60 Handy Products to Refresh Your Home This Spring
Spring has officially sprung, and it's time to throw open those windows, let in some fresh air, and get your house in order. To help make your home shine from top to bottom, we've rounded up dozens of inexpensive essentials that will come in handy as you scrub, stow, straighten up, and shake away winter's doldrums. From everyday cleaning and organizational tools to air purifiers and energy-saving thermostats, we've got just about every inch of your home covered, including the yard.
Price: $3.69 at Home Depot
A home can never have enough buckets. They're not only good for mopping; they're fantastic for storing cleaning products, as well, for easy portability. Stock one with cleaning essentials and keep them ever-ready under the sink, or gather sponges, soap, wax, and cloths to create a car-wash bin for the corner of the garage. You just might be tempted to wash your car more often this spring.
Price: $39 for 8 cloths on Amazon
Microfiber cleaning cloths generally cost more than standard cotton towels, but even the priciest options pay for themselves over time when factoring in durability and savings on cleaning products. They can clean all manner of surfaces, from the kitchen to the bathroom. In addition to a host of other benefits, they help reduce bacteria and cross-contamination.
Price: $18 for 24 from Jet
It's time to clear the dust out of those nooks and crannies, but there's no reason to waste tons of time and dozens of paper towels (if you haven't switched to microfiber cloths) dusting the old-school way. A pack of 24 Swiffer Dusters and a dusting handle can help make the job quick and hassle-free. There are also clever ways to keep costs down.
Price: $36 for 4 1-gallon bottles on Amazon
Commonly used to disinfect minor scrapes and scratches, hydrogen peroxide also makes a great multi-purpose household cleaner. The website One Good Thing by Jillee offers a huge list of in-home uses for 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, including many spring-cleaning targets: cutting boards, dishwasher, and refrigerator, for example. Compare the cost to $53 for 4 gallons of Windex Multi-Surface Disinfectant Cleaner.
Price: $3.97 for 65 oz. at Walmart
Borax is a cheap and effective natural cleaner used in many homemade laundry detergents. It can also be sprinkled in to boost the cleaning power of regular detergent and eliminate molds and fungus that leave towels smelling musty. To improve the smell in the dishwasher, sprinkle some Borax in the bottom and let it sit a few hours, then wipe down and run the next cycle as usual. Borax also does a number on pots, pans, and tough tea- and coffee-cup stains.
Price: $29 at Home Depot
This ultrasonic rodent repeller uses a home's electrical wiring to scare off mice, chipmunks, and any other beasties that typically take up residence inside walls and crawlspaces. It's environmentally friendly and generally pet-safe. Although there are naysayers, many users say it gets rid of rodents -- as well as many bugs -- effectively.
Price: $22 for 10 pounds on Amazon
Bedbugs, begone! Professional extermination services can be depressingly expensive, so resist bedbug hysteria and try natural remedies before paying. Experts predictably recommend preventive cleaning measures, such as vacuuming mattresses, washing bedding, scrubbing floors with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water, and cleaning doormats regularly. For bedbugs that seem likely to have spread, Diatomaceous Earth is a natural product that degrades insects' exoskeletons.
Price: $21 for 3 on Amazon
Shaped like an apple, this clever trap lures fruit flies away from actual apples (or any other fruit or vegetable) without toxic chemicals or odors. A three-pack from Amazon is one of the cheapest deals around and should last well into the summer months; each lure has about a 30-day shelf life.
Price: $4 for 2 at Walmart
Pest experts point out that moths tend to hibernate in hiding during the winter months, and huge spring hatchings can relaunch full-scale infestations (yuck). Traps from Catchmaster make short work of meal moths and other hungry invaders that can result in shelves full of food going to waste. Organizing the pantry now, and properly storing grains and other temptations, also goes a long way.
Price: $23 for 8 on Amazon
Stackable containers are essential for efficient storage in small spaces. They also keep pests out of edibles and keep food fresh longer. This Rubbermaid set boasts various sizes, from 5 cups to 21 cups. It's also BPA-free, so it takes away some of the worry about toxic chemicals leaching into foods.
