your shoes was an important part of childhood. But now that you’ve mastered it, you can move on to never doing it again. Just install these elastic laces and cinch to your preference. Forevermore, you can step into any lace-up shoes the same way you do your favorite slip-ons. They come in 13 colors to match your kicks, so no one will ever know that you have enabled this life hack.

29. Some meat claws so you’re equipped for the next barbecue

Next time you slow cook a pork butt or barbecue a big slab of meat, arm yourself with the right tool when it comes time to shred. These big claws bestow the shred power bears have with six sharp claws to make fast work of a difficult and hand-damaging task (when done with inadequate forks). They come in stainless steel or a beefy solid metal. Both give the grip and power you need to make fast work of shredding — or lifting — hot meat.

30. The wallet that holds all your cards in a small space

If you have too many cards for one of those minimalist wallets but envy the small form factor, this aluminum accordion wallet is the perfect place to stash all your credit and loyalty cards. Each card gets its own slot, and when you open the wallet, they form a display that makes it easy to locate the one you want. When closed, they stack into a tidy pile. And the RFID shell protects all of them wherever you go.

31. A fabric shaver that makes your fabrics like new

When your sweaters look ready to donate or your new pants come out of the laundry covered in pills and threads, don’t make any hasty decisions. You might just need this versatile fabric shaver. The adjustable height of the spinning shave head works for all types of fabrics, from delicates to upholstery, and it runs on either two batteries or an internal rechargeable battery, so it’s portable and easy to keep on hand.

32. This tool that could save someone in an emergency

Toss this escape tool into your glove box or in-car storage and, in an emergency, you might be very glad you did. The seatbelt cutter will quickly release you — or someone else — from a jammed seatbelt after a crash. And the two-headed, hardened tungsten steel hammer will break a window if anyone is trapped in a car. This is a two-pack of bright orange emergency tools. It also comes in a glow-in-the-dark green.

33. The trick you need for taking great pics of your pup

If every photo you take of your pets shows them looking away or ignoring the camera, this treat holder is the clever trick for taking great pet pics. The silicone holder clips to the top of your phone, directing your dog or cat’s undivided attention directly at the treat (er, lens). It’s small, simple, fits any phone, and is flexible enough to hold whatever snack is their favorite.

34. An easier way to peel & mince garlic

Eliminate the hassle of inserting garlic into your food with this clever garlic press kit that removes the skin and minces the garlic in a few moves. Just insert a clove into the silicone tube and rub it on the counter to remove the skin. Then put it under the mincer, press down, and rock. It turns that clove into minced pieces so fast, you can have delightfully garlicky meals any time of the day (should you choose).

35. These cleaning brushes that attach to a power drill

Put away the elbow grease and get out these three cleaning brushes that tap into the power of your drill. The soft nylon bristles are gentle on tubs, shower doors, and sinks. And the shapes — flat, narrow and wide, and a ball-shaped brush for corners — are designed to reach between tiles, zip over textures, and scrub wide areas. They also come in varying stiffnesses, from soft to hard, that will clean everything from your car to your grill.

36. The shower head that boosts water pressure

If the water pressure in your shower is so pathetic it feels like you’re standing in a drizzle, this shower head can fix that. All you have to do is unscrew the old one and screw this one in. This high-pressure shower head is made from a tough thermoplastic resin, has brass threads, and the head swivels so you can direct that newly strong stream of water where you want it.

37. These reusable baking cups for easier muffins & cupcakes

Instead of adding to the landfill every time you make muffins, use these colorful and reusable baking cups instead of the paper ones. They’re rendered from food-grade silicone, release easily from your baked goods, and go into the dishwasher for cleanup. The best part? You’ll never again have to dash to the store when a cupcake craving hits.

38. These laundry bags so you can toss delicates in the machine

If you want to wash your delicate items without risking straps, wires, or lace to the general tumble of larger, coarser garments, drop them into these mesh laundry bags first. They’ll get clean while staying protected from rough fabrics, zippers, and hooks. The biggest one also doubles as a travel laundry bag. Just toss the whole thing in the wash when you return.

