43 clever products that are cheap as hell on Amazon

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by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

I love it when clever engineering results in the perfect combination of usefulness and affordability — and I'm ready to zone in on those kinds of products. I don't know about you, but I want to be ready for that moment when it's time to get on the spaceship and go to Mars. I certainly don't want to be the one missing launch because I was saying, "Hold on while I sell this enormous collection of absurd trinkets!" Either it's important enough to take on the next journey, or it wasn't useful enough to begin with. Thankfully, every one of these clever products on Amazon is worth owning in the long run — and they're cheap as hell.

I'm not saying I'm not living in the moment or giving up on Earth; I do care about this planet. I've still got work to do here (and many beach trips on the horizon, which will be even better with some of the products on this list). Not to mention, I have home projects in mind — including a kitchen revamp with some cool new cooking tools. To be honest, I'm still dialing in the gear that makes life operate smoothly here, and Amazon helps.

If you want to build a slick life-on-Earth kit that's easy to pay for, check this gear out.

1. These drink stakes that were designed for the beach

Set your beverage down in this drink holder that can be inserted into the sand or grass, and it won't spill or return to your lips hot and sandy. These steel stakes will fit a variety of bottles, cans, and cups. There are four in this pack, aka plenty for everyone in your party.

2. This tiny webcam cover for peace of mind after video calls

You may be spending your workdays on Zoom calls — but after your shift, you can easily conceal your webcam with this inexpensive plastic cover. It works every time and is super easy to deploy; just stick it on and slide it closed. Once you install it, you'll hardly notice it's there.

3. A clear shower curtain with pockets for your toiletries

Where should you put the razor, face cleanser, pumice stone, and all the other accouterments of a good shower? Right here in this shower curtain with clear pockets. Brilliant. Store whatever you need — even your backup supply of facecloths or sponges — in the pockets and use them from within the shower. You won't have to move every shower tool when you clean, and everything is always right where you want it. I love it when one thing does two jobs.

4. The surge protector with a flat plug and swiveling outlets

This surge protector can do it all. It has a flat plug, so it'll fit behind your furniture. You can even twist the plugs to close them when they aren't in use. It offers surge protection to protect your electronics from power bursts, and there are built-in wall mounts. Also? It's cheap and under $15. Keep a couple of these on hand so you don't end up with something less.

5. This soap dispenser that eliminates bottles in the shower

Easy to install. Easy to use. This shampoo, soap, and conditioner dispenser cleans up all the bottles in your shower by putting their contents into this wall-mounted unit. Once you get it set up, you just step into the shower, pump the product you want, and wash. Plus, your shower will be super tidy... all for less than the price of a pizza.

6. These umbrella hooks that hold your essentials at the beach

You can stop digging around in your beach bag for your hat, sunglasses, and phone because they're hanging right next to you on your beach umbrella. These hooks are brilliant; each one brings four roomy hooks to your umbrella so everything is in one spot. Each one's a perfect place to stash everything you want to keep out of the sand, and they are so cheap you can give one to your beach buddy.

7. This magnetic cord ranger for all your tech cables

If you want to get control over the wires in your life (but aren't into permanently installing clips on the furniture), this magnetic cord wrangler is a beautiful solution. Covered in gorgeously textured fabric, it's essentially one big magnet that grabs your cables and holds onto them. It's heavy, so you can just set it on your desk — where it'll look nice — and your cables will stay put. You can run your cables through the included collars if you'd, like but most cables just grab hold and stay.

8. A wireless keyboard for your tablet so you can work anywhere

A keyboard would make your tablet — or even your phone — so much more useful, right? Thankfully, this terrific little keyboard with a slide-out stand is compact and easy to use. It even looks slick, rendered in aluminum and white. It works with both Apple and Android products, as well as Windows. It also runs on batteries, connects wirelessly, and is thoughtfully laid out.

9. The anti-fog film that helps improve visibility in your car mirrors

While driving, you can't avoid what you can't see, right? That's why it's important to keep your windows and windshields clean. But what if they fog up or are made opaque by rain? Put pieces of this waterproof film in strategic places so you can always see through the haze to avoid what you need to. They are easy to install, water beads right off of them, and they don't fog.

