Jul 15, 2023

You Don't Realize How Much You Need These Clever Things Under $30 on Amazon

The best things you never knew you needed.

There are so many ways to optimize your life. It’s not possible that you have considered them all, is it? Can you pack a suitcase at a pro level? Do you let small irritants get on your nerves when they could be eliminated? Is your kitchen a pain to clean? How about your desk? All those stressors take a toll and eliminating them is not that hard. You can engineer them away with the right tools, even if you aren’t aware of what is causing the stress. And once you’ve added them to your life, you’ll be kicking yourself that you didn’t know about them sooner. You don’t realize how much you need these clever things under $30 on Amazon, but once you have them, you’ll never be the same.

Packing cubes are a travel pro’s best-kept secret. This set of five of them is the perfect way to give this system a try. Pack all your tops in one, pants in another, underwear in a third — or whatever system best fits your wardrobe. You never need to unpack since everything is in order. Keep moving dirty items to the laundry bag as you travel and unpack them into the laundry room when you get home.

Eliminate the daily hassle of hunting through the kitchen for the food container lid you need by getting those parts organized. Set this organizer on a shelf and you will stop tossing lids in random drawers and set them — vertically — in it instead. They will be filed so you can see them all at once, making it easy to grab the one you need.

Turn your phone into a usable screen while you work or sleep by setting it in this cell phone stand that holds it where you can glance at it. Instead of hunting down your phone and picking it up to see notifications, alarms, or timers, you can glance at it without moving. Made of a high-quality aluminum alloy, the stand is sturdy, adjustable, and light. It comes in nine colors.

These weird cellulose sponge cloths are the paper towel replacement you have been searching for. They are half sponge and half cotton rag so they absorb a ton of liquid and feel similarly to a paper towel. But you can wash and reuse them indefinitely. And then they finally get too old to use, toss them. They will biodegrade.

Shoe storage does not have to be hard. This 10-shelf hanging shoe organizer displays your shoes amid your wardrobe so you can pick a pair to go with your outfit when you pick your clothes. Each cubby holds one pair and there are side pockets for accessories like wallets, scarves, and sunglasses. It comes in four colors and has nearly 8,000 five-star reviews.

Opening boxes and packaging has become an integral part of modern life but it’s a struggle without the right tool. Put down the scissors before you slice yourself and use this box cutter with a ceramic blade to do it easily. The blade can sit in any of three positions, zips through shipping tape, and is sharp enough to cut through cardboard. It makes it easy to open anything safely.

End the end-of-tube toothpaste (or lotion) struggle by mounting your tubes into this tube squeezer. To get the product out of the tube, just turn the key. It also transforms that hard-to-store tube into an object that stands neatly on the vanity. “I use this for anything that comes in a tube,” said one reviewer. “Very handy.”

Instead of suffering those sore and tight muscles, pull out this massage roller stick and do something about them. Just a few minutes of rolling the area with the nubby textures of this stick will release tension and increase blood flow to your aches and painful areas to relieve them. “This is the same apparatus they use in the physical therapist office I go to,” said one reviewer. “After the first visit, I went home and ordered my own!”

Make one-handed texting easier and prevent phone drops by sticking this elastic finger holder to the back of your phone. It gives you a sturdy place to loop your fingers when you hold your phone, taking the pressure off your hands and making that giant rectangle easier to hold. It also snaps out to prop up your phone when it’s sitting on a table.

When your Vans are muddy and your dress shoes are scuffed, it doesn’t have to be a sad day. Put this shoe cleaner kit to work on those scuffsa nd stains and, in just a few minutes, your favorite kicks will be spiffy and like new. It works beautifully on any material — canvas, leather, nubuck, suede, and more — that can tolerate getting slightly damp. Over 23,000 people on Amazon gave it five stars.

