38 clever products that work shockingly well

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by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

With new technological advances being made every day, it's no surprise that there are so many high-tech home products readily available. Just take smart plugs, for instance. After installing them, you can essentially tell your electronics and appliances when to turn on and off. The best part? They work shockingly well. Believe it or not, there are tons of clever products on Amazon that work just as great — and you'll be glad you have 'em.

Those items aren't limited to tech gear, though. Whether you're in the kitchen chopping veggies, sitting at your desk in need of a cushion, gaming for hours on your laptop (which might overheat soon), or trying to keep your beer cold for long periods of time, there are unique products that'll help you out just as well as a smart plug will. And based on multiple product reviews (which Amazon has no shortage of), they all work so well that they're worthy of high ratings and undeniable praise.

To help you find your new favorite products (whether you're trying to smart-home your living space or not), I did some research and tracked down 42 of the best ones. After adding them to your cart, you'll find out just how well they work.

1. These highly absorbent dishcloths made of cellulose and cotton

I burn through so many cotton dishtowels while keeping dishes and counters clean — but these freakishly absorbent, sponge-like towels are a game-changer. Since they're made with a combination of cellulose and cotton, they can suck up huge amounts of water. However, they wring out completely so you can keep on using them whenever you need to. These towels can even go into the dishwasher or washing machine and come out ready to use again up to 50 times.

2. This squishy kitchen mat that you'll want to stay on all day long

If you're worn out after a day of standing at your desk or kitchen counter, I'll bet the problem is the floor under your feet. Is it hard? If so, you might want to soften it up with this squishy anti-fatigue mat. Since it's cushioned, it gives you a comfy place to stand and work. Reviewers have written they are incredibly comfy and stay put on your floor. There are plenty of patterns to choose from that will look great in a home kitchen.

3. A vegetable chopper that slices, dices, and spiralizes your produce

If you spend hours prepping meals for the week — or even just for a salad — you have probably longed for a prep cook to help. Who hasn't? This vegetable chopper is nearly that. It makes fast work of chopping, slicing, dicing, and spiralizing — and it'll even slice an egg perfectly. When you aren't using it, all the blades store neatly in the container that catches chopped vegetables.

4. The memory foam seat cushion that makes any desk chair comfortable

A cheap desk chair can wreak havoc on your lower back if you sit in it for long — and this memory foam cushion is the missing chair piece that you need. It will literally save your butt. The mat takes all the pressure off the bottom of your spine by providing a cushion above the hard chair surface. The seat uses the heat of your body to conform to the shape of your tush area, creating a perfect fit. Suddenly, that cheap chair is no longer hard and painful.

5. A cooling pad that protects your laptop when gaming gets heated

You sprang for an expensive gaming laptop, right? (Of course!) But when you play for any length of time, it gets so hot you could fry an egg on it. As tempting as that thought is, it probably isn't good for you or the machine. Laptops have limited space for cooling, but this cooling pad can help because it uses three powerful fans to provide airflow toward your machine. But it's also lightweight, so you can carry it in your laptop bag. It has two USB ports in the back and legs that raise and tilt your laptop to a more ergonomic angle.

6. This ring so you can hold your phone and coffee at the same time

Your phone is one hand. Your coffee is in the other. Okay, now how do you open the door? This phone ring can help. Slip the ring over one finger and hold your coffee in the same hand. Now, you're a functioning human again. That was so easy. This holder also serves as a stand, so you can set your phone down and still see the screen. You can stick the magnetic phone holder to your car's dash and in-car mounting system as well. It comes in several colors so you can stick to your own color scheme and still function.

7. The USB port that charges six devices at one time

So many devices. So few plugs. Even extension cords that boast USB plugs often only have one or two. Sort this entire problem, once and for all, with this six-port charging station. Put one on your bedside table to charge your phone, Kindle, and smartwatch at night. Put one on your desk for all the headphones, laptops, tablets, and gaming gear that you need to charge during the day. The 60-watt power supply delivers enough power to charge all your devices at the same time.

8. This phone stand that rises your device to viewing height

Zoom calls, Skype meetings, text notifications, and movies are on your table. Looking down at your phone is bad for your neck. Holding it in your hand leads to hand soreness. With this height-adjustable stand, you can set your phone or tablet at exactly the right angle and height for the task you are completing. It has a weighted base, so it will hold your phone or tablet steady.You'll be able to see your personal trainer for those virtual workouts, too.

