Your phone could have 18 times more bacteria than a public restroom – this clever device sanitizes it for you

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Sanitize your phone while it charges with PhoneSoap.

  • I’m a germaphobe, and PhoneSoap gives me peace of mind by cleaning my device with minimal effort.
  • PhoneSoap is a small device that uses UV-C light to sanitize your phone.
  • Keeping your phone clean is a good way to reduce exposure to bacteria.
  • The company claims that our cell phones hold 18 times more bacteria than a public restroom.

How often do you wash your hands? What about your face? Or your clothes?

The answer probably is – or should be (though I’m not here to tell you how to live your life): a lot.

Now how often do you wash your phone?

The answer is probably close to never, but it shouldn’t be. For most of us, our phones are like appendages, traveling with us everywhere we go, accompanying us through all of our daily activities. Maybe you take a cloth to your phone now and then to wipe away the smudges and call it a day, but if you think that actually cleans it, you’re in for a rude awakening.

A cell phone reportedly has 18 times more bacteria than a public restroom. That might sound crazy, but think about it – everything your hands touch touches your phone too. So, that bacteria lurking on the grocery cart you pushed, the doorknob you opened, the subway pole you held – well, you know where it ends up.

If these cringe-worthy facts just made you never want to touch your phone again, I get it. Luckily, there’s a solution – and no, it doesn’t involve dousing your phone in hand sanitizer.

Meet PhoneSoap, the little gadget that safely sanitizes your phone, leaving your device free of bacteria and you with some peace of mind.

phonesoap1
It only takes ten minutes for the PhoneSoap to sanitize your phone.

How it works

PhoneSoap has a simple but effective design. It looks like a small, rectangular box – making it the perfect size to keep on your bedside table, at your office desk, or even your kitchen counter. On the outside of the box, you’ll find space for three cables – the power cord, a USB, and a USB-C. To get the PhoneSoap set up, plug the included power cord into the wall, then into the PhoneSoap, and you’re all set to get sanitizing. Place your phone inside the gadget and close it. Once closed, you’ll see the lightning bolt power signal turn blue – this means it’s charging. After ten minutes, the light will turn off, and your phone is ready to go. If you’d like to charge your phone simultaneously, you have the option to plug in your USB or USB-C cord.

PhoneSoap comes in four different models: the standard PhoneSoap 3, the PhoneSoap Pro, which sanitizes your phone twice as fast, a battery-powered model for mobile use called the PhoneSoap Go, and a version that supports wireless charging so that you don’t have to use a cable to power up your device.

Here’s a snapshot of how the different models compare:

PhoneSoap 3 PhoneSoap Pro PhoneSoap Go PhoneSoap Wireless
Price $79.95 $119.95 $99.95 $99.95
Sanitizing time 10 minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
Charging methods USB, USB-C USB, USB-C USB, USB-C Wireless charging, USB
Number of UV-C lamps 2 4 2 2

So, you put your phone in a box and it cleans it, but how does it actually get the cleaning done? The power of PhoneSoap comes in the form of UV-C light. Inside the little box are two powerful UV-C lightbulbs. UV-C light is germicidal, meaning it breaks down the DNA of nasty bacteria so it can no longer function or reproduce. The bulbs on the top and bottom of the device, paired with the reflective interior inside the entire gadget, help achieve 360-degree disinfection – so even the tiny, hard-to-reach crevices of your phone are clean. The UV-C light is so powerful that it only needs ten minutes to get your phone clean – after that time, PhoneSoap automatically turns off, so don’t worry about your phone getting overheated.

phonesoappetri
Before using PhoneSoap v. after using PhoneSoap.

Does it really work?

You’ve probably heard that bacteria is good for you. It boosts our immunity, right? Well, the answer is not that simple. Our bodies do count on some strains of bacteria to function correctly, but many forms of bacteria are harmful and can cause illness and infections. Laboratory tests have shown that PhoneSoap kills 99.9% of common household germs, including bacteria that leads to E.Coli, Salmonella, Staph, Flu, and the common cold.

To some, this product might seem more placebo effect than practical, but the numbers tell a different story – 99.9% is almost all of the germy grime on your phone. Plus, sanitizing with UV-C light isn’t new – hospitals and laboratories have been using UV light to keep facilities sterile since the mid-20th century.

As for us, the consumers, I guess there’s no way we can really tell that our phone is cleaner. What we can rely on, though, is the data from all of the testing PhoneSoap has done to gauge the effectiveness of the product, and the lab pictures they’ve got to accompany it (see above).

It’s worth noting that PhoneSoap has not been tested against COVID-19 yet, so there’s no evidence to show that it kills the virus itself. However, keeping your phone clean is still a good way to reduce exposure to bacterias that could impact your health and potentially weaken your immune system.

My experience

My family has had a communal PhoneSoap for a few years now, and it has been a great investment in our health. At $80, it seems like a lot upfront for something you don’t necessarily need, but, you may need it more than you think.

