46 smart things under $35 we regret not buying sooner

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.

by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

For years, I dreaded cleaning the oil off of my favorite popcorn pan. (But what can a popcorn artist like myself do?) I also dreaded the necessary act of chopping garlic for the many dishes that require chopped garlic. Not to mention, I’ve even held up the line at the airport because my luggage was too heavy, and — like so many others — used toilet paper when there was an alternative option available online. These were all mistakes I can’t undo — but if I bought one of these smart products from Amazon sooner, I could’ve avoided making them. You can, too.

I’ve rounded up the coolest things that we, the commerce editors at Bustle Digital Group, regret not buying sooner. Whether you’re trying to trim your power bill, save time, keep your money protected inside your wallet, or even stay hydrated throughout the day, there’s something here to help. And trust me, I am no longer washing that popcorn pan, chopping garlic the old way, or guessing how much my luggage weighs — and you shouldn’t be either. There are smarter ways to do all of that, and you’ll find it right here. What makes them even better is that they’re all under $35.

1. These bulbs that turn on when you’re around

If there are little-used rooms or closets in your house, these motion-sensor bulbs are a great way to save power and make your home more helpful. All you do is screw a bulb into the light fixture that’s there and that light will automatically come on whenever someone approaches. And you never have to remember to turn it off again because they’ll turn themselves off a few seconds after you leave.

2. A lemon squeezer that’s fast & easy to use

Love fresh lemon in your food and beverages? A good hand-held lemon squeezer makes that flavor so much faster and easier to enjoy and extracts every last drop from every lemon. This nylon and stainless steel squeezer is the model that serious citrus fans swear by. Once you whip through a bag of lemons, you will wonder how you managed without this fast, simple, and easy-to-wash kitchen tool.

3. This garlic twist so you never have to chop garlic

You’ll never get back the time you’ve wasted spent mincing garlic, but you never have to do it again. Just put a few cloves into this brilliant garlic twister, put the lid on, and twist. It minces the garlic quickly without messing up a cutting board or leaving unwanted odor on your hands. And you can just empty the minced garlic into the pan and toss the garlic twist in the dishwasher.

4. A touchless dispenser for hand or dish soap

You’ll regret all the bars, pumps, and bottles you’ve wasted money on in the past the very first time you put your hand under this dispenser and get some soap without ever toughing it. It has a dial that lets you preset how much soap will come out, and you can fill it with your favorite soap. It’s battery-operated and works just as well for dish soap as hand soap.

5. This essential oil diffuser that runs all night long

Put a few essential oil drops into the water of this diffuser and change the mood in your bedroom or office. Not only will it smell great, but the humidity will feel good on your eyes and skin. It has a large capacity that’ll run for up to 12 hours, and gives a lovely light show while it operates.

6. A luggage scale so you never have to pay for excess baggage

Never get to the airport with luggage that’s too heavy again. Just attach this tiny scale to the handle of your suitcase and lift to see an accurate weight for your bag displayed on the screen. It is small enough to carry with you, so you can even see if your vacation purchases will exceed the weight limit when you head home.

7. This insulated coffee mug that’s a pleasure to sip from

Most thermal coffee mugs are great at holding your coffee at temperature but unpleasant to drink from. This Fellow Carter Everywhere Mug has a wide mouth so you can smell your coffee as you sip and test the temperature before you burn your mouth. The lip is tapered, so it feels nice to sip from — and the mug is lined with ceramic so the coffee never tastes metallic. It’s designed to fit coffee maker and cup holders and will quickly become your go-everywhere companion.

8. A sleep mask that’s soft and comfortable

Wrap this comfy eye mask around your head and drift off to sleep. It is soft, adjustable, and completely blocks out light so you can snooze — even on an airplane. The cover and interior are made of soft, plush cotton so it feels good on your skin and breathes while you relax so you don’t wake up puckered. It even protects the delicate skin around your eyes from pillowcase friction.

