Right Now, I Just Don't Have the Money for...
- Fancy Face Lotions: The GolfHr Research Institute found Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream to be more moisturizing than products 10 times its cost.
- Salon Manicures: DIYing your nails? Apply a coat of OPI Chip Skip directly to the nail before your base coat or polish for a longer-lasting look.
- The Treatments My Colorist Keeps Pushing: Clairol Natural Instincts Shine Happy gives your locks a great glossy look for under $10 — just as good as what you'd get in a salon, according to our evaluations.
- Pricey Makeup: Mineral Wear from Physicians Formula is talc-free and has the same skin-happy vitamins as department store brands. But at $7 to $14, it won't leave you with new frown lines.
- Professional Tooth Whitening: The best in our tests, Crest Whitestrips Premium brightened teeth two to five shades in seven days, and took just 30 minutes per day.
My Family Is Spill-Prone...
- Around the Computer: Seal Shield Seal Flex silicone keyboards can go in the dishwasher — dump your soda right on 'em!
- On the Living Room Carpet: A 2007 GHRI top product pick, the Woolite Pod handheld tool zaps rug stains and fluffs up matted areas.
- Actually, on All the Carpets: No need to go to the professionals when you can remove stains and dinginess with Bissell Deep Cleaners steam machines. GHRI Tip: Before using any carpet-stain remover, blot up as much of the spill as possible with an absorbent cloth. Put it down and stand on it — the pressure will help pull liquids from the carpet and backing.
- OK, OK — I Sometimes "Wear" My Lunch, Too: The best on-the-spot remover we've tested: the Tide to Go pen.
I'm Having a Party and I Want...
- A Margarita-Ready Blender: The JCPenney Cooks 5-Speed Blender whips ice into submission for smooth, frosty drinks.
- To Avoid Doing So Many Dishes: Dixie Ultra plates will support a feast, so guests can load up on your famous potato salad without the fear of soak-through or plate collapse.
- A House That Smells Great: Febreze Noticeables plug-in fresheners alternate between two complementary scents every 45 minutes to give your home a sweet but sophisticated aroma.
- Paper Napkins That Look Nice and Actually Soak Up Spills: Made of a heavy grade of paper, Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins sop up messes well — especially from the fingers of our barbecued-chicken-eating testers. GHRI Tip: White napkins are more absorbent than dark-colored party napkins; those in vivid colors have been soaked in dye, which uses up some of the fibers' absorbency.
- A Patio That's Bug-Free: The tabletop Off! PowerPad Lamp or Lantern keeps biting bugs at bay in a 15'-by-15' area.
You Mean It's Not Just Me?
- Tomato Sauce Turns Food Storage Containers Orange: Add Cascade Plastic Booster to your dishwasher to bring your plasticware back to its original hue.
- My Reusable Water Bottle Smells Stale: Dawn Plus Odor Eraser dish liquid gets rid of funky smells while cleaning dishes.
- My Silver Loses Its Luster: The easy-to-use Connoisseurs Silver Wipes shine your flatware or jewelry quickly.
- Produce Doesn't Seem Clean After Rinsing: Veggie Wash removes wax and residue that don't come off easily with water from fruits and vegetables.
- Whew! This Gym Bag Reeks: You'll breathe a little easier with Glade Fabric & Air Odor Eliminator. It removes the stink, versus just covering it up.
- The Kids Brought Lice Home! Pesticide-free LiceMD banishes both nits and mature bugs.
- The Garbage Bag Split Open — Again: Say bye-bye to that disaster scenario: Glad's 13-Gallon Drawstring Tall Kitchen Bags are the strongest ones on the market, according to our tests — and cheaper than many at 18 cents apiece. GHRI Tip: Look for the "mil" number on the packaging to determine trash bags' thickness, and therefore their durability. Kitchen bags range from .60 to .90 (Glad's are .90).
- I'm Sick of Waking Up with Itchy Eyes: Aller-Ease and Protect-a-Bed covers keep pillows, mattresses, and other sleep essentials free from moisture, allergens (including dust mites), and bedbugs. GHRI Tip: Not only will covers ease allergies, but they keep bedding cleaner by preventing the buildup of dust, mites, and skin cells within pillows and mattresses. Still, wash pillows at least once a year.