My parents are the kind who always, without fail, have a bottle of hand sanitizer on them. In my house, we take a lot of other precautions to keep clean, so why should we just throw our phones (which touch all sorts of germs) on the kitchen counter, on our beds, or on the couch like it’s no big deal?

It’s easy to ignore the fact that our phones hold so much bacteria, but once you know the nasty facts, you may find it harder to do so. PhoneSoap gives me peace of mind that I can still keep my phone in my back pocket and use it as much as I want without having to worry that I’m transferring a host of bacteria from my screen to my face.

The process couldn’t be easier. You put your phone in the PhoneSoap, close the box (make sure you see the lightning symbol turn on), and let it sit for just ten minutes. When you take it out, there will be no noticeable difference, but your phone will be cleaner than before. I also use the PhoneSoap to sanitize my wallet, keys, AirPods, and any other small items I touch multiple times in a day. If you live with roommates or family members, this product is easy and safe to share with others.

The bottom line

For better or for worse, our phones are sticking with us. And, unless you’re planning on washing your hands and face before and after each time you pick up your device, all that bacteria is sticking with you too. PhoneSoap is a simple solution to keep harmful bacteria from spreading – not only from your phone to you but from you to others as well. If you live with anyone who may have a compromised immune system – young children, elderly or ill individuals – PhoneSoap could be a particularly valuable investment.

At $80, it’s generally just an excellent investment for anyone. PhoneSoap is large enough to fit all phones on the market, even with a case. Additionally, you can throw in anything else that will fit – earphones, watches, even wallets.

And it’s more than just peace of mind. PhoneSoap gives real results that’ll help keep you and the people around you healthier. Germaphobe or not, if you’re going to treat your phone like your third hand, you should clean it like one, too.

3 UV Smartphone Sanitizer & Universal Charger (button)

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The 5 best women’s multivitamins in 2021, backed by medical experts

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Taking a multivitamin has always been common practice in my household – I grew up taking (and still do) every morning, but I never really stopped to think about why. After researching how some offer 100% of the US Daily Value (DV) for essential nutrients like iodine, vitamin D, and calcium, I realized multivitamins aren’t just a mundane part of my morning routine; they actually offer a sort of safety net to certain individuals, ensuring they meet recommended nutrient intakes.

Multivitamins are a bit of a hot topic. That’s because, while there are certain categories of people who can benefit from taking one every day, there is also a massive group of people who don’t necessarily need one. A 2020 study in BMJ Open found that people who take a multivitamin don’t have lower rates of illness or disease compared to those who don’t. However, people who take one daily said they feel healthier on a regular basis and, even if it’s a placebo effect, that counts for something toward wellbeing and adhering to healthier habits

Also, that study didn’t measure actual nutrient levels, so we can’t say the multivitamin had no real benefit. What’s more, the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2020-25 say about three out of four people don’t eat enough dairy, fruits, or vegetables. 

Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, Nutrition and Food Safety Professor at North Dakota State University, told Insider multivitamins can be the “nutrition insurance” if you’re not following an adequate diet. She advises aiming for a healthful diet first, as food contains a “complex array of nutrients and phytochemicals (‘plant chemicals’) that help fight disease.”

That said, there are certain groups of Americans who do need to have their vitamin and mineral levels supplemented.

What is the best multivitamin for women?

Supplement Safety Graphic_Health & Wellness

Once you know you need a multivitamin, you have to breach the next big hurdle: picking the right one. It seems like this should be an easy task, but multivitamins (like all supplements) are not regulated by the FDA, which means there’s no governing body confirming (1) what’s included on the label is in the supplement or (2) if it’s actually safe. What’s more, with how important it is to understand your body’s needs and how highly personal multivitamins are, it’s difficult to recommend just one that works for everyone. 

We talked to a nutritional psychiatrist, a pharmacist, and a registered dietitian to help narrow down what’s available and hone in on the top multivitamins for women at different stages of their lives. At the end of this guide, we go into more detail about who needs a multivitamin and how to choose the right one

Here are the best women’s multivitamins of 2021:

Best women’s multivitamin overall

Best women's multivitamins Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women 4x3

The Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women is an all-in-one choice packed with the essential daily nutrients, probiotics, and enzymes to aid with digestion.

Pros: Vegetarian, gluten-free, contains probiotics, optimal for women during reproductive years, no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners

Cons: Pills are large, must take four daily

The thing that makes Garden of Life’s women’s multivitamin rise above other brands is that it’s void of synthetic materials and contains the ingredients they claim — which you may think is a given, but a recent analysis by Consumer Labs found that 44% of multivitamins it tested didn’t actually contain the amounts of nutrients the label claimed. 

Not only is the formula certified organic by the USDA, but Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code for Women covers all the basics: The capsule is gluten-free and the formula includes folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, D3, E, and B-Complex, and the raw formula also reinforces breast health.

A vegetarian vitamin, Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women is made without binders or fillers and contains probiotics and enzymes to help with digestion. Vitamin Code for Women met all purity standards set forth by Labdoor and was given a B score. 

The two drawbacks of this multivitamin are that each pill is quite large, about the size of a mini binder clip, and you have to take four daily. So those who have trouble swallowing big pills should probably opt for another supplement.

