Real Simple readers share the products they simply can't live without.
Worth the Weight
My favorite product is my scale. I know many women are gasping as they read this, but hear me out. Although the scale reminds me of exactly how much I have gained or how much I need to continue to work out, it also reminds me how much my husband loves me―because whatever it says, that will always be just a number to him.
San Antonio, TX
Club soda gets fresh stains out of carpets better than any cleanser I’ve tried. I also drop my diamond engagement ring in a cupful to get it super sparkly before special events.
Brockport, New York
I am allergic to most of the cleaning products on the market, so when I find something that doesn't make me sneeze, I'm thrilled. I use Method Biodegradable Cleaning Wipes to clean everything from the kitchen table to spots on the floor. Plus, they're good for my environmental conscience.
I have used so many products to clean my bathtub, but nothing works as well as Dow Scrubbing Bubbles. I've tried other products, but I had to go back. I can just spray over the whole tub, the walls, everywhere. I come back in five minutes and, with little to no work, my tub is clean, with no residue.
Simple Green all-purpose cleaner does such a great job cleaning so many things around the house besides the usual floors, walls, and countertops. Just a little sprayed on a damp cloth gets sneakers white again, the outdoor patio set looking like new, and car interiors clean. My husband puts it in his power washer and cleans the house siding with it. In addition, it's fresh smelling, nontoxic, and biodegradable. And because it is concentrated and goes a long way, it's economical.
Wheatfield, New York
I'm convinced this beautiful little sponge really is magic, and it's so versatile. In one use, the 3M Magic Eraser "erased" five―count them, five―years of bachelor scum off the walls and every surface in my boyfriend's kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. I actually feel sad when the sponge is no longer usable. An amazing product.
It doesn't matter what I need to clean―and with two teenagers that's a lot. I use Windex in our bathrooms, our kitchen, our bedrooms, on the cars, on the patio, and on the porch. I keep the largest refill bottle I can find in our "housekeeping bucket" with the other cleaning products, but I always run out of Windex first.
I used to think Endust was just for dusting, but it cleans my stainless-steel appliances like nothing I've ever found. And trust me―I've tried a ton of products.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Everyone who has pets should keep a bottle of Nature's Miracle Orange-Oxy stain and odor remover handy. I have two cats and a dog, and this product is truly a miracle. One of my cats, angry that I had brought a dog into the house, urinated on my bed. I used this product on the stain. The next day, the mattress was not only pristine white but also smelled wonderful―not even a hint of odor left. And this product has never discolored my furniture or carpeting.
Any brand of foaming soap makes it fun and easy for my kids to wash their hands, and I don’t have to worry about gloppy liquid soap drizzled all over the sink or dripped onto their clothes.
I’m so happy that being green is finally catching on. In the bathroom, I use Method Eucalyptus Mint flushable wipes. They’re great for cleaning everything from the floor to the sink. Not only do they make the room smell good for hours, but you can also toss them in the toilet when you’re done―because they’re biodegradable.
My favorite product is the Natchez Solution. It can be used to polish all types of wood. My daughter-in-law introduced me to it, and when I got my own, I went crazy, using it on my kitchen cabinets, dining table and chairs, all my wood furniture, and doors and baseboards. It covers up and conceals scratches or any flaws in the wood. It’s like a miracle.
Shaklee Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate not only cleans greasy stoves, crusted spills, hair-dye drips, and wall scuffs but it’s also pet-and child-safe. If you can have only one cleaning product for your car, family, and home, Basic H2 should be it.
Mountain Home, Idaho
Out of the Closet
I love my black sheath dress by French Connection because it makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn―classic and gorgeous.
Christine E. Hong
New York, New York
The idea of finding love on the Internet seemed ludicrous to me. Isn’t the thrill of seeing and touching in real life much better than surfing and clicking on the screen? Then I spied my Chloe Paddington bag on eLuxury.com, and it was the perfect fit. The bright yellow hue fed my bold-color fetish, and the roomy compartments chicly concealed my daily purse staples. Who would have known that a night on the Internet could yield a lifetime of love?
Jersey City, New Jersey
My Massachusetts-made Conversation Shoes are dressy enough to wear to work, cute enough to pair with a casual skirt, and comfortable enough to walk miles in without a single ache or pain. Best of all? They’re actually stylish, which is heavenly for someone who had grown to believe that style and comfort were mutually exclusive when it came to shoes.
Susan Happel Edwards
Food, Glorious Food
See’s Candies Dark Chocolate Buttercreams have no substitute. I ask for them as Christmas presents and whenever my family visits me in Canada. There are several products I miss from the States, but See’s tops the list.
Vernon, British Columbia
Puff-pastry dough is so versatile, it can be used for any meal. I keep a box in the freezer in case of unexpected company. You can roll the dough for quiches, empanadas, pinwheels, piroshkis, and potato puffs. Or press the dough into cupcake tins, bake, and fill with pudding or cheesecake for dessert. I can have a dish ready in half an hour.
