Clever things for your home you'll wish were invented sooner

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by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

The phrase “the greatest thing since sliced bread” often gets tossed around as a way of saying that something is awesome. But it always makes me wonder when people went from tearing off hunks of bread (or sawing through it themselves) to buying bread already sliced. It happened in 1928, apparently, when the bread slicing machine was invented. Sliced bread is pretty ideal and I’ll bet everyone who bought that first loaf, already sliced, wished it had been invented sooner. In the spirit of that kind of innovation — the kind that makes daily tasks easier — I present these also very clever things for your home that you’ll wish were invented sooner.

There is nothing here as complex as a bread slicing machine but, in the same way that I imagine the sandwich lovers of 1928 felt, you will wonder how you lived without them for so long. There are items here that can improve the efficiency of everywhere from the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, to the garage. Whether your quest involves finding an excellent and compact colander to more easily strain pasta or wash produce, some innovative lighting for your kitchen or cabinets, or a more luxurious shower experience, you’ll find it here. Read and discover.

1. A set of nesting metal bowls with airtight lids

Expand your mixing, prep, and storage options with this set of stainless steel bowls that nest easily inside each other for storage, and come with a lid for each bowl. Whip some cream, then put a lid on the bowl you whipped it in to store the finished product in the fridge with no waste and extra dirty dishes. These are super handy, and better than that, easy to store. Even the lids nest so you can fit the whole kit into a small space.

2. The super absorbent dishcloths that are better than paper towels

If you love the way paper towels grab liquid fast but want to cut down on waste, these weird Swedish dishcloths — made from cellulose and cotton — will help. They are super absorbent, have the flexibility of cloth, and are a little scrubby when dry so they handle all the situations you turn to paper for, and then some. Just put them in the dishwasher or washing machine to clean them and use them over and over.

3. This simple wireless doorbell with so many ringtones

Installing this wireless doorbell is super easy and the result is astonishingly good. Just mount the bell at your entry and plug the receiver into any indoor plug. Then choose your doorbell tone from the 50 available. It comes with two doorbell buttons so you can cover front and back doors, has a 1,000-foot range, and is powered by an included battery that lasts three years. It withstands all sorts of weather, and lights up to make pressing the bell easy.

4. A cold brew solution that’s elegant & efficient

Making your own cold-brew coffee is easy and will save you so much money. And this cold brewer is the elegant tool that will do it beautifully. The glass carafe is solid and stylish, the sleeve that holds grounds is a fine mesh that keeps sludge out of your brew, and the spill-proof lid makes it easy to store your supply in the fridge. It comes with a scoop and a funnel to make brewing easy.

5. This compact charging station for your devices

If you own multiple devices and want to charge all of them at once, this charging station is an easy answer. It has four ports and comes with three different types of cords to charge Apple, Android, and other devices. The hub features dividers to prop up each device, as well as built-in LED lights which automatically turn off when devices are fully charged.

6. A lap desk so you can work comfortably on the couch or bed

Instead of sweating under a hot laptop that’s never quite the right angle to work on the couch, set this lap desk down on your lap and put your laptop on it. Its built-in heat shield will keep the heat of your machine away from your legs, and the grippy surface holds the computer in place. There is a slide-out mouse pad on either side so you can give your hands a break from the glide pad and it slips easily into your laptop bag.

7. An easy-to-assemble bamboo plant stand

When a plant is too big for the window sill but too small to sit on the floor, this bamboo plant stand steps in to give it the perfect place to live. It elevates a 10-inch pot (there are also stands for 8- and 12-inch pots) off the floor so it looks more substantial and can better reach the rays coming in the window. The stand’s two pieces screw together in just a minute and the result is sturdy and attractive.

8. This showerhead for great water pressure & a rainfall-like deluge

Improve everything about your shower by unscrewing your old showerhead and screwing in this high-pressure rainfall shower head instead. It boosts water pressure and reduces water use (if you install the water restrictor) while bathing you in an absolute downpour of fast-moving water for an incredible shower. It does it by forcing water through 90 narrow, silicone nozzles. It comes with everything you need to install it, including Teflon tape and water filters.

