The best garden hose nozzles in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

So you’ve finally found a garden hose that’s durable, easy to use, and doesn’t kink. Next, you’ll need a garden hose nozzle. It makes watering tasks more convenient and efficient, plus you’ll save water.

“It’s absolutely necessary to attach an adjustable nozzle to your garden hose,” said John Jo rs, a Florida Master Gardener and volunteer groundskeeper at the 35-acre Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. “Otherwise, you may find yourself running back and forth to turn your water spigot off and on as needed.”

There are a few different nozzle styles to consider, including pistol grip, fire-hose, and watering wand. If you plan on using your hose for a wide variety of tasks, Jors recommends a pistol grip nozzle with multiple spray options and adjustable water pressure.

But if you have trouble holding down a pistol grip for long periods of time, fire hose-style and watering wands are good alternatives. Learn which nozzle style and spray option you should use.

We tested garden hose nozzles of different styles on the same hose (our pick for the best hose overall, the Dramm ColorStorm Garden Hose). For each hose nozzle, we tracked ease of use, comfort, water pressure, spray distance, and durability. Read more about our methodology.

Here are the best garden hose nozzles in 2021

The best garden hose nozzle overall

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Gardenite 10 Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle

The Gardenite 10-Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle is the most versatile, reliable, and comfortable nozzle you can attach to your hose. All the spray patterns are consistent and using it won’t tire out your hand. 

Pros: Many spray patterns, easy to switch among patterns, strong metal and rubber construction

Cons: The multiple settings may be superfluous if you only use your hose for a few tasks, jet setting doesn’t offer strongest pressure

With this Gardenite hose nozzle, you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll have the appropriate spray pattern for the task in front of you. The 10 patterns include “cone,” “shower,” “mist,” and “jet,” plus less common ones like “flat” and “vertical.” Whether you’re washing your dog, watering delicate plants, or hosing down dirt, you’ll be properly equipped. 

It’s easy to twist the nozzle to the spray pattern you need, and the nozzle clicks clearly to let you know you’re ready to use your selected pattern. When you hold down the trigger, the water doesn’t shoot out aggressively — an issue I discovered with other nozzles. The nozzle also never leaked in all my tests. 

The flow control knob at the back of the nozzle lets you adjust the pressure of each of the 10 patterns, allowing for even more adjustability. 

Despite all these ways to diversify your watering experience, the jet option was a little disappointing and wasn’t as strong as our high-pressure nozzle pick below. Overall, the all-in-one design and quality construction of this nozzle still earn it our top position, but consider whether you’d rather have the versatility or a more specialized nozzle. 

This nozzle has a pistol grip, with a front trigger that is made from metal and has indents for your fingers. The handle is cushioned rubber. These features combined make the grip as comfortable as it can get. 

The best garden hose nozzle on a budget

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Melnor 5 Pattern Watering Nozzle budget cheap affordable

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Melnor 5-Pattern Watering Nozzle is a solid alternative that still offers five spray options. Just be warned it’s not as durable as our other picks.

Pros: Affordable, easy to use, versatile 

Cons: Can leak a little, not rugged, doesn’t offer long spray distance 

A good, solid garden hose is an investment, and after spending that money, you might not want to splurge on an additional accessory. Luckily, this Melnor hose nozzle is very affordable, while still offering features you need and decent comfort. 

This nozzle keeps it simple with five spray options that should suit most activities: shower, full, stream, flat, and mist. All the settings worked well and had strong, consistent pressure, though the spray distance fell short compared to the other nozzles. The mist option was especially effective.

The nozzle attached securely to my hose, but there were some small leaking issues. The droplets were tiny and didn’t significantly affect my watering experience but it’s worth noting since this was the only nozzle I tested that leaked at all. 

It’s decently comfortable to hold — the rubber grip features indents for your fingers, but the back trigger section is made from plastic which is less comfortable than an all-rubber grip. There is a trigger lock to help prevent grip fatigue, so you don’t need to squeeze down the whole time you’re watering. 

Made from a combination of metal, plastic, and rubber, the nozzle is lightweight, but you can’t bang it around the ground too much. In our durability tests, the metal pin that acts as a trigger lock fell out. While we know you won’t purposely drop your nozzle onto concrete repeatedly, it’s also good to keep in mind that this nozzle isn’t going to last for years. But if you need a temporary solution, or don’t use your garden hose often, it’s a quick and cheap buy with most of the features you need. 

The best watering wand

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Melnor RelaxGrip Watering Wand 2

Avid gardeners will want the Melnor RelaxGrip Watering Wand, which offers a gentle shower of water, is long enough to reach tall hanging plants, and uses a comfortable thumb control rather than a pistol grip. 

Pros: Long, less tiring to grip, ideal for delicate flowers and plants in hanging pots 

Cons: Singular purpose, may have leakage problems after long-term use 

If you have trouble holding down a pistol grip, you’ll love the easy thumb control of this nozzle. You simply slide the control up and down whenever you need to adjust the water flow. This smart design reduces the strain on your wrists and fingers, allowing you to water your garden for longer. The textured rubber grip is also comfortable with ergonomic indents for your fingers. 

The thumb control acts as a sliding scale in that there isn’t a distinct click for each different flow setting. Instead, you might have to play around with the control at first to learn where the flow intensity changes and how far you should slide the control. Over time, you’ll have a better natural sense of how to control the water.  

This watering wand has a long stick design (this version is 33 inches long from nozzle tip to end, while the short version is 15 inches long) that lets you reach tall branches with no struggle. The water travels smoothly all the way through, and the water flow is consistent. 

It attached securely and didn’t leak, but after seeing some customer reports of leakage issues, we’ll keep an eye out for that in our long-term testing. Given the wand is made up of many distinct parts, it’s possible it may leak if any of the parts break. In our durability tests, however, the wand emerged unscathed and nothing broke.

Since this nozzle only offers a concentrated shower pattern, it’s best for gardeners who intend to use it frequently for their plants and flowers. It will not help you in the way of washing a deck or covering a large amount of ground.

The best high-pressure garden hose nozzle

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Twinkle Star Adjustable Twist Hose Nozzle high pressure

This simple and compact brass nozzle from Twinkle Star shoots out strong jets of water over long distances, making it perfect for chores that require some water pressure. 

Pros: Made from sturdy solid brass, small, good jet and wide spray options 

Cons: No two-way shutoff, less control over water flow 

For grimy trash cans, a car in need of a good wash, or your deck that has so many layers of dirt it’s starting to change colors, it’s handy to have a high-pressure nozzle to do all the hard rinsing work for you. 

The Twinkle Star is a long and slim nozzle that has powerful and efficient jet and wide spray settings. To use, you twist the nozzle in one direction to find the pattern you need. Though there aren’t specific settings that you can “click” into, the nozzle twists smoothly and the spray patterns transition well into each other. The one-way shutoff means you have to twist it off the same way you twist it on, which isn’t a huge dealbreaker, but it’s a little convenient. The nozzle attached securely to my hose and never leaked. 

Its spray distance was long, on par with the Gardenite nozzle‘s. The high pressure and long spray distance are a great combo for attacking dirty surfaces from afar.

We also loved the solid brass construction. It’s resistant to rust and all-around durable, plus it looks sleek. 

This product actually comes with two nozzles, a long one and a much smaller one. We wouldn’t recommend the small tip nozzle, as it wasn’t adjustable and couldn’t shut off the flow of water. It offered medium pressure and a very narrow spray, so we’re not sure what the use of this extra nozzle is. Stick with the long nozzle, and you’ll be set. 

The best fireman-style garden hose nozzle

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Bon Aire Hose Nozzle fireman style

A fire-hose-style nozzle like the Bon-Aire Hose Nozzle is perfect if you want versatile spray options without straining your hand. 

Pros: Very comfortable to hold, strong rubber and metal construction, two-way shutoff 

Cons: Less control over water flow 

Rather than hold down a trigger, you only need to twist the barrel of the Bon-Air nozzle to start and stop the flow of water. Like a few of the nozzles above, it doesn’t have distinct spray settings, so you just gradually turn the nozzle to find the different options. Conveniently, the nozzle has two-way shutoff, meaning you don’t have to turn it back all the way to the beginning in order to stop the water flow. 

I enjoyed using this nozzle a lot because it was comfortable to hold and all the water flow options were consistent in pressure. The jet and wide spray settings were especially strong. 

Compared to the Twinkle Star nozzle, the Bon-Aire is bulkier but also likely more durable. Since most of it is encased in rubber, the metal middle section rarely touches the ground. If you drop it on the ground from a tall height, it simply bounces around. 

Our gardening expert John Jors reminds us, “Although [a fire hose-style nozzle] is very durable, the spray options are limited and you won’t have the flow control you have with the pistol grip.” 

This was certainly my experience with the Bon-Aire nozzle. It’s available for around the same price as our best overall pick, so choosing this nozzle is ultimately a matter of personal preference and comfort. It’s ergonomic and durable, but you will have the deal with the lack of distinct spray settings. 

