You'll use these cheap, clever things at least twice a day because they're SO damn helpful

Handy little things.

by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

There are some things in my house and car that I absolutely rely on. I set my phone down on a phone stand I paid almost nothing for several times a day. I reach for the same kitchen knife hundreds of times a month. I thank my trunk organizer for keeping everything from flying around every time I go shopping. And the lights that come on automatically in my house, several times a day, make my life so much more comfortable and safe. These were all such inexpensive acquisitions. But they make a huge difference to me every day — sometimes several times a day.

It isn’t only the big, dream purchases that improve life. Often, when the expensive garment or toy you agonized over is sitting idle, the insignificant purchases you bought without a thought are powering productivity, tidiness, and an easier existence. While you are on your way to acquiring your dreams, you’ll use these cheap, clever things at least twice a day because they’re so damn helpful.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

1. This motion-sensing night light for dark rooms without outlets

This handy rechargeable light is the perfect solution for a dark corner, bathroom, or the kids’ room because it comes on when it senses motion and throws a gentle light. You can also pick it up and use it as a flashlight to illuminate your way to the kitchen or toilet in the dark. Just flip a switch to make it stay on when you grab it. It sits in a stand you can sit on a bedside table, shelf, or even the corner of your tent.

2. A 10-pack of food storage bags that helps you give up plastic

These reusable food-storage bags are easy to use because they are thick and durable. They make giving up single-use plastics easy. The zipper closures seal tight and you can see through them so you know what’s inside. They go into the fridge or freezer and wash and dry easily. There are two gallon-sized, four sandwich-sized, and four snack-sized bags in this set.

3. This insulated travel mug that’s also a pour-over coffee maker

If you love your coffee but do not love the unpredictable quality of what you can get on the road or while camping, this is the ideal solution. The 20-ounce coffee mug is great for sipping a cup of java for hours because the vacuum insulation keeps it hot. But it also comes with a reusable pour-over coffee filter so you can brew your own coffee right into the mug. All you need is ground beans, hot water, and a few minutes and your morning joe will be ready to go.

4. A space-saving colander that fits over the sink

Who says colanders have to be bulky, cumbersome, and idle when not in use? This colorful and slender strainer fits right over the sink so you can use it to wash fruit, let dishes drip dry, and strain the pasta. But, when it’s not over the sink doing duty as a strainer, you can slide it closed and use it as a fruit bowl. It comes in nine colors.

5. This magnetic phone mount that looks good in your car

This clever magnetic in-car phone mount puts your phone right where you can see and reach it without muddying up the look of your interior. Peel and stick the base to the dash and suction the mount arm to that. Then the adjustable, magnetic phone holder hangs in front of the dash, neatly grabbing your phone with no clamps or complicated mechanisms. It uses magnets. You can rotate your phone as you like and grab it and go when you get out of the car.

6. These 10 reusable grocery bags that can handle every shopping outing

This set of 10 large capacity, strong reusable grocery bags can handle even your biggest shopping booty. The colorful selection of bags comes in a zippered pouch so you can easily take them with you to the big box store, supermarket, or wherever you go (or fold one to keep in your everyday bag). You will enjoy giving up plastic grocery bags because this thoughtful solution improves your shopping experience.

7. The stretchy silicone lids that work with all your bowls, pans & cans

This set of stretchy silicone covers can replace the millions of instances when you now turn to plastic wrap. Cover the rice bowl you didn’t finish, the pan you cooked pasta in, or the half-empty cat-food can. There are seven covers in this set that go from small enough to cover a tomato to big enough for a mixing bowl.

8. A colorful set of knives that handles every kitchen task

With everything from an 8-inch chef knife to a 3.5-inch paring knife, this complete set of kitchen knives has all the bases covered. The handles are comfortable, the blades are sharp, hordes of fans are raving about them — yes, that’s over 26,000 five-star reviews — and they are each a different jewel color. They will look so striking on a magnetic knife rack on the wall.

9. This detangling brush that people are raving about

There is something about the combination of firm-yet-flexible bristles with a soft end and an ergonomic handle that makes this detangling hairbrush the one. It smoothly removes tangles and turns hair smooth while other brushes cause pain, suffering, and broken strands. Almost 41,000 people gave it five stars and many of them said it changed their lives.