9. The bath pillow that helps you relax in the tub

If the hard edges of your bathtub take some of the muscle-melting relaxation out of your hot-water soak, stick this soft and cushy bath pillow onto that hard surface before you lie down. It traps a layer of air between you and the hard tub to create a soft pillow so you can soak for longer. Six big suction cups hold it in place in the tub, it has its own zippered travel case, and it comes in three sizes.

10. These elegant glass storage jars for your pantry

This set of four borosilicate glass canisters is the perfect way to organize your pantry. The thick, clear glass is safe for all foods and lets you see what’s inside so you don’t need labels. The stainless steel lids look great, unscrew easily, and form an airtight seal so nothing goes stale. The wide mouths make it easy to get food in and out. They come in four sizes, ranging from 27 to 72 ounces.

11. This banana hanger for ripe fruit without clutter

Bananas — and most fruits that grow in trees — ripen best when they are hanging. This banana bungee hanger gives them what they want. And, since you can mount it anywhere, it also keeps your bananas off the counter. Attach it under a cabinet, from the mug rack, or from the passthrough. Your gently ripening bananas — one or an entire bunch — will be within reach but out of the way.

12. A waterproof sink organizer to keep counters dry

This silicone organizer mat with rivulets to trap water keeps your counters free of the drips and suds that are shed from soap bottles and sponges. And it looks good doing it. At four inches deep, it fits behind the sink in most kitchens to provide a durable, easy-to-clean surface to set all your dripping clutter on. Put it in the dishwasher occasionally to keep it clean. It comes in nine colors.

13. These puck lights you can control with a remote or by touch

This simple solution for kitchen, closet, shelf, and cupboard lighting is transformative. Simply stick the puck lights (this is a 3-pack) where you want light and put harsh overhead fluorescents and confusing accessory lighting systems behind you. You can turn them all on — and choose the brightness level — with the remote. Or tap a single light right where you want better illumination. They run on batteries, throw a warm white light, and the LEDs never need to be replaced.

14. A tidy place for the mops, rakes, brooms & cleaning tools

Mount this clever rack to the inside of a door, a wall in the mudroom, or somewhere in the garage and stop tripping over stray mops, brooms, and rakes. Their long handles snap into the three clamps while four hooks hold rags, hand tools, and dusters. What once required an entire closet now fits tidily on a small stretch of wall.

15. This pair of sturdy magnetic shelves that stick to the fridge

Create a spice rack or a place for your most-used condiments right on the fridge with this two-pack of metal shelves with powerful magnetic backs that stick them firmly on. They will turn that big wasteland of space — the side of your fridge — into a useful storage area in seconds. “They're super sturdy, hold a ton, and are the perfect size,” said one reviewer. “We loaded one with bottles to see how much it could hold and it did not budge!”

16. A tiered rack with a drawer for better cupboard organization

This three-tiered storage rack immediately solves so many in-cupboard problems. Set your canned goods, jars of condiments, or spices on the steps so you can see what’s in the back and use the drawer for hard-to-store items like bullion and condiment packs. The shelf has three steps and there are two compartments in the drawer.

17. These electric bug zappers to eliminate unwanted pests

This electric bug zapper is made in the shape of a miniature tennis racket to make it easy to swat away insects indoors or outside. Although the battery-operated 3,500-volt grid will eliminate bugs, the safety mesh ensures that humans needn’t worry about getting zapped.

18. A salad & vegetable spinner that makes washing fast & easy

There will be no more wet salad in your life once you own this high-quality salad spinner. Fill the inner basket with greens or vegetables and rinse them clean. Then set that basket into the spinner and pull the handle to spin the basket to use centrifugal force to remove all the water. You will have a dry salad in seconds. A brake button stops the spinning and the water pours right out through the spout.

19. This set of 10 reusable silicone straws in a travel bag

This set of straws will quickly update all the straws for your travel bottles while also stocking your kitchen with plenty of drinking straws for home use. They are made of silicone, which feels soft on your teeth (without melting like paper) and can go in the dishwasher for disinfecting. The colors are muted and pretty. And they come with a straw-cleaning brush and a storage bag so you can bring them all with you to a picnic.