What else we tested

best garden hose nozzles 2021 Gilmour Metal Pistol Nozzle what else we tested

What we don’t recommend and why

Gilmour Metal Pistol Nozzle: This simple nozzle is cheap but also really rugged. It’s metal all around and intuitive to use — just squeeze the trigger and the water flow will change depending on how hard you squeeze. My main critique is that it’s not comfortable to hold at all and has no cushioning for your fingers, so you’ll have to wear your own gloves. The nozzle is small, brittle, and stiff, and you’ll have to use the hold-open clip to spray continuously. 

What we’re testing next

What we look forward to testing - best garden hose nozzles 2021 Dramm 14866 One Touch Rain Wand with One Touch Valve

Dramm One-Touch Rain Wand: Another promising watering wand has a similar thumb control valve to our current best wandering wand and looks to be durable and consistent. 

Gilmour Swivel Connect 1-Pattern Nozzle: Gilmour’s innovative “swivel connect” design means that you can turn the nozzle in any direction without turning the hose itself, reducing annoying kinks and bends as you handle your hose. Though it doesn’t have multiple spray options, there is a comfortable thumb control valve. 

Methodology

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Methodology slide

We put all the hose nozzles through these same five tests: 

  1. Ease of use: We noted how easy or difficult it was to attach to the hose, how many spray options it had, and whether it leaked. 
  2. Comfort: We noted if the grip was ergonomic. If the nozzle had a pistol grip design, we timed how long we could press the grip down before it got too tiring to press. 
  3. Spray distance: On concrete, we measured how far the nozzle sprayed water when holding the hose at a regular position (a foot away from the body).
  4. Water pressure: We measured the pressure of water coming out of the nozzle with a water pressure gauge. If there was more than one spray setting, we measured the low, medium, and high settings. 
  5. Durability: We dropped each nozzle on concrete from 10 feet high 10 times and noted scuffing, scratches, abrasion, and any broken or bent parts. We also left the nozzles outside for two consecutive weeks through various weather conditions, including sun and rain, noting any rust and other signs of wear and tear.

Garden hose nozzles FAQs

best Garden hose nozzles 2021 FAQs

Why do you need a garden hose nozzle?  

  1. It saves water. Water will not come out of your hose unless you open the nozzle, meaning you don’t need to run back and forth to the spigot. This is especially helpful if you’re using a long hose. 
  2. A garden hose nozzle helps distribute water in a more controlled manner than a garden hose alone. The regular flow of a garden hose alone isn’t always the best for tasks like watering delicate flowers or washing a car. The different spray options of a nozzle let you customize the flow to your specific task. 

What are the different types of garden hose nozzles? How do you use them?

Pistol grip nozzle: Features a trigger that controls the amount or flow of water. Hold down the trigger (which may be in front of or behind the handle) to release water. The harder you press, the more water comes out. 

Dial nozzle: Features a rotating dial of distinct spray patterns. It’s often combined with a pistol grip so you only need to hold down the trigger to activate the flow of water, while the dial setting controls the specific flow.

Watering wand or rain wand: A long nozzle that helps extend water flow to hard-to-reach areas. It’s usually controlled with a comfortable sliding thumb control. 

Firehose (or fireman)-style nozzle: A large dial-style nozzle that does not have a pistol grip. The spray patterns are not distinct and must be gradually adjusted. 

What nozzle and spray type do you use for…

  • Watering flowers or a vegetable garden: Use a flat spray or shower delicate plants with a rain wand because it’s the most gentle spray type. Make sure to water at soil level at the base of the plants. It’s best to water them in the morning, before it gets too sunny and hot, so that less water will evaporate.  
  • Watering trees and shrubs: Drip lines are ideal, and if you’re using a hose, you actually shouldn’t use a nozzle. Simply place the hose on the ground near the tree and let water slowly and steadily dribble out. Rotate the hose around the tree (in a ring shape) periodically. 
  • Washing a car: Use a jet spray with any of the nozzles above except the rain wand. If you’re just doing a light rinse, a setting like a full shower could also work. 
  • Power-washing a deck: Use a jet spray with any of the nozzles above except the rain wand. 

Check out our other backyard and gardening guides

Purple garden hose on the sidewalk
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best smoke detectors we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Smoke detectors don’t seem to get the same attention as home security systems, and for something so important to home and personal safety, this can be a costly mistake. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a working smoke alarm can decrease your risk of dying in a home fire by 54% compared to not having a working alarm – or worse, no alarm at all.

Due to the amount of synthetic material in modern furniture and buildings, home fires can spread really fast. According to the US Fire Administration (USFA), 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to escape a home fire; today, it’s about two minutes. A reliable and effective smoke detector can alert you quickly to get you and your family to safety.

I have years of experience relocating and installing hard-wired smoke detectors as a residential carpenter, and leaned on that expertise when testing six units for this guide (I go through my full testing methodology here). I also consulted Patrick Andler, a fire investigator with 38 years of experience and a board member of the Arizona Burn Foundation, and Nick Yahoodain, a home remodeler with 11 years of experience at Advanced Builders & Contractors, on how to install smoke detectors, how to use them effectively, and more.

Here are the best smoke detectors in 2021

The best smoke detector overall

Best smoke detectors 2021 X Sense SC01 best smoke detector overall

The X-Sense SC01 features a 10-year lithium battery, carbon monoxide detector, and a color-changing LED to let you know its current status.

Pros: Digital battery level display, doubles as carbon monoxide detector 

Cons: Lacks ionization sensor 

The X-Sense SC01 responded well in my testing and activated its alarm within two sprays of the aerosol. It had a loud alarm that was clearly heard from across the 2,700 square foot house I tested it in, and its red LED flashed continuously while the alarm was sounding. The alarm — and the light — shut off simultaneously when the sensor no longer detected any aerosol. 

The X-Sense SC01 lacks an ionization sensor and uses only a photoelectric sensor to detect smoke. This makes it marginally less sensitive to flash fires, but also cuts down on the chances of it being set off by nuisance alarms, or false alarms caused by cooking smoke or steamy showers. Its screen displays the real-time amount of carbon monoxide in the air, the status of the unit during a test, and a battery level icon.

Installing the X-Sense SC01 was simple, and with a power drill and pencil, I was able to attach it to the ceiling in about two minutes. The anchors are white, so they blended in with the ceiling, and also came in a resealable plastic baggie, which was convenient.

Overall, the value of the 10-year battery, the carbon monoxide detector, and digital readout make it the best option I tested. The detector also comes highly recommended by our fire investigator expert.

The best smart smoke detector

Best smoke detectors 2021 smart smoke detector Nest protect

The Nest Protect features both a carbon monoxide and split-spectrum smoke detector that detects both fast and slow-burning fires, and delivers clear verbal instructions to explain why its sensor was triggered and what you should do next.

Pros: Spoken instructions, phone notifications

Cons: May not be ideal for those not technically savvy, requires three AA backup batteries

The color-changing LED, along with the verbal commands and smartphone notifications, made the Nest Protect fun to test out and operate. My first aerosol test activated its “heads-up” function, which issued a verbal warning that it detected a small amount of smoke. This would be a convenient feature if the smoke was due to burning toast, or another non-emergency — especially for anyone who might get overwhelmed by loud noises. By giving you the chance to resolve the problem before the smoke levels rise, you can prevent the unit from going into full-blown alarm mode. My second aerosol spray was enough for the Nest Protect to assume there was an actual fire, and it sounded its alarm immediately. 

The Nest Protect allows you to silence the unit in the event of a nuisance alarm easily with the large and easy to press test/silence button. You can even silence the alarm from your smartphone, although it doesn’t allow for this if the smoke is too heavy.

The Nest Protect is a hard-wired unit, so installation was a bit more elaborate than the other smoke detectors I tested. This will involve working with and reconnecting electrical wiring, so if you’re uncomfortable around that type of thing, you may want to hire a professional. It took me about 15 minutes to remove the previous unit and connect this one. The instructions walked me through every step of the process, and the included hardware was effective and easy to use. It also took me about 15 minutes to connect the Nest Protect to my home’s Wi-Fi network due to connection issues. 

If your home Wi-Fi goes down like in the event of a power outage, the Nest Protect will continue to work just fine — you just won’t get any notifications on your phone. The three AA batteries will ensure the Nest Protect continues to work during a power outage.

The best smoke detector for smoke only

Best smoke detectors 2021 X Sense SD01 smoke only

If you already have a standalone carbon monoxide detector, the X-Sense SD01 is a dependable smoke-detector-only that uses an extra-bright LED to help lead you to safety. 

Pros: Ultra-bright escape light, easy to install, auto-monitoring feature

Cons: Lacks a carbon monoxide detector

The X-Sense SD01 has a nice solid feel to it and the large LED escape light gives it a professional look, like something you would see in a commercial building. This light automatically turns on when the alarm is activated, and not only alerts you about the presence of smoke but can also help to illuminate a darkened room. This is an especially important feature as more than half of home fire-related deaths occur between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., according to the NFPA. This light would also be extremely valuable in the event of a power outage, a feature that Andler praised and why he endorses the X-Sense SD01 so strongly.  

