The 22 Cleverest Items to Simplify Your Life This Year
We’ve collected the 22 of the best products we saw this year to make your life just a little bit easier in 2020.
At Real Simple, we’re all about finding the best products out there and sharing them with our readers (aka you). We have a roundup of the best Amazon products; we’ve tracked down the top safe cleaning products. We test out (and review) wacky products, cleaning tools, unexpected finds, and more (we even have a Bio-Oil review), all to bring the brightest and best products out there to our readers.
One of the ways we share our picks for the best products to come across our desks is through 6 Clever Items to Simplify Your Life, a weekly column that highlights six smart finds. After a whole year of 6 Clever Items, we’ve rounded up and shared more than 300 of the best products: That’s a lot of smart buys to sift through.
Fortunately, whether you’re a 6 Clever Items to Simplify Your Life reader or not, our annual end-of-year roundup highlights the best of the best. These are the finds we tried, tested, and trusted over and over again this year. If you’re waiting for an umbrella you can actually rely on or a travel mug that truly won’t spill, we’ve got you covered.
Read on for reviews of the best products we saw in 2019, with one quick warning: You’re going to want to order a few of these ASAP—if you don’t already have them, that is. Read on and know that you’re looking at some of the smartest products we found this year. Can’t you already imagine how they’ll simplify your life?
1 Food52 Five Two Ultimate Apron
Finally, an apron you’ll actually wear. The long straps and adjustable neck strap fit any body, and smart built-ins such as pot holders, a conversion chart, and pockets for utensils make it incredibly helpful. You’ll protect your clothes and be a more efficient cook at the same time: What’s not to love?
To buy: $45; food52.com.
2 Blunt Metro Umbrella
Sturdy and large enough to truly keep you covered, this umbrella is certainly a durable, reliable pick, but its greatest selling point is its blunted points: If you’ve been forced to carry an umbrella on a crowded street (or feared the risks of handing an umbrella to a child), you know the fear of jabbing someone with the sharp tips of your umbrella’s edges. With this smart option, that’s no longer a concern.
To buy: $59; amazon.com.
3 Logan + Lenora Daytripper
For travel, commuting, and leisurely trips to the pool or beach alike, you can trust this tote. It has waterproof pockets that zip shut, so you can keep everything secure, and sturdy straps that won’t break on you. The bag can hold everything you need and still fit on a plane as a carry-on bag—and in several on-trend colors and patterns, it can fit in anywhere style-wise, too.
To buy: $150; loganandlenora.com.
4 Scotch Brand Flex and Seal Shipping Roll
Skip boxes and bubble wrap with this helpful creation from Scotch Brand. Next time you need to ship a book, clothes, shoes, and many other non-fragile items, you can simply wrap them in this lightly padded, no-tape-needed packaging. It adheres to itself, so keeping everything secure is easy, and it takes up less space and weighs less, giving you more storage space at home and lowering your shipping costs at the same time.
To buy: From $8; amazon.com.
Lessen the pain of a low-grade headache with this acupressure tool, which slides onto either hand between the thumb and forefinger to apply gentle pressure, eliminating that annoying ache almost immediately.
To buy: $20; amazon.com.
6 Supergoop Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion
This mineral sunscreen won’t turn your face pale and chalky, promise. It dispenses like a typical sunscreen, too, combining the physical barrier against sun damage of a mineral sunscreen with the smooth blending of a chemical sunscreen. If you’ve been wanting to give mineral sunscreens a try, start with this one.
To buy: $42; supergoop.com.
7 Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sheets
Some messes call for heavy-duty clean-up tools, but smaller messes happen, too. These smart sheets have all the power of the trusty Magic Eraser, just on a smaller scale: No need to sully a whole Eraser when a single sheet will get the job done.
To buy: $3 for eight sheets; target.com.
8 Swing-A-Way Jar Opener
Finally be able to open every jar, every time, with this simple tool. It latches onto jars of all sizes and pops them open with a simple squeeze: No wrist-straining or counter-banging necessary. Plus, it’s low-profile, so storage is easy, too.
To buy: $10; williams-sonoma.com.
9 S’well Sports Cap
Turn your favorite S’well bottle into your go-to gym bottle with this simple cap, which allows for more sipping without pausing your workout to unscrew a lid. It cuts down on unexpected splashes of water, too.
To buy: $10; swellbottle.com.
