Back in March, Em wrote about her favorite household basics. EHD’s go-to flatware, glasses, bed pillows, duvet inserts — it’s all in there. But on a recent call, we started talking about the less glamorous basics. You know, the sponges and drying racks and vacuums and brooms that keep us, and our homes, functioning.
These things — the lids and straws and cloths — are practical, tiny, and often affordable, but we never talk about them, even though they can make such a HUGE difference in our quality of life. I know this for a fact, because I’m about to tell you about the broom that has literally made me a cleaner person. (Like, yes, it made my space cleaner, but also, it shifted my behavior!!!)
I slipped my first disc in 2008, at the ripe old age of 17. (Thanks, sports!) I’ve had trouble with my back ever since — including a recent repeat injury earlier this year (Team EHD got to witness me wearing overalls for about a week straight so I could strap a heating pad to my back. I could only travel 3 feet from my desk while remaining plugged in. These are the things I miss now that we work from home.) Anyway, my bad back has always made me hate cleaning my floors since it’s a long process with a ton of bending and replugging and picking up and…you get it.
But when I moved into my apartment last June, I got a lobby broom. Yup — it’s one of those brooms that stands up, like the ones you’d see in a movie theater. I remember my mom laughing at me when I picked it out — “are you sure you want that one?” — but I was dead-set on getting this standing broom. After a year, the verdict is in: I LOVE IT. You guys. I use my broom EVERY DAY NOW. And it’s snowballed: since my floors are cleaner, I keep my surfaces cleaner. I’ve carved out time in my schedule every day to tidy.
You have to know that this was a pretty big shift for me. I was formerly a “do one big clean” type and I’d feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks in front of me, so then I’d procrastinate and it’d just be worse. NO MORE. All because of this little stinking broom!!!
So with all that said, sometimes it’s just about finding the RIGHT basics that make sense for you and your lifestyle. To that end, it turns out we all have a few things we feel passionately about in this department — things that have just made us happier in our homes. Let’s jump in, yeah?
1. Scrub Mommy: I know all the hype is for the Scrub Daddy, but I’m here to say that the Scrub MOMMY is the superior tool. I’ve been dishwasher-less since 2015 and this is my all-time favorite sponge/scrubber. It’s textured on one side and a classic sponge on the back, so it does double duty, and it somehow always rinses clean despite pulling up a ton of gunk from my pots and pans every time I break it out.
2. Double Decker Dish Rack: If you’re the type of person who lets dishes stack in the sink (no judgement) and then gets overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work ahead of you, a double decker rack is a game-changer. This one offers up a TON of space, adjustable hooks, a flatware compartment, and a movable spout that drains straight into the sink. It’s compact, stable, and pretty enough to leave on your counter 24/7.
3. Silicone Straws: 10 straws. 4 cases. (And 4 squeegees, so your straws ACTUALLY get clean…but they’re also dishwasher-safe if you’re lucky enough to have one.) These silicone straws are unbreakable and temperature-safe, so you won’t have to worry about shards or about them getting too hot to touch. Most importantly: there is no aftertaste!!! (This was so exciting for me after coming over from the world of metal straws.)
4. Multi-Functional Vegetable Chopper: This little guy can spiralize, dice, julienne, grate, AND catch it all for you in a safe little compartment. I asked Jess about it and she said, “I have been making some changes to my diet and by that I mean I am finally putting nutrients into my body. This vegetable slicer has been one of the best and most affordable purchases I’ve made. It’s so easy to use and slices my veggies nice and small (which is the only way I like them). FIVE STARS.” High praise!!!
5. Cleaning Gloves: I have 3 pairs of these — one for doing dishes, one for deep-cleaning my kitchen surfaces, and one for cleaning my bathroom — and I don’t think I can go back to a glove-less life. They change my mental state (I feel a lot more competent when I’m dressed for the task) and they just make me a lot more willing to get into grime or to stick my fingers down my shower drain. I rinse them off, let them dry, and store them inside out so they’re ready to grab for the next time something gets gross.