This unit responded well to my tests and activated after two aerosol sprays. I made sure to perform one of my tests at night to best observe the escape light and was very impressed with how bright it was. The light, the loud alarm, and a flashing red secondary LED would be effective in the case of a real emergency. These high-visibility features also make the X-Sense SD01 a great option for hallways and stairwells as long as you have one or two on the ceiling as well. 

The X-Sense SD01 packs a built-in 10-year battery, so it will last for the life of the unit, and after you’ll need to purchase an entirely new alarm. It’s also designed to constantly auto-check itself to make sure its batteries are in working order. In the event of an issue, the secondary LED will turn yellow, alerting you that something is wrong. 

The X-Sense SD01 uses a photoelectric sensor, which works with the air flow design of the casing to better detect a variety of fire types. The sensor also analyzes smoke three times before activating the alarm, which minimizes nuisance alarms. 

Installing the X-Sense SD01 was a breeze, just like the other X-Sense models, and I had the mounting plate installed and the unit in place within a couple of minutes. 

The best dual sensor smoke detector

Best smoke detectors 2021 First Alert SA320 dual sensor

The First Alert SA320 is an affordable and effective smoke alarm with both photosensitive and ionization sensors, which can cause it to be too sensitive at times. However, there’s no denying its effectiveness.

Pros: Has both photosensitive and ionization sensors, has safety features suitable for landlords 

Cons: Very sensitive, batteries must be replaced regularly

The First Alert SA320 features both photosensitive and ionization sensors, which is likely the reason why it was the only unit that activated its alarm after a single aerosol spray test. 

Although this high sensitivity sounds good on paper, it can also be the cause of frequent nuisance alarms. These alarms, combined with the removable AA batteries, greatly increase the odds that someone will remove the batteries or the alarm itself. The NFPA reported that between 2009-2013, 21% percent of deaths in home fires occurred when smoke detectors were “present but did not operate.” It’s important to keep this in mind if you’re planning to get this unit — after all, the whole point of a smoke detector is household safety.

I didn’t experience any issues installing the First Alert SA320. But, it uses red wall anchors, which aren’t ideal if you want to move the unit to a different location in the room. It also has optional locking features to discourage unauthorized battery or alarm removal. There are two pins you can insert into the sides of the unit or by the battery compartment that expand once they’re in place to prevent anyone from taking down the smoke detector or removing its batteries. You “unlock” the unit with a flathead screwdriver to depress the pin’s teeth. This is a good feature for landlords, or anyone else placing the unit who won’t be there to monitor it. 

The First Alert SA320’s design makes it feel more functional and less clunky. It does lack the polished appeal of the X-Sense models, though it shouldn’t be a big factor compared with safety and effectiveness. Andler describes this as “a standard smoke detector at a good cost.”

The best interconnected smoke detector

Best smoke detectors 2021 interconnected X Sense

The X-Sense Wireless Interconnected comes as a set of six separate smoke detectors with a range of more than 820 feet each, so they can cover small and large spaces safely.

Pros: Small size is easy to install, easy to find silence button in the dark, covers large areas

Cons: Does not have a built-in battery 

Even though the X-Sense Wireless Interconnected smoke detectors are smaller and lighter than typical ones, they still meet UL 217 standards. They also beeped at the same 85-db level as every other model tested. Their red alert lights were easy to see, and because of their side-mounted position, they reflected off the ceiling to increase visibility.  

Because they are interconnected, all six units will sound even if only one detects smoke, so you’ll be notified regardless of where you are in your home when a fire breaks out. They performed effectively in every test I did and were all relatively sensitive, responding within two aerosol sprays. Since the silence button is also the alert light, it was easy to quickly find the button to silence the unit — even in low light. 

Each unit was interconnected right out of the box, so there was no additional set up necessary. You can add up to 24 units to the network, but every new set will need to be manually connected to the rest. This process seems pretty straightforward though, and X-Sense’s instructions are clear, ensuring this process won’t be too complicated.

Installation of the six-pack took longer than other smoke detectors I tested because there were more units to install. Their small size only required two anchor holes per unit, as opposed to the three that the other units I tested needed. This not only made them easier to install but also reduced the amount of damage to the ceiling and walls. Each of the units easily clicked onto its mounting bracket and they were the simplest to install out of all smoke detectors I tested. Like all X-Sense models, their smooth finish gave them a nice, high-quality look. 

What else we tested

Best smoke detectors what else we tested First Alert PRC710

What else we recommend and why 

After researching a dozen smoke detectors, we ended up testing six that met our criteria for units you could install yourself. Here’s what else we tested and think are worth considering:

First Alert PRC710 ($49.99): The First Alert PRC710 responded well to my tests, and I really liked its slim 1.38-inch profile and light 0.73-lb weight. Although I personally preferred the informative LED screen of the X-Sense SC01, if you’re simply looking for a minimal, hassle-free unit that detects both smoke and carbon monoxide, the First Alert PRC710 is an effective choice. 

What we’re testing next

Best smoke detectors 2021 what we look forward to testing

A few smoke detectors didn’t arrive on time for me to test, so I look forward to testing them soon. We’re also researching smoke detectors for people who are hard of hearing. 

First Alert BRK 3120B: This hardwired version of the First Alert SA320 includes both photoelectric and ionization sensors, and usually costs under $25, the lowest of any unit I’ve tested. 

Kidde KN-COSM-IBA: Kidde is one of the most well-known smoke alarm brands out there, and it offers a really wide variety of detector types, styles, and sensor options. This model features voice warning capabilities, a feature I’ve found to be really useful with other smoke detectors I tested. 

First Alert Onelink: I’m interested in how the First Alert Onelink and its smart capabilities will stack up against the Nest Protect. 

Testing methodology

Best smoke detectors 2021 testing methodology

For this guide, I personally tested six smoke detectors after consulting with fire and building experts, and doing extensive online research. 

I interviewed Patrick Andler, a fire investigator with 38 years of experience and a board member of the Arizona Burn Foundation. This organization — among many other functions — supplies free smoke detectors to low-income housing across Arizona. I also interviewed Nick Yahoodain, a home remodeler with more than 11 years of experience at Advanced Builders & Contractors

I also used my own experience installing hard-wired and battery-powered smoke detectors in my own apartments and my parents’ home, as well as my experience as a residential carpenter, which frequently required the relocation of hard-wired units.

I installed each of the smoke detectors and tested it three times a day for three days. I performed a basic maintenance test according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually just by pressing the “test” button) and then sprayed the units twice with an aerosol spray that mimics real smoke. Most smoke detectors will not activate after a single spray so you will need two three-second sprays to set them off. I found this to be the case with every unit I tested, except for the First Alert SA320, which activated its alarm after only a single spray.  

I broke these tests up throughout the day to allow time for the spray to dissipate and the detectors to return to their working levels.  

I used several criteria to compare the units during testing. 

Installation: I installed each smoke detector on my ceiling according to the manufacturer’s included instructions, timing how long it took, and noting how helpful or detailed those instructions were. Aside from the hardwired First Alert, all the units used essentially the exact same mounting procedure, but I made sure to note any differences. 

Appearance: I took note of the size, weight, finish, and overall look of each smoke detector after installing units on a white ceiling.

Special safety features: I tested and evaluated each smoke detectors’ extra safety features, such as voice or light notifications, removal prevention, and more. For example, even though all the models I tested featured some kind of visual alarm component, the ultra-bright LED of the X-Sense SD01 was much more effective compared to the rest, and could be beneficial to those with hearing issues. Or the straightforward voice commands of the Nest Protect might be preferred by those who might get confused or disoriented by the single alarm siren of the other models.  

Operation: Throughout my testing, I made sure to use and observe each mode the smoke detectors offered. This included their testing and silence buttons, how they utilized any LED lights, and whether or not they included carbon monoxide detection.

Maintenance: I took note of the approximate lifespan of each unit, and the specifics of its battery replacement procedures. 

Types of smoke detectors

Best smoke detectors 2021 types of smoke detectors

Battery: Smoke detectors can either be hardwired or standalone battery-powered units. Battery-powered detectors are easier to install than hard-wired units and are unaffected in the event of a power outage. Some newer smoke detectors are designed with lithium batteries inside the unit which can last up to 10 years without needing to be replaced. Units that use replaceable batteries typically need new batteries every six months and are vulnerable to tampering and being disconnected during false alarms caused by non-emergency situations like cooking smoke or steamy showers.

Hard-Wired: Hard-wired smoke detectors connect directly to your home’s electrical wiring, and typically have a backup battery in case of a power outage. These will initially need some electrical know-how or the help of a professional to be installed, but once the system is set up, it’s pretty easy to disconnect and install new units whenever you need them. Yahoodain recommends hard-wired smoke detectors since they’re easy to interconnect, so if one goes off, they all go off. 

Photoelectric: Smoke detectors use either photoelectric or ionization sensors to detect smoke. Some, like the First Alert SA320 that we tested, use both. Photoelectric smoke alarms use an LED light to detect smoke and are more responsive to slow-burning, smoldering fires than ionization alarms. When smoke particles enter the unit, they disrupt the light beam, which reflects it into a sensor and activates the alarm. These types of sensors are generally superior to ionization sensors because smoldering fires tend to be more dangerous and can go unnoticed for longer periods of time than flash fires, or ones that develop very suddenly and intensely. They also cut down on unnecessary nuisance alarms like which can cause people to remove the batteries out of frustration.

