Sometimes Amazon can feel a little like the Wild West when it comes to shopping for new products — whether you’re looking to buy something to solve a problem around your home or an item that you’re hoping will make your life easier or better in some capacity. With a seemingly endless array of options and sometimes inconsistent reviews, it can often all be one big guessing game.
So that’s why we’ve pulled together some of our staff’s favorite useful things on Amazon, many of which are small but have provided us with big results in various ways. Bonus: They’re all under $40 (and start at just $8).
TubShroom Ultra Edition ($13.88, originally $15.99; amazon.com)
The rubbery version of the TubShroom is famous, but I actually recommend springing for the stainless steel TubShroom Ultra Edition. Like its more ubiquitous counterpart, this TubShroom works wonders at catching hair and preventing clogs, but in my opinion, it’s far superior when it comes to cleanup.
The regular TubShroom is a bit of a challenge to sanitize; lint, hair and sometimes mildew tend to get caught in the holes, so you really have to scrub. Not so with the Ultra Edition. I’ve found that debris really doesn’t stick to it, making it even easier (and less gross) to rinse off for a dollar or two more. — Chelsea Stone, commerce editor
Goo Gone Adhesive Remover Spray, 2-Pack ($15.98; amazon.com)
This stuff is, in a word, miraculous. Ever moved into a new place only to find that the previous residents loved placing stickers on various surfaces (like, for instance, on the mirror of a bathroom that was the designated toddlers’ bathroom, in my case)? Goo Gone to the rescue! This spray is incredible at quickly removing all types of residue left behind by not only stickers and tape but also chewing gum, wax and more without damaging surfaces. You won’t regret having this on hand for various uses around the home. — Emmy Favilla, deputy editor
Slice Ceramic Blade Safety Cutter ($9.17; amazon.com)
Since buying this simple, handy little tool, I haven’t opened a package with anything else. It has a tiny little blade that precisely and easily cuts through boxes and packaging tape but is safe to the touch, so no more scissor or knife accidents. It also has a built-in magnet, making it easy to find and grab from my fridge as I rush to open my latest 3 a.m. impulse buy, and it works great for crafting projects as a safer, budget X-Acto knife alternative. — Daniel Toy, copy editor
Bezrat Microwave Tall Glass Plate Cover (starting at $29.95, originally starting at $39.99; amazon.com)
I hate cleaning the microwave, but with all of the cooking and eating of leftovers going on in my house, we are using it more than ever. I decided to give this plate cover a whirl because I’d rather clean a lid at the sink than scrub the awkward nooks, crannies and components of the microwave. It’s a little thing that has helped a lot. — Dana Holmes, editor
Yeti Rambler Mug ($24.95, originally $24.98; amazon.com)
I absolutely love my Yeti Rambler Mug, because I can’t go without constantly sipping on coffee throughout the entire day. This mug’s double-wall vacuum insulation keeps my morning coffee hot and my afternoon iced coffee chilly. It’s sturdy and comes with a lid that makes drinking easier and helps retain temperatures, plus you can even customize it on Yeti’s website (mine has an engraving of Yosemite because I desperately want to be in the woods). — Kai Burkhardt, editorial coordinator
PureAction Vitamin C Filter Showerhead ($39.97; amazon.com)
This showerhead has changed my life incredibly. To give some context: The bathroom is one of my sanctuaries, and it’s important for me to be able to enjoy my daily self-care rituals! I suffer from really bad eczema breakouts due to pollen and harsh city water that can leave my skin feeling really dry and itchy when my skin is vulnerable. I’ve tried using other filters, but they’ve never worked for long, and the water pressure would eventually be reduced to a trickle. That is, until I discovered this Vitamin C filter. OMG! I noticed an immediate difference in water quality; it was much softer, and the chemical/chlorine smell that I get from city water was no longer present.