20. These cable clips so your chargers stay where you want them

Instead of setting a stapler or book down on your charger cable so it’s still there when you look for it, stick one of these six cable clips to that spot and snap the cable into it. That way you can actually use the stapler without losing your cable. Each of these six clips holds one cable, peels and sticks to the desk, counter, or bedside table, and holds a cord right where you want it.

21. This smart light bulb that’s also a speaker

Install ambient lighting effects and a Bluetooth speaker in your room simply by changing the bulb with this LED lightbulb with integrated Bluetooth speaker. Just screw it in and use the remote to choose lighting color, brightness, or effect. Then connect it to your phone and it will play music. It’s a great way to add music and light to a workroom, closet, or kitchen and reviewers love it, giving it almost 6,000 five-star ratings.

22. A pack of hanging insect traps for closets

If you don’t love the smell of mothballs but want to protect your delicate natural fabrics, these moth traps are one solution for your closet. While they attract and trap moths, they’re designed to not have a strong smell to humans. One reviewer described: “Tried all the usual moth repellent solutions -- cedar shavings, moth balls, lavender sachet, etc. Nothing worked until I bought these.” Plus, they have built-in hooks to make them really easy to hang up. They come in a pack of seven, and each trap lasts for up to three months.

23. A wall shelf that brings instant order to the bathroom

If you want a place for everything so you can put everything in its place, this wall-mounted shelving unit designed for the bathroom is that place. There are covered hooks for your toothbrushes, cups that magnetically hang upside down, a toothpaste dispenser that’s easy to clean, a shelf for your sundries, and a drawer to secret away small items. It comes with a peel-and-stick mounting system.

24. The cute plant that’s actually a rechargeable desk lamp

It might look like a plant, but this adorable lamp is the one throwing the light, not seeking it. The gooseneck stalk bends in any direction to point the natural-looking LED where you want it. There are three brightness levels — just touch the leaves in the pot to adjust them. And it has a built-in rechargeable battery so you can take it wherever you want it. There’s even a well in the pot for your pencils or other tools.

25. An armchair tray that’s an easy place to set your drink

If there is no convenient place to set a cocktail or cup of coffee when you’re relaxing on the couch or in your favorite recliner, lie this clever arm-chair tray over the arm. The felt underbelly and flexible sides keep the flat tray in place on arms of any shape. And the rubbery surface of the tray doesn’t let beverages slip. It comes in six colors.

26. This set of salt & pepper shakers with 3 pouring options

This beautiful set of stainless steel and glass salt and pepper shakers will do more than spruce up your table. They make getting salt and pepper onto your plate an accurate and pleasurable process. There are three pouring options — just dial in the one you want — along with a closed setting to keep spices fresh. They also hold half a cup so one fill-up lasts a long time.

27. This rack so you can store stemmed glass anywhere

Free up some cupboard space by moving your stemmed glassware to the underside of a shelf, cupboard, or anywhere you can attach this clever wine glass rack. The three rows of the rack can hold three to nine glasses, depending on the size, turning them from a storage challenge to a decorative element. It comes with all the mounting hardware needed and is available in three finishes.

28. The Nespresso pod dispenser with built-in sugar bowl

Streamline your morning brew with this smart Nespresso pod dispenser and sugar bowl that also looks gorgeous on the counter. It turns your sleek coffee pods into a display, and makes choosing a brew easy. The canister in the center is the perfect place to keep sugar — or whatever you sweeten your cup with — and comes with a matching spoon.

29. These towel hooks that stick where you put them

These low-profile, adhesive towel holders stick anywhere to hold a hand or dish towel within easy reach. Just peel and stick them where you want a towel, then press the fabric’s edge into the cross-shaped jaw. The towel stays there but is easy to remove when you need it. “The simplicity of this product was exactly what I needed,” says one reviewer. “It was easy to install and easy to use. The towel does not fall out when drying hands.”