10. A set of crampons to keep you from slipping on ice

Just pop these crampons onto your boots, and the traction spikes on the bottom will help your feet stay put in slippery winter conditions. They're made from durable stainless steel, and the velcro straps on the top make it easy to adjust how tight they feel on your feet. If you live in a snowy climate, consider these a must-have.

11. This floating dry bag that holds your essentials

If you're boating, swimming, surfing, or kayaking, a dry bag is a must-have or you'll soak your phone, lunch, towel, and other items that don't like to get wet. This one is not only inexpensive, but it also has a shoulder strap to make it easy to tote. The 10-liter size holds essentials like your phone, sunscreen, and a camera. (There are larger sizes, too.) It's completely waterproof when closed correctly — and if it has air in it, it'll float in the water. It comes in many shades, so you can create your own color-coding system.

12. These reusable silicone straws that open up for easy cleaning

Reusable straws are usually hard to clean without the right tools — but these ones? They open all the way up so you can easily wash them (or peek inside to see if they're definitely cleaned). They’re made of flexible silicone and can seal up again when you close them. Each pack of eight includes various colors.

13. A convenient dip cup for drive-up dining

Drive-up dining has become a thing, and drive-thru restaurants have always been convenient. But where do you put the condiments? Keep this clever dip cup in the car and snap it into your air vents so you have an in-car dining solution that gets messy dips out of your lap. If commuting while snacking is common in your life, it's a must-have. The try is engineered to hold every size of condiment packet out there.

14. This sealer that'll keep food fresh when you don't finish the bag

Once you open a bag of chips, cookies, cereal, or whatever... what do you do? Put it in another bag? Clip it shut? All of that is simplified by this bag sealer that creates a new seal on the bag you just opened — or any bag, for that matter. Nothing inside spills out or gets stale, and it's easy to use. Just press slowly over the open end as it creates a seal. Doesn't it seem like this should cost more than $8?

15. A slick waterproof speaker for the beach or poolside

Headed to the beach or pool? Bring your soundtrack with you. This durable little speaker is waterproof and tiny enough to clip to your beach bag. You could even clip it to your kayak so you can listen to tunes and take calls without dropping the paddles — and it's available in six colors.

16. The car storage unit for your center console that'll catch your phone

Ever dropped your phone in the gap between your seat and the console? Don't try to retrieve that while you're driving. You have to get out of the car, move the seat, and climb in upside down to get it out of there. Well, not if you install this car seat gap filler first. Not only will you have two extra USB charging ports, a cup holder, and a bit of organized storage — but you'll never drop your phone in that gap again (because that gap is gone).

17. This tiny dehumidifier that helps dry out small spaces

Perfect for a small closet, spice cabinet, or tiny bathroom, this little humidifier uses silica desiccant to absorb moisture from the air of any small environment. When it can't hold any more moisture, the visible beads change from orange to green. And when that happens, plug it in and an internal heating element will dry it out again so it can go back to work in a few hours. Except for that occasional dry-out, it's wireless.

18. A portable travel iron that's also a clothes steamer

It's a steamer! It's a tiny iron! However you want to get the wrinkles out of your clothes, it accommodates. Thanks to its dual voltage, this mini iron is great for travel around the world, and it heats up quickly with three temperature settings for various fabric types. Plus, it comes with a convenient travel bag and a measuring cup for easy filling.

19. This plug with multiple outlets & two built-in USB ports

Homes of the future will all have outlets like this, with six normal plugs and two USB plugs. The plugs right into your current outlet and has a built-in surge protector.

20. These pan protectors that'll help prevent storage scratches

If you have to stack your pans or delicate serving and mixing bowls to store them, these polyester felt pan protectors will give them a soft landing to prevent scratches and dings. They come in three different sizes that'll fit a wide range of pans and bowls (thanks to their unique star-shaped design). If you have a pan that's too small, just trim one to fit it. You'll get 12 of them, so this is a tiny investment to preserve your expensive pans. They're also soft and gentle on delicate surfaces.

21. These clips so you don't have to twist-tie the bread

Do you find twist-ties annoying? Well, you are going to love these bag clips. They take all the irritation out of that daily event and turn it into an act of grace: Spin the bag while depressing the clip. Snap bag into clip. Release. You will use these for all kinds of bags once you have a few on hand and have mastered your quick-spin technique. This is a three-pack.