Best for active women

Best women's multivitamins Optimum Nutrition Opti Women 4x3

Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women offers a tailored distribution of nutrients designed for a more active lifestyle.

Pros: Provides immune support, includes 23 essential nutrients and 17 specialty minerals

Cons: Not for people under 18 years of age

Regular physical activity can affect your vitamin and mineral levels — which in turn can affect your athletic performance.

Physically-active women, especially those who do aerobic exercises like running and biking, are more likely to be iron deficient, according to researchers at Cornell University. What’s more, a 2017 study from the National Institutes of Health found that some women (in general, not just athletes) are deficient in folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, three vital pathways used during exercise. If your B vitamins and folate levels, in particular, aren’t up to par, it can impair your athletic performance and increase fatigue, risk of injury, and ability to concentrate, the study adds. Your doctor can test your levels, and if he or she confirms yours are low, you would be well-served to opt for a multivitamin designed for an active lifestyle.

The Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women multivitamin is formulated to help women with an avid fitness routine score enough nutrients to keep their active bodies healthy and strong. It’s curated with 100% DV of B vitamins, folate, and iron. In addition, the multivitamin provides 17 other specialized minerals, one being calcium phosphate which aids in vitamin D absorption to keep muscles healthy

Though Consumer Labs has not reviewed this specific multivitamin, when they surveyed more than 9,700 respondents on “overall customer satisfaction” in February 2020, Optimum Nutrition was named a top-rated vitamin and supplement brand. The Opti-Women formula did receive a C grade from Labdoor, namely because the amount of vitamins in the tested formula differed from the label. However, the biggest discrepancies (vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc slightly lower than the label; vitamin D and B-complex slightly higher) aren’t at harmful levels, Véronique Taché, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC Davis Health, confirmed during medical review. Plus, the formula met all purity standards.

Best on a budget

Best women's multivitamins Nature Made Multi for Her 4x3

Nature Made Multi for Her gives a boost of calcium, folic acid, iron, and vitamin D for less than $30.

Pros: Great value, 23 nutrients, contains the daily recommended amount of iron and calcium, great folic acid count for prenatal or pregnant women, more vitamins per bottle; only need to take one tablet daily

Cons: Some may find pills to be large and may be hard to swallow for some

Vitamins can be expensive. If you’re looking to cut the cost without eliminating the essential nutrients, Nature Made Multi for Her comes at a great value: 300 capsules for less than $30.

The multivitamin contains all the major nutrients vital to women’s health (23 total), including the daily recommended amounts of iron, calcium, and D3. It also contains more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) of folic acid, a key nutrient for those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. C. Michael White, PharmD, department head of University of Connecticut’s pharmacy practice and dietary supplement researcher, told Insider adequate levels of folate help to reduce the risk of having neural tube defects as babies are growing. 

While this multivitamin is catered toward females, it still contains sufficient vitamin levels essential for both men and women. Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider the 13 essential vitamins, including A, B, C, and D, play an important role in the body and are essential for healthy vision, skin, and bones for both men and women.

This multivitamin met all Labdoor’s purity standards, but inconsistencies in the formula earned it a C grade overall. The biggest formula-to-label discrepancies include slightly less vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as slightly more vitamin B-6, folic acid, and vitamin D3, but still within safe ingesting levels, Dr. Taché confirmed. Though this is its worst offense, nutritional value and safety outweigh this satisfactory rank, making it a top pick still.

Best vegan

Best women's multivitamins Ritual Essential for Women 4x3

Ritual Essential for Women is vegan, gluten, and major-allergen-free, focusing on brain health, bone health, blood-building, and antioxidant support.

Pros: Vegan, subscription model with free shipping for easy refills, free of gluten and major allergens, no artificial colorants or synthetic fillers, good for brain and bone health, infused with mint for freshness 

Cons: Not found in stores

Because people who follow a vegan diet don’t eat animal products, they are usually deficient in key nutrients abundantly found in meat, dairy, and seafood. A 2016 study in the Journal of Osteopathic Association found vegans are often deficient in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Ritual Essential for Women is completely vegan and outlines a visible supply chain of ingredients so you know what you’re intaking. Ritual’s brand mission is to “bring foundational health into focus,” and its supplements are designed to boost brain and bone health, promote red blood cell formation, and provide antioxidant support with vitamin E

Ritual’s vitamins are vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-free. Ritual also operates on a unique direct-to-door subscription model, automatically sending a fresh bottle to you each month so you’ll never run out.

Vegan multivitamins tend to include plant-based ingredients, like calcium. While some calcium supplements are oyster-shell based, Ritual uses vegan-certified ingredients, like vitamin D, to rid worries of consuming a multivitamin using shellfish in the manufacturing process.

If you aren’t vegan but like the convenience of a multivitamin that will be automatically refilled and delivered, you can certainly take Ritual’s vegan multivitamin, but you should opt for their water-soluble option if you don’t have a specific deficiency. Dr. Naidoo told Insider that if you take a fat-soluble vitamin and are already getting sufficient amounts of those nutrients from your diet, your body will store the excess in your liver and fatty tissue which can accumulate to toxic levels. With a water-soluble vitamin, though, the excess is just excreted through urine. Ritual features both options to help fill gaps in your diet and support nutrient levels.

