10 weird (but brilliant) gadgets that'll make your life easier — including this pet owner must-have

Anne Mandler

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These funky gadgets are a fun way to get your chores done. (Photo: Chewy)
These funky gadgets are a fun way to get your chores done. (Photo: Chewy)

Set yourself up for success in tiny ways, and you’ll reduce your overall stress. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference. Here are 10 smart solutions to everyday challenges — poised to change your life for the better!

Ball Cap Washer in Sturdy Plastic

Ball-cap washer in sturdy plastic. (Photo: Walmart)
Ball-cap washer in sturdy plastic. (Photo: Walmart)

I don’t want to make generalizations about teenage boys, but can we all agree that their baseball caps could use a washing? And yet that precious headwear is not exactly easy to clean. Hats off to whoever invented this clever gadget, a “cage” that enables you to safely wash caps in your dishwasher.

Shop it: Ball Cap Washer in Sturdy Plastic, $8, walmart.com

Kale Razor and Herb Stripping Tool

You want to eat more greens, right? But they’re a pain to prep — and the healthier they are, it seems, the more work they entail. Not anymore. This brilliant tool shears tough leaves (think kale, collards, mustard green) off the rib with ease, helping you breeze through a whole head in just a couple of minutes. Smaller holes are for stripping herbs like rosemary, thyme and parsley. Forgive me in advance, but I have to say it: With this tool, it’s easy being green.

Shop it: Kale Razor and Herb Stripping Tool, $15, thegrommet.com

Hanger Spacers, 10-Pack

Anyone who’s ever worked in a retail store knows that that spacing hangers uniformly (one-finger’s width!) is what gives a rack dignity. At home most of us have given up on this notion, and our overstuffed storage results in smashed, wrinkled clothes — requiring ironing even when they may have been in beautiful shape when they were put away. No longer. These hanger spacers give each of your shirts, dresses or pants the personal space it needs to remain in good shape and at the ready for service. The spacers make it easier to get dressed for work, to put away laundry and to feel like you’re ahead of the game. Available in charcoal or matte silver.

Shop it: Hanger Spacers, 10-Pack, $20, thegrommet.com

CleverMade 30L SnapBasket LUXE

SnapBasket collapsible tote. (Photo: Amazon)
SnapBasket collapsible tote. (Photo: Amazon)

It’s great that we’ve finally gotten into a nationwide habit of bringing our own bags to the grocery store. Each year more cities outlaw plastic bags. But if the back of your car now looks like an explosion at a tote-bag factory — a crazy chaos of canvas, nylon and good old-fashioned brown paper — you’ll love this slim, storable carry-all. It folds completely flat, expands to a generously sized rectangular cube and weighs next to nothing. Bring it into the supermarket with you, fill as you peruse the shelves, and after the groceries are put away at home, collapse and file neatly in your vehicle. Car clutter solved. And it’s available in five colors.

Shop it: CleverMade 30L SnapBasket LUXE, $30, amazon.com

Aquapaw Pet Bathing Tool

I read that the best way to bathe a cat is by placing it on a tilted window screen in the tub. Its claws come out in fear, and in the cat’s terror it is trapped so you can lower the feline into the water. This, to me, seems bonkers, and it’s why my cat of 11 years has never been bathed. However, the Aquapaw makes me feel like I may have a chance yet. A wearable sprayer-scrubber that attaches to a hose (outside) or a faucet (in the tub), it lets you get the job done quick and clean. You might even be able to convince the kids there’s fun to be had here, and outsource dog-scrubbing duty to them.

Shop it: Aquapaw Pet Bathing Tool, $25, chewy.com

Tramontina PrimaWare 10″ and 12″ Stainless Steel Universal Lid

Dinner prep is infinitely easier when you don’t have to rifle around for that one errant pot top. This universal lid has got you covered (or has got your pots covered). It works with most 8-, 10- and 12-inch pots and pans, so you can keep it handy, transfer from pot to pot as needed, and concentrate on your brilliant culinary creations instead.

Shop it: Tramontina PrimaWare 10″ and 12″ Stainless Steel Universal Lid, $13 (was $15.50), walmart.com

Spin-Dry Toilet Brush

What goes on inside the toilet-brush holder is something none of us wants to think about. We hold our breath, avert our eyes and pretend all is well, when we know in our hearts it ain’t. Someone stronger and braver confronted this issue and invented a toilet brush that’s easy to dry (so less icky to put away). After you finish cleaning the bowl, just hold the brush above the water, and squeeze the handle. The brush spins to eject liquid (along with any ooky stuff that might be hanging on). You can put it back in its holder with a good conscience and less chance of mucky waters greeting you next time.

Shop it: Spin-Dry Toilet Brush, $10 (Was $25), thegrommet.com

OXO Good Grips Extendable Tub and Tile Scrubber

OXO Good Grips extendable tub and tile scrubber. (Photo: OXO)
OXO Good Grips extendable tub and tile scrubber. (Photo: OXO)

Yes, it’s intended to help you clean those high-up tiles on the wall next to the shower. And it’s damned good at this. Like so many OXO products, it’s an ergonomic delight. The head pivots to get into awkward spots, moving nimbly even when the pole is fully extended. A sturdy anti-microbial head is abrasive enough to do the job and easy to rinse clean. What the manufacturer may not mention is that it’s also awesome for killing bugs; this is the primary function for this tool in my home. I usually grab a used dryer sheet out of the laundry basket, lay it across the head (it sticks because of the scrubby texture) and in seconds that ceiling spider has met a quick (and I hope painless) demise.

Shop it: OXO Good Grips Extendable Tub and Tile Scrubber, $13, amazon.com

Vegetable Spiralizer Jar

Been meaning to spiralize but can’t quite get motivated? This low-tech hand tool takes away the intimidation factor — and the potential mess — catching and containing veggie ribbons as you twist. Make yourself a whole spiralized salad, top with a dollop of dressed lentils (or any leftover protein from last night’s dinner) and lunch is packed and ready to take to the office.

Shop it: Vegetable Spiralizer Jar, $9 (Was $15), thegrommet.com

Set of 2 Oil Sprayers

If, like many of us, you promised yourself healthier habits in 2019, these olive oil bottles belong in your kitchen. You get the convenience and lightness of cooking spray with the quality (and “good fat”) of your favorite olive oil. These bottles have a broad spritz, so they coat the pan using less oil overall — and who couldn’t use a bit fewer calories in that a.m. omelet? Fill the second bottle with balsamic, if you like; that makes it a breeze to dress salad, and keep leaves light and bright.

Shop it: Set of 2 Oil Sprayers, $20, thegrommet.com

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