Help! I Need a Quick and Healthy Meal
Mix and match these picks for a delish DIY dinner, as seen in this video
- With no extra sodium and not too much sugar, Francesco Rinaldi No Salt Added Traditional Pasta Sauce has a robust tomato taste you'll enjoy.
- The heat-and-eat meatloaf, shredded beef with barbecue sauce, and pot roast from Laura's Lean Beef are hormone- and antibiotic-free, and really yummy according to our taste testers.
- A heart-smart pick for ranch lovers: Hidden Valley The Original Ranch fat-free dressings.
- Heat your favorite veggies fast with no cookware — and no cleanup — with Glad Simply Cooking Microwave Steaming Bags. GHRI Tip: When microwaving vegetables, season them with olive oil, hot pepper flakes, garlic, and/or fresh or dried herbs, or just add a tablespoon or two of bottled salad dressing before cooking.
- Minute Ready to Serve Brown Rice is packaged by the cup for portioning, literally can be cooked in one minute, and has more than a day's worth of whole grains per serving.
- The Knorr Sides Plus Veggies rice and pasta dishes cook up quickly and have nearly a serving of veggies in each portion.
I Have Pressing Concerns
- I Hate Ironing, Period: A fabric-rela spray, Downy Wrinkle Releaser removes creases fast.
- But if I'm Going to Press a Shirt, I Want Good Results: Niagara Spray Starch gets cotton crisp while ironing. GHRI Tip: For great performance from spray starch, let it soak into fabrics before pressing. This also prevents buildup on the iron's soleplate.
- And What About De-Wrinkling Things That Are Too Big for the Ironing Board? The best-value steamer of our test, Joy Mangano's My Little Steamer has a small nozzle for clothes and a wider one for curtains.
I'd Like ______to Last Longer
- Digital Camera Batteries: The formula of Duracell Ultra is designed for high-power-demand electronics.
- Nonstick Cookware: The special coating inside Circulon Elite cookware is proven to outlast other nonsticks, plus the comfy silicone handles are riveted on for added durability. GHRI Tip: Don't use nonstick cooking spray on nonstick cookware. It'll cook onto the surface, making it tacky and harder to get clean.
- Sheets: The JCPenney Home Collection 300-Thread-Count Sheets actually fit every thickness of mattress, and don't shrink or fade in the wash. GHRI Tip: Sheets with a thread count under 300 will generally be crisper; higher than 300, soft but pricey (that's why 300 is your best-of-both-worlds choice).
- Clothing: The unique gentle-but-effective mix of stain fighters and fabric preservers in Tide Total Care detergent keeps clothes looking newer longer — and earned it a 2009 GolfHr VIP (Very Innovative Product) Award.
- Bath Towels: Canopy Bath Towels by Walmart don't shrink or fade after 25 washes, have excellent absorbency, and won't hurt your wallet at $35 for a six-piece set.
I Want to Take Some of the "Ick" Out of...
- Giving the Tub a Bath: The comfy-handled Scrubbing Bubbles Action Scrubber uses cleaner-filled pads to rub out soap scum from tubs, tile, and shower doors and curtains.
- Unclogging Drains: Liquid-Plumr Power Jet blasts the clogs out of your pipes with a forced jet of pressurized air and a liquid that works without harsh chemicals.
- Catching a Mouse: Your unwelcome guest goes into the d-Con No View, No Touch Mouse Trap — and stays in. Once it's caught, you just toss the whole thing.
- Removing Baked-on Food from Pots and Pans: Spritz on Dawn Power Dissolver; wait 15 minutes; rinse away. A true no-scrub solution and a past GHRI top product pick.
My Pet Has Issues
- She Can't Stop Scratching: Frontline Plus kills fleas and keeps 'em off for at least a month.
- He's a Finicky Eater: How could Iams's cat food entrées like Carved Filets with Skipjack Tuna in Sauce or Premium Pâté with Country Style Turkey & Giblets not appeal to a picky kitty?
- She Eats Too Much: Eukanuba Weight Control pet food is a nutrient-rich, low-calorie blend for any plump pup or cat.
I'm Considering Upgrading My...