Though Ritual was not yet tested by Consumer Labs, it’s USP-verified, confirming that it contains what it lists on the label, contains safe nutrient levels, is void of harmful substances like heavy metals and pesticides, and can be broken down and released into the body as intended.

Best for women over 40

Best women's multivitamins Garden of Life women's multi 40 plus 4x3

Garden of Life myKind Organic Women’s 40+ Multi is specially formulated to address the changing nutritional needs of women as they age, with 16 nutrients at levels greater than 100% DV.

Pros:  Certified USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, contains 16 nutrients over the 100% Daily Value (DV)

Cons: Pills are large

Though not a hard-and-fast number, when females hit 40, their body and hormones typically begin to change as they are maturing past childbearing years into perimenopause and menopause. Because of this, Dr. Naidoo says you may need less folate and iron, and more: 

  • Calcium: This helps to prevent and slow bone loss
  • Vitamin D: This is essential for bone and skin health
  • Vitamin B12: This is key for brain health
  • More water: This is important as kidneys tend to become less efficient in detoxifying the body

The Garden of Life myKind Organic Women’s 40+ Multi is our top pick due to its precise amount of nutrients of concern for middle-aged women. And, it’s the only brand on the market that is dual-certified as both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, meeting purity standards and void of genetic engineering in the manufacturing process. Though pricier than other options, the vitamin is optimal for middle-aged women and provides an extra boost to a balanced diet.

Garden of Life’s formulation is made exclusively from whole foods, which may lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

Though this multivitamin has not yet been tested by Consumer Labs or Labdoor, myKind is one of Consumer Labs’ approved brands based on product quality, appropriateness of dosage, formulation, and value. 

Who should consider a multivitamin

Generally, people who are pregnant, underweight, elderly, who don’t get enough sun exposure, or who have a chronic medical condition [like heart disease, certain cancers, and individuals who had bypass surgery] should consider taking a multivitamin, Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider. Those who follow a stricter diet, too, like vegans and vegetarians, should take special caution; low intake of B vitamins, as well as iron and possibly zinc, will likely lead to a deficiency.

If you know or you’re wondering whether you fall into the category of nutritional deficiency, it’s important to get your levels checked by your doctor. Though others may not need one, Dr. Naidoo advised reviewing your daily nutrition with your doctor to see if you need a multivitamin as well.

A daily multivitamin may holistically bring benefits, but Garden-Robinson notes there can be risks with oversupplementation. She and Dr. Naidoo said excess calcium may increase the risk for urinary stone formation in some people, while oversupplementation of vitamin A may promote birth defects and liver damage. An abundance of vitamin C can cause cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. That said, be sure to check out the DV for guidance on how much of each nutrient you daily need.

What to look for & other FAQs

If you’re wondering what to look for in a multivitamin and how to shop for one, check out our very detailed multivitamin FAQ page.

Check out our other vitamin guides

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17 top-rated products to clean every room in your house

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Household cleaning products 4_3
  • Here are 17 top-rated cleaners and tools people swear by to clean their bathrooms, kitchens, and more.
  • These include a high-tech robot vacuum, a classic hand duster, and multi-use tools designed to save time, and energy. 
  • Due to the pandemic, some cleaning products are out of stock or low in inventory and stock can differ by zip code.

Even the thought of cleaning tires me out, and I usually have to spend a few hours (okay, more like days) mentally preparing for the chore. 

However, I’ve found that once I start cleaning one of the rooms in my apartment, I get into a productive groove that whisks me from the bathroom and kitchen to the living room and bedroom with montage-like ease. Having both the mental strength to clean and a proper toolkit of products on hand helps me reach this cleaning groove and get the chore over as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

If you’re equipped with thorough, durable, and easy-to-use cleaners and appliances, you can clean your entire home and barely break a sweat in the process. 

So what products should you fill your cleaning basket with? We looked to the top-rated ones first to see what everyone else swears by to catch dust bunnies, clear out clogged drains, and make their countertops sparkle as much as when they first moved in. 

Here are 17 cleaning products to clean your entire house, from the bathroom to the living room:

Anywhere: Dyson V10 Absolute Cordless Vacuum

dyson v10

Dyson V11 Outsize Cordless Stick Vacuum, $699.99, available at Bed Bath & Beyond

Though the price is a lot to pay for a vacuum, the V11’s powerful and thorough cleaning capabilities make every dollar worth it if you have a large space. The battery only runs when you push on the trigger and comes with a backup for up to 120 minutes of usage, letting you go weeks without needing to charge. Choose between three cleaning modes for more efficient cleaning on hardwoods, carpet, and more. It also comes with additional tools so you can reach every inch of any surface.

Read our review of the Dyson V11 Outsize.

