Saving counter space and money and reducing clutter are more valuable than any of these supposedly must-have gadgets. Slick marketing promises increased efficiency and a streamlined lifestyle, but incorporating these devices or approaches into everyday living at home and they'll quickly reveal themselves to be overly complicated, expensive, sometimes more trouble than they're worth -- and, in some cases, literally useless.
Household products that are a complete waste of money
Household products that are a complete waste of money
Price: Around $4
Most recipes call for chopped or minced garlic, not pressed; even when they do, substituting minced is fine. The Daily Meal's Dan Meyers says most chefs don't use presses, and advise against keeping one of these incredibly hard-to-clean contraptions around. Instead: Use the flat side of a good knife or a mortar and pestle to easily crush the garlic.
Countless homes are littered with the dust-caked carcasses of New Year's resolutions that never came to be in the form of so-called miracle exercise gadgets such as Thigh Masters, Ab Crunchers, and Shake Weights. Instead: Commit to a free, at-home, and gym-free bodyweight exercise regimen.
Price: Starting at $25 for 40
Like old-school film cameras and razors with disposable blades, cup-based coffee machines popularized by Keurig require a big purchase (starting at $70) only once, but far more necessary re-ups over the course of a lifetime. K-cups are convenient, but expensive, bulky to store, and create a lot of unnecessary plastic waste for the environment. Instead: Consider getting an easy-to-program and inexpensive drip coffee maker or even a single-cup version if you just need one cup. Or if you really want the Keurig pod option, try using the refillable K-cups ($5 for eight at Amazon), which can be used over and over with inexpensive, store-bought coffee.
A banana slicer is shaped like a banana, curve and all, and a single push makes perfectly uniform slices -- which would be great if bananas were always the same size and had the same curve. Instead: A kitchen knife does the same work in less than a minute without the additional clutter.
Price: $7 for 120
Soft clothes free of static cling are achievable without the lifelong recurring expense of fabric softener or dryer sheets. Instead: Toss a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer to eliminate static electricity, and add a washcloth wet with a bit of white vinegar to soften fabric.
Price: $14 for 200
Americans spend around $21 billion a year on vitamins and herbal supplements, Healthline reports, despite studies showing vitamins are pretty much useless for most people. Instead: A diet dominated by plant-based whole foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables, packs more healing power than vitamins, which are not uniformly regulated.
Hamilton Beach is just one of the companies selling specialty appliances that try to justify their counter space by promising the perfectly boiled or poached egg. Instead:Perfectly boiled eggs can be made by, well, boiling them. Simply reduce or increase the cooking time for soft, medium, or hard boiled; poach an egg with a slotted spoon and an inch and a half of simmering water.
That rickety sharpened wheel on a stick you've been dragging across pizza gobbles up way too much drawer space for something that's rarely used. Instead: Regular kitchen shears are are perfect for cutting homemade pizza, and can be used for countless other tasks as well.
Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, which mammals exhale in huge plumes with every breath. There is no evidence, however, that they are attracted to ultraviolet light, which is the lure that backyard bug zappers rely on to draw and eliminate bugs. Instead: If you still swear by zappers, find the best-reviewed ones. But there are also plenty of other ways to repel bugs naturally and affordably.
Plug-in rodent and insect repellents claim to blast pests with intolerable invisible currents that drive mice and bugs from your home. In reality, those claims aren't backed by science, and independent tests have gotten mixed results at best with only a limited number of pests. Instead: There are plenty of simple ways to repel pests naturally, or at least cheaply.
The push of a button and the spinning bucket tosses salad and dries it so dressing gets distributed evenly. But is salad being made big enough, often enough, to justify this expensive space-hogger? Instead: Wash the greens in a big container, put on the lid, and give it a few good shakes, and dry any excess moisture with paper towels or a clean dish towel. Voila! Same outcome for your delicious salad.
Electric can openers are convenient and easy, but not every kitchen can spare the counter space required for one. Instead: Complete the same task with a few turns of a crank using a handheld opener stored in a drawer.
People overcame gross household smells long before "mountain fresh" and "fresh twist cranberry" scents were invented. Today, there are a dizzying array of options for air-freshening systems, many costing $40 or more. Instead: Simmer lemon juice in water on the stove, and place potpourri, eucalyptus, rose water, or open containers of baking soda around the house.
In the digital age, fax machines seem like relics. There are still a few scenarios in which a fax might be needed, including for legal papers and some communications with doctors and insurance companies. Instead: Even people with home businesses might get away with free fax services offered online described by Lifewire, and save money and space in the process.
Price: $300 to $900
Wi-Fi enabled Roombas, the most famous robot vacuums, scan rooms and attack dirt while homeowners are elsewhere -- although they can't handle stairs. Instead: You could always just vacuum with a traditional vacuum cleaner once every few days, and save the money and hassle of a product that doesn't work for all circumstances and will inevitably break down.