Ionization Sensors: These sensors are typically more effective at detecting flash fires. They do this by utilizing a small amount of radioactive material and placing it between two electrically charged plates. When smoke displaces the radioactive ions, the current between the plates is disrupted, and the alarm goes off. Ionization sensors have a higher chance of detecting nuisance alarms and tend to be much less effective at detecting smoldering fires. 

FAQs

Best smoke detectors 2021 faqs

Where should I install my smoke detector?

Even the best smoke detectors are only effective if they’re installed correctly. The NFPA recommends installing alarms inside and outside of every bedroom, and on every level of your home, including the basement. It also recommends installing both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms or a dual-sensor detector as they can provide more protection than just one type of sensor.

Andler said that smoke alarms should be placed on your ceiling, not on the wall. Since smoke rises and begins gathering at the ceiling first, they have a much better chance of detecting smoke than a wall-mounted detector. As we mentioned earlier, seconds count when it comes to escaping a house fire, so correct placement is extremely important.

Andler also stressed the importance of having additional smoke detectors. He said that in the event of a fire in your home, hallway smoke detectors can sound their alarms much earlier than a bedroom alarm. Seconds count in home fires, and the early warning from hallway alarms can provide the extra time you and your family need to escape safely. 

He also recommends having a smoke alarm near — but not inside — the kitchen, to reduce the chances of false alarms. The Arizona Burn Foundation recommends keeping your detector at least 10 feet away from the stove. 

How do I test my smoke detector so I know it’s working?

Your smoke detector should have a “test” button. Press and hold it for a few seconds, and a high-pitched siren should start to sound. If there’s no sound or the sound is non-existent, it’s time to replace the battery. Many insurance companies also advise replacing the batteries every six months regardless of the siren loudness. 

What certifications should I look for in a smoke detector?

Whichever smoke detector you choose, make sure it meets the standards of Underwriter Laboratories (UL). UL is a third-party certification company that has been developing smoke detector standards for more than 40 years, and with their stamp of approval, you can trust that your unit will do its job.

The UL 217 code covers both “single station” smoke alarms that function as standalone units,  and “multiple station” smoke alarms that are interconnected — so when one goes off, they all go off. All the products we tested have this UL 217 certification, and our two combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, Nest Protect and First Alert SA320, also have a UL 2034 certification, which covers the CO detector.

Check out other home safety-related guides

EufyCam 2C home security camera outside
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The 5 best fabric protectors to safeguard everything from outdoor furniture to shoes

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Fabric protectors are saviors when it comes to accidental spills, stains, and even harmful UV rays.
  • We found options for a range of needs, including indoor and outdoor furniture, rugs, shoes, and more.

It’s easy to fumble your food or spill a drink and stain that pristine rug or couch. Similarly, walking through mud or in an unexpected downpour can ruin new shoes fast. But with fabric protectors, you don’t have to throw your hands up in defeat. Instead, be proactive and protect your belongings before accidents even occur.

In general, fabric protectors are meant to prevent spills from quickly absorbing into materials. Some heavy-duty fabric protectors can even shield your outdoor furniture, clothing, and gear from the elements, while others are specifically designed with shoes and tricky materials like suede and leather in mind.

Here are the best fabric protectors

Best fabric protector overall

Scotchguard Fabric Water Shield
This fabric protector even works on dry clean-only fabrics like silk and wool.

With the ability to save your furniture and clothing from water-based spills, Scotchguard Fabric Water Shield is a versatile option for indoor use.

What we like: Dries clear and odorless, repels water-based spills, can be used on many interior surfaces, can also be used on clothing and shoes 

This fabric protector from Scotchguard takes rank because it can be sprayed on a wide range of surfaces. You can use it on upholstery, curtains, pillows, backpacks, luggage, and even shirts, dresses, suits, outerwear, and canvas shoes. 

But you should note that this product is for indoor use only and isn’t heavy-duty enough to protect outdoor furniture. Just one 13.5-ounce can cover an average-sized couch, two chairs, or five jackets. And if you’re worried about how it applies, the fabric protector dries clear and odorless. All you have to do is spray from six inches away and let it dry. For the best results, be sure to reapply after each time you wash the fabric. 

Best fabric protector for outdoor furniture

Bayes High Performance Fabric Protectant Spray
This option comes in a recyclable, non-aerosol spray bottle.

 The Bayes High-Performance Fabric Protectant Spray can cover all of your outdoor furniture needs thanks to its UV defense and protection against both water- and oil-based spills.

What we like: Outdoor and indoor use, UV protection, water- and oil-based stain protection

When looking for a fabric protector suitable for your outdoor furniture, you should first and foremost check for UV defense. This protector’s formula utilizes a multi-action polymer that essentially functions as a sunscreen for your fabric. This layer of “fabric sunscreen” ensures your fabric doesn’t fade or change color as a result of inevitable sun exposure. Of course, it also protects against spills and repels both water and oil-based stains. Plus, it also works on indoor furniture if you want an option that can pull double duty.

The 24-ounce bottle works on about 120 to 150 square feet of fabric coverage. For application, spray on clean, dry fabric and let it dry for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the temperature.

Best fabric protector for carpets and rugs

TriNova Non Aerosol Stain Guard lead
You can also spritz this fabric protector inside of your car.

TriNova Stain Guard Premium Fabric Protection protects carpets and rugs for 35 to 40 days per application and makes wiping up spills a breeze. 

What we like: Dries clear and odorless, works on carpets and rugs, don’t have to reapply too often

Finding a high-quality fabric protector that also works on carpets and rugs can be a challenge, but this one from TriNova makes it easy. Drying clear and odorless, you can mist this water-based formula on carpets and rugs of all materials, as well as upholstery, curtains, and more. The only kind of carpet this product does not go well with is ones made of olefin, and you should not use this fabric protector on vinyl, plastic, rubber, or finished leather either.

Reviewers praise this product for enabling them to instantly and easily wipe away spills, dirt, and mud. Like most of its counterparts, you should clean and dry the fabric before use. Unlike others of its kind, you should also let the surface cure for 24 hours before applying the product. 

One important thing to note is that this is not a water-proofing product, but instead works to repel spills to make cleaning your fabrics easier. That means, if you spill a liquid on your furniture, you should still wipe the surface immediately. 

Best heavy-duty fabric protector

Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield Lead Image
You can even apply this fabric protector to canvas tarps and boat covers.

If you spend a lot of time outside or in harsh weather conditions, the Scotchguard Heavy Duty Water Shield gives your clothes and outdoor gear a longer shelf life. 

What we like: Endures weather, works on outdoor materials, reapply seasonally 

Whether you’re heading out into the backwoods or you expect your patio furniture to face serious downpours, consider this heavy-duty fabric protector. You may be wondering how this heavy-duty fabric protector differs from one that’s meant for outdoor furniture. The distinction is that this heavy-duty one is formulated to keep your clothes and outdoor gear drier for longer. An improved formula builds an even more durable water barrier.

Spritz this on heavy outerwear, rain gear, umbrellas, patio furniture, outdoor gear, backpacks, luggage, canvas tarps, boat covers, and more. It also works on a wide range of materials, including polyester, nylon, polypropylene, cotton, leather, and suede. 

Drying clear and odorless, one can covers 60 square feet of light nylon or 20 square feet on heavier fabrics. For even more protection from the elements, you can apply a second coat. Just make sure to allow for the recommended two to six hours of drying time.

Best fabric protector for shoes

Cadillac Shield Water and Stain
You only have to wait 30 minutes for the product to dry.

The Cadillac Shield Water and Stain Protector Spray helps repel liquids and stains from shoes without accidentally darkening colors. 

What we like: Specifically great for shoes, can be applied to various surfaces, won’t darken colors, short drying period

There are several fabric protectors that are suitable for shoes, but this one from Cadillac guarantees it will waterproof your shoes. Although it does also work on other surfaces and materials, it’s best for protecting suede, nubuck, leather, nylon, polyester, canvas, and synthetic fabrics. You can spritz this on all colors without fear of accidentally darkening them, and it also protects seams and leather soles.

Aside from defending your shoes against rain, puddles, and other water damage, it also repels dirt, grass, oils. To get the most out of this fabric protector, you’ll want to apply it regularly on dry and clean fabrics. There’s only a 30-minute drying period, and then you repeat the process for a quick one-hour application process. Bear in mind that this fabric protector is not compatible with patent leather or vinyls. 

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The 12 best places to buy patio umbrellas and stands in 2021

Blissun 9 ft Solar Umbrella 32 LED Lighted Patio Lifestyle Image

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best patio umbrellas provide thorough sun coverage and can stand up to all kinds of weather.
  • We spoke to landscape architects to find traditional and cantilever umbrellas for your budget.
  • See also: Where to buy outdoor furniture online

A patio umbrella is an important addition to your backyard if you eat and lounge outside regularly.