22. This upright stand that charges your phone wirelessly

This is such a cheap way to improve the functionality of your phone. Set your Qi-compatible phone in this charging stand and you'll be able to glance at the screen to see who's calling or messaging without actually picking it up. (And your phone will be getting a wireless charge the whole time it sits there.) This sounds like something that would cost serious money, but this version from Anker costs less than dinner.

23. An ergonomic mouse pad that’ll upgrade your workstation

It seems like such a small thing, but a good mouse pad can be a huge upgrade to your computer. This ergonomic memory foam mouse pad is angled to help keep your wrist and arm aligned while working long hours at the computer. The soft, smooth surface offers plenty of room to move your mouse around, and there’s a nonslip base to help the mouse pad stay in place.

24. These waterproof phone cases for more protection at the pool

Instead of keeping your phone in your pocket during poolside gatherings or kayaking trips trust these universal waterproof phone cases to keep it dry. It seals the water out, but you can still use your phone through the protective layer. There's no need to drop a fortune on a difficult-to-install waterproof case for your occasional water-sports outing. This two-pack is so cheap that you could bring a spare for a friend. They come with lanyards, too.

25. A tool that makes chopping salad so easy

Throw all the salad ingredients — lettuce, carrots, cucumber, whatever — into a bowl, and then use this clever tool to chop everything up; your chopped salad will be ready in seconds. It works quickly, and the two steel blades make easy work of preparation. All you need is vegetables and a cutting board, and you'll be making salads on the regular.

26. These food containers that collapse for simple storage

Do your food storage containers take up more space than the food in your cabinets? It's a surprisingly common (and irritating) problem. These silicone upgrades to the classic plastic or glass storage units don't cause that issue. They each have a snap-on lid, but they also collapse down small enough to store in a drawer. They're great for keeping leftovers or for carting lunch to work because they go right into the freezer, microwave, and dishwasher. They even have a vent in the lid for microwaving. People with small kitchens, rejoice.

27. This container that brews tea right into your mug

Tea can easily coincide with beautiful teapots, special cups, and closets full of flavors. But when you just want a quick cup, you usually want a simple way to brew it — and fast. Spoon your lovely tea leaves into this teapot, pour on the water, and then open a valve at the bottom. Then, your tea will flow from the bottom of the teapot directly into your cup. No spills, no hassles — just tea made right.

28. A suction tool that helps cure itchiness from bug bites

This suction device is designed to pull venom from a bug bite to help prevent itchiness and swelling. It's a simple, inexpensive tool — but apparently, it works. Reviewers have claimed that it makes going outside bearable in mosquito season. Since it's tiny and portable, it'll fit in your pocket or purse.

29. This clip-on lamp that brightens dark corners

This little lamp can go anywhere, clip on, and provide your project with plenty of white light. It's battery-powered and rechargeable via USB, so you can take it anywhere — a dorm room, camping trip, barbecue, your own side of the bed, and more. It can stand on its own and clip onto a shelf, headboard, or just about anything. The gooseneck offers some swivel, so you can direct the light where you want it. It also has three light levels to suit your needs.

30. A stretchy resistance band with 7 different rings

Resistance bands are cheap and easy to use — and they can be stored almost anywhere. Not to mention, they offer a terrific strength and stretching workout. Compared to the rest, this heavy-duty rubber set has a super clever design. It has seven rings on one band so you get the resistance you want without changing to a different band or wasting time switching weights.

31. This genius phone stand that can fit in your pocket

This phone stand is so small you can whip it out of your pocket and set up shop wherever you are. It's a hinged piece of plastic with hooks to rest your phone on; use it horizontally or vertically. There are eight in the package (all of which are different colors), so you don't have to fret if you lose one. Clever design, low price — gotta love that.

32. These bamboo toothbrushes that'll replace your plastic ones

You know what happens to that plastic toothbrush when it's time for a new one? Nothing good, because it's plastic. You might be done with, it but the earth won't be. Your bamboo toothbrush, though, will be well on its way to being decomposed by the time you need a fresh brush. These use soft nylon bristles, and you'll get five in the pack.