10. The meal-prep containers that solve lunch & leftovers

Use these three glass containers with leak-proof, locking lids to prep your lunches and store leftovers. They can go in the freezer, dishwasher, fridge, oven, and microwave so they will accommodate all your storing and heating up needs. They also make a nice dish to eat lunch right out of and won’t leach chemicals into your food.

11. A pair of power banks so your gadgets can always be juiced

This two-pack of power banks is so handy. Keep them charged so you can toss one in your bag for a long day out, take one to the couch when your phone is dying but you want to keep gaming, or use them to power — plug free — any USB device any time or anywhere. They come in three color options, have a grippy, non-slip texture, and will each charge an iPhone more than twice. They each have two USB output ports that can detect the needs of the device you plug into them.

12. A 3-pack of cutting boards so you have one for every task

Never cut a piece of fruit on a garlic-smeared cutting board again. This three-pack of white plastic cutting boards lets you dedicate a board to like tasks. Make one board for meat, another for strong flavors like garlic and onion, and another for fruits. They have juice grooves to keep the counters clean, handles for easy toting, and can go right into the dishwasher.

13. This set of elegant, stainless steel measuring cups

You will reach for this set of seven stainless steel measuring cups whenever you bake, make oatmeal, cook rice, or for hundreds of other reasons in the kitchen. They are elegant, nest into each other, will never rust, and have the measurement engraved into them so it will never rub off. They have both Imperial and metric measures so you can follow any recipe.

14. This extender that turns an outlet into a lighted charging station

This outlet extender transforms any outlet in your house from an old-school wall plug to a six-plug surge protector with two USB ports and an adjustable dusk-to-dawn nightlight. The outlets are positioned so you can actually use them all at once. Plug it in at your entertainment system or computer to handle all the power needs of your rig while providing a nightlight for the area.

15. These Teflon oven liners so you don’t have to clean the oven

Before you bake that pizza or cheesy casserole, line the lower rack with this Teflon oven liner to catch all the spills. Nothing will fall to the bottom of the oven to get baked on and you will never again spend a Saturday cleaning an oven that smokes every time you turn it on. This two-pack of large, cuttable liners is non-stick and easy to clean and you can use them over and over.

16. This bento-box style lunchbox for easy & portable meals

This stackable lunchbox is a great way to put together a healthy and tasty lunch from whatever you have in the kitchen. A big bottom compartment is great for the main dish and the divided top container gives you a place for two sides or a snack. The included flatware clips into the divider layer and an elastic band holds it all firmly together. The pieces nest for storage.

17. This handy charger & stand for your Apple Watch

Set your Apple Watch into this sweet and colorful charger stand while you sleep and it juices up. Your charging wires thread into it and hold the charger in just the right spot and, while it’s on the stand, your smart watch transforms into a little alarm clock on your bedside table. The stand comes in nine muted shades.

18. A dispenser that keeps cotton swabs clean & at the ready

This clear plastic cotton swab dispenser is a simple and elegant solution for your bathroom. It stores your cotton swabs where they are easy to see and use but it also keeps them from getting dusty or wet. The lid lifts off so you can refill it and the durable plastic is ultra sturdy.

19. The set of 8 clear bins to organize your fridge or pantry

If the chaos in your fridge makes prepping a meal irritating and you are often finding forgotten and rotten items in the back, it’s time to bring some order. This set of eight clear, stackable plastic bins is the way to go. Put all the sodas in one, the condiments in another, and the fruit in still another. When you want something, pull out the right bin and survey your inventory. This is a plan that works just as well for the pantry.

20. This set of laundry bags so your clothes survive laundry day

This five-pack of mesh laundry bags is how you keep your delicates from getting wrapped around your sneakers and zippers from putting runs in your tops. Just put delicates in one bag, zippered things in another, your shoes in another, and keep everything from rubbing against each other in the trip through the machines. They are also great for organizing a suitcase.

21. The big trunk organizer that keeps your gear tidy

Clip this big trunk organizer to something in your hatchback or trunk and use it to create order back there. There are three big upright compartments so plants and wine bottles don’t fly around and meet their demise. It has mesh pockets on the sides for small items. And two big pockets on the front keep your jump cables and safety kit ready but out of the way. When it’s empty, you can collapse it down to something flat and storable.