Though it’s tempting to buy one off looks alone, remember that “as a functional piece, the most important feature in a patio umbrella is the coverage,” as Melissa Lee, the founder and creative director of design firm Bespoke Only said.

Kevin Lenhart, a landscape architect and design director of online landscape design service Yardzen advised, “Think about the sun pattern in your yard. Even if you have a large space, you might not need a huge umbrella if you’re able to angle it to block the sun and shade the area you are enjoying.”

In addition to umbrella canopy size, consider the fabric, which needs to stand up to rain, sun, and wind. Sunbrella, a durable performance fabric that’s resistant to fading, stains, and mildew, is a favorite among landscape designers.

There are two main types of umbrellas: a traditional “market” umbrella, which is usually placed in the middle of a table, and a cantilever umbrella, which is freestanding and brings in the canopy from an angle. You can learn more about the pros and cons of each, as well as other things to keep in mind when shopping for a patio umbrella, here.

Currently, all of our picks are based on research and expert input. In the future, we plan to test these patio umbrellas and evaluate their ease of assembly, effectiveness, and durability.

Here are the best patio umbrellas in 2021

The best patio umbrellas overall

best patio umbrella 2021 bridgehampton market umbrella

A traditional “market” umbrella is the classic style that works best for most people. It’s affordable, easy to use, and widely available in many sizes, fabrics, and colors. Because it’s placed right in the middle of a table, it requires less backyard space and is less likely to get in the way of foot traffic. 

Outdoor Metal Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)Ocean Master Roman Valance Umbrella (8.5-ft.)  (medium)
The best cantilever patio umbrellas

best patio umbrella 2021 cantilever umbrella sunvilla

If you have a larger backyard and don’t like how traditional umbrellas disrupt table space, you should get a cantilever umbrella. Keep in mind cantilever umbrellas tend to be heavier and more expensive, but there’s great payoff in the large amount of shade provided.

Cantilever Patio Umbrella (8-ft.) (medium)Round Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrellas on a budget

best patio umbrella 2021 budget abba patio

A budget umbrella may lack the sturdiness and longevity of the umbrellas above. Still, we found some solid options with well-designed mechanisms and strong canopies. 

Patio Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium)Market Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium)Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrellas with light

best patio umbrella 2021 hampton bay solar led lights

Lighted patio umbrellas offer extra pizzazz and visibility when you’re sitting outside on a warm summer night. The best part is they’re solar-powered, so you don’t have to deal with tangled cords.

Solar Patio Umbrella (9-ft.)  (medium)Cantilever Solar LED Patio Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella stands

best patio umbrella 2021 abba patio stand

A weighted umbrella stand or base ensures your patio umbrella won’t shake or blow away with the slightest gust of wind. “A good rule of thumb is to take the width of your umbrella and multiply it by 10,” said Lenhart. For an 8-foot-wide umbrella, for example, you’ll need a base that’s at least 80 pounds. Pre-filled stands are more expensive than empty stands, which require you to add sand or gravel. 

Umbrella Base (50-lb.) (medium)Hayward Patio Umbrella Base (88-lb.) (medium)Umbrella Stand with Rolling Base (125-lb.)  (medium)
Our methodology

We determined the best patio umbrellas through a combination of research and expert input. Using insights and brand recommendations from our experts, we chose two to three options per category, keeping a variety of sizes and prices in mind. We plan on putting these umbrellas through a variety of tests in the future. 

Patio umbrella FAQs

Traditional vs. cantilever umbrella — which should you buy? What are the pros and cons of each?

  Traditional umbrella Cantilever umbrella 
Pros
  • More affordable
  • More variety of options 
  • Covers a lot of space
  • Pivots and tilts more easily
Cons
  • Smaller canopies
  • More difficult to angle
  • Pole can get in the way
  • More expensive 
  • Requires more space

“The biggest pro of traditional umbrellas is that they get the job done at a relatively low price. They stand up to harsh and windy conditions and require little maintenance. They also tend to be less expensive,” said Lenhart. 

Danu Kennedy, design director of creative design firm Parts and Labor Design, likes cantilever umbrellas because “you don’t have to interrupt the seating connectivity to place the umbrella, but they tend to be a little more clunky whereas a traditional model is perhaps more easily worked into the aesthetic.”


What size umbrella is best for your space? 

In addition to sun pattern, consider the size of the space where you’d like to place the umbrella, as well as the surrounding foot traffic. “Do you have room for a standalone umbrella or should you look for a table that allows for an integrated umbrella? A good rule is to allow for three feet around the umbrella to circulate.” said Blythe Yost, a landscape architect and cofounder of online landscape design service Tilly


What are the best materials for the umbrella stand and canopy? 

For the stand and pole, look for durable, rust-resistant materials like aluminum, coated steel, and concrete (which is harder to find). Some designers also like teak wood because it weathers beautifully. 

As for the canopy, Olefin and Sunbrella come highly recommended by our experts. “Olefin is a durable, sustainable fabric that requires no water during production and maintains its quality for years. Sunbrella is a leader in outdoor performance fabric — it’s easy to clean and has beautiful colors and designs,” said Lenhart. 


Once you’ve figured out size and coverage, how do you find a patio umbrella that fits the rest of your patio style? 

Look at your surroundings, and ask yourself whether you want your umbrella to blend in or pop out. “If you want your umbrella to meld in the natural setting, think neutral colors like white, gray, and beige or even subtle greens and blues. If you want your umbrella to make a statement check out umbrellas in vibrant colors or patterns,” said Yost. “If you’re in a city we prefer a bold, fun pattern, to add a pop of color to the gray cityscape, but if you’re near a lake or beach, the piece shouldn’t compete with nature,” said Lee. 


How do you maintain a patio umbrella?

If your umbrella is crafted from high-quality materials, it’ll stand up to water, sun, and wind, making your job easier. Still, a few small steps can help make your umbrella last much longer. Wipe down the canopy once a month and stand with a soft cloth and a gentle cleanser like mild laundry detergent. “Finding an umbrella with fabric with the color as part of the material, and not dyed, will help retain the color in outdoor conditions,” Yost said. ‘When it comes to extending the life of your umbrella, it’s a great idea to store it when it’s not in use. Either bring it in a garage or you can find an umbrella cover for the material and the stand.” Just make sure everything is fully dry before you pack it away. 


Glossary of terms 

Traditional umbrella: Also known as a market umbrella, this is the style of umbrella you typically see at outdoor dining setups. The pole goes through the middle of the table and the canopy, which is either circular or rectangular, covers the table fully. Traditional umbrellas are usually lighter than cantilever umbrellas. 

Cantilever umbrella: The base and pole of a cantilever umbrella are offset, bringing the canopy in from an angle. Cantilever umbrellas are heavier, bigger, and more expensive than traditional umbrellas. 

Crank lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by turning a crank handle. This mechanism is easier and smoother, but slower to use, than a push lift and could also break more easily. 

Push lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by pushing a button. The button is typically located at the top of the pole and may be difficult for some people to reach without the help of a chair. 

Sunbrella: An outdoor performance fabric made of solution-dyed acrylic (the UV-stabilized pigment is spun directly into the yarn). It’s frequently used in outdoor furniture products because it’s resistant to fading, abrasion, mold, mildew, stains, and water. It’s strong, easy to clean, and comfortable to the touch. 

Olefin: Also known as polypropylene. A strong and thick synthetic fiber used in many household products like carpeting. It’s good for outdoor use because it’s resistant to fading, water, mold, and mildew, but it may stain more easily than Sunbrella. 

Check out our other outdoor home guides

Breeo x series 24
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The 6 best body pillows we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Body pillows are designed to create extra support so you can sleep better throughout the night.
  • A body pillow can improve your sleep by providing more comfort and proper spinal alignment.
  • The Coop Home Goods Body Pillow is our top pick because its adjustable to suit a variety of needs.

For many of us, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be difficult. Sometimes it takes tossing and turning, wrestling with pillows, and conforming to uncomfortable postures. These constant sleep disturbances can be detrimental to our physical and mental wellbeing. Body pillows can provide extra support and comfort to enhance your sleep. They’re typically popular among pregnant women and those recovering after surgery or injuries. But anyone can benefit from snuggling with a body pillow.

As a certified sleep science consultant, I know the importance of getting a good night’s rest. I managed a sleep laboratory for over two years and have conducted a vast amount of research on sleep. I’ve tested products for SleepScore labs and presented my work at the Eastern Psychological Association. And one of my all-time favorite sleep products is my body pillow.

I interviewed two experts – sleep consultant Zeke Medina, PharmD and physical therapist Karen Litzy, DPT – and tested nine body pillows for this guide. I slept with each for seven nights and evaluated them on comfort, breathability, and support. You can read more about our methodology and things to consider when purchasing a body pillow here.

Here are the best body pillows in 2021

The best body pillow overall

Best body pillow 2021 Coop

The Coop Home Goods Body Pillow is soft, supportive, and perfect for any body type.