6. Compostable Sponge Cloths: These come in sets of 10 and one cloth can replace 17 rolls of paper towels. They’re SO absorbent and perfect for doing the dishes or soaking up spills. When you’re done, just rinse, wring out, and let them dry! You can put them in the dishwasher, throw them in the laundry, or microwave them (!!!) to clean. I still haven’t hit the point where I’m ready to retire any of mine, but you can just toss in the compost when you are. Y’all, these were a LIFESAVER when all my local grocery stores ran out of paper towels earlier this year and now I’ll never go back.
7. Pot & Pan Brush: It’s nice to have one scrubbing brush in the house for pots and pans and this one is great…but I actually use it cleaning around on the floor near my toe kick. It’s firm enough to remove any gunk or accidental splatter but soft enough that I’m not worried about screwing up the paint on my billion-year-old cabinets. (Plus, the tiny green edge is PERFECT for getting out tiny litter particles that somehow get wedged in the cracks between my flooring and my cabinet. It’s the tiny, satisfying things!)
8. Silicone Lids: Plastic wrap no more! Full disclosure: I did not anticipate falling in love with these, but I DID. They’re air-tight and good for everything. They’ve subbed in for my missing Tupperware lids (where do those go???), they’ve prevented leftovers from splattering all over my microwave, and they’re good for keeping my mac & cheese warm while I decide if I’m going to eat the whole pot (I always do, and it’s nice that it’s still gooey after I’ve debated!). They nest and fit perfectly in a drawer. A TRUE DREAM.
9. Ninja Air Fryer: Oh jeez, there are a whole lot of air fryers out there and it’s kind of hard to discern which is best, especially when you’re a cooking novice. I bought this one per Arlyn’s recommendation — the lady knows her way around a kitchen — and it’s awesome.
1. Dyson Cord-Free Vacuum: We link this puppy up EVERY TIME it goes on sale because it’s a staff favorite. This is the vacuum that Em uses up at the Mountain House and her kids actually love using it. It’s lightweight, it can do double duty as a handheld vac, and not having to un-plug and re-plug in every room makes cleaning and touch-ups go by so much quicker.
2. Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner: Jess’ dad is actually the guy behind this recommendation. A self-proclaimed neat freak, he says this is the perfect everyday wet vac to clean up after spills and messes on those non-washing machine-friendly pieces.
3. Chom Chom Roller: Bowser first introduced us to the Chom Chom Roller in a Link Up about a year ago and our pet-owning lives were forever changed. This is the official pet hair-collecting tool of EHD. It is the best. If you think you’re destined to a life of fur on every surface, think again!!! You know how we get our houses looking all spic and span before we shoot our MOTOs? THIS ROLLER.
4. Standing Broom & Dustpan: AH, the broom that launched this whole post. I have since convinced Ryann to purchase one. Let me reiterate: buying a standing broom was the best thing I ever did for my hard-floored home. It’s easy to transport, there’s no bending required (so I actually sweep regularly, since it’s such a painless process), and the teeth on the top portion help pull out any hair that’s trapped between the bristles. I will never use a different type of broom.
5. Miele Vacuum: OH BOY. This is the heavy-duty, keep-forever, official adult vacuum. Em has this down in LA and Jess owned one for EIGHT YEARS but had to leave it behind when she moved to Australia. A truly heartbreaking story. She thinks about it more than anyone would think about a vacuum (her words!) — it’s the real deal for deep cleaning.
6. Long Lint Roller: “Why do I need such an enormous lint roller?” – me, 5 years ago, when my mom gave me one of these. “EVERYONE NEEDS THIS,” – me, today. My mom is always right!!! This is such a delight if you have a bad back (guilty!) and need to roll a pet bed, or honestly, if you need to roll your own bed. In addition to being great for mobility, it’s so big that you can cover WAY more surface area WAY faster. I can usually hit all the seating surfaces in my apartment with one sheet before pals come over (LOL remember friends visiting?) without having to tear off and throw out a million tinier roller sheets.
1. Weighted Shower Liner: There are magnets attached to the bottom so you will no longer experience the terrifying ghostly embrace of a billowing liner mid-shower.