9. A tiny speaker that’s cheap & sounds amazing

The days of saving up for a new outdoor speaker to connect to your phone are over. This mini waterproof Bluetooth speaker from legendary speaker maker Cambridge Soundworks changed the game. It sounds great, works flawlessly, looks cool, and is under $35. You can even connect two of them together to make a duplex sound system.

10. This water bottle that reminds you to hydrate

Stay hydrated without overthinking it by filling this gallon water bottle that keeps track of your intake. All you do is sip and eyeball it throughout the day to make sure you’re on track. If there’s water above the time on the clock, it’s time to sip. Inspirational phrases keep your motivation up and there is a color for every vibe.

11. These storage bins that store easily when empty

These storage bins are the perfect size. They fit on most shelves, hold a manageable amount of folded shirts, toys, or whatever you need to wrangle, and look great doing it. And when they aren’t full, they can be flattened down easily for storage so you can keep a stack of them at the ready as you organize. This is a three-pack.

12. A gel pen that erases & is a pleasure to write with

If you prefer to write with a high-quality Pilot pen — but often write with pencil instead so you can erase your mistakes — let me introduce you to the best of both worlds. These erasable Pilot gel-ink pens glide beautifully on paper, but they’re actually erasable. According to nearly 20,000 fans of this technology, these are the best pens ever.

13. These pocket notebooks that can withstand the rain

Here’s a notebook that won’t turn mushy if inspiration — or the need to jot down a reminder — happens in a torrential downpour. These waterproof notebooks and all of your notes will survive your pocket, even if you put your pants in the wash or get caught in the rain. Popular with all sorts of professions that occur outside, you will wonder why you waited to get a notebook that lives in the same world you do.

14. A set of broom clips to create the perfect storage system

Never again get smacked in the head again by a mop or broom flying out of the closet when you open the door. Mount these broom clips anywhere and stick the broom handle, vacuum cleaner hose, mop, or anything with a handle into the clip. It will stay right there. There are four, so you can design the storage that fits your space.

15. A fast-drying towel that’s perfect for the beach bag

These beautiful Turkish towels aren’t just eye candy, they are super versatile and useful. Lie on one as a beach towel, wrap another around your waste, wrap your wet hair in it, or use it as a bath towel. Since the fabric is thin and absorbent, they dry quickly and release sand easily. Plus, you can fit six of them in the space a fluffy towel would need. They’re perfect for your beach bag.

16. This slim wallet that’s intelligently designed

This cleverly designed wallet holds everything you need in a small, flat space that fits in your front pocket so you can access your cash or cards when you need to. There’s an outside pocket for you often-used card, a money clip inside to wrangle cash, and an ID window. It holds just enough and won’t hog too much space.

17. This grater that handles everything from cheese to zest

This pro-level grater is so sharp and easy to use that you’ll wonder why you struggled with a cheap box grater or tiny lemon zester for long. The sharp stainless steel blades of this handle grater will become your go-to device for everything from zesting lemon to grating cheese, ginger, chocolate, and coconut. And it’s so easy to clean.

18. A shelf that’s designed to fit under the sink

The chaos under the sink doesn’t have to be like that. This shelf is designed to fit around all the plumbing under your sink so you can take advantage of the vertical space for storage. You just assemble it around the pipes you have, moving the upper shelves to where you have free space. You’ll double your storage space while making it easier to find things.

19. This armband that keeps phone & keys handy

Ever wear a jacket or particular pair of shorts just so you would have a pocket for your phone and keys? Slide on this armband and you can pack everything you need into it and have it within easy access. It has grippers so it won’t slide around, is reflexive so you can be seen, there’s a channel for your headphone wires, and it even has a small pocket for your keys.

20. These shelves that turn a pile of books into wall art

Once these shelves are mounted on the wall and filled with books, you can’t see the shelves anymore — but you can see the books, which have just become a unique visual display. This is not only a minimalist way to store books, but it’s also a great way to turn the books you have into art. This is a four-pack, so you can create an entire look or put one next to every reading spot.

21. An adjustable laptop stand that folds flat

This folding laptop stand is so adjustable, it’ll work for people of different sizes and hold pretty much any laptop you. It’s sturdy, light enough to port along with you, and comes in five colors of aluminum. Best part? Your neck and back will feel so much better if you lift up the screen so you can sit up straight.