Most importantly, my irritated skin didn’t itch or feel dry after showering. The shower filter also comes with replacement filters and vitamin C blocks so you can rest assured that you have enough for a minimum of four months. (I, of course, bought extra because I don’t think I can live without this product anymore.) It has restored the joy in my daily self-care rituals! — Natasha Hatendi, photo editor
Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream ($18.50; amazon.com)
I’ve been using Weleda Skin Food ever since a coworker recommended it for dry winter skin about three years ago. I love pretty much everything about it — the scent is light and refreshing, and the cream itself feels luxurious and expensive without actually costing a ton of money. I use it as hand cream before bed each night, and I even use it on my face in the winter. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social
Anker Powerline II 6-Foot Lightning Cable ($12.99; amazon.com)
Yes, I love that Apple still includes a Lightning cable in the box, but it’s kind of short. And for $12.99 you can score this super durable and long Lightning to USB-A cable from Anker. You get your pick of some fun colors, and it’s perfect for charging in bed, cable-managing a desk and countless other situations. — Jacob Krol, tech and electronics editor
Bedsure Satin Pillowcase for Hair and Skin, 2-Pack ($9.99; amazon.com)
I’ve taken this time of chaos to make sure I spoil myself as much as humanly (and financially) possible. That has meant upgrading my bed, where I honestly spend more time than ever before, in a very serious way. I’ve wanted silk-like pillowcases for a while, and these extremely cheap ones are everything I’ve been looking for. They feel like pure luxury, and yet a set of two is less than $10. Can’t get much better than that. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor
Aerolatte Milk Frother ($17.13, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
When trying to re-create your favorite frothy latte at home, you can certainly opt for an ultra expensive espresso machine. But for the budget-conscious, the Aerolatte Milk Frother creates creamy, dream-worthy lattes. No steam, no learning curve. Just heat up some milk, pop this bad boy in the cup for a few seconds, add a shot of espresso and you’ve got yourself a caffeine jolt you’d swear you overpaid for at your local coffee shop. — Scott Simone, deputy editor
Magnetic Dry Erase Whiteboard Sheet for Kitchen Fridge (starting at $11.99; amazon.com)
Keeping my family’s grocery shopping and meal plan organized while working from home with two young boys has been one of my biggest challenges — until I got this magnetic whiteboard. Now I plan the week’s menu over the weekend and write it on the board, including snacks, so that everyone knows what we’re having which day (including myself!). I use the bottom to jot down things we need to buy with the next batch of groceries as well. This has saved my sanity more than anything else I’ve bought during the pandemic. — Dana Holmes, editor
Acko Folding Step Stool (starting at $16.99, originally starting at $19.99; amazon.com)
This step stool has been a lifesaver in my apartment. My roommate and I are both between 5’1” and 5’2”, so reaching higher shelves in our home can be a task. It’s foldable, easy to store and gives us the right amount of leverage to get to hard-to-reach places. — Sarai Thompson, editorial coordinator
PetPawJoy Cat Bed ($18.99; amazon.com)
My recent “treat yourself” attitude has also extended to my cat, who I am with now more than anyone else. This window bed has become her favorite thing, and I feel like it brings joy to anyone who passes by my window too. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor
Vahdam Classic Tea Infuser ($9.99; amazon.com)
I love loose-leaf tea, and I have an extensive collection of cute tea infusers because of it — but this infuser is the only one that really, really works! It doesn’t let leaves fall out and into my tea. It isn’t so small that the water can’t circulate through the leaves naturally while steeping, and it’s easy to dump out into the garbage can and then toss into the dishwasher. — Dana Holmes, editor
Joyora Scrunchie Holder ($18.97; amazon.com)
Ever since the ‘90s came back in style, scrunchies have littered nearly every surface in my home; loose scrunchies have been spotted floating in random drawers, among my cat’s toys and atop nightstands and bathroom counters. But now that I have this Joyora Scrunchie Holder, my collection is all in one place and on full display. The holder, which is skinny enough not to stretch out your scrunchies, is made from clear acrylic, so it looks subtle on my dresser when it’s not sporting a full scrunchie stack. Plus, its vertical design saves space. — Chelsea Stone, commerce editor
O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream, 2-Pack ($12.33; amazon.com)
I’ve had extremely dry skin on my hands for pretty much my entire life. In the wintertime, against the harsh New York wind and cold weather, my hands often crack and get really painful. Even in the summertime I slather on hand lotion daily to keep them hydrated. So when I spotted the thousands of rave reviews for this lotion that has garnered a bit of a cult following, I was intrigued (I recommend looking at the customer before-and-after pictures — you will be too!).
It turns out the hype is real. This stuff WORKS, and you only need a small amount to moisturize sufficiently. I use it all year long, and I especially won’t leave home without it once the temperatures dip. It’s also available in a tube if that’s more your jam, plus I’ve heard great things about the foot cream as well. — Emmy Favilla, deputy editor
Elago W3 Stand for Apple Watch ($9.99; amazon.com)
I love nightstand mode on the Apple Watch, and even with sleep tracking coming this fall, I still love a good stand for it. This Elago W3 stand looks like the original Macintosh computer, and the Apple Watch makes for a perfect screen. It’s a durable rubber material and weighted quite nicely, and the Apple Watch fits in snugly. — Jacob Krol, tech and electronics editor
Giotto Water Bottle ($18.99; amazon.com)
This 32-ounce leakproof water bottle has been a game changer in terms of keeping me hydrated throughout the workday. With this giant bottle on my desk, I drink significantly more water than when I was just filling a cup each morning and becoming too lazy halfway through the day to refill it. It also has a pop-up straw with a cover, which feels more hygienic than some of the other water bottles I’ve tried. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social
Cleancult Liquid Hand Soap Refill, 3-Pack ($21.95, originally $24.95; amazon.com)
We have been going through a lot of hand soap — like, a LOT. I didn’t want to be wasteful by buying a new pump every time one was empty, and when I spotted Cleancult, I loved its recyclable paper packaging and clean ingredient list. I have been using the lavender scent to refill my soap pumps (using a funnel) for the last couple of months and am very happy. — Dana Holmes, editor
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.