22. A set of 4 stainless steel drinking straws with a cleaner

Sipping through a straw is great. Throwing plastic straws into the trash to end up in the ocean isn’t. This set of four stainless steel straws — with a cleaning brush — lets you have your straw without the guilt. They are shaped like bendy straws, too, and that’s easy to love. They fit most travel mugs, are great for your morning iced coffee, and make a great stir stick for cocktails.

23. This mini waffle maker so you can turn almost anything into tiny waffles

Put waffle batter, cookie dough, hash browns, mac and cheese, or whatever else you want to turn into little waffle shapes onto the nonstick surface of this mini waffle maker, close the lid and wait as it evenly cooks your ingredients into tiny, four-inch diameter waffles. It comes in 15 colors so it looks adorable in your kitchen but it’s so small you can easily store it in a cupboard.

24. This bungee hook that’s the perfect place to ripen bananas

Hang this unobtrusive bungee hanger from the underside of a cabinet and you now have a place to store bananas that makes them feel happy and at home. Bananas ripen better when hanging because they were born in trees. And this hook can handle everything from a banana pair to an entire bunch. And when you have no bananas, you’ll hardly know it’s there.

25. A clever rack for storing lids, pans & cutting boards

You can save a lot of space in the kitchen by storing large, flat items — like pan lids, cutting boards, and baking sheets — upright and slotted into this adjustable organizer. The 10 metal dividers are easy to move to create exactly the size slot you need and the non-slip feet keep it from moving around.

26. These decorative & useful drawer & fridge liners

The six big sheets of this non-adhesive drawer and refrigerator shelf liners create a soft, absorbent, and decorative interior in your kitchen. Just cut the pieces to fit and they will not only look great in your drawers and lining your fridge shelves, they will also add some cushion and grip and make cleaning easy. The 28 colors and patterns range from bright and fresh to elegant and understated.

27. A roll-up drying rack to keep counter clutter to zero

Set this flexible and waterproof silicone dish drying mat down next to the sink when you are handwashing pans and dishes. It keeps the counters dry while letting your cookware drip dry because the silicone is waterproof and the mat has a raised e to keep water contained. The ridged pattern lifts dishes to allow airflow. The mat rolls up for storage and is easy to clean.

28. This gentle exfoliating brush that prevents razor bumps

Gently scrubbing your face, armpits, and any other area you plan to shave or wax with the soft silicone bristles of this exfoliating brush is the trick, according to over 17,000 five-star reviews, to preventing those bumps and ingrown hairs that mar the smooth effect you were going for. “This has been a life changer!” said one reviewer. “I no longer get itchy after shaving, the bumps have dramatically decreased, and the ingrown hairs are no longer trapped below layers of skin.”

29. The fun — though angry — toy that cleans the microwave

Who says adults can’t have toys? This Angry Mama is not only fun to have around for playtime, but she’s helpful. Pop off her purple hair, fill her with the included microwave cleaner, and microwave her for a few minutes. She will blow her top. And the steam from that angriness event will soften all the caked-on yick in your microwave so you have only to wipe it clean.

30. This clip-on book light for page-turners & travel

When you want to keep reading but the people around you are demanding lights out, pull out this clever little book light and clip it to your book. The bendable neck lets you position the beam exactly where you want it, you can choose a light color that works for you — white, daylight, or amber — and the clips attach to a book, laptop, headboard, or tablet. There are two here so you can share one with your travel companion.

31. This stainless steel spoon rest so your counters stay clean

Keep this minimalist, stainless steel spoon rest on the stovetop or counter so you always have a place to put down your stirring or tasting spoon as you cook — without leaving a mess that’s hard to clean up. It has silicone feet so it stays put and is quiet on hard surfaces and is easy to clean.

32. The pants hangers that work much better than coat hangers

Coat hangers — as the name suggests — were designed to hang coats. They work great for garments with shoulders but aren’t that awesome for pants. These wooden pants hangers, on the other hand, are built from the ground up for storing pants in a closet. The arm pulls out to make getting pants on them easy, they display your collection in two ways, and they take up much less space in the closet.

33. A lap desk so you can comfortably work from the couch or wherever

When you are trying to get work done from the couch, an airplane seat, or the lobby of a hotel, you can make the process easier by setting this laptop stand on your lap or whatever surface you can find. It has a pull-out mouse platform on both sides, dissipates the heat that your laptop generates, and has a non-slip surface so your laptop stays still.