Anywhere: Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum

Roborock

Roborock S65 Robot Vacuum, $599.99, available on Amazon

If you absolutely hate cleaning, let a robot vacuum do the work for you. The Roborock cleans in a systematic way to learn where walls or furniture, and you can set no-go zones around specific rooms or just fragile items like side tables with tall vases on top. There’s even a mopping feature, which further cuts down on how much time you spend cleaning your space, and when the robot vac is low on battery, it’ll go back to its charging dock.

Check out our guide to the best robot vacuums for more options.

Anywhere: Clorox Wipes

clorox wipes

Clorox Bleach-Free Disinfecting Wipes, $3.59, available at Target

You’ll see these bleach-free wipes in nearly everyone’s cleaning cabinet because they’re thick and durable, kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, and come in three fresh scents. They dispense easily out of the canister and dry quickly, plus they’re safe on hard and nonporous surfaces like finished hardwood, sealed granite, and stainless steel. 

Due to the pandemic, Clorox Wipes are currently sold out at major online retailers, including Walmart and Lowe’s. Items fulfilled by Amazon have also sold out, and prices for Clorox Wipes fulfilled by third-party sellers have gone up significantly. We have found some availability at Target and Quill. We are monitoring restocks and will update this post accordingly. 

Anywhere: OXO Microfiber Hand Duster

oxo duster

OXO Good Grips Microfiber Hand Duster, $9.99, available at Bed Bath & Beyond

This soft, fluffy duster captures all the dust settling on your shelves and countertops in one fell swoop. Flexible and lightweight, it’s comfortable and easy to maneuver around tight, tricky spaces. Its reusable head is machine washable, though it’s best if you simply handwash it in cold water.

If you need something to reach tall surfaces, OXO’s 3-in-1 Extendable Duster is also highly rated. It extends to 8 feet, collapses to 3 feet, and comes with three interchangeable brush heads.

Anywhere: Evriholder Pet Hair Removal Broom with Squeegee

evriholder

Evriholder Pet Hair Removal Broom with Squeegee & Telescoping Handle, $12.98, available at Amazon

Whether you’re dealing with thick pet hair or a slippery spill, this dual-use broom can handle it. The 100% natural rubber attracts hair and debris “like a magnet” from hardwood, linoleum, and traditionally difficult surfaces like carpet and rugs. Then use the built-in squeegee edge if you need to wipe off liquids from windows, showers, tile, and hardwood. It can extend out to 5 feet. 

Kitchen: O-Cedar Spin Mop and Bucket Floor Cleaning System

o cedar mop

O-Cedar Easy Wring Spin Mop and Bucket Floor Cleaning System, $34.99, available at BJ’s

This well-designed system allows for hands-free wringing. The bucket has a special spinner, activated by a foot pedal, that spins your mop and keeps water splashes contained.

The mop head itself rotates 360 degrees and is shaped like a triangle to better clean the corners of your home. Microfiber is equally effective on hardwood floors and tiles, like the ones in your kitchen, when used wet or dry.

Anywhere: Mrs. Meyer’s Everyday Cleaner

Mrs. Meyers spray

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner, $4.99, available at Target

Natural cleaning brand Mrs. Meyer’s makes this plant-based multi-surface cleaner that cleans as well as traditional chemical-laden ones but doesn’t leave any harsh odors behind. Instead, after it’s removed dirt from your countertops and surfaces, it has a sweet, pleasant, and flowery honeysuckle scent. Other nice scents from the brand include Basil, Lavender, and Lemon Verbena. 

Kitchen: Topist Angry Mama Microwave Oven Cleaner

topist microwave cleaner

Angry Mama Microwave Oven Cleaner, $7.99, available at Amazon

Rather than stick your head in your microwave and hack away for half an hour at the food crud that has been in there since 200 heating sessions ago, use this accessory to loosen it up first.

Add vinegar, water, and lemon juice to the fill lines on the body and microwave the Angry Mama for 5 to 7 minutes, after which any stains will be loose enough to wipe down quickly. It should cut down your cleaning time in half and make your microwave usable again in time for dinner. 

Kitchen: Easy-Off Oven Cleaner

easy off oven cleaner

Easy-Off Professional Fume Free Max Oven Cleaner, $4.24, available at Walmart

People rarely ever wipe up their oven messes immediately, but they come to regret it weeks later when the baked-on spills and grease don’t budge. Make your oven look brand new again with this affordable, fume-free cleaner, which works on ovens, oven doors, broilers, broiler pans, and stainless-steel surfaces to clean up those tough messes. Spray it and leave it on for at least 5 minutes and up to 40 minutes, then wipe down with a cloth or paper towel. 

Kitchen and bathroom: Green Gobbler Liquid Clog Remover

green gobbler clog remover

Green Gobbler Liquid Clog Remover, $14.63, available at Target

Living in a house involves the constant battle of unclogging pipes and drains. If you’re not fishing out bits of food from the sink, you’re probably unraveling a never-ending string of hair from the shower drain.

Green Gobbler’s clog remover clears your drains by liquifying everything in its path — grease, hair, scum, food, and more. It comes in a dual-chambered bottle and you use one chamber for sinks and tubs and both chambers for toilets. 