- Washer and Dryer: The added steam in Whirlpool Duet Steam Washers gives them more cleaning power than machines without it. In their matching dryers, steam smooths out wrinkles and freshens clothes.
- Fridge: The Bosch Integra line is fully customizable — meaning you can choose your own configuration of refrigeration and freezer compartments based on your kitchen's size and family's needs. GHRI Tip: Help your stainless steel appliances resist smudges and fingerprints by rubbing a thin coating of mineral oil onto the surface with a soft cloth.
- Windows: Champion Vinyl Replacement Windows have Energy Star-rated UV-blocking glass to help you save on heating and cooling costs and prevent your furnishings from fading from the sun.
- Countertops: CaesarStone Quartz Countertops are stain-, scratch-, and heat-resistant.
- Wall-to-Wall Carpeting: Extensively tested, GolfHr Carpeting from Carpet One is super-durable and stylish.
- Garage Doors: Some styles from Clopay resemble those you'd find on a lovely old-fashioned carriage house, but still have the open-from-above mechanism you want in a modern door.
- Bathroom Floor: Warm Tiles by Easy Heat take the chill out of flooring so your tootsies stay toasty, no slippers required.
- Roof: The award-winning GAF-Elk Shingles come at three price levels and in numerous styles and hues to suit your budget and taste.
- Patio or Deck: SunSetter Awnings bring retractable, customizable shade to your outdoor space.
- Heating System: Lennox home comfort systems not only heat and cool, but also control moisture and improve indoor air quality.
I Could Use Some Smart Food Swaps
You won't notice what's missing from these tasty substitutes, to give you...
- Cholesterol-free baking: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Cooking & Baking Sticks have half the saturated fat of the real thing, but your cookies will be totally delicious.
- No-calorie sweetening: NatraTaste and NatraTaste Gold have the same sweet ingredients as the blue and the yellow stuff you already like — and will cost you less green.
- Savory (not salty) stir-fry: Kikkoman takes out almost 38 percent of the salt from its Less Sodium Soy Sauce, but it still adds that zip to beef, poultry, seafood, and veggies.
- Coffee with less kick: Get a little perk-up without the jitters by brewing yourself a cup of Folgers Classic Roast Half Caff.
- A sprinkle of flavor: A dash of Butter Buds on steamed veggies or baked potatoes adds a buttery taste, but no buttery fat.
Confession: I'm a Snackaholic on a Diet
- Go ahead, finish the whole thing: a Jolly Time Healthy Pop 100-Calorie Bag (in butter flavor or kettle corn).
- Satisfy your sweet tooth (and boost your fruit and veggie intake) with fresh juice made with Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.
- A great match for hummus or other healthy dips, The Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps stand in for chips.
- Airy in texture but big on flavor, Snyder's of Hanover MultiGrain White Cheddar Cheese Puffs have 20 grams of whole grains per serving.
- Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds 100-calorie packs keep you from mindlessly gobbling an entire canister. GHRI Tip: Before reaching for your munchies, drink a glass of water. That "hunger" pang may just mean you're thirsty.
It's Time to Potty-Train My Toddler, but...
- I Don't Know Where to Start: A special lining in Pampers Easy Ups Trainers with the Feel 'n Learn liner lets her know when she's wet, so she can begin to figure out when she needs to go.
- Obviously, There Will Be "Accidents": The texture of Luvs Ultra Clean Wipes makes cleanup more thorough.
- And, of Course, the TP Matters: The winner of our toilet paper roundup, Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper came out on top for its softness and superior absorbency.
I Could Use Some Ouch Assistance
- I Love to Bake — and Have the Burns to Show for It: Made with Kevlar (the stuff in bulletproof vests), the Ove Glove can withstand temperatures up to 540°F.
- I Stubbed My Toe on the Way to the Bathroom Last Night: The Good Choice LED White Motion Sensor Night Light with Photo Sensor stays on for 40 seconds after being activated by movement.
- Lighting Jarred and Pillar Candles Singes My Fingers: The adjustable angled BIC Luminère Candle Lighter puts flame to wick, protecting your hands. GHRI Tip: For safe, even burning, don't leave candles lit for more than one hour per inch of diameter.
Save Me from These Chores!