22. An emergency light & radio with three power options

This combination high-powered flashlight and radio is definitely something you want in your emergency kit. Even after the power goes out and you’re out of batteries, you can set it in the sun — it has a solar charging panel — or hand-crank it and get enough signal to listen to the weather or light your way. It also charges via USB.

23. These silicone trays that make giant ice cubes

When it comes to cocktails, the ice often makes the drink. And when you’re ready to sip an artisan creation or a fine whiskey, a big cube that melts slowly is the way to go. Some big-cube ice makers are a huge hassle, but this one could not be simpler. It’s made of silicone, so the cubes pop right out — and this is a two-pack that makes a total of eight giant cubes.

24. A set of pads that make your furniture stop sliding

Does your armchair move every time you sit in it? Are you forever repositioning the pieces of your sectional? Put the feet of your furniture on top these grippy floor pads and it’ll stay put while protecting your floor from scratches. There are 16 pieces here, so you can do all the irritatingly mobile furniture pieces in the house.

25. A popcorn maker that makes perfect popcorn every time

Even if you are a popcorn professional, you’ll wonder why you washed pans and worked so hard for perfect popcorn for so long. All it takes is this simple, silicone microwave bowl that’s designed to pop the perfect kernel. Just put the corn in, add some oil, and put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. You can put the popper in the dishwasher.

26. A microfiber cloth that helps clean your glasses

This set of microfiber cloths will quickly remove fingerprints, smudges, and whatever else is blurring up your glasses. You can wipe with the cloth dry or a bit damp, and it’ll break up and remove oils and other goo. Keep one handy and at all times and you’ll never understand how you saw through all that grime before.

27. A French press that’s built into a portable thermos

You need your morning coffee, right? But sometimes, you don’t have time to make it. Those morning moments are too hectic to sit and sip, but this classic Stanley thermos has a French press built into it so you can pour hot water over your grounds, plunge, put the lid on, and then take your coffee with you. Then, you can drink it when you have a minute to spare. It’s great for travel, too.

28. This skinny shelf that slides into any crevice

That gap between the bathroom vanity and the toilet or between the washer and the dryer is actually prime storage space, if you have this skinny shelf that’s designed to take advantage of it. It’s under five inches wide and glides on four casters so you can fill it with laundry supplies or sundries, and slide it into that space. Everything will be within easy reach but out of sight.

29. A desk lamp that’s also a wireless phone charger

This desk lamp is a tidy solution to your need for task lighting on a desk or bedside table. The light is sleek and modern, and it has 25 options when it comes to color and brightness of the light that it throws. There is also a wireless charger built into the base, so you can set any Qi-compatible phone down on it and it will charge up.

30. This lock that adds more protection to your door

This extra lock adds extra security to your door, and it’s easy to use. You slide it between the door and the door jam when you’re inside, and — even if someone has a key — they won’t be able to open the door. Just remove it when you leave. It’s great for apartment dwellers and travelers.

31. An affordable bidet that clips right onto your toilet

Once you wash with a bidet attached to your toilet seat, you’ll never be able to go back to using toilet paper alone. And, in the long run, that will save you a small fortune. This bidet is simple to install and uses the water that supplies your toilet to create an upside down shower under the seat.

32. This magnetic meat thermometer with a bright screen

A meat thermometer is the secret to roasting a chicken or grilling a steak that’s cooked perfectly — and this handy thermometer is all you need to get it right. Open it to turn it on, stick the probe in the meat, and read the clear, digital display. It will hold the temperature readout on the bright screen — and since it’s made with a built-in magnet, you can keep it on the fridge in between uses.

33. The safety lights that are also bike bling

These wheel lights will make your hard-to-see-in-the-dark bike bright again while making you more visible. Just attach them to your wheel spokes with the included elastics, install AAA batteries (which are included), and go. You can choose from ten light colors, including one that changes colors.