Anaheim Hills, California
My favorite product is my Cuisinart mixer. Ever since my husband gave it to me, I have been able to make the most delicious foods and save us money. Anything from cookies for my nieces and nephew to great ravioli for dinners with my family and friends. It really is a great product.
Fort Lee, New Jersey
The Lansky knife-sharpening system is the easiest, most effective system I have ever used. Since the product ensures that the knife blade is honed at precisely the correct angle, the results are always consistent.
The Vacuvin pineapple corer is the ultimate tool. It slices and cores a pineapple in a minute or less and doesn't require a lot of strength to do so. I bought mine about four or five years ago and have given many of them as gifts to friends and family.
I use Diamond of California walnuts in my yogurt and salads just about every day. Their omega-3 fatty acids are good for the body, and the taste is good for the soul.
Deerfield Beach, Florida
My favorite kitchen product is the new SideSwipe Spatula Mixer Blade attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. It allows me to incorporate all the ingredients for batters without having to stop the machine and scrape down the bowl. I especially love it for creaming butter, making frosting and ganache, and mixing batters with sticky ingredients, like peanut butter and cream cheese.
We’re a family of five, with three boys involved in sports. It’s hectic trying to get everyone to and from practice and still put dinner on the table. So my favorite products are my Crock-Pot and rice cooker. When I know I’m going to have a busy afternoon, I can put my main entrÃ©e in the Crock-Pot and make a side dish of rice in the cooker. Even if it’s crazy in the evening, I know that all I have to do is serve.
My Presto Cool Touch Tilt ’N’ Drain Griddle is the best. A regular griddle pan just isn’t large enough to make pancakes, eggs, bacon, grilled cheese, and more for a family of four. I use my Cool Touch almost daily.
West Greenwich, Rhode Island
Dryer sheets! They keep your clothes smelling fresh, they make great dusters, and I stick a couple in the linen closets to make the sheets smell nice. I also stick them in the vacuum cleaner so the air smells nice while I'm vacuuming.
My favorite product is Biz liquid stain zapper, because even when I get salad dressing on my favorite red sweater and have washed it several times, soaking it with this overnight will get the spot out and save the sweater.
I keep Tide-to-Go pens in my purse, my glove box, my book bag, and my desk. Once I got a stain on a new white dress in church, and the pen took it right out. By the time the service was over, my dress was as good as new.
I loathe laundry, but I love my laundry helper, the Flip Fold. It’s a flat form that helps you fold T-shirts, pants, and towels perfectly. Because the end result is having all the clothes folded the same way, I feel a small sense of accomplishment, and this helps me want to do the laundry.
Downy Wrinkle Releaser is amazing. Spray it on and clothes become wrinkle-free. I haven’t used an iron in months. I recommend it to all my friends and have even been known to do demonstrations!
Beaufort, South Carolina
I love Wine Away, a red-wine stain remover. It has saved linens, rugs, sweaters, and shirts, not to mention preventing numerous arguments. Just spray it on a red-wine spill and the stain is totally removed.
Raleigh, North Carolina
No, I haven't just had an expensive facial, nor have I just come back from a relaxing week aboard my yacht. My skin has that succulent and shimmering glow because I have my magic skin-freshening product, Prescriptives vibrant cream. It gives my 55-year-old face a helping hand, and sometimes coworkers comment that my face is glowing.
Plainview, New York
Kiehl's Epidermal Re-Texturing Micro-Dermabrasion. I use it twice a week, and it leaves my skin smooth and dramatically improves the texture. I'm hooked.
My main product addiction is Elderflower Eye Gel from the Body Shop. I've been using it ever since I discovered it in college, at least 15 years ago. It depuffs my morning eyes and feels fabulous. And I'm thinking it may have something to do with the fact that, at the age of 36, I have no lines around my eyes and still occasionally get carded. I pray this product never gets discontinued.
Woodland Hills, California
Good old Vaseline works with an eyelash curler to make wow lashes, is an instant lip glosser, and provides rough-callous relief when applied to the soles of the feet. It even adds a quick shine to dressy shoes.
North Babylon, New York
Due to my frugal nature, I waited years before purchasing an electric toothbrush―it just seemed too expensive. What a mistake! My Sonicare is the best product I have ever purchased.
Aquaphor. I use it on my lips, cuticles, elbows, heels, and minor cuts. It leaves everything soft and moisturized without an overwhelming scent. I could not go a day without it.
Smith's Rosebud Salve Original Formula has been my best defense against chapped lips in the beating 40-mile-per-hour winds of a Chicago winter and the equally harsh Daytona Beach sunshine. It also works against diaper rash and is a blemish fighter. And when empty, the container can hold little things you would lose otherwise.
At first I thought a razor with an attached shaving bar was lame and gimmicky, but with the Schick Intuition Razor, I don't have to hang my lathered leg out of my tiny shower to keep the shaving cream on. And I shave more often, which my boyfriend doesn't mind a bit.
My favorite product is Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo & Conditioner. It wakes me up in the morning with a gentle tingle, and it has no sulfates, so you are reducing your daily toxins.