33. This tool that slices a lemon in seconds

In my opinion, fresh lemon juice is awesome in every beverage (and on so many foods). The same goes for limes, but slicing citrus is tiresome unless you set them in this tool and press. One whole lemon sliced at once — that's enough sliced lemon to flavor both drinks and meals for a while.

34. The sponge holder that dispenses soap when you push down

This soap pump dispenser is a must-have for my spaceship kitchen. First, fill it with dish soap and then stash the dish soap bottle out of sight. Next, get rid of whatever dish you're putting the sponge in — because now, your sponge (which is included) sits right on top when it's not in use. Ready to wash? Just pump the sponge and the dispenser will fill it with soap for you. This is seriously so tidy.

35. This portable fan you can bring just about anywhere

The hot bus ride, that humid day outside, the inadequately ventilated office you're working in, and more — all solved by this portable fan. Stand it on the desk, hold it in your hand, wear it around your neck, and enjoy the breeze it creates in your own personal cone of summer breeze. This is a must-have for hot climates and heatwaves, and it's so tiny it fits in your backpack. Plus, it's rechargeable.

36. A toothpaste dispenser that can be mounted to your wall

You'll have the perfect amount of toothpaste automatically deposited on your brush when you stick it unto this wall-mounted dispenser. It gets clutter up off the vanity area, and it's fun to use. This is touchless and hygienic — and since no humans squeeze the tube once it's installed, you'll never have to clean toothpaste up off the counters again.

37. These heavy-duty suction hooks that hold over 10 pounds each

These super-powerful suction hooks will transform your kitchen and shower into useful spaces that hold everything you need within reach. They are so easy to install; just clean the surface and press the button to squeeze out all the air. They hold on tight enough to hang 11 pounds from one hook — so if you hanker for a life where your towel, shampoo, or kitchen utensils are exactly where you want them, this will get it done.

38. These soap dishes that drain excess water into the sink

When you set a bar of soap onto a classic soap dish, the soap disintegrates slowly in a puddle of its own making. Then, you get a soggy bar the next time you pick it up. Plus, sponges that sit in their puddle grow mildew and start to smell. This soap dish makes that problem disappear by funneling the excess water away from the soap or sponge and into the sink where it drains. Clever and inexpensive? Gotta have that.

39. The silicone toilet brush that doesn't hold water

Oftentimes when you've cleaned the toilet, the excess water on the brush is, well... dirty. And it doesn't get much better when you set that brush into its holder with the same water. This toilet brush does better than that. It's made of flexible silicone, so it'll last a long time and be gentle to the bowl, which is good. Even better: The water drains into a catch basin under the holder that can be emptied into the toilet, leaving the brush to dry. These can stick to the wall, which makes cleaning the bathroom easier.

40. These soft duvet clips that keep your bedding in place

Sleeping under a duvet in a crisp, clean cover is a lovely thing — that is until the duvet ends up bunched up in one corner and you spend half the night struggling to straighten it out. These soft duvet clips hold the duvet to the cover so that never happens. They're soft and flexible button-like clamps that have no needles or sharp edges for you to encounter.

41. A collapsible hanging trash can that comes in handy while cooking

This is a clever little trash can. It has a very thin profile until you pull it out — and then, it opens right up to give you plenty of room for trash. It's great for hanging at the edge of counters so you can sweep crumbs and cut food discards into it. Clip it inside a cabinet, under the sink, or to the car door. You can also hang one in a tiny bathroom to save floor space, or stand it on the ground and fold it away when you aren't using it.

42. This tiny vacuum cleaner for your desk or dinner table

When cleaning up after a dinner party, set this tiny vacuum cleaner down on the table and glide it around to clean up the crumbs. It's just as useful for your car's interior or work desk, getting the gunk out of small gaps and crevices. It's battery-operated, so it can go anywhere — and it's particularly good for cleaning keyboards.

43. This spray that stops your lenses from fogging up

Tired of winding up with cloudy glasses when you walk outside? Just give your lenses a few spritzes with this anti-fog spray. It's safe to use on all types of non-AR-coated glass or plastic, including swim goggles, ski masks, binoculars, hockey masks, and more. Plus, each bottle comes with enough for up to 400 applications.

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