10 Google Photos Memories
Google Photos just keeps getting smarter, but we found the Google Photos Memories feature to be especially helpful: Sure, it makes it easier to curate your photos into event-specific memories, but it also addresses one of our favorite uses for our phone cameras: taking pictures of recipes, flyers, business cards, and more, or screenshots of an address or phone number you want to be able to find later. (Honestly, who hasn’t used their camera as a makeshift notepad?) The Memories feature, launched in September 2019, allows you to search your photo archive by text, finding that brownie recipe you took a picture of six months ago in a flash.
Try it: Free for Google Photos users; blog.google.com for more info.
11 Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug
The trigger-action lid on this travel mug allows you to sip single-handedly: no more fumbling to spin or snap open a lid—or spilling. The lid comes apart easily for a thorough clean, and the vacuum-insulated container will keep drinks warm for hours.
To buy: $15; amazon.com.
12 Silpat Sil-Band
Yes, it’s just a simple snap band, like the ones you used to wear around your wrist, but when it comes to corralling those cumbersome baking mats, this little tool can’t be beat. Simply roll up your silicone mat (or several) and snap the band around it: They’ll never tumble out when you open the cabinet door again.
To buy: $5; amazon.com.
13 Left on Friday Double Scoop Suit
This flattering, washable swimsuit is durable and reliable: It won’t slip or slide in unexpected ways, so you can play, swim, and surf worry-free. The suit will last the season and beyond, even though its body-smoothing fit will have you wearing it every day.
To buy: $170; leftonfriday.com.
14 Spotify Soundtrack your Ride
This interactive feature from Spotify is a must for road trips. It creates a custom playlist optimized to your drive time and tastes, so you have a fresh soundtrack for your trip without repeats or skips. You can focus on the road, not picking a new playlist or album, and enjoy yourself more at the same time. (Arguments over what to listen to next will be gone for good, too.)
Try it: Free with Spotify account; spotify.com.
15 Amco Rub-a-Way Bar
Ditch lingering cooking smells (looking at you, garlic) without scrubbing by rubbing this bar over your hands post-prep. The stainless steel will absorb odors easily, and it can go in the dishwasher for a refresh when needed.
To buy: $8; amazon.com.
16 Rabbit Freezable Cocktail Maker
Mix up your frozen drink of choice in this simple, plastic cocktail maker, stick it in the freezer, and enjoy your fresh beverage at your leisure. This maker is portable and low-tech, so you can bring it on the go or outdoors without too much fuss.
To buy: $40; williams-sonoma.com.
17 Tracksmith Camp Tote
This tote has some serious capacity, with a sturdy leather base to keep it upright and a durable canvas exterior that looks a little dressier than your standard reusable bag. Use it for groceries, errand-running, and gym-trips alike: It can hold everything you need and withstand anything you throw at it.
To buy: $228; tracksmith.com.
18 Zevo Flying Insect Trap Starter Kit
Low-profile and effective, this chemical-free bug catcher will attract and hold fruit flies, moths, and houseflies alike. Plug it in and forget about it (for 45 days, at least): A fly-free home has never been easier.
To buy: $17; zevoinsect.com.
19 Minted Greeting Card Subscription
This subscription lets you plan your card-writing for the year without forgetting to send a single one. Order artist-designed cards for any occasion and all recipients, and Minted will send you a note to remind you when it’s time to send them. Pick birthday cards, anniversary cards, and more to order all at once, and you’ll be set for the next 12 months.
Try it: From $4 per card (subscription service is free); minted.com.
20 Febreze Clothing Odor Eliminator
Be honest: You’re not washing every item of clothing you own every time you wear it, right? (You really shouldn’t be, especially with items like sweaters and jeans.) Sure, you don’t need to wash these items between every wear, but sometimes they might need a little refresh, especially if they’ve been in storage for a while. With this fresh-smelling (and not overpowering at all) spray, you can do just that in moments to tide you over until laundry day rolls around again.
To buy: $5; target.com.
21 Simplehuman Rectangular Sensor Can with Voice and Motion Control
This smart trash can may not be able to take its own contents to the curb (yet), but it can open with a simple voice command, letting you keep your hands busy—and free of potential foodborne bacteria lurking on the can itself. If your mouth is full of your delicious cooking, the can has a motion sensor, too, plus five sleek finishes that make it something to display, not hide.
To buy: $200; simplehuman.com.
22 Kitchen SinkShroom
This stainless steel drain cover fits neatly into your kitchen sink, stopping food scraps while keeping water flowing. The center knob keeps pots and pans from blocking the drain completely and doubles as a handle for emptying the strainer: You’ll never have a clogged kitchen sink again.
To buy: $12; amazon.com.