Price: $5 for 32 at Bed, Bath & Beyond
Knowing what's inside containers, particularly generic items bought in bulk, reduces the time it takes to find what's needed and the risk of buying double. Organize your pantry this spring using handy, water-resistant labels that can be used on microwave and freezer containers. Of course, a marker and some masking tape can also work well. Be sure to include the date.
Price: $10 for 8 on Amazon
These sheets are designed to line produce drawers in the fridge and help keep fruits and vegetables fresh up to four times longer. Many consumers reviewing the product on Amazon confirm that the sheets help extend the life of produce, significantly reducing waste. Shoppers must decide if that's worth the price.
Price: $8.57 for 2 on Amazon
Products like Bluapples are designed to be stored in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator to help keep fruits and veggies fresh longer. The apple-shaped devices absorb ethylene gas given off by produce, which slows the ripening process. They're also organic and recyclable.
Price: $23 on Amazon
A water filter eliminates some of the microbes and other contaminants in the water coming out of your home faucet. It can also stem the flow of money to expensive and environmentally damaging bottled water, which may be no better than tap water. Our research revealed the Culligan FM-15A as one of the cheapest and best available.
Price: $100 on Amazon
Do the floors need intense cleaning after months of winter wear, tear, and dirt tracked in on boots? This cheap steam mop can make short work of mud and other caked-on messes. It also purports to clear out 99.9 percent of household bacteria. Costco members may be able to find it on sale for as little as $80.
Price: $80 at Bissell.com
Consumers who want to rejuvenate their carpets -- and keep them clean -- will be well satisfied with this vacuum. The Bissell CleanView 9595 comes equipped with suction that rivals the performance of higher-priced uprights and a proprietary brush that rotates deep into carpets, giving them a fresh, clean look. In reviews, users say it runs quietly and they like the assortment of attachments. Maintenance is easy with a bottom-empty dirt tank and washable filter.
Price: $80 at Walmart
This lightweight stick vacuum is a top contender for anyone seeking an inexpensive, cord-free household appliance for quick, everyday cleanup and for heavier messes confined to small areas. A motorized brush, two speeds, and enough suction to pull up stray hair and kitty litter from carpets and bare floors endear this vacuum to pet owners. An easy-empty, oversize dust cup and swivel action make this model easy to use, although a relatively short battery run time can be an issue.
Price: $72 on Amazon
Ease of use and a modest price tag earn this model hundreds of 4- and 5-star reviews. Powerful suction and a motorized brushroll attack dirt and debris on any type of flooring. Two extension wands and tools for upholstery, crevices, and dusting prove handy. The bag acts as a filter, trapping dust and pollen, and separate filters can be rinsed and reused. However, some users say the plastic parts appear flimsy and the 6-foot hose is stiff and hard to use.
Price: $120 at Walmart
This upright is among the best bagged vacuum options available on a budget. Users rave that the Hoover UH30310 tackles pet hair and dander like no other, with some reporting carpets looking shades lighter after a single pass. A HEPA carbon filter eliminates airborne particulates and pet odors, and the bag is a cinch to change (though some users say it seems small). The 30-foot cord and 12-foot stretch hose provide extensive reach.
Price: $45 at Home Depot
Looking for a home repair project? Ceiling fans provide year-round comfort and savings. Once you pick the correct size for the room, installing a fan is much like replacing a light fixture. Ceiling fans can cost thousands of dollars, but basic models can be found in the $30-to-$250 range. For some, you may need to install a new electrical box that can handle the weight and vibration from the fan ($5 to $15).
Price: $40 on Amazon
Maintaining a steady, cool temperature in your home throughout the spring and summer months can increase comfort and cut electricity costs. And updating an outmoded thermostat with a more efficient model needn't take a lot of time or money. Thorough, step-by-step instructions make installing the budget-priced Honeywell RTH6350 quick and easy. This 5-day/2-day programmable model works with most heating and cooling systems.
Price: $52 on Amazon
The Lux TX9600TS has a large, bright touchscreen that does away with all the up/down fiddling of standard programmable thermostats. Because it lets users program each day individually, this thermostat is more versatile than many other budget models. It also earns raves for allowing more precise control over how often heating and cooling systems kick in.