9. The wireless charger that works for your phone and earbuds

There's no need to spend tons of money on wireless chargers anymore. This handy disk charger from Anker provides a fast charge to whatever device you have (whether you're working with an iPhone, Android, AirPods, or something else). It's thin and small, so it won't eat up your desk space. And it'll charge right through most cases. Just set your device down and let it get a charge without a cord. Drop it on your bedside table as you fall into bed instead of doing the nightly fumble with USB plugs.

10. An easy-to-use pitcher that makes cold brew in your kitchen

Cold brew is delicious and refreshing in the summer, but it's so expensive to buy already made. This cold brew coffee maker, though, has reviewers wondering why they ever wasted time and money buying it in stores and cafés. Put the coffee in the filter. Add water. Put it in the fridge. In the morning, your coffee will be ready, delicious, and cold. Just pour it into your cup and drink up. You'll never again have to show up at a morning meeting without coffee already in you.

11. A rapid egg cooker for quick-and-easy breakfast

Having a hard-boiled or poached egg is a great way to have a quick-and-easy breakfast. But even the most skilled cooks have trouble timing either of those dishes perfectly first thing in the morning. This egg cooker not only makes perfect eggs every time, but it does so quickly — and it's incredibly easy. All you do is load the eggs and push a button. When your eggs are ready, it shuts off and buzzes.

12. This cordless hand vacuum that's necessary for small spaces

Coffee grounds on the counter, cat food on the floor, and cat fur on the couch are small messes that are hard to clean up if you don't have a hand vacuum — and this one from Black + Decker delivers. It has plenty of suck. It comes with the attachments you need to get fur off the couch, food out of your keyboard, and crud out of tight corners. It's lightweight, and the dirt bowl is easy to see and clean. It also has a wildly convenient wall-mounted charger so you can grab it, clean up that mess, empty it into the trash, and stick it back on the wall.

13. A shelf that expands to add storage to closets

Need a little extra storage space in your closet? Just grab this expandable shelf. There are zero tools required for installation since it uses tension pressure to stay in place, and it's made from heavy-duty stainless steel composite pipe.

14. These 6-inch flashlights that provide 1,000 feet of light

You don't need a huge, bulky flashlight to see a long way in the dark. You are tough and smart. You need a tactical flashlight, instead. Each 6-inch flashlight in this two-pack offers a 1,000-foot beam of light. However, you can also use them to create a wide beam and light up the entire camp sight or project you're working on. They are small enough to fit in a pocket but powerful enough to deliver loads of bright light. Unlike those plastic ones you already have, these are also indestructible and water-resistant. Put one in your car, at the back door, in your camping rig, and in all your emergency kits.

15. A personal water filter straw for hydration emergencies

The LifeStraw removes over 99.9% of waterborne bacteria and waterborne protozoan parasites — and it even filters to 0.2 microns, turning not-so-clean water into something drinkable that surpasses the EPA standards. It's a best-seller with over 8,000 positive four- and five-star reviews.

16. A spray that prevents your glasses from fogging up

Do your glasses fog up easily when you're in humid or cold weather, or even when you're wearing a face mask? What about your car windshield or pool goggles? Don't worry, it's super easy to fix if you have the right tool. Just spray the offending surface with this Fog Gone, and then wipe and rinse. It'll prevent the fog from forming. The ingredients are all-natural — and according to reviewers, your glasses, goggles, mirror, and whatever will stop fogging for days.

17. The stainless steel bottle that keeps your drink cold for 24 hours

Pick your size. Pick your color. Skip the sticker shock. The Iron Flask is a double-walled, vacuum-insulated, stainless steel water bottle that comes in terrific colors and sizes that range from 14 to 64 ounces. Need a huge water bottle to keep in your office or car all day? Go big. Want something you can fit in a backpack? Go smaller and fill up often. These will keep ice water cold for up to 24 hours, and hot water warm for 12.

18. A lightweight, portable hammock that you can bring anywhere

Put this lightweight, comfortable hammock in your bag and you'll be ready for whatever happens. Stuck on an overnight ferry with no cabin? Lost in the woods? Getting tired during a hike? It's hard to know when you might want to sleep, but you can pretty much assume that you'll always want to be comfortable when you do.

This hammock is about the size of a grapefruit when packed, because it's made of parachute nylon. But when you hang it between two trees — or wherever you can find a place to attach the included loops — it becomes a roomy, comfortable place to lay your head. In fact, there's room for two of you to lay your heads in here, if you like each other well enough.

