The Definitive Guide to What Supplies You Need in Each Part of Your Home
Real Simple asked the pros: What do you really need in your desk, toolbox, and more.
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All You Need in Your Medicine Cabinet
- Children’s ibuprofen and acetaminophen (your doctor may recommend either).
- Calamine lotion, for insect bites and exposure to itch-inducing plants.
- Floss picks: easier for kids.
- Dental floss: better for adults.
- One tube of toothpaste: Stock extras where there’s more room.
- Replacement toothbrushes, for forgetful overnight guests.
- A digital thermometer: quicker and safer than the breakable version.
- Tweezers with angled tips, for splinters.
- A small nail clipper.
- Chewable antacids work for kids and adults.
- Shea butter, for chapped lips and cheeks.
- Kids’ cough medicine, in a favorite flavor.
- Hydrocortisone cream, for rashes, eczema, and skin irritation.
- An antibiotic ointment, for killing bacteria and soothing cuts.
- Alcohol pads (instead of a big bottle), for disinfecting.
- Flexible bandages in a multipack, including some giant-size ones for big scrapes.
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen, for adult aches.
- Benadryl, an oral antihistamine, for allergic reactions.
- Hard-core cough syrup for grown-ups.
- Saline nasal spray: a small bottle for each family member, so you don’t pass on germs.
- Betsy Ellis, school nurse in Memphis.
- Jenny Kuzjak, emergency-room nurse in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Julie Kardos and Naline Lai, pediatricians in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and founders of the blog Two Peds in a Pod.
All You Need in Your Utensil Drawers
- An instant-read thermometer, to take the guesswork out of steaks, chops, and roasts.
- A large Microplane grater, for cheese, citrus zests, ginger, chocolate, and garlic.
- A straight-edge wooden spoon, for getting in the corners of saucepans.
- A classic wooden spoon, for everything else.
- A natural-bristle basting brush holds more liquid than silicone versions.
- Nesting measuring cups conserve space.
- Stainless-steel measuring spoons last longer than plastic ones.
- A large slotted spoon, to scoop food out of boiling water.
- A low-tech can opener that pops bottles, too.
- A metal spatula, for pancakes, burgers, and cookies.
- Long tongs, for tossing salads, turning chops, and plucking vegetables from a steamer. The locking kind store most easily.
- A standard spoon, for sauces.
- A Y-shaped peeler: more control than the standard variety.
- A silicone spatula, for mixing and getting the last bits of batter from the bowl.
- A palm-size vegetable scrubber offers serious leverage.
- A mini offset spatula, to free frittatas, lasagnas, and brownies (and to frost cupcakes).
- A whisk, to get air into eggs and batter.
- A fish spatula: thin, flexible, and perfect for fragile foods, from flounder to fried eggs.
- A ladle, for soups, stews, and sauces.
- A potato masher: also great for breaking up canned whole tomatoes for sauce.
- Sara Moulton, TV chef and author of Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners ($35, amazon.com).
- Ilana Rosengarten, graphic designer, blogger (mommyshorts.com), and New York City resident with an impossibly small kitchen.
- Jennifer Rubell, author of Real Life Entertaining ($27.50, amazon.com).
- The Real Simple food department.
All You Need in Your Tool Kit
- A putty knife, for removing old caulk or opening paint cans.
- A standard flat-nose claw hammer (12 to 16 ounces) with a steel head.
- A multihead screwdriver: Phillips-head, flathead, and Torx (six-point star shape).
- A 12-volt cordless drill, for DIY work, like hanging curtains and mounting heavy art.
- Assorted fasteners: a kit with nuts, bolts, washers, anchors, and nails in various sizes.
- A C-clamp, for holding together glued pieces while they dry.
- Duct tape, for quick fixes, like patching a torn bicycle seat.
- A metal tape measure that’s at least an inch wide, so it won’t flop when extended.
- WD-40, for loosening rusty hinges.
- An adjustable wrench, instead of a set with different sizes.
- Needle-nose pliers, for minor jewelry repairs and pulling out small nails.
- Slip-joint pliers, which adjust to grip items of various sizes.
- A crosscut saw, 14 to 16 inches long, for small carpentry projects.
- Ken Brooks, owner of Northbrook Construction Management, in North Bend, Washington.
- Tim Chopko, carpenter in Newark, Delaware.
- Janet Rickstrew, cofounder and CEO of girl-friendly tool company Tomboy Tools (tomboytools.com).
All You Need in Your Desk Drawer
- Forever Stamps, so you don’t have to worry about changes in the postal rate.
- Personal stationery, for heartfelt notes.
- A black permanent marker, for addressing packages.
- A silver one, to use on dark paper.
- An angle-tip highlighter.
- Correction tape, to fix mistakes (similar to the liquid stuff, but without the drying time).
- Mechanical pencils, so you don’t need a bulky sharpener
- Titanium scissors, because they stay sharp for years.
- Aesthetically pleasing paper clips cost about the same as standard ones.
- Small and large sticky notes, for reminders, shopping lists, and epiphanies.
- A box of your favorite pens: Use (and lose) only one at a time.
- A classic stapler in a bright color that’s easy to spot, in case it escapes to another room.
- A weighted tape dispenser that holds a fat roll of tape.
- Beth Alcazar, organizing and cleaning blogger, The Neat Get Neater.
- Heather McNulty, co-owner of the stationery shop Rock Paper Scissors, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions ($11, amazon.com).
All You Need in Your Cleaning Cabinet
- Latex gloves that extend to the forearms, for serious coverage.
- A half-height bucket fits under the faucet and holds plenty.
- Distilled white vinegar, for cutting boards, coffee stains, and even sanitizing the dishwasher or washing machine.
- A high-octane disinfectant, to kill bacteria in the bathroom.
- A mild abrasive, for everything from stainless-steel pans to rust and lime marks.
- Microfiber cloths need just a spritz of water to clean (and nothing at all to dust).
- Nylon sponges with soft and scrubber sides.
- Disposable wipes, for quick jobs, like fixtures and floor corners.
- All-purpose cleaner in a scent you love.
- Don Aslett, author of No Time to Clean! ($13, amazon.com).
- Carolyn Barnes, creator of Clean Momma (cleanmomma.com), a regimen that merges exercise with cleaning.
- Gisela Lowenstein, creator of a cleaning-and-organizing method called the Glow System (theglowsystem.com).