2. Deep Clean Brush Set: WHAT A MAGNIFICENT DUO. The thumb grip on the larger brush makes it a dream for heavy-duty scrubbing in the shower or on your stovetop. The small brush is a dream for getting into grout but is especially handy for polishing up around your drains! They’re firm enough to remove grime and buildup but soft enough to prevent scratching. If you’re in the “I just use a sponge or a microbe cloth or a Lysol wipe to clean everything” camp (I definitely was!!!), you are going to be BLOWN AWAY by what a difference these and a little elbow grease will make to your home.
3. Toilet Wand: If y’all are not on the Clorox Toilet Wand train yet, IT IS TIME. This is the first thing I purchase ANY TIME I move into a new home. (Do I own a plunger? No! But is my toilet clean? Yes!) It takes so much of the ‘ick’ out of the toilet brush process.
4. Bladed Squeegee: Use this on anything glass: your shower, your window, your mirror, a glass-topped end table…no more streaking. It’s a tiny thing that makes such a huge difference.
5. Harmony Oil Diffuser: We love an oil diffuser here at EHD — they’re beautiful and you’ll never that “oh crap, did I blow that out before I left home?” moment that you get with candles. Target recently dropped a new line of oil diffusers in 3 different scents, but Harmony (woody and spicy) is our favorite — you can read Julie’s full review here. If that’s not your go-to smell, you can also try out Tranquility (floral and sweet) or Serenity (crisp and earthy).
6. Style & Store Caddy: My mom bought me this caddy about 4 years ago during one of her visits and it changed my life. It’s made from silicone and it can withstand high heat, which means that I actually put my hair tools away after using them instead of leaving them on the vanity all day to “cool.” (You can actually spot mine in action in this post, so you know I really mean it!)
1. Self-Changing Trash Can: Welcome to the future where even trash cans are smart!!! At 4 gallons, the TowNew is ideal for smaller spaces or for under-the-sink usage (just measure first!), but the real kicker is this: this trashcan replaces and seals the bag for you. No more touching garbage! No more bending into the can and banging around to get your new bag ready to go! It’s a beautiful solution for those who struggle with mobility or for those who are just a little squeamish about touching garbage. (I use this near my cat’s litterbox and it is a DREAM. And the bags are biodegradable!)
2. Magnetic Laundry Organizing Rack: Small space dwellers, rejoice! This thing is strong and can hold your detergent pods, stain remover, dryer sheets, a spare roll of paper towels, or any other extra cleaning supplies.
3. Drying Rack: Jess loves this guy. It’s sturdy, pretty lightweight and can hold a bunch of drying clothes (which she has tons of). Also, the net at the bottom is perfect for flat dry items. Then when she’s done it folds up like a dream and lives in her closet for no one to ever have to see.
4. Wool Dryer Balls: I am a dutiful patron of my local laundromat (when I’m not trying to wash my clothes in my own tub) and these have changed my drying game. I use 3 per load and my laundry not only dries faster (costing me less quarters!) but also comes out fluffier, softer, and with fewer wrinkles. You can spritz these with your favorite essential oils, too, if you want to add a scent boost. Anyway, these are 10/10 and I will never buy dryer sheets again!!!
5. Gel Mattress Topper: This one was recently tested when Jess was house/dog sitting for her cousin. She immediately asked her it was a Tempur-Pedic mattress. Nope! Just an incredible mattress topper. It’s the perfect depth to relieve pressure points and the gel construction helps keep it cool so you can sleeper more comfortably.
6. Body Boss: Exercise is finally on Jess’ priority list and after getting this set up recommended to her by her brother’s fitness-loving fiancé, she decided to give it a try. To her surprise she loves it! This little foldable gym hits anywhere you want to work on and there are a ton of videos online so if you are a SUPER beginner like Jess, there is no need to stress out because you don’t know where to start.
OK WAIT. So we’ve shared our household essentials, but now we gotta know — what say you??? What are the basics that keep your home running or that make your life a little brighter? Did we miss anything? LET’S CHAT 🙂