Kitchen: Krud Kutter Concentrated Cleaner and Degreaser

krud kutter

Krud Kutter Concentrated Cleaner and Degreaser, $6.58, available at Home Depot

This multi-use cleaner can be used all over your house, including exterior parts like driveways and patio furniture. As a powerfully concentrated degreaser, it’s especially useful for your kitchen because it can take out food and drink stains, grease, oil, gum, and soap scums. Dilute one part concentrate with 10 parts water and you can cover up to 75 square feet of surfaces. 

Living room and bathroom: Stoner Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner

invisible glass

Stoner Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner (2-pack), $14.85, available at Amazon

People who have tried this glass cleaner, available in both aerosol and spray form, never go back to any other products. Your mirrors and glass surfaces will emerge sparkly clear and streak-free since it doesn’t contain any soaps, scents, or dyes. It’s also ammonia-free.

Once all your bathroom and living room glass surfaces are clean, feel free to use on your car to remove the stains, droppings, and other dirty casualties of driving outside. 

Living room: AmazonBasics Cleaning Cloth

amazonbasics cleaning cloth

AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth (24-pack), $15.98, available at Amazon

While far from being super plush or thick, these basic cleaning cloths are absorbent and durable enough to get the job done. The pack includes cloths in three different colors, so you can separated them by cleaning tasks. If you’re on a budget, it’s hard to find a better deal than this value pack.

Living room: Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner

powerdash cleaner

Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner, $99, available at Amazon

If you have the double whammy of a pet (or pets) and carpeted floors, you’ll want this specialized Hoover cleaner. The under-$100 appliance both cleans and offers antimicrobial protection, and it comes with a removable nozzle so you can rinse off dirt and grime.

It also has a dual-tank system that keeps your clean water separated from the dirty water, and its signature HeatForce technology means your carpets will dry faster. 

Bathroom: Method Daily Shower Spray Cleaner

method shower

Method Daily Shower Spray (pack of 2), $22.99, available at Amazon

The fresh Eucalyptus Mint scent of this cleaner might motivate you to actually use this cleaner every single day to prevent scum and grime build-up. It’s made from non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients that you can feel better about going down your drain. Other than in the tub itself, you can use it for chrome faucets and shower doors.

Bathroom: Clorox ToiletWand

clorox toilet wand

Clorox ToiletWand, $11.19, available at Target | Also available at: Walmart for $8.88 

The ToiletWand comes with disposable sponges that are preloaded with Clorox cleaner, eliminating the need to buy a separate toilet bowl cleaner. The sponge pad clicks securely onto the wand and gets into areas of your toilet that a brush can’t, and once you’re done cleaning, it comes off with one click so you never need to touch anything beyond the stick itself. This system also means you won’t have a dirty toilet brush sitting in your bathroom at all times.

Bathroom: The Crown Choice Grout Cleaner Brush

crown choice grout brush

The Crown Choice Grout Cleaner Brush, $10.99, available at The Crown Choice

Getting into the tiny lines of your bathroom is difficult without a specialized, narrow brush like this. It has sturdy, angled brushes to reach the soap scum, grime, and mold stuck in your grout, but it’s equally easy to wash afterward in hot, soapy water. The thick 1-inch handle is fairly comfortable to hold, which certainly helps as you dig into the floors and walls of your bathroom. 

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27 small gifts and gestures for friends or family members who are having a hard time self-isolating or social distancing

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Greetabl gifts

  • As the novel coronavirus progresses, many are continuing to practice social distancing, self-isolating when exposed, and quarantined in some cases.
  • The necessary limitations put in place by the pandemic can be especially difficult to navigate during the holidays – a typically joyous time that’s usually spent with loved ones. 
  • The situation can feel overwhelming and isolating, but sending someone you love a small gift during a difficult time can be a meaningful expression of kindness. 
  • While those who are quarantined and not feeling well should never open a door to accept deliveries, many of the products and services below are entirely hands-free, as noted throughout. 
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Staying connected to those you love, but cannot physically be with, is a lofty task. It’s often difficult to replicate the joy experienced through quality time with friends and family, and while technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch, nothing beats giving someone you love a hug. 

As the novel coronavirus continues to progress, more and more people find themselves practicing social distancing, self-isolating, or in quarantine as they recover. These precautions, though absolutely necessary, can add an unexpected layer of strain to the holiday season: many cannot safely travel to see loved ones or are feeling especially lonely during this time of year. It’s a rightfully overwhelming and isolating time, but I’ve found hope in the small ways I’ve been able to connect with those I care about.

My time spent in service journalism has encouraged me to get creative in the ways that I express my care, and I’ve found that small and unexpected surprises can go a long way. 

While many of these products and services are entirely hands-free, some require opening a door, touching a delivered package, or interacting with the person who makes the delivery. It’s important to note that those who are in quarantine should not be opening the door to receive deliveries, and we encourage you to stick to the entirely digital options in this case. 