19. This comfortable posture corrector that you can wear under your shirt

Hunching over isn't great for your back and neck — and since it tends to get worse as you get older, it's worth making an effort to correct it now. If your mother isn't around every day to tell you to stand up straight, you need some sort of reminder. That's what this posture corrector does. It pulls your shoulders back so you stand up taller, and you only need to wear it for about 20 to 30 minutes per day. Plus, you can wear it under your clothes without a problem.

20. The affordable smartwatch that tracks messages, workouts, and more

At just $40, this smart watch is the cheaper alternative to pricier options — but many reviewers claim that it's just as good as the high-end versions. It's waterproof, tracks your movement and heart rate, connects to your phone so you can see notifications on your wrist, and has a touch screen. What it doesn't have is a huge price tag.

21. A screen magnifier for watching movies and videos on your phone

Sure, you could carry a laptop or tablet just to watch movies on a screen that's a reasonable size when you're traveling. Or, you could just carry this brilliant screen magnifier and watch movies on your phone. This thing only weighs 16 ounces and fits just about anywhere. It's easy to set up and plays your movies four or five times larger than your phone's screen. It's a simple magnifier within a stand. But paired with a phone, it's like having a small TV that stashes anywhere.

22. The book light that you can use at night without waking everyone up

There's no need to turn on all the lights and wake everyone up in your house when you want to read; just wear this book light around your neck. It points two LED lights at your book without illuminating the entire room. It's also flexible and completely hands-free, so you can direct the light where you want it. Each light has three brightness settings. You can use both lights or just one. All of this makes it useful for much more than reading. Wear it out for a night jog. Take it camping. Wear it to work on plumbing or the car or anywhere that's challenging to illuminate. Or you can use it to work on projects while watching a movie. It's also rechargeable and lasts a long time on a single charge.

23. This memory foam eye mask that doubles as headphones

It's hard to sleep on a plane or train or anywhere where there is a lot of noise or light. That's why you need this eye mask that's also a pair of headphones. It blocks the light, but it also lets you control the sound so you can play your favorite tunes or podcasts while you relax. It's Bluetooth-enabled, so there are no wires to connect to your music source. They're also soft and plush, thanks to the memory foam lining — so you can nap and sleep through the night with ease.

24. A clever solar phone charger that's apocalypse-ready

What happens if the power goes out? Well, I live in hurricane country where the power goes out for long stretches, so I'll tell you what happens: After a few hours, you want to charge your phone. People want to hear from you. Also, you need a flashlight. That's why you need this solar battery with two USB ports and a built-in light. After being powered by the sun, it charges your phone. (It charges two phones, in fact.) It also lights your way. When it's out of power, just put it in the sun to recharge it so your power is infinite.

25. This smart plug so you can have a voice-controlled house

When my morning alarm goes off, I tell Alexa to make coffee — and then I go back to sleep. Ten minutes later, she says, "Your coffee is ready." When I tell her I want to watch a movie, the lights go out and the projector comes on. You think I'm kidding. But it's all true. The secret to making this a reality is these smart plugs from Kasa. Connect them to your appliances, lights, and more — and you can Austin Powers your place with fun automation in an hour. Just download an app, connect it to your smart home system, and set up some routines.

26. The colorful, motion-activated night light for your toilet bowl

Getting a full night's sleep is always a challenge, right? Even if having to pee throughout the night doesn't wake you up irrevocably, turning on the bright light in the bathroom will. Install this motion-sensitive light in your toilet, though, and the whole thing becomes a light-hearted adventure that your sleeping brain can handle on its own. No stumbling, cursing, or glare to wake up your partner. No missing the bowl and hitting the wall in the dark. Just follow the glow directly to the bowl. The light turns on when it senses you coming and shuts off two minutes after you leave. You can even change the color or enjoy a light carousel that'll soon have you dreaming of a tiny circus boat in your john.

27. The shelf liners that help extend the life of your greens

By simply adding these liners to your refrigerator shelves and drawers, you can help extend the life of your produce to save yourself some money on groceries. They absorb excess moisture while simultaneously working to prevent bruising, and you can easily trim them to fit smaller spaces.

28. This mug tree made from durable steel

Instead of cheap plastic, this mug tree is made from chic steel that won't warp under pressure. There's enough space for up to 15 mugs, and one reviewer even raved that "the rack is very stylish and sturdy, and it looks nice next to my coffee machine."