Price: $129 on Amazon
The Emerson Sensi packs a lot of features at a fraction of the cost of other smart thermostats. Users can connect to the thermostat remotely via a detailed, easy-to-use app, and the Sensi is compatible with Amazon Echo, which allows voice control, and the Wink smart-home hub. It's also simple to install and works with a wider range of heating and cooling systems than some competitors.
Price: $36 on Amazon
Consumers with window air conditioners welcome the versatility of the Lux WIN100, which adds 5-day/2-day programmability to these appliances wherever they may be -- even in a garage -- as long as there's an outlet. Some users wish it had a wider range than 45 to 90 degrees, but apartment dwellers, in particular, are just happy to be able to return to a home that's not sweltering at the end of the day.
Price: $52 at Walmart
A host of pollutants and allergens such as dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen tracked in from outside can make the air harder to breathe. This spring, consider an air purifier for some relief. The tried-and-true Hamilton Beach TrueAir continues to be popular for use in small rooms up to 160 square feet. Also, its permanent filter need never be replaced (in theory), potentially saving hundreds in filter-replacement costs over the years.
Price: $27 on Amazon
The Holmes HAP242-NUC is ideal for small rooms up to 109 square feet and comes at a rock-bottom price. This basic budget air purifier can be outfitted with any of four different Holmes AER1 filters, each individually designed to focus on dust, odors, overall air quality, or higher-level allergen sensitivity. It's also equipped with a separate carbon pre-filter to help with smoke and odor absorption.
Price: $53 at Walmart
Designed to cover small rooms up to 93 square feet, the Germ Guardian AC4020 3-in-1 merges allergen- and odor-fighting powers in a combined HEPA/charcoal filter and adds UV-light technology to kill germs. The company's products have won raves for combining affordability and functionality, and they're also known for adding a bit of style: It's hard to find any cheap air purifier that can match the aesthetics of this little speaker-like unit. Get a 2-pack at Costco for $95.
Price: $136 at Home Depot
A recent upgrade to the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 earns even more expert praise than the still-popular original. The brand is known for taking the tried-and-true combination of HEPA and carbon filters and kicking it into overdrive with patented PlasmaWave technology. The 5300-2, designed for larger rooms up to 360 square feet, sports a radically streamlined look and revamped controls, including a timer and an LED air-quality indicator light.
Price: $33 on Amazon
When the sky has opened up this spring and you're already late for work, the last thing you want to do is spend time searching for an umbrella. Solve that problem with an umbrella stand placed by the door or in the closet. With this thrifty model, practicality meets high style. The sturdy metal woven stand comes in three colors (black, brown, and white) to suit any design scheme.
Price: $10 on sale at Pottery Barn
When a coffee table is strewn with a remote control, books, and candles, it can make the room feel cluttered. Create a focal point with a statement-making centerpiece, gathering all the objects into a stylish vignette. The muted gray and white, lacquer-finished Simone tray from Pottery Barn sets a chic, sophisticated tone.
Price: $7 at Cost Plus World Market
Turn a simple, earthy receptacle into tech central. Keep all your chargers in one basket -- literally -- and be ever ready to juice up your phone, iPad, camera, and other electronic devices. There's no need to overspend or sacrifice classic styling. Swap brown for red or white to achieve a lighter, more festive look.
Price: $25-$35 each at Cost Plus World Market
Store anything and everything in spacious, attractive baskets. Keep favorite magazines for posterity, or collect paper recycling indoors. Perhaps a designated bin for exercise gear would help keep summer shape-up plans on track. Fill one with freshly laundered T-shirts, yoga pants, and other essentials to make the "I have nothing to wear" excuse a thing of the past.
Price: $40 on Amazon
Parents, is the playroom such a mess that you just want to scream? A colorful toy organizer is an easy, bright, and affordable solution for taming the turmoil. This one is a best-seller on Amazon for a reason: It's simple to assemble and relatively sturdy, and offers storage space for kit and caboodle of all kinds. It might even encourage the kids to pick up after themselves. (We can dream.)
Price: $8.94 on Amazon
Spring means tax season, and it sets many in mind to start keeping better track of bills and financial records to try to avoid some of the hassle next year. This Smead file organizer features an indexed pocket for each month of the year, so you can file bills away and keep on top of those finances once and for all.