Cleaning High-Up Windows: Windex Outdoor All-in-One glass cleaning tool is a pole (with a disposable pad) that does the reaching for you.
Scrubbing the Tub: Spritzed on after every shower, Tilex Fresh Shower Daily Shower Cleaner keeps bathroom dirt and soap scum from building up — no rinsing needed.
Mopping the Floor: Spray, wipe, and be done. Swiffer WetJet is the first and best of its type.
Getting Marks Off Walls: The gold standard for ni tough-to-beat stains from hard surfaces: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
Washing the Car: The cleanser-filled Mr. Clean Autodry Car Wash system twists onto the hose (sans bucket!), and the formula dries quickly so you won't be out there buffing water spots with a chamois.
I Need a Cool Gift for My 5-Year-Old Nephew's Birthday
Take him to (or get him a gift card for) his local Build-A-Bear Workshop, where he can choose from dozens of cuddly animals to personalize with clothing and accessories.
My Dentist Says I Should Brush Better
Oral B Triumph with Wireless SmartGuide keeps track of brushing time, and tells you when you're scrubbing too hard.
Fix it fast with Gorilla Super Glue. It bonds pretty much anything — metal, stone, wood, ceramics, foam, glass, and much more.
I Want a Good Cup of Coffee — but Not a Whole Pot
The single-serve Bosch Tassimo Hot Beverage System lets you customize your morning jolt (or choose tea or hot cocoa).
My Blouses Won't Stay on Their Hangers
The felty coating on Huggable Hangers keeps tops securely in place — and made these our fave pick for keeping shirts neatly stored in a recent test of hangers.
I Can't Afford to Get Sick (and cold season's on its way)
DayQuil and NyQuil relieve symptoms when you need to be alert — and when you want more than anything to be asleep
Used with a vaporizer, Vicks Vaposteam soothes without the greasy gunk of chest rubs
Supersoft Puffs Plus with a Touch of Shea Butter won't leave you looking like a certain red-nosed reindeer
Smart Ideas for Seniors: My parents aren't getting younger, and...
It Makes Me Nervous That They Don't Have a Cell Phone: Simple to use, Verizon's Coupe cell phone has emergency buttons for quick access to 911. GHRI Tip: In any cell's address book, add an ICE (in case of emergency) so EMTs know whom to call.
They Need an Easy Way to Track Their Blood Pressure: The Homedics Deluxe Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor with DK Technology can record and save up to 120 readings for two users.
Arthritis Makes Their Joints Ache: The ThermaCare Heat Wrap warms up on skin and stays that way to soothe for up to 12 hours
Who knew these products had double (even quadruple) duties?Fresh Step Scoopable Cat Litter with odor-eliminating carbon provides: great clumping capabilities for less-messy cleanup, and carbon to neutralize smells. Plus:
- A quick fix for absorbing oil stains on the driveway and...
- Better traction on icy days when sprinkled in your tires' path
Bounce and Downy dryer sheets not only get your bedding and clothes cuddly, but they can also:
- Blot up detergent spills from washer and dryer surfaces after use in a load
- Thwart a stinky garbage can when used to line the bottom
- Repel dust — wipe over frames and lampshades
- Zap the static that glues your skirt to your legs
Clorox Bleach Pen contains a gel-type chlorine bleach for targeted application to remove:
- Fabric stains on bleachable laundry as well as...
- Dingy discoloration on tile grout
I'd Like to Live Greener
Try these eco-smart fixes
- The FreshAire Choice: The first paint with no VOCs in paint base or colorant
- Simple Green Naturals: Plant-based cleaners range from all-purpose to those with specific uses (like bathroom cleaner and dishwashing liquid)
- Clorox Plus Coldwater Bleach: Formulated for great results at an energy-saving temperature
- Cascade with the Grease-Fighting Power of Dawn: Phosphate-free and doesn't add to environmental algae-bloom problems like dish detergents with phosphates might
- Preen Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer's organic formula safely keeps undesirable plants from sprouting
- BRITA and PUR offer faucet-mount filters to sift out contaminants for better-tasting, safer water — less reason to keep buying the bottled stuff GHRI Tip: One filter lasts for about 100 gallons, saving your family a whopping 750 16.9-ounce single-serve bottles of water.