34. These magnetic grill lights for barbecues at night

If you’ve been grilling in the dark, your future self — the one that owns these magnetic lights — will thank you. These are so simple. Just attach them to your grill lid and point the gooseneck lights where you want to see. They’re great for hard-to-light spaces, too, because all they need are batteries and some metal to grab onto.

35. These 3 boxes that tidy up all the cables

Everywhere there’s a computer, TV, or even a bedside lamp and a charger, there’s a collection of wires that we’re all tired of it. These plastic organizer boxes are designed to hide that mess. Put everything inside, run the power line in one side and plugs out the other, and snap on the lid.

36. This digital food scale with over 46,000 five-star ratings

The secret to baking bread and many other kitchen projects, it turns out, is a good kitchen scale. It makes assembling ingredients so fast, easy, and accurate. Just set a bowl on the scale and spoon ingredients in by weight. No measuring cups are required. This little scale is accurate and small enough to store in a handy drawer. Plus, it comes in seven colors.

37. This face wash that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin

This gentle cleanser has no scents, dyes, lanolin, oil, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, or other preservatives — but it does lather and gently cleanse sensitive skin. It has a cult following along with over 9,000 five-star reviews, and it’s often recommended by dermatologists.

38. The toilet paper that doesn’t destroy forests

This bamboo toilet paper is made from bamboo, which is sustainable since it grows so fast. The bamboo used to make it is grown in small farms without the use of pesticides or fertilizers, and it’s processed without harsh chemicals. Plus, it’s shipped plastic-free. It’s easier for you (since you can get it sent to your house), and much better for the planet.

39. A lightweight, absorbent towel you can take anywhere

Meet your new backpacking towel. This clever microfiber towel is lightweight and rolls up small into the included case. Plus, it absorbs a lot of water. When you aren’t camping or trekking, it makes a terrific gym towel. You’ll wonder how you logged time on your Peloton, went for a run in the heat, or survived a hot yoga class without this packable absorber.

40. This utensil stand that also holds lids

This little stand is small, but you’ll wonder what you did with utensils, your tasting spoon, and the pan lid while you were cooking before it made the scene. It holds several utensils and lids upright and doubles as a tablet stand. The base also pops out so it’s easy to clean. Using it will save you so much post-cooking counter wiping and dish washing.

41. These strong, reusable shopping bags for your groceries

These reusable grocery bags are so well engineered that you’ll rely on them daily. They’re big enough to hold a ton of groceries, and the loop handles are long enough to sling over your shoulder. Plus, they fold into a pouch that’s sewn onto the top of the bag, and there are loops to hang the bag from when it’s open. Each one can hold 50 pounds.

42. A dog treat & waste bag container that clips to the leash

Clip this combination treat and bag holder to your dog’s leash and you’ll always have a waste bag and dog treat with you when you two go out for walks, even if you change jackets or have no pockets. In other words, you’ll have an obedient pup and clean pockets forever.

43. This cooker that hard boils 6 eggs at once — & fast

Hard-boiled eggs are a terrific snack — and fantastic on salads, in my opinion — but mastering the art of boiling an egg is tough. Now, there’s no need to master anything. Just put up to six eggs this cooker, push a button, and take your prefect eggs out when the timer goes off. It also does poached, scrambled, and other methods with the included attachments.

44. These flip-top jar lids that make your jars more useful

With these lids at hand, you can transform a wide-mouth mason jar into a dispenser for anything, from dressing to ice tea, cereal, and more. They flip up, snap closed, and don’t leak. You’ll think of plenty of uses and wonder what you did before you got them.

45. This collapsible bowl you can take camping

This lightweight, collapsible, silicone bowl has a snap-on lid, and it weighs almost nothing. It also takes up very little space and converts to a useful, sealed bowl easily. The container can also withstand heat and comes with a folding fork.

46. An affordable way to quickly organizer your drawers

These drawer organizers are the cure for that underwear drawer jumble that makes it hard to find what you want. There are spaces for everything in this set of four fabric drawer organizers, so you’ll know what’s clean and where it is with just a glance. Nearly 24,000 reviewers have given them five stars and are back buying more.

This article was originally published on