Price: $15 at Ikea
While many people opt for a quick text or email to send birthday greetings, congratulations, or invitations, there's something charming about a handwritten missive. When the urge hits to take pen to paper, have all the supplies at the ready. Gather cards, paper, stamps, and some pens and create a correspondence station with a cheap but sturdy three-drawer mini chest.
Price: $5 at B&H
Yes, digital photography rules these days, but many families have shoeboxes full of old snapshots. It's fun to pull out those photos every so often, so be sure they stay in good condition by transferring them to archival-quality storage. A photo storage box from Pioneer Photo Albums is made of acid-free materials and holds more than 1,000 4-by-7-inch pictures. It has a metal plate for labeling and divider index cards inside.
Price: $19 on Amazon
Could you quickly find your birth certificate, passport, car title, or Social Security card if asked? Unfortunately, not everyone can say yes, and it's best not to risk the headache of replacing such important documents. Avoid that scenario by securing papers of prime importance in a fire-retardant, steel security box from Steelmaster. It comes with two keys, in case one gets lost.
Price: $3.79 at Ikea
Whip that disorganized closet back into shape this spring. A good place to start is by buying some high-quality hangers. Sturdier than their plastic or wire counterparts, solid wood clothes hangers are a closet staple built for a lifetime of use. Ikea offers an eight-pack in a choice of black, white, or natural.
Price: $24 on Amazon
Many people have more shoes than they know what to do with. Some lucky ones have walk-in closets with designated slots; the rest of us struggle with pair after pair spilling out of the closet. Avoid that with a 36-pair, coated metal shoe rack that latches to the top of a closet door and offers 12 rows of organizational bliss.
Price: $10 at Bed, Bath & Beyond
For sock drawers that look like the cat just finished playing in them, opt for a handy honeycomb organizer. Eight snap-together pieces create up to 32 compartments and can be cut to customize the shape to fit most any drawer. They can also be used to tidy up rolled ties and underwear. Or move beyond clothing to organize accessories and any other small items that could benefit from a little compartmentalization.
Price: $5 at Boscov's
Spend a few minutes (or more) cleaning out the medicine chest top to bottom. Check all expiration dates and keep only what you really use. When putting everything back in, use a few small bath accessories, such as an acrylic cotton swab dispenser, to keep things neat from now on.
Price: $15 on Amazon
A well-equipped first-aid kit is essential for any household. For those just-in-case moments, purchase a case with all the essentials needed to clean and patch up minor wounds. It's also good to have another kit stowed in case of weather emergencies that contains household medications and medical devices, including syringes, prescription drugs, hearing-aid batteries, contact-lens cleaner, and the related supplies needed if you're shut in or forced to evacuate.
Price: $3.69 at Massage Warehouse
Simple slippers come in handy when padding around the bathroom or any area of the house. (In some cultures, family members and guests immediately remove shoes when entering a home.) It's worth buying several cheap pairs to keep dirt, germs, and allergens from being tracked inside. Super-cheap, cloth slip-ons can often be found at dollar stores; Dollar Tree sells slippers in pink and white for $1 a pair online, but only when purchased in a case of 18.
Price: $18 for 6 on Amazon
Towels and sheets never seem to stay in neat piles. Instead of living with an untidy mess, pick up a few cloth storage cubes with handles and designate each for a particular use: towels (rolled up), sheets and pillowcases, stacks of washcloths. Dollar-store baskets may do the job just as well.
Price: $9.27 a pair on Amazon
Another thrifty solution to keep items organized in the linen closet are shelf dividers. Heavy-gauge steel dividers from Lynk slip over the shelf and help create cubby-like spaces for neat piles of towels, sheets, and more. Pair these with storage cubes to make a tidy home for boxes of tissues and backup supplies of shampoo, soap, and toothpaste.
Price: $50-$66 on Overstock
A good night's sleep on a clean, comfortable set of sheets can go a long way toward making you feel utterly refreshed. This spring, pack away the flannels and replace frayed and faded sheets with crisp new cotton ones. This 300-thread-count set works in all seasons, fits mattresses up to 18 inches thick, and comes with four pillowcases instead of the usual two.