34. This TV backlight that makes movies look so much better

When you install this lighting strip to the back of your TV, your movie viewing experience gets a surprising upgrade. It throws light at the wall behind your TV, which decreases the contrast between a dark room and what’s on the screen so it all looks better, and your eyes don’t have to work so hard to see the movie. Just peel and stick it to the back and plug it into a USB plug on the TV (or anywhere).

35. The thick & fuzzy throw blanket that creates cozy comfort

Drape this thick, warm, and cozy throw over the back of a chair or couch to give the room a welcoming look and so you have something soft and comforting to pull over you when the air conditioning blasts or the cat wants to sleep on your lap. It comes in 27 colors and patterns — some with fuzzy pom-poms — and some that are just simple, thick, and impossibly cushy.

36. This set of dividers that makes organizing your underwear drawer easy

No one wants to waste time folding socks and underwear only to have to empty the entire drawer out to find a pair to wear. This set of four drawer divider organizers solves this common problem. Each garment gets its own little cubby so you can easily stash things away and easily find what you are looking for. There are storage shapes that suit everything from socks to boxers, they come in seven colors, and you can stack them in deep drawers.

37. A 2-pack of multi-headed chargers for all your devices

Solve all your charging needs in one go with this two-pack of charging cables that have a USB plug on one end and every other charging plug you are ever likely to need — micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning — on the other. (There are two Lightning plugs.) The braided nylon cord is an upgrade from the usual rubber and they are so affordable.

38. These wireless LED lights that light up dark closets and cabinets

Illuminate any dark area of your home — a closet, entryway, bookshelf, or underneath a cabinet using these wireless LED lights. Installation is made simple using either heavy-duty adhesive tape or screws, both of which are provided. Easily control the lights using the wireless remote to adjust the brightness and even set an auto-off timer. Better yet, these lights are touch-sensitive and will turn on and off with a single finger tap.

39. These easy-to-clean floor mats that pamper your legs & back

If your feet, legs, and back get sore from working in front of a standing desk or in the kitchen, set one of these anti-fatigue mats down in front of your work area and make life more comfortable. It is nearly a half-inch thick gel foam and feels great on your feet. It’s also easy to clean and comes in three colors and four sizes.

40. This showerhead that turns bathing into a spa-like experience

If your current shower is weak and uninspiring, unscrew the showerhead and install this high-pressure rain showerhead instead. It pumps up the water pressure with its narrow nozzles, and douses you with a wide, rainfall-like experience that will make showering something you look forward to. It helps save water, too. It comes in six finishes.

41. These chalkboard labels that make it easy to identify everything

This pack of 96 chalkboard labels will transform your pantry, closet, and bathroom because you will be slapping labels on everything. Just write right on them with the included chalk marker to make it clear which canister has salt, which has sugar, what kind of coffee that is, and what’s in the bins in your closet and bathroom storage. They come in an assortment of shapes and you can erase them and write on them again.

42. This convenient little desktop trash can

Set this mini trash can on your desk to catch tea bags, wrappers, and tissues or on the counter so you don’t have to carry tiny things like onion skins and garlic peel to the trash can. It holds a little less than a half-gallon so you don’t have to empty it too often. The stainless steel swing top looks great and keeps your living space neat and tidy.

43. The desk caddy that keeps pens, notes, & sundries handy

Rein in the clutter by setting this handy desk organizer down on your work surface. It will keep everything from pens, sticky notes, and paperclips within reach but not littering up your desktop. There is a small drawer for things like pushpins and staples, a notepad holder, and five compartments for mail, scissors, and pens.

44. This large fogless shower mirror so you can see what you are doing

If you want to see in the shower to shave or put on a face mask, this big, fogless mirror will make that easier. Just hold it under the water stream to equalize the temperature of the mirror with the shower and it will reflect clearly. It’s 11 inches tall and hangs from a stick-on hook that comes with it so it will always be there when you need it.

45. A pair of extra-long silicone oven mitts so you don’t get burned

This pair of silicone oven mitts brings the skin protection you need when you are baking or barbecuing. The arms are long enough to cover your forearms, and the hands are made from heat-resistant silicone with a thick quilted lining to keep your hands safe — no matter how hot your baked goods are. The silicone also rinses so you can easily keep the mitts clean. They come in 15 colors and three lengths.

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