27 gift ideas for anyone struggling with quarantine or social isolation:

A gift box as unique as they are

greetabl, $12+

Greetabl Personalized Gift Box, from $13, available at Greetabl

We love Greetabl because of how customizable it is — everything from the box to the treat that’s inside of it can be perfectly catered to the recipient. From tasty treats like Sugarfina to cozy socks, Greetabl is an adorable and tailor-made way to put a smile on their face. 

Flowers or plants to brighten their room and their day

bouqs flowers 7

Send a bouquet from our favorite flower delivery services

Shop plant delivery options at The Sill

Flowers are always a classic route to take when trying to make someone’s day, but houseplants make for an awesome surprise as well. Many of us are finding ourselves craving the outdoors more than ever, and a flower or plant delivery can help them stay connected to nature while also staying inside.

Snack alongside them

mouth

Send them a snack box from Mouth or Harry and David

If you’re anything like me, you connect with others over snacks more than pretty much anything else. If you’re missing your cheeseboard buddy or favorite friend with a sweet tooth, these snack box delivery services can have you and those you care about snacking together (over a video call) in no time. 

A kids’ kit that’s both educational and fun

kiwico $varies, 3 months

KiwiCo Crates, from $13.50 per month with the code “GIFTING”, available at KiwiCo

Perfect for the kid you love who loves to learn, KiwiCo builds age-appropriate educational kits for the mini-scientist, engineer, or creative genius. Crates can be sent every month, every three months, every six months, or annually. 

A streaming bundle that checks off all the boxes

How to combine Disney Plus, ESPN+ and ad-free Hulu

Hulu, Disney+ ESPN+ Bundle, $12.99 per month, available on Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu

For many, sporting events being canceled and Disney parks being closed feels a little too dystopian. Thankfully, Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu can be purchased together in a bundle. If they’re not too fond of ads, this bundle can also be purchased with the ad-free version of Hulu.

This is a completely hands-free option.

Widely known meditation apps

Headspace

Headspace: Free to download, subscription from $12.99, available for iOS and Android

Calm: Free to download, subscription from $14.99, available for iOS and Android

Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace can be used anytime, anywhere, to practice mindfulness and decrease anxiety. Both apps have tailored meditations for specific circumstances, whether it’s getting better sleep, starting your day, or meditations solely focused on exercise. While your loved ones can download Headspace or Calm for free, we’d recommend sending them the cost of the subscription on Venmo

This is a completely hands-free option.

A free month of their favorite music streaming service

Spotify Gift Card

Send a gift card or subscription to Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, or Apple Music

Concerts and shows may be canceled, but shower performances are very much condoned. A great playlist serves as an equally great mood booster, so a free month of their favorite music streaming service can keep them dancing until their favorite artist is back on tour. For the Spotify gift card, be sure to select the “Digital” option for a completely hands-free experience. 

This is a completely hands-free option.

A meal kit from their favorite restaurant

goldbelly

Goldbelly Meal Kits, from $25, available at Goldbelly

If they’re missing catching up with you at your go-to restaurant, bring the socially distanced equivalent to them with Goldbelly. The food delivery service ships meal kits from popular restaurants in major cities nationwide, so whether or not they’ve been spending the pandemic in their favorite city, they can still enjoy their favorite meal.

A nostalgic custom map

Small gifts and gestures coronavirus Mapiful

Mapiful Custom Map, from $59, available at Mapiful

Mapiful allows for custom creation of map posters and frames, so they can feel connected to a city that’s meaningful to them regardless of where they physically are. Mapiful’s prints range from the classic map poster to custom zodiac prints, and you can even send them a print with their favorite photo.

A postcard that shows how much you care

Friendship Maintenance

Friendship Maintenance: 30 Postcards to Say How Much You Freaking Care, $7.70, available at Walmart

I’ve had this set of postcards for three years now, and it’s my go-to for birthdays, sending support, or simply saying hi. These personalized, witty postcards read with the same quirky yet humorous tone that my friends and I speak in, and something about snail mail feels a bit more special than the usual “checking in” text message. 

A book that’ll keep any writer busy

300 Writing Prompts

300 Writing Prompts, $8, available at Barnes & Noble

Nothing brings me more joy than writing, and with many guided writing journals out there, this is the one I turn back to every time. The prompts are the perfect balance between intellectually stimulating and just plain fun, and I often find my responses to be the coping mechanism I didn’t know I needed. I’m confident any writer will welcome this distraction from the inundation of screen time that’s encompassed recent days.

An embroidery kit to keep them busy

Small Gifts and Gestures Embroidery Kits

Beginner Embroidery Kit, from $10.49, available at Etsy

Embroidery is an excellent stress reliever, and this beginner kit provides all the tools they’d need to get started. There are five designs to choose from, and you can either send them materials for a single design or a pack of three. 

A streaming service for the theater nerd in all of us

BroadwayHD

BroadwayHD subscription, from $8.99 per month, available on BroadwayHD

Broadway has gone dark for the time being, but thankfully, BroadwayHD is chock full of shows old and new. BroadwayHD categorizes its musicals and plays in a way that’s easily decipherable, making “Must See” and “Family Friendly” shows readily available. 