Pros: Comfortable, snuggly, and supportive; adjustable; removable cover is machine washable; 100-day trial period

Cons: Strong “new memory foam” odor can be overpowering and take days to completely fade, bulky

I’m obsessed with the Coop Home Goods Body Pillow; it checks all the boxes for better sleep. Like our pick for best bed pillow (also from Coop), this body pillow is fully adjustable; you can add or remove the shredded memory foam to suit your sleep style and personal preferences. It’s also features a removable pillowcase for easy washing.

The Coop is bulky, but just the right height for me; not too low and not too elevated. It conformed so well to my body right out of the box, so I didn’t have to remove any foam. It’s extremely flexible, moldable, and supportive — great for any body type. 

It’s also the softest, most snuggly pillow I’ve tested. I love cuddling with it and have continued to use it for months after testing because it’s really helped with my shoulder pain. It hasn’t flattened out at all, and I sleep so much better with the support it provides. It stays cool throughout the night because it’s made with super-breathable polyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayon.

Although a mild chemical odor is normal with memory foam pillows, the Coop had a very strong smell out of the box. The company recommends running it through the dryer with a dryer sheet for an hour to reduce the smell, which I did. While this helped, the odor didn’t completely disappear until a week later, though I do think it’s worth the wait. You can rest assured that this pillow is safe, hypoallergenic, and CertiPUR-US certified.

Read our full review of the Coop Home Goods Body Pillow here.

The best body pillow for side sleepers

Best body pillow 2021 Snuggle Pedic

The Snuggle-Pedic is the most comfortable body pillow for side sleepers. It’s flexible and doesn’t go flat after months of use.

Pros: Free pillow customizations within 120-night trial period, contours exceptionally well to the body, provides great support between the knees for side sleepers, very comfortable and soft  

Cons: Might be too large and heavy for smaller individuals

My parents sent me the Snuggle-Pedic last Christmas and I’ve been sleeping better with it since. It shipped in a small and compact vacuum-sealed package and expands when you remove it from the packaging and toss it in the dryer for 20 minutes, which is what the company recommends. It had a mild new foam odor that dissipated within a couple of days.

I like this pillow for side sleepers because it’s firm and bulky, and side sleepers typically need more support in their pillows than back and stomach sleepers. However, out of the box it was a bit too lofty for my petite frame (I’m 5’2″ and 126 pounds). I contacted the company to customize my pillow and it came back perfect. While many side sleepers will find the loft just right, it’s nice to know you have the option of getting a more custom fit to your body.

After a few nights of sleeping with the Snuggle-Pedic, I noticed reduced hip and neck strain. I also like the bamboo, breathable cover that kept me cool throughout the night. My Snuggle-Pedic body pillow has not gone flat after months of use; it’s still fluffy, soft, and supportive. 

The Snuggle-Pedic body pillow truly impressed me. As a side sleeper, it can be difficult to find a restful position because the hips, shoulder, and knees are often under a lot of pressure. This pillow provided me with perfect support in all the right places.

The best cooling body pillow

Best body pillow 2021 Zoma

If you tend to sleep hot, the Zoma Sleep Body Pillow can keep you cool and comfortable throughout the night.

Pros: Regulates temperature exceptionally well, comfortable 

Cons: Washing and drying is time-consuming, shorter length might not be good for taller people, no trial period

The Zoma Sleep Body Pillow is made with high-quality materials that kept me cool and comfortable throughout the night. The cover is made from a blend of stretchy, lightweight polyester and spandex. It’s filled with shredded gel memory foam intended to keep hot sleepers at a comfortable temperature. It’s a very well-made, high-quality body pillow that provides great support and breathability. 

It’s somewhat firmer than the Coop pillow but still provides great support and comfort. The 6-inch loft is helpful for side sleepers like me who need support between the knees. After a couple of nights sleeping with the Zoma, I noticed a positive impact on my posture and spinal alignment.

The Zoma Sleep is two inches shorter than our top pick, so it’s not possible to rest my head on it and have full leg support at the same time. I’m relatively short, so I could definitely see this being a more noticeable issue for taller folks who want a pillow that supports the whole body. That said, the smaller size could be a boon for those who sleep with a partner and don’t want to hog the whole bed. The cover is also not removable, which makes washing and drying the pillow a lengthy process. 

Despite the two missing inches and complicated washing process, the Zoma does provide excellent body support and absorbs heat well. For pregnant women, this pillow is firm enough to rest a growing belly on to relieve pressure on the shoulders and hips.

The best body pillow for back pain

Best body pillow 2021 Tempur Pedic

The Tempur-Pedic Body Pillow might just be the solution to reduce tossing and turning throughout the night.

Pros: Exceptionally supportive and versatile, removable and machine washable cover, firmness is great for heavier individuals

Cons: Firmer and heavier than the usual body pillow, might not be a good choice for smaller bodies, no trial period

This body pillow, made from Tempur-Pedic material developed by NASA, is engineered with shapeable micro-cushions that respond and adapt exceptionally well to the body. It’s designed for pregnant women and side-sleepers, but people with injuries, muscle tension, and back pain can also benefit from the sturdy support it provides. 

The tension relief that I experienced after sleeping with the Tempur-Pedic was incredible. I love this pillow’s versatility; I have used it to prop up my legs, relieve pressure on my lower hips, and stabilize my back when I’m sitting up. No matter how I use it, the pillow always returns to its original shape.

The Tempur-Pedic is much firmer than the other pillows I tested. While this is a great feature for larger individuals and people looking for extra support, it might not be as comfortable for smaller folks or people who prefer a softer pillow. The foam is dense and heavy, so moving it around in the middle of the night could be tiring for people recovering from injuries, though the added heft means it doesn’t fall off or move around the bed as easily.

The best body pillow for pregnancy

Best body pillow for pregnancy 2021 Moonlight

The Moonlight Comfort-U Full Body Pillow provides exceptional support and comfort from all sides, which makes it great for pregnancy.

Pros: Great support through all stages of pregnancy, flexible for daytime and nighttime lounging

Cons: Larger than most, will occupy a significant amount of space in your bed, no trial period

The Moonlight Comfort-U Full Body Pillow is the best pillow for pregnancy because it provides 360 degree support and great comfort. It’s filled with hypoallergenic synthetic down and made with non-toxic materials that go through extensive testing to ensure the safety of the baby and mother. This pillow is specifically engineered to help women sleep better throughout pregnancy. 

During her pregnancy, Medina’s wife used a U-shaped body pillow like this one that wrapped around her body. “For early pregnancy, she would put one side of the pillow between her legs to avoid her knees from being sore,” he said. “In her later trimester when her belly was larger, she would use the body pillow to support her back.” 

This pillow can help expectant mothers find the best position to sleep comfortably — it supports the back and baby bump simultaneously and helps you avoid laying on your belly. This support can alleviate body aches that pregnant women often experience. Many also find it useful after pregnancy for nursing. 

I love that it can be used in a variety of ways throughout the night and even during the day. However, it occupies half of my Queen-sized bed, so consider the size of your bed before purchasing. Additionally, washing this pillow was no easy task because of its size and it can take a long time to dry.  

That said, I love to wrap myself around the Moonlight Comfort-U, even if I’m not pregnant or sleeping. Since working from home, it’s helped me with my posture as back support and it can be a game-changer for expectant mothers.

The best versatile body pillow

Best body pillow 2021 Leachco

The Leachco Snoogle‘s C-shape design makes it versatile to use throughout the day and night, and may be especially comfortable for expecting mothers.

Pros: Multiple ways to align and use this pillow

Cons: Larger and firm, cover is not very soft, no trial period, short warranty

The Leachco Snoogle is the most versatile body pillow I tested. This “C-shaped” body pillow was designed by a registered nurse to create extra support for expectant mothers and provide proper spinal alignment. It features a sham-style removable cover that is machine washable and dryer safe. 

I love how versatile the pillow is; it wraps around my body nicely, supporting my entire back and stabilizing my sleeping position throughout the night. The shape can be swirled into a lounge pillow, and I’ve used it to prop up my legs, cocoon me as I read comfortably in bed, and even as a replacement for my bed pillow. For expectant mothers, this pillow will support you all around. 

That said, there are a few things to consider about this body pillow because, as versatile as it is, it might not be for everyone. First, the texture of the cover is rough and resting my face on it was uncomfortable. I also found it very difficult to remove and replace the cover for washing. Second, it’s quite firm and might not be a good option for those looking for a softer pillow. Finally, it’s large size takes up quite a lot of room in my bed. 

Although I didn’t love the Leachco Snoogle‘s texture and firmness, I love to wrap myself around it while I read, work on my laptop, or watch TV. It’s very supportive, and there are many ways to configure it. If you want to upgrade, Leachco also makes a variety of softer covers for this pillow.

What else we tested

Best body pillow 2021 what else

What else we recommend and why:

  • Oubonun Body Pillow: The Oubonun features a hidden zipper to adjust its hypoallergenic polyester fiber fill. It’s softer than most but provides sufficient support and won’t take up much space in your bed. One side is quilted, which is a nice detail. It even includes a pillow case as a bonus. I recommend this body pillow if you’re on a budget; it’s good value for the money.