Price: $60-$70 on Amazon
Recreating the ultra-soft bedding of 4-star hotels is all about using sheets made with high-quality cotton. Opt for bright white sheets, like those in a luxury resort, or a range of darker colors that will hide stains for years of home use.
Price: $70-$90 at Target
This type of cotton sheet is designed to keep skin dry and comfortable on warm nights. Using extra-breathable 250-thread-count cotton sheets during hot and humid weather can help keep the air-conditioning bill down without sacrificing comfort.
Price: $60-$90 at JCPenney
Cotton sateen is a high-quality, natural material that is breathable and luxuriously soft. This elegant sheet set, available in several colors and patterns, is made from 300-thread-count organic cotton. Buyers will sleep easier knowing that their sheets are as easy on the Earth as they are on the eye.
Price: $26-38 at Walmart
Pillows accumulate dust, dead skin, sweat, drool, and germs. The buildup of these particles in the place where you rest your head every night can cause repeated allergy flare-ups. Cheap latex foam pillows are hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, mildew-proof, and dust-mite-resistant. Cheapism's past research shows that Simmons Beautyrest Latex Pillows get near-perfect user reviews for comfort, support, and durability.
Price: $11-$12 at Walmart
Many experts say that pillows should be replaced yearly and cleaned frequently, given their tendency to collect dust mites and other detritus. Cotton and polyester pillows are the most common and least expensive pillow types on the market. Although both are hypoallergenic, polyester pillows are more susceptible to dust mites. Another reason to go with cotton: They tend to be more breathable and offer cooler sleeping conditions.
Price: $10-$15 at Macy's
Cheap down alternative pillows are a good choice for people with allergies who like to sleep with a soft pillow. This particular line has long been a hit with users who love the Ralph Lauren brand and find these inexpensive pillows extremely comfortable. They come in king and jumbo standard sizes, with various firmness levels, and have 200-thread-count cotton covers. The whole pillow can be machine-washed for easy maintenance.
Price: $62 at Target
Many people have designated containers for Christmas decorations, but what about other holidays? Easter table accents, Fourth of July flags, and a Thanksgiving cornucopia are around ... somewhere. This ClosetMaid Pantry Cabinet has four shelves for stashing away centerpieces, holiday linens, and more in a corner of the laundry room, basement, or attic.
Price: $20 at Walmart
Who hasn't had the lights go out and had to fumble for a flashlight? Unpredictable spring weather can bring storms that cause power outages and more. Keep your family prepared with a designated box filled with emergency essentials such as flashlights, batteries, candles and matches, and a transistor radio. The plastic construction of this Sterilite Footlocker helps prevent water damage.
Price: $40 at Home Depot
Shelving can transform a disorganized garage, workshop, or basement. Buyers without a lot to spend might consider a durable, ventilated HDX shelving unit. Each of the five heavy-duty plastic shelves supports up to 150 pounds, and many users say the unit is sturdy and easy to assemble.
Price: $99 at Lowe's
If you have a lot of garden tools but no garage or full-size shed, consider a relatively inexpensive Rubbermaid outdoor storage shed. The compact but roomy unit is made of maintenance-free resin and offers 18 cubic feet of storage space for gardening gear, pool supplies, or even patio furniture cushions.
Price: $400 on Amazon
If the deck or siding is looking dingy, a good blasting from a pressure washer might do the trick. And Costco might be the best spot to score a deal: A Powerstroke Subaru 3100 PSI washer with almost the exact same specs as this Amazon model is available for just $300 from the warehouse club. This may be yet another buy that makes Costco worth the membership fee.
Price: $7.31 on Amazon
Wood furniture can change drastically when left outside without occasional cleaning and restaining. If it's about time to revamp your wood patio furniture after a hard winter, get some sandpaper and a can of spray stain in a preferred shade. The process is pretty simple: Sand, wipe clean, and stain. To brighten Adirondack chairs, or any outdoor set, consider adding a fresh coat of color.
Price: $65 on Amazon
Spring is a beautiful time of year to hang out in the yard and relax in a hammock with a good book. While some hammocks must be tethered to trees or posts, a budget-friendly Best Choice Products model comes with a weather-resistant steel stand and allows up to two adults to cozy up anywhere in the yard. So stretch out, enjoy the spring weather, and bask in the beauty of your newly cleaned and organized home.