This is a completely hands-free option.

Amazon’s book selection at their fingertips

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Unlimited subscription, $.99 for two months, available at Amazon

It’s always a good time to be a bookworm, but with more time to read than ever, a Kindle Unlimited subscription can certainly be put to use. Thanks to the Kindle app, they can read on any iOS device, Android, Mac, or PC, so there’s no need to open the door for a physical Kindle. 

This is a completely hands-free option.

A plush llama to hug

Small Gifts and Gestures Urban Outfitters Heatable Huggable Llama

Mini Huggable Llama Heating and Cooling Pad, $14, available at Urban Outfitters

While they may or may not have a pet of their own, this llama is almost as adorable. It can be put in the microwave for a warm hug, or put in the freezer to be used as an ice pack. 

A frame that shows how much you’re thinking of them

Friendship Frame

Long Distance Friendship Frame, from $99, available at Uncommon Goods

A framed memory is a sentimental reminder of your friendship on its own, but this frame adds an additional special feature: Touch your frame when you’re missing your loved one, and their frame will light up, too — reminding them that they’re on your mind. 

Learn a new skill alongside them

Udemy_suport images 3 marketing

Start an online class together from one of our favorite online learning startups

There’s nothing more gratifying than mastering a new skill, and it’s an even better experience when you get to share it with someone you love. There’s no shortage of online learning courses, so whether they want to learn to bake or brush up on their photography skills, there are plenty of applicable courses. 

This is a completely hands-free option.

A puzzling way to pass time

Amazon Puzzle

Check out Barnes & Noble’s selection of puzzles

There are few greater feelings than putting the final pieces of a puzzle together. You can order the same puzzle and complete it over a video call, race to see who finishes first, or frame the puzzle once completed as a reminder of each other. 

A kit fit for an artist

Amazon Art Kit

Art 101 215-Piece Wood Art Set, $49.73, available at Amazon

If they seek creative expression through art — or want to learn to do so — this kit is a great place to start. Packed with 215 materials ranging from crayons to watercolor paints, this art kit is appropriate for any age, and the organization is almost as pleasing to the eye as their upcoming creations will be. 

A way to take the strain out of grocery shopping

freshdirect, from $20

FreshDirect Gift Card, from $20, available at FreshDirect

Learn about the grocery and delivery services making donations to those affected by the novel coronavirus

For those in quarantine, a typically simple task like getting groceries can be made substantially more difficult. With FreshDirect, their selection of groceries can be delivered right to their door. FreshDirect’s gift cards can be sent via email, so it’s an excellent way to show that you’re thinking of those who can’t make it to a grocery store. 

This is a completely hands-free option.

A practical way to show you care

amazon prime pantry

Amazon Prime Gift Membership, from $39 for three months, available at Amazon

An Amazon Prime membership can be used for pretty much anything, be it stocking up on cleaning supplies or the aforementioned books and puzzles. The benefits of an Amazon Prime membership stray far beyond their notable two-day shipping, and there’s also a $119 annual membership option if they’d like to remain a member year-round. 

This is a completely hands-free option.

A coloring book for any age

Coloring Book

Check out Barnes & Noble’s selection of Coloring Books

Coloring Books are not only an incredible stress reliever, but they’re appropriate for nearly any age — even if you’ve learned to color inside the lines long ago. From animals to Disney princesses, the array of coloring books is arguably just as expressive as those who’ll be coloring them in. 

A classic, screen-free board game

Small gifts and gestures Rummikub

Check out Walmart’s selection of board games

If those close to you are practicing social distancing with family or roommates, board games are a classic way to keep everyone entertained. My personal favorites to play with friends are Rummikub and Bananagrams, but there are plenty of games to choose from, including games specifically made for kids

A cozy throw to keep them warm and comfortable

Barefoot Dreams

Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Throw, from $147, available at Nordstrom

Barefoot Dreams is known for its irresistibly soft products, and this throw is no different. A match made in heaven for any couch, this throw is a great way to help them feel as comfortable as possible. 

A video message they’ll never forget

Cameo

Cameo video messages, from $15, available at Cameo

From actors to professional athletes, Cameo is stacked with a selection of celebrities who will create custom videos for someone you care about. This unique concept is a fun and personalized way to check in on a friend, and it’s sure to be a day maker. 

This is a completely hands-free option.

A hand-poured, affectionately decorated candle

Quarantine gifts Love Candle

Love Travel Tin Candle, $8.00, available at Etsy

This hand-poured candle comes in an elegant tin that’s complete with an expression of love right on the cover. With scents like mango papaya and peach nectar, they’ll be dreaming of your next getaway together. 

A handcrafted bowl for a cozy meal

Quarantine gifts Uncommon Goods Oatmeal Bowl

Handwarmer Oatmeal Bowl, $36, available at Uncommon Goods

Whether oatmeal is their go-to work-from-home breakfast, they crave soup on a rainy day, or simply enjoy a morning cup of coffee, this bowl is quarantine-ready. The handle is intentionally crafted with space to slip their hand underneath it, and there’s even a notch meant for resting utensils. 

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