What we don’t recommend and why:

  • PharMeDoc Full Body Pillow: I was excited to test this one out since it’s received many great reviews. However, the quality, shape, and comfort was not what I expected. It’s flat, flimsy and there was virtually no support. It’s uneven and lumpy in some parts. I can’t recommend this pillow because it didn’t improve my sleep.
  • Ikea Axfryle Body Pillow: This was an impulse buy from Ikea, but it just sits in a closet now after I used it for only a couple of days. It’s flat and poor quality with very little stuffing. 

Our testing methodology

Best body pillow 2021 methodology

To find the best body pillows, I did hands-on testing with nine different models, relied on my background in sleep research, and interviewed sleep expert Zeke Medina, PharmD and physical therapist Karen Litzy, DPT. As a sleep researcher and certified sleep science consultant, it’s important for me to review items that truly improve quality sleep. I paid close attention to how well I slept with each pillow, including how comfortable, breathable, and supportive they were. Here’s how I evaluated each pillow:

Setup: First, I wanted to know whether the body pillows emitted any chemical odors as soon as I opened the package. If there was an odor, I evaluated how long it took for any smells to dissipate. I also noted if the pillows were adjustable and if they included a removable and washable cover. 

Specs and components: I recorded each body pillow’s length, weight, firmness, and quality of materials. I also noted if they were hypoallergenic and researched if the pillows’ fills were CertiPUR-US certified or made without toxic materials. 

Sleeping: I slept with each body pillow for seven consecutive nights, taking note of how well I was able to fall asleep, how well I stayed asleep, and how I felt in the morning. I evaluated how comfortable and soft the materials were, whether I slept cool or hot, and how much support and tension relief I felt throughout the night and in the morning. 

Return policy: I looked at the return policy and warranty of each pillow. This is important, in case individuals are unsure it’s the right fit. “No single pillow is the answer for everybody,” says Medina, so it’s best to try out body pillows to figure out what works for you.  

Long-term use: Since original testing, I’ve continued to regularly use our top picks and will report back about their durability over time.

FAQs

What are the benefits of sleeping with a body pillow?

The benefits you get from a body pillow will depend on your individual needs and preferences, but here are some common reasons to consider a body pillow:

They relieve muscle tension: A body pillow can help sleepers ease muscle tension and stress throughout the night. “You can throw your leg over it to take the stress off your shoulder, hip, and knees,” says Medina. “You can also place the pillow between your legs to alleviate the pressure between the knees.” 

Litzy also said that many people end up using their body pillow throughout the day to find comfort and tension relief. “They can help position people while they’re sleeping and even while awake,” she said. “Body pillows can sometimes be more comfortable because you can manipulate them a little bit easier as opposed to having two to three regular pillows.” 

They can ease recovery from surgery or injury: Similar to the benefits listed above, body pillows can be useful for correctly positioning and offloading joints after surgery, and for people struggling with pain and discomfort.

“If you’re getting over an injury or surgery, a body pillow can be a way to make you more comfortable,” said Litzy. That extra support helps avoid body aches in the morning by relieving muscle tension in the hip joints, neck, and back. “One thing that we know that helps with recovery is sleep,” she said. A body pillow can help you get that much-needed rest.

They can increase oxytocin levels: A body pillow can also encourage relaxation after a long day. We know that hugging releases oxytocin, a neuropeptide known as the “cuddle hormone.” This hormone reduces stress and induces a sense of safety. Cuddling with a teddy bear can make a child feel safe and relaxed. Similarly, a body pillow can help adults wind down at bedtime to sleep soundly throughout the night. 

They can make sleeping more comfortable when you’re pregnant: If you’re pregnant, a body pillow can help support the baby bump. “Having 20 to 40 extra pounds in your midsection can cause all types of issues,” said Medina. “A body pillow can be positioned in a way that can support the back to relieve pressure.” Litzy said pregnant people typically find body pillows helpful for supporting their legs and elevating their bodies. 

They can reduce snoring: Individuals who snore or have sleep apnea can benefit from sleeping with a body pillow. It can be used to elevate the head and neck to reduce snoring. Body pillows can also be a way to reduce moving too much during the night to find a comfortable breathing position.


How to choose a body pillow

There are dozens of options on the market when it comes to body pillows. Choosing the right one depends entirely on your individual needs and preferences. Consider the following factors as you search for the perfect one:  

Bed size: Think about how much space you have on your bed. Some body pillows, like our top pick by Coop, can be quite large and end up taking up a lot of space. If you share a bed with someone, you might want to go for a smaller, lightweight body pillow like the Zoma. 

Body size: The same applies to weight, if you’re smaller you might prefer a body pillow that you can adjust, like the Coop Home. If you’re a heavier individual, a firmer body pillow like the Tempur-Pedic will provide you with the support you need. 

Materials: Be mindful of the materials and filling that manufacturers use, since you’ll be spending a lot of nights with the pillow. You’ll want to make sure your body pillow is hypoallergenic and made without the use of harmful chemicals. You can confirm the latter by checking if the memory foam is CertiPUR-US certified. Most of the pillows on this guide have received this certification. 

Care instructions: Some body pillows like the Coop and Tempur-Pedic come with a removable cover that can be washed. Others like the Snuggle-Pedic and Zoma don’t, and washing them can be time consuming. Like any regular pillow, it’s recommended to use a case with your body pillow that you can wash often.

Customization: You want to make sure that you’re getting the proper support and correct spinal alignment. What works for one person might not work for another. Consider your own needs, as well as factors such as your weight, height, and sleeping position. Our top-rated pillow is fully adjustable to fit a variety of different body types and sleep styles. 

Cooling: Breathability is a big factor to consider. “You don’t want to become overheated on the body pillow,” Medina said. “When the body raises its temperature, it provokes a wake response.” More awakenings throughout the night will result in low-quality sleep. A good body pillow will give you the support, comfort, and breathability that can improve how you sleep. Body pillows like the Zoma and Snuggle-Pedic are made with breathable materials that can keep you cool throughout the night. 

Return policy and warranty: It’s also important to have the option to exchange or return a body pillow if it doesn’t fit your needs. So, it’s always good to check the trial period and return policy in case you’re not satisfied with your purchase.

Check out our other bedding guides

best pillows 4x3
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The 5 best first aid kits of 2021 to keep at home or take with you on the go

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best first aid kits should have items like bandages, wraps, antibiotic ointment, and pain relievers.
  • It’s smart to routinely check your first aid kit to be sure nothing is expired, low on stock, or needs updating.
  • Our top pick, the First Aid Only First Aid Kit, is compact, carefully curated with essentials, and costs under $25.

As a frequent camper and hiker, I know that having a first aid kit isn’t only a good idea, it’s a necessity. When you’re a three-day hike from the nearest hospital, you’d better be able to count on your own supplies in the event of injury or illness – so long as those supplies cover the basics.

When buying your own kit, it should have at least some assortment of the following: Bandages, antiseptic wipes, medical tape, anti-itch cream, burn relief gels, gauze, and antibiotic ointment, among others. It’s also important to choose a first aid kit that best suits the people and the situations in which they’ll be used. If you need just a small first aid kit for your home, there’s no need to splurge on a larger, disaster preparedness-style kit.

It’s also smart to opt for pre-packed kits whenever possible, especially if you’re relatively new to buying first aid kits, or aren’t entirely sure what all it should have. Piecing together your own is an option but should only be done by those that are experienced, or who have someone experienced helping them.

To help you find the best pre-packaged first aid kits available, I tested a number of options designed for a variety of use cases. No matter if you’re on a budget or just want a small kit for your home office, I have you covered. I’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a first aid kit at the end of this guide.

Here are the best first aid kits:

The best overall

first aid only

The First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit comes with all the basic medical supplies you need for quick diagnostics and the treatments of many ailments. 

Pros: Compact but comprehensive, great low price, well organized

Cons: Limited shelf life, included tape is not as adhesive as it could be

The First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit packs 299 doctor-recommended supplies into a soft-sided case measuring just 9.25 by 7.5 inches on its sides and about three inches deep. It’s about the size of a hardcover book but within this kit, you will find the tools needed to assess and treat everything from a scraped finger and heavily bleeding gash to a mild headache or high fever.

This kit comes with comprehensive wound cleaning and closure supplies, including multiple butterfly strips, gauze rolls and pads, and several types of bandages, not to mention the various alcohol, antiseptic, and antibiotic wipes and ointments. It’s the perfect triage kit for a variety of common injuries.

The kit also comes with an array of supplies invaluable to the person administering first aid, such as sterile vinyl gloves, a single-use thermometer, tweezers, and nickel-plated scissors. For all that, it still costs less than a nice meal — and certainly less than a trip to the ER.

The plastic partition pockets keep everything well-sorted and easy to find in a snap, so you won’t be fumbling for the right gear when time is of the essence, either. 

WebMD suggests you should replace your first aid kit once a year and replace any missing or expired items. At its affordable cost, you could replace the entire kit once a year without breaking the bank, maintaining a nice peace of mind in your home or workplace.

The best budget

coleman first aid

The Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit costs less than a fancy cup of coffee but it helps treat all sorts of minor scrapes, scratches, bug bites, and more.

Pros: Very affordable, lightweight and compact, perfect for travel

Cons: Not at all comprehensive

If you need to treat a compound fracture, you’re probably going to need a more advanced medical kit than this option from Coleman. More often than not, the damage we endure is often along the lines of minor cuts and scrapes, burns and bites, and the occasional puncture wound. For those everyday injuries, the Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit is the ideal choice.

It costs so little that there’s really no excuse not to buy one, and given the diminutive size of this kit, you can (and should) bring one along whenever your travels might lead you away from ready access to medical treatment.

Into a charming little tin, Coleman packed several antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, sting relief wipes, and a total of sixteen bandages in five different size and shape varieties. There’s also a razor blade for cutting away clothing or trimming medical tape, as well as a pair of safety pins.

The best portable

VSSL

VSSL’s First Aid is the perfect portable kit that’s great for camping, backpacking, or even just keeping around in your car or office, and includes 15 unique items all stored in a waterproof, aluminum container.

Pros: Compact and highly portable, has 15 unique pieces and 46 total items, comes in an aluminum carrying tube that’s waterproof

Cons: Not a comprehensive enough kit for large groups

Ingenuity and convenience are the main calling cards of VSSL’s first aid kit called, aptly, First Aid. Featuring 15 different items (and 46 total essentials) in an aluminum, waterproof carrying case, the First Aid is a highly useful and portable kit that can go just about anywhere. It’s perfect for the campground and the backcountry but also functions well at the job site or in the office. 

As the photo above shows, the First Aid is a tube-shaped kit that has everything packed neatly inside. Contents include a flashlight, compass, variety of bandages, adventure tape, and Steri-Strips, to name a few. It also has some antiseptic towelettes, medical face masks, and antibiotic cream. 

The entire contents of the kit store into a sleeve that conveniently folds up to slide inside the tube. The sleeve itself features hooks on either side so that it can be hung up for easy access, too. 

At just 14 ounces in weight, the First Aid weighs less than a pound and can be easily stashed in a backpack, glove box of a car, or in a desk. As mentioned, the entire thing is waterproof, so you can rest assured nothing will get ruined if it gets submerged in water or you’re trying to use it in the pouring rain. 

I’ve had my own First Aid (and replaced it a few times) for the last several years, and never leave home on a camping or backpacking trip without it. It’s highly convenient, has enough first aid supplies to adequately support one to two people, and is useful in more ways than just administering first aid. — Rick Stella, fitness and health editor

The best for the office

be smart first aid

The Be Smart Get Prepared 250 Piece First Aid Kit is OSHA and ANSI compliant and covers the first aid needs of up to 50 people, making it perfect for the office.

Pros: Great choice for the workplace, comes with a selection of medicines, hard plastic shell protects components

Cons: Case is bulky and not water-resistant, latch is prone to failure

The Be Smart Get Prepared Kit is a large, comprehensive first aid kit designed to meet the needs of several dozen people. It’s a great choice for businesses, retail locations, schools, churches, and even for the home, though it’s not a good choice for travel due to its bulky hard case.

The case helps keep the components organized and protected but it’s not watertight or resistant to moisture or temperature fluctuations which can affect some of the components. Because of this, it should be stored in a temperate indoor environment.

The Be Smart Get Prepared 250 Piece First Aid Kit has all the wound care components you would expect, from alcohol prep pads and antiseptic towelettes to multiple bandages in varied sizes.

What sets this kit apart from the others in terms of suitability for use in the office or at a school are the medicines it comes with. You’d likely already have access to many of these medicines at home — like pain and anti-inflammatory tablets and antacids — but it’s not always a given at work, school, or at other such locations.

It also includes cold packs, another handy feature for use when ice might not be nearby.

The best for disaster prep

Lightning X first aid kit

If you’re cut off from emergency services following a natural disaster or in times of civil unrest, you’ll be glad you have the Lightning X First Responder First Aid Kit.

Pros: Comprehensive supplies, features advanced medical gear, comes with backpack

Cons: Pricier than other options, many components not needed for basic first aid

If you foresee a time where there won’t be anyone on the other end of a 9-1-1 call, or you just like to be prepared for anything, the Lightning X First Responder First Aid Kit is the way to go. This kit certainly borders on overkill for most households but it’s likely the last kit you’d ever need to buy (not counting the items that merit periodic replacement, like alcohol wipes).

Anyone in need of first aid or preparing to administer it will appreciate the many bandages, the rolls and pads of gauze, the antiseptic wipes, the ointments, the tapes, and more. Anyone with actual medical training will also like the included stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, airway kit, and other more advanced medical tools. In the right hands, this kit is essentially a mobile trauma center while also having all your basic and intermediate first aid needs covered.

This comprehensive first aid kit comes loaded in a lightweight, ergonomic backpack with padded straps and reflective stripes, allowing it to be easily taken on the go — it’s even comfortable to carry and highly visible. While it’s a great choice for a well-prepared home, this kit was designed for emergency response professionals to use in the field.

How to shop for a first aid kit

A reliable first aid kit isn’t exactly a mobile trauma center but it does provide the basic supplies you need to mitigate the ill effects of an accident, injury, or sudden illness. Remember, it’s first aid, not final, comprehensive aid.

When choosing a first aid kit, you need to think about who might depend on it (in terms of the sheer number of people and the age and disposition of the user), where it will be stored and/or carried, and in what situations the likely users might endure an injury or illness.

Any first aid kit worth considering should have supplies capable of treating minor cuts, punctures, burns, and other such common injuries. Beyond that, the suitability of a given kit depends on careful consideration of factors ranging from weight to packaging to redundancy of the supplies included.

Check out our guide to the best emergency kits

emergency preparedness supply kit shutterstock_222250729

The best emergency kits

An emergency kit is something you should have around, in case an unexpected dangerous event happens. You can make your own, or purchase a pre-assembled kit that has everything you may need. We’ve rounded up the best emergency kits you can find pre-assembled.

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The 5 best mattresses for side sleepers in 2021, according to our rigorous testing

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The ideal mattress for side sleepers isn’t too firm and provides good support and pressure relief.
  • We tested dozens of mattresses, and the Casper Nova Hybrid is our top pick for side sleepers.
  • Made with eco-friendly materials, it offers plush comfort, a cool feel, and good edge support.
  • If you’re looking for mattress picks for other sleep styles, check out our guide to the best mattresses.

According to the Better Sleep Council, nearly two-thirds of Americans prefer to sleep on their sides. If you’re a side sleeper, it’s crucial that you find a mattress that fits your style so that the eight plus hours you spend in bed enhance the 16 hours you spend out of it. While we have recommendations for all types of sleepers in our guide to the best mattresses, side sleepers make up such a large portion of the population that a dedicated buying guide was warranted.

Side sleepers typically benefit from mattresses that have an average firmness or a little bit softer. You’ll also want a bed that supports you while providing pressure relief, especially around the shoulders. Fortunately, manufacturers recognize that side sleepers make up a sizable portion of their customer base and design mattresses that cater to their unique needs.

For this guide, I tested more than two dozen mattresses and consulted with Rebecca Robbins, PhD, associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, MD, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida.

I have been testing mattresses professionally for four years. And, while a mattress’s suitability is subjective, I have developed several objective tests to determine which models are best for side sleepers. You can find details about how I test mattresses here. Unless noted otherwise, each mattress I tested was Queen size, which is the most popular mattress size. And, we list the Queen price for each of the mattresses in our guide.

I should note that I am a side sleeper but occasionally sleep on my stomach and my back. My wife mainly sleeps on her back. Between the two of us, we have all of the major sleeping styles covered. In addition to our top pick, we list other models we recommend, what we look forward to testing, and common FAQs and terms worth knowing at the end of the guide.

Here are the best mattresses for side sleepers in 2021

The best mattress for side sleepers overall

Best mattress for side sleepers 2021 casper nova hybrid

The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is ideal for side sleepers who are looking for plush comfort, excellent heat dissipation, and good edge support.

Pros: Plush comfort is ideal for side sleepers, made with eco-friendly materials, excellent heat dissipation, good edge support, 100-night risk-free trial  

Cons: Poor motion isolation, lingering new bed odor

After testing five of Casper’s best selling mattresses, my personal favorite is the Casper Nova Hybrid. It’s the softest of the company’s mattress line, and it did the best job of cradling my body and ensuring I didn’t wake up with aches and pains.

The environmentally-friendly construction of the Nova Hybrid is designed for pressure relieving comfort and breathability. The top foam layer features small perforations to help with airflow to keep you from overheating. It was effective at keeping me cool, even though I tested the bed in the summer.

The next foam layer features ergonomic zones that are firm around the lower back, waist, and hips but soft under the shoulders. Under that is another zoned support foam layer aimed at keeping your spine aligned, a must for side sleepers. Lastly, the base features individually-wrapped coils with a firm border for added edge support. The Nova Hybrid‘s edge support was good and ideal for those who share a bed with partners. 

The Nova Hybrid comes shrink-wrapped in a box. Once unwrapped, the mattress needed significant time to air out. I still caught whiffs of the “new bed smell” two or three days after unboxing. The mattress is somewhat hefty, but it comes with handles