Keep this microfiber travel towel in your gym locker, beach bag, or car and you will always have a way to get dry when you are wet. It weighs only 20 ounces, rolls up super small, absorbs seven times its weight in water, and dries super quickly. You can take a dip in the ocean or douse yourself with a hose on your run and have a quick and easy way to get dry afterward. It comes in four sizes and three colors.

You may think you have no storage space in your shower but have you considered the shower curtain? This shower organizer hangs on three hooks and adds seven roomy pockets to your bathing space. The mesh pockets dry quickly and are clear so you can see what’s in there. “I have a small shower with no place to put any bottles,” said one reviewer. “This has made it possible to put everything I need in the shower.”

No place to set a speaker, Amazon Echo, or other small gadget? This wall outlet shelf fits over your outlet cover and provides a shelf that is conveniently right near an outlet so you can plug in your phone charger or whatever else you put on it. There is a channel in the back for the cord. “Works great in our bathroom!!! Space saver!” said one reviewer.

Where do you put your phone, a credit card, and maybe some treats for your canine buddy when you go for a run? In this magnetic buddy pouch. It snaps magnetically to your waistband or shirt and holds your essentials securely. And unlike belts and bags, it has no strap to chafe and adds almost no weight. The larger sizes will also hold your phone. “This wallet is the best,” said one reviewer. “Doesn’t move or migrate. Works really well.”

Attach this collapsible solar lantern to your pack when you go backpacking and let it charge as you hike. You will have an easy light for your campsite when you arrive. It collapses to a hockey puck size that’s easy to carry and use as a flashlight. And it unfolds into a lantern — bright or dim — that you can hang inside a tent or set down anywhere for easy lighting. It works great on a patio or for a beach picnic when you are staying close to home, too.

Keeping all your knives, scissors, and blades sharp isn’t as complicated as you think. This knife sharpener can do all of them in a few minutes. Just hold the ergonomic handle and drag the blade through the three slots. If the knife is in bad shape, start with “repair” and move through “sharpen” and on to “polish.” The knives you use frequently can be touched up often with the last two slots. It is small enough to stash in a kitchen drawer.

These flashlight gloves are the perfect accessory to wear when you take the dog for a walk at night, go fishing early in the morning, or work in badly-lit and hard-to-see spaces. They put a bright LED beam on your thumb and forefinger that you shine by pointing. The adjustable fit makes the glove comfortable and the on switch on the back of your hand is easy to tap when you want light.

Once you drop this car trunk organizer into your car and discover the joy of having a place to keep all your in-car sundries and drop grocery bags so they don’t fly around, you will wonder how you managed before. It has big roomy sections in the center that you can adjust easily. And the pockets on the outside are the perfect place for safety equipment and car tools.

If frying chicken or pork cutlets has become too much trouble because of the mess it leaves on the stove, this splatter screen will help you enjoy your favorite dinner again. Set it on the pan when your food starts to spit fat and sauce. It will contain the mess while letting out the steam. Your food cooks just as before but there is no post-cooking mess to clean up.

These silky cooling pillow cases are made from bamboo and are so soft and dreamy that you will slide into sleep. And when you wake, you won’t have bedhead, pillow wrinkles, or dry skin because the fabric is so gentle it doesn’t catch your hair, dry out your skin, or press folds into your face. “Best fabric ever,” said one reviewer. “Smooth and cool… and side sleepers need not worry about waking up with creases on their cheeks!”

Are you starting to regret your Keurig purchase because of limited coffee options and the guilt of throwing away all those disposable pods? These reusable K cups will help you enjoy it again. Load the four pods with the ground coffee of your choice and use the machine the same way you do the disposables. Your coffee will be delicious and there’s nothing to throw away. “I regret waiting so long to get these,” said one reviewer. “The flavor is superior to even the high-end pre-filled cups.”

You don’t have to tolerate the wet, kibble-laden mess your dog leaves on the floor after every meal. Set this waterproof silicone pet food mat under the food dish to contain it. The lip around the edge of the mat holds the spew in place. And when things get really bad, lift up the mat and give it a rinse. It comes in four sizes and five colors so you can match it to your space and color scheme.