30. This handy utensil rest that holds all your tools

Put this silicone utensil rest on your counter so that when you stir, taste, or serve your creations, you’ll have a place to set the tool you used without making a mess on the counter. It will hold four utensils at once, elevated so the sauces don’t mix, and catches all the drips on the lipped tray below. It comes in 20 colors and two sizes.

31. This bag cincher that’s easier than the one that comes with the bread

If your impulse is to toss (or lose) that irritating bag tie that came with your bread, do it! Use these well-designed cinchers instead. Just press the button to open them, give the bag end a twist, and close them over the twisted bag. They hold tight, are fun to reclose, and you can keep using them forever. This is a three-pack.

32. A phone charger with a flat plug for behind the furniture

When there’s no room for a bulkier charger that sticks out from the wall, use this thin and flat USB wall plug. It is less than an inch thick and has two USB plugs that come out of the bottom so it will fit snugly behind the bed, bedside table, or shelves. And its 12-watt output will also charge your phone quickly.

33. This chopper that makes fast work of food prep

Prep a meal — or an entire week’s worth of meals — super fast with this quick food chopper. Just set your cheese, fruits, or vegetables on one of the three blades and press the pusher down. It will chop the entire thing with that one movement, and catch the cut pieces in the bin. The blades snap in and out easily so you can quickly change the size of your pieces. And a handy lid turns the catch basin into in-fridge storage.

34. A bamboo & microfiber mattress cover that protects & cools

Cover your mattress with this deluxe bamboo and microfiber cover to protect it from spills and messes while adding a delightful cooling comfort to your bed. The deep pockets hold onto even a thick mattress so it won’t pop off. And the rayon microfiber and bamboo fabric, along with the honeycomb baffling, circulate air to help keep you cool and dry. It’s easy to machine wash and available in six sizes.

35. A sleek food scale that measures in grams or ounces

When you’re baking, trying to eat healthier, or just need to know what things weigh, this digital scale is a simple solution. Set any container on it and zero out to eliminate its weight from the measure, then add your food and weigh. It measures weights up to 11 pounds and switches easily from grams to ounces. It comes in nine colors that will look great in your kitchen.

36. This set of protective silicone oven mitts & pot holders

This set of four oven mitts and pot holders will protect your hands and counters from hot pans. The two gloves go high up on your arm for extra safety, and the glove’s hands are covered in a heat-resistant silicone that’s grippy and easy to wash. The two silicone pot holders bend easily around a pan or handle and sit neatly on counters so you can set hot things on them. You can choose from seven colors.

37. The soap pump that’s easy to use when hands are dirty

The wide pump top of this attractive soap dispenser makes it easy to get a dollop of soap into your hands even when they’re covered in meat juices or dirt you don’t want to spread onto the dispenser. Just use a wrist or the heel of your hand to pump. The dispenser holds 12 fluid ounces and is finished in three elegant color combinations.

38. A lighted keyboard for a slicked-up computer rig

This full-size backlit keyboard with multicolored LED lights will dress up your rig whether you’re using it to play games or to work. Tap a few keys to turn on the rainbow breathing mode for a cool lighting effect. The effects turn off after a few idle minutes but turn on again when you tap the keys. It’s fun and better for your hands than typing on a laptop.

39. This under-door draft stopper that moves with the door

Slide this draft stopper under your door to keep your heating and air conditioning inside and exterior noises and drafts outside. It’s easy to install. Just cut the memory foam tubes right to the size of your door and slide them into the heavy-duty cotton sleeves. Then slide it under your door. Two inches of foam insulate your interior not only from drafts but also from smoke, sounds, dust, and light.

40. The splatter screen that’s also a strainer & cooling rack

Set this high-quality splatter screen down over a pan to stop grease and messes from getting all over the stovetop. It lets the steam out so it won’t change the way food cooks, but the fine mesh keeps oil in the pan. It also doubles as a strainer, letting water through the mesh while keeping food in the pan. And, if you flip it over, the feet elevate the screen so you can use it to cool cookies and other baked goods. Almost 23,000 people give this versatile kitchen tool five stars.

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