29. A clip-on lens for your phone to help you take professional-looking photos

Sure, you could drop hundreds on a DSLR and go all intense hobby-mode on your vacation or food photography. But why? This clip-on lens is surprisingly effective, bringing a wide-angle lens, a macro lens, and a fish eye to the camera you always have with you (aka the one on your phone). It's so easy and so portable that you don't have to learn anything to take better pictures — just clip it on. It molds onto your phone's lens and gives you wider angles, tighter close ups, and fish-eyes photos.

30. This outlet cover that makes your plugs blend in

Don't clutter up your outlets with bulky plugs — just switch over to this sleek outlet cover. There's an extension cable wired into the base that allows you to use up to three plugged-in devices, and the cable itself is 3 feet long for added convenience.

31. This air purifier that helps ease allergies

Ever since I got a second cat, my eyes have been itching and watering. I know it's the pet dander. Or maybe it's pollen? It doesn't matter what it is, though, because this air purifier will catch it. It pulls smokey, dander-filled, or strong-smelling air in, breaks it down into harmless molecules, and then traps them in a carbon filter where they can't irritate your allergies. The system pulls air in from all sides, improving its coverage area. Reviewers have written that it even helps reduce animal and cooking odors, making it possible to "breathe again."

32. These air purifiers that are filled with activated bamboo charcoal

Hang one of these bags full of charcoal near the litter box. Stick one in your car. Jam one in your gym bag. According to the manufacturer, the bamboo charcoal used in each purifier is ten times more effective at eliminating unwanted odors than other kinds of charcoal because it's highly porous. And this package has four bamboo charcoal bags with grommets on each so you can hang them. It's an easy, inexpensive way to get rid of unwanted odors everywhere from your bathroom and closet to your car.

33. This tube of goop that repairs small holes in your wall

You don't need to bother with a messy bucket of spackle — just use this tube of goop the next time you need a small hole repaired. It's stored in a handheld bottle, and it works for hairs up to 3 inches in diameter. Plus, it won't produce flashback in pictures.

34. A water flosser that'll replace the string that you're used to

Not a flosser? That's a problem for your gums, and it probably displeases your dentist. Maybe the issue here is that you simply don't have the right tool. This water flosser won't take up your entire bathroom counter, and it isn't complicated or annoying to use like old-school tank water flossers. But it does an amazing job of irrigating your whole mouth, removing plaque, and keeping your gums in top shape. The water tank is attached to the flosser. It has a rechargeable battery. And it shoots water fast and furious between your teeth to really get things clean. Absolutely necessary if you have braces. Nice, though, even if you don't.

35. These workout bands for added resistance when you want it

You don't really need to find space for weights. Resistance bands can give you a similar workout, and they fit right in your sock drawer. That means you can bring them with you when you travel and save yourself the hassle of finding a gym on to go. This is the perfect set, because it comes with five different resistance levels. You can also double up the bands to find exactly the weight you want. Just hook them over something and do it. They come with illustrated instructions and access to an online workout guide.

36. The ab roller that brings strength to your core

This ab roller is so simple to use that you can drop and give your abs a hard-core workout right in your office or before you jump in the shower. No need to come up with an ab series; just put your hands on the roller handles and extend forward. Then, try to get back up. You will feel the burn. The set comes with an ab roller, a resistance band, and a mat for your knees.

37. This quiet coffee grinder that won't wake everyone up

You want your brew made from freshly grounded beans. The rest of your household doesn't want to wake up the sound of freshly grounded beans being prepared. Thankfully, the blades on this clever grinder are designed in a vortex shape that grinds coffee quickly and quietly. It has a removable bowl, too, so you can carry the coffee — and not the entire grinder — to your brewer and wash out the bowl. This is terrific if you also want to use the grinder for herbs, seeds, and spices.

38. A rotating fan that circulates air throughout the room

When it's hot, you want the air to move — and this Vornado tower fan is perfect for that. It doesn't just use power to accomplish this, though. It also uses clever engineering that creates a circular air movement in the entire room, not just for the person sitting in front of the fan. It's the sort of fan that works with your in-home system to improve airflow and perfect the ambient temperature. The fan has three speed settings and a handy remote to control them. It also has a timer to maximize efficiency. The low setting is quiet and effective. Some reviewers call the high setting a "windstorm."

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