The heat these days is no joke, but this cooling neck fan is a great place to start. Wear it around your neck to direct a breeze to your face, cooling you as you go through your day. It has no blades to catch your clothes or hair and runs for up to 16 hours on a single charge. It looks like headphones so it will fit right in.

Don’t put off cleaning the ceiling fans because you don’t want to climb a ladder. This ceiling fan cleaner has a handle that extends to 47 inches so you can reach the blades from the ground. And the fluffy, microfiber dusting head wraps around each blade so the dust doesn’t rain down on you. It works well for dusting everything else, too.

If you work outdoors, spend time in the garden, or suffer from dry hands for any reason, this concentrated hand cream heals and repairs your hands and then forms a protective barrier on your skin to protect it from further damage. “I am a diehard gardener,” said one reviewer. “My hands get cuts, scrapes, and dry out. [...This] works wonders. I use it every night before I go to bed and my hands look younger because of it.”

When you take your bike out on the roads or trails, getting lost is more serious than it is in a car. Mount this phone mount to the handlebars, load up your navigation, and prevent that. It’s also nice to listen to music while peddling. A combination of a clamp and silicone net holds your phone securely to the mount. Over 40,000 people on Amazon gave it five stars. “This incredible accessory has completely transformed my cycling experience, allowing me to navigate, track my rides, and enjoy my favorite music effortlessly while keeping my phone securely in place,” said one reviewer.

Turn the annoyance of invading insects into a sport by chasing them down with this rechargeable bug zapper racket. The odds are completely in your favor because the net of this racket is loaded with a 4,000-volt grid that will take down any bug you make contact with. It even has a blue light to attract bugs to you so the hunting part is easy.

This toothbrush is perfect for stashing in your desk drawer or keeping in a purse or travel kit because the bristles are infused with a minty fresh taste and activated charcoal, which reduces odor and cleans your teeth without toothpaste. It’s great for home, too, of course. The soft bristles are perfect for gently cleaning teeth and gums and prevent overbrushing. And it comes with a protective cap.

This cleaning brush set has every tool you will likely ever need to clean your dishes, kitchen, or bathroom. The seven pieces include a dish brush, bendable scrub brush, groove brush, scouring pad, and two gap brushes. “I'm loving these!” said one reviewer. “So simple, sturdy, easy to clean, and they just feel way more sanitary than picking up an old sponge.”

The best games are simple to learn and challenging to master. And this ring toss game is one of those. The surfboard mount is also a charming bit of bling for your porch, rumpus room, or bar, giving your space a surfer vibe that’s always fun. There are 10 versions, though, if “Surfer” isn’t your jam.

Whether you are cutting up fruit for cocktails or deboning a chicken, you need a cutting board to do it on. This three-pack of cutting boards, in three sizes, has the right board for the chore whatever you are doing. The big handles on the end make them easy to hang and carry. And the juice channel around each one means nothing will leak onto the counters.

Is there anything more disappointing than discovering that the cold one you are sipping in the sun has gone warm? Not to fret. Drop a beer chiller into the bottle. It chills a beer fast and will keep your beer cold as you sip no matter how hot the weather. “I put it in a room temperature beer and it made it as cold as if it just came out of the fridge,” said one reviewer. “We are [...] in the sun a lot and our drinks quickly get warm, this product has solved the problem.”

Where to store the spare toilet paper rolls? Put two of them right where you will wish they were when you need them with this over-tank toilet paper roll holder. It holds two rolls and will even dispense the TP if you don’t already have a dispenser. It comes in three finishes. “Nice to have especially when having guests over who might not know where to find the extra toilet paper,” said one reviewer. “Looks elegant [...] and is super easy to install.”

