From time-saving gadgets to less-work-for-you kitchen products, these are the best of 2018.

By Brandi Broxson
December 20, 2018
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

There’s so much buzz on the internet about the best products, the ones people call life changing. Some may seem like the Holy Grail, but as the products editor at Real Simple, I’m trained to see them all through a lens of skepticism. Each year I’m pitched hundreds of new items. The ones that stand out the most are those that aim to make my life easier…and work like they say they do. Who has time to read a lengthy instruction booklet for a gadget? For my monthly Little Helpers column, I put new essentials through their paces before showing them to my bosses. I check that items that say they are dishwasher safe truly hold up in a cycle, that thermoses that claim to keep liquid hot for eight hours actually do, and even if a new stain remover will work on the unidentified carpet splatter in the office conference room (true story!). From there, we decide on our favorites and bring them to you.

RELATED: The Cleverest Gadgets of 2018 to Simplify Your Life

In order for a product to make the cut, it’s got to work well (and last), it must be reasonably priced, and it can’t have the annoying factor. What’s that you ask? The annoying factor is a product that makes you work too hard to use it, or one that requires very particular handling or upkeep. After all, if you’re going to buy something to make a task easier, it can’t make other things more difficult (like a garlic press that must be hand washed!). The year of 2018 brought some strong contenders to my best products list. This list of 15 runs the gamut from kitchen gadgets, to pet essentials, to trusty gadgets and feel-good garments.

Comfy Tights

Behold, pantyhose that you actually look forward to wearing. These soft, opaque tights have a stretchy lace top with an inner silicone strip that fits around your middle without rolling down (or that painful pinching!).

To buy: Hipstik Opaque Tights, $34;

Voice-Activated Bin

Just say “open can” (or wave your hand at the sensor) to lift this sleek receptacle’s lid. Plus, its clear coating prevents fingerprint smudges. Comes in five finishes.

To buy: SimpleHuman 58L Rectangular Sensor Can with Voice and Motion Sensor, $200;

Stays-Hot Beverage Bottle

Keep coffee piping hot for eight hours or water cold for 36 with this triple-insulated mug. It includes a removable strainer basket for loose tea—or for keeping ice from knocking your teeth mid swig.

To buy: EcoVessel Perk bottle (16 oz.), $27;

Car Caddy

This collapsible bin holds groceries, sports gear, and more for a tidier trunk. It has Velcro on the bottom and back to grip onto the trunk’s lining and handles to help transport up to 25 pounds.

To buy: SnapBasket TrunkCaddy, $30 for 2;

Shrimp Peeler

Peel, devein, and butterfly in one easy pass thanks to this time-saving tool. The handle is made from recycled materials; the spine is stainless steel.

To buy: Frogmore Shrimp Cleaner, $28;

All-In-One Charger

Juice up three devices (including phones and tablets) at once with this portable battery pack, which comes with built-in charging cables.

To buy: iWalk Scorpion8000X portable battery, $50;

Pet-Food Transport

Leaving Spot or Fluffy with a sitter? Pack this BPA-free six-cup container, which comes with a carrying handle. Bowls for food and water attach at each end.

To buy: Gamma2 Travel-tainer, $9;

Pour-Over To-Go

Stay caffeinated with this single-serve coffee brewer. Pop open the sleeve to reveal roasted direct-trade Guatemalan grounds. It fits snugly over a mug; just add hot water.

To buy: Dripkit Pour-Over Packets, $15 for 5;

Moving-Made-Easy Labels

Apply these stickers to moving boxes or storage bins and snap photos of contents with the associated app. Later, scan the codes for a reminder of what’s inside.

To buy: Quick Peek labels, 32 for $10 ;

Smart Lock

No more forgotten combinations: This gym essential releases at the touch of your fingerprint. Or use the coordinating app to unlock it via your smartphone. The shackle is made from reinforced stainless steel. A two-hour charge powers the battery for a year.

To buy: Tapplock One, $99;

Stay-Put Notes

These colorful, 100 percent recyclable memos use static electricity instead of glue to stay in place. Plus, they’re double-sided: One surface is for dry-erase markers, and the other is for pen.

To buy: SlickyNotes, 5-pack of 4-by-4-in. pads for $10;

Stain Zapper

This magical formula removes tough splotches from clothing, carpets, and upholstery.

To buy: Little Red Wipe of Emergency Stain Rescue, 10 for $10;
Little Red Bottle of Emergency Stain Rescue, 4 oz. for $8;

Brian Henn

Dish Squeegee

Easily scrape leftover food from plates and bowls with this handy tool. (Bonus: It extends the life of your sponge.) The grip is nonslip, even when wet, and the squeegee stands on end for quick drying.

To buy: OXO Good Grips Dish Squeegee, $5;

Leaf Stripper and Snipper

One of our all-time favorite tools got a makeover. Now it not only strips leaves from herbs and bulky greens but also features stainless-steel shears to snip fresh plants from your garden. Dishwasher safe.

To buy: LooseLeaf Plus, $10;

Casserole To Go

Carry homemade lasagna (or a batch of warm cookies) with this handy poly-twill tote. It holds up to a 9-by-13-inch pan, withstands temps up to 250°F, and features sturdy handles that make transporting a cinch.

To buy: Hot Date Casserole Carrier, $33;