39. This digital food scale for easier cooking & accurate portions

Once you move to cooking with a scale instead of measuring cups, you will never go back. And this digital scale is a great one to get you started. It switches easily amid four units of measure, has an 11-pound capacity, easily tares any container out of the weight, is simple to clean, and stores in a drawer.

40. The quick way to make jewelry shine again

Restoring rings, chains, earrings, and other jewelry to their original shine does not require a lot of skill or a trip to the jewelers. You just need this very affordable jewelry cleaning liquid. The concentrated formula makes up to three cups of solution that can be used on its own or with a cleaning machine. One shopper wrote, “Keeps my engagement ring super sparkly. I have a soft bristle toothbrush to scrub with. Love love love that its concentrated, looks small but it will definitely last if you use it right.”

41. This snowflake that’s 18 tools on 1 easy-to-carry little bit

Attach this snowflake multitool to your keys, bike, or hiking backpack to supply yourself with 18 tools that are sure to come in handy. The clever shape hides a screwdriver, box cutter, rope cutter, bottle opener, Allen wrenches, hex wrenches, and much more. “I throw this lightweight tool in my cycling jersey for any emergencies that may arise,” says one reviewer. “It’s saved my ride a couple of times.”

42. These zippered cable wraps that hide cord messes fast

Zip that snarl of cords that snakes away from the entertainment, gaming, or computer area into these tidy management sleeves without bothering to unplug anything or stick stuff to your furniture. Just slip these on the entire mess and zip closed. This four-pack can take on all your small cable jumbles, or you can zip them together for larger wire masses.

43. This pop-up UV-C light bath for sanitizing on the go

You can cart this pop-up UV-C light bath along with you anywhere because it’s small, portable, and rechargeable. One charge will let you sanitize 70 times. Just pop the top, put your phone, keys, or other small items in it, push the button, and wait. It takes about one minute to rid your gear of 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.

44. The collapsible colander that rests on the sink

This collapsable silicone colander stores completely flat and in a small space. But when you use it, it pops open and has handles that conveniently extend over the top of the sink, providing a roomy place to wash vegetables, strain water from cooked pasta, and more. It comes in four colors and has no problem going in the dishwasher.

45. This makeup removing cloth that pampers your skin

The varied fibers of this microfiber MakeUp Eraser cloth are designed to remove dirt and makeup, and exfoliate skin — depending on which side you use. The short fibers on one side take makeup right off with nothing but water. To exfoliate, flip it around and use the longer fibers. Your skin will love it, and there are no chemicals or allergens to cause breakouts and no disposables to keep tossing and rebuying.

46. These silicone food covers so you can stop using containers

Instead of finding a container or plastic bag to store that half lemon or onion, or to cover that can of cat food, cover the business end of said fruit, vegetable, or can with one of these five stretchy, food huggers. They’re made from food-grade silicone, keep food surprisingly fresh by creating an airtight seal, nest together for storage, and work on everything from lemons to bananas.

47. This colorful humidifier for a better mood & moister air

Dry air can make eyes itch, throats sore, and skin dry. But this neat mini humidifier will infuse the air at your desk or bed or car with a cool mist while glowing soft, colorful light. It’s nearly silent, has a continuous or intermittent mode, and will shut off automatically after six hours of use or when the water level is low.

48. This adorable donut maker for fast donuts anytime

This little donut maker is cute, and small enough to store easily in your kitchen. But when the urge for donuts hits, you’ll be glad it’s there. You can make donuts in it from cake mix, brownie mix, your own batter, or whatever your imagination can think up. It cooks them from the bottom and the top and the non-stick surface makes it easy to get those tasty devils out.

49. These webcam covers that help ease privacy concerns

Should you worry that someone has hacked into your webcam and is watching you in the privacy of your own home? Not if you stick one of these sliding webcam covers over the camera. Just slide it closed and no one — not even the most determined hacker — can see through it. This is a two-pack so you can share with a friend or suit up all your computers.

50. The rechargeable hand warmer that also powers your phone

Slide this aircraft-aluminum hand warmer into your pocket on a cold day and warm hands are just a button-push away. It has three heating levels so you can opt to create a warm place in an insulated pocket, or take cold hands from icy to toasty fast with a hot plate for your fingers. It’s also a large-capacity backup battery so, even if the day turns warm, you can use it to power your phone or other gadgets.

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