This lip treatment is loaded with healing manual honey and chamomile butter. And it puts moisture back into your lips with hyaluronic acid while you sleep so that you wake up without the dry, cracked lips you went to bed with. “I put it on at night and still feel it on my lips when I wake up. Makes my lips so soft, I don’t apply it as much now since it keeps my lips so moist,” said one reviewer.

Hanging pictures, with this claw picture hanger, does not require a toolbox or skills. Just press the hanger into the wall with your fingers and hook your picture on it. It will hold up to 15 pounds and doesn’t leave big holes in the wall. “It gets the frame closest to the wall as possible and has dependable strength,” said one reviewer. “I’ll never buy another kind again.”

Bring order to your cable snarl by sticking these cable clips wherever you need a cord. This big pack of clips comes with everything from singles for your phone charger or speaker wire to multiples so you can DIY a charging station on your desk or bedside table. “Just what I needed to keep all my cables organized,” said one reviewer. “Love the variety.”

Next time you collapse into your desk chair or the couch because your feet hurt, do something about the pain. This foot massager lets you roll the small muscles in your feet on a variety of textures for a foot massage that’s so easy to execute, you can do it while you work. “This foot massager is a miracle in a box,” said one reviewer. “My plantar fasciitis was so bad, just the thought of getting out of my chair to walk was horrifying to me. [...] I am on day three [and] have been getting around pain-free.”

If your mouse hand hurts, it’s probably because you work with your wrist in a flat position, which can lead to stress on the wrist joint and carpal tunnel nerves. This optical vertical mouse lets you work with your hand in a natural, handshake, position to minimize that stress. It’s also wireless and has all the buttons — next/previous, scroll — you rely on.

Going out for sushi is so expensive. Making sushi at home is cheap and super fun. But you need some tools and this sushi-making kit has all of them. A bamboo roller lets you make rolls and a rice spreader and paddle made that task easier. There are also five pairs of chopsticks and a guide to making sushi. “Just what we needed for an easy Sushi date night!” said one reviewer.

Making rice does not have to be difficult. In fact, with this rice cooker, it’s so easy you don’t have to set a timer or watch a pot. Just load it with rice and water and hit cook. It knows when the rice is done and stops cooking, then keeps it warm till you are ready. It’s great for making oatmeal, beans, soups, and steamed vegetables, too. The nonstick surface is easy to clean. The glass lid lets you see what’s cooking. And it comes with a rice measure and serving spatula.

When you get tired of the inaccuracy of tapping on your phone with your fingers, pull out one of these three stylus pens and hit every character with ease. This is a great way to sign documents and draw in artistic software apps, too. There are two sizes of rubber tip on each stylus so you can write with a fine point or color and erase with a bigger one.

Eliminate the irritation of looking for a plug and an outlet to charge or power your USB devices. Set this USB charging station somewhere convenient and there will always be an easy place to plug in. It has five USB ports and one USB-C port so you can plug in everything from phones and earbuds to laptops. There are eight styles and colors.

This clever chain mail scrubber is the fast and easy way to get cast iron, steel, and other hard-surface cookware clean fast. Give the pan a wipe and the abrasive metal quickly removes baked-on food and burnt pieces without using soap that will strip the seasoning finish you worked so hard on. “This really works for cast iron pans,” said one reviewer. “The round edges of the chain mail links seem to remove the stuck-on food, without removing the seasoning.

Skip the plastic bag filled with ice the next time you have a muscle ache, headache, or bruise. Keep these massage therapy cups in the freezer and apply ice to your injury quickly without freezing your hand in the process. Just fill them with water and store them in the freezer. The two pieces separate easily when you want to use them. Hold the ice by the collar and apply the ice to your injury.

If you’ve held off this long without a milk frother, what are you waiting for. This rechargeable gadget comes with its own stand and makes easy work of foaming milk for your favorite coffee drinks. And who knows? With everything you need to make a cafe-quality latte or cappuccino at home, you may find your habit of stopping at your coffee shop every day a little easier to break.

Cassandra Seale