The balls and the heels of my feet used to be so cracked and dry―especially in the summer, when I wore sandals and flip-flops. Then I purchased Podiatrist's Secret Total Foot Recovery Cream at Sally's Beauty Supply. With the occasional help of a foot file after a shower and an application of this cream before bed (you don't have to wear socks), my feet have never looked better. The cream is also inexpensive, and it goes a long way.
San Antonio, Texas
I love my Conair hot rollers. When I use them, my hair looks fabulous and I feel sexy. And from the look on my boyfriend's face when he sees me, he thinks so, too.
My favorite product is Neutrogena Ultrasheer Sunscreen SPF 30. My husband and I work as captain and first mate on a catamaran for a charter business on St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I used to struggle with putting on sunscreen faithfully, and my skin would break out from oily waterproof lotions. This sunscreen protects from UVA and UVB rays and is hypoallergenic, waterproof, and not greasy. Now I get all the sun protection I need with no breakouts.
Christiansted, Virgin Islands
My favorite beauty product is Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. I have used it since my freshman year of college (I'm now 47). It makes my skin feel wonderfully smooth and hydrated, and people tell me I have very young-looking skin. My favorite cleaning product is the Swiffer duster. It makes short work of dusting and can be used on so many surfaces.
By far, baby lotion! My mom and I love it. It's absolutely all-purpose and makes life so much simpler. I use it to moisturize my legs after a shave, my hands during the daytime, and all my parts before bed. When traveling, I even use it as a facial moisturizer, to make packing simpler. It's clean, pure, and efficient―my favorite.
I love the Bare Essentials mineral makeup line. It works to give me that natural look, and it never irritates my sensitive skin. I haven't gone back to traditional makeup products since.
Burt’s Bees Decollete Cream is intended to keep your dÃ©colletage soft and smooth, but it works wonders for the bikini line after a shave, keeping razor bumps away.
Aussie Sprunch Spray for curly hair. I had it on my wedding registry. I was given 16 bottles.
Wilmington, North Carolina
About eight years ago, I discovered this product in the baking-goods aisle, and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. Buttermilk Blend, powdered cultured buttermilk, from Saco Foods helps me make sure that I don't have to waste tons of buttermilk when I need only half a cup for a recipe. Simply add the powdered buttermilk to the dry ingredients, then add the water when you blend the wet and dry ingredients together. Recipes come out perfectly every time, with that great taste of buttermilk.
Saratoga Springs, New York
After my baby was diagnosed with a milk allergy, I learned how to cook everything with olive oil instead of butter. I also use olive oil as a moisturizer―it makes my hands as soft as my baby's.
St. Petersburg, Florida
White vinegar comes in biodegradable glass containers, and along with a drop of lavender oil and newspaper, it works wonders cleaning my windows. A splash of vinegar freshens a load of towels in the laundry and deodorizes just about anything. Once in a while, I use it as a rinse in the shower to give my hair extra shine and bounce. At the same time, I feel good about the products I'm not using, which could potentially harm the environment.
My go-to product is Pam cooking spray. It makes kitchen cleanup a breeze, and it will also set a manicure or silence squeaky doors and windows without the nasty smell of WD-40.
Bite-size Shredded Wheat cereal is the best. It provides a quick, healthy breakfast or snack, and its mellow flavor blends nicely with other breakfast cereals, so I can boost my fiber while indulging in a sweeter treat occasionally. On cold days, adding warm milk to a bowl of shredded wheat warms me up and keeps my motor running for hours.
North Bend, Washington
I love Lipton's Quietly Chamomile herbal tea, because no matter what kind of day I have had, it always makes me feel better and sleep well.
Drink To That
My husband and I have always enjoyed coffee, but he used to make too much and it would wind up going to waste. I was glad when I found the Kuerig one-cup coffeemaker. The coffee is premeasured in small plastic cups, so there are never any grounds to clean up. Plus, it takes only about 30 seconds to make a single cup, so now we have fresh, hot coffee several times a day, whenever we want.
Owings Mills, Maryland
Kraft Foods Fruit2O flavored water is the best product to come along in a while. It's a healthy and tasty alternative to soft drinks and caffeinated beverages, and the fruit flavoring keeps me from getting bored with drinking water. I'm finally consuming the amount of water health-care professionals recommend for a healthy body. No sugar, no calories, no fat, no carbs! My skin is glowing, and I feel great.
After hearing about the impact that using just one eco-bulb can have on the environment, I replaced all the incandescent bulbs in my house with CFL bulbs. That one change motivated me to find other ways to go green. Along with recycling, I no longer use paper napkins or towels, I have replaced chemical cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, and I have reduced our water usage. I continue to look for more ecologically responsible tips and credit this newfound commitment to the eco-bulb.
Charlotte, North Carolina
I love my little red Toyota Prius. I am so proud to drive a hybrid and to do my part to help the environment. My friends love it, too, because I'm always offering to drive. I know my gas mileage is better than their SUVs', and with a license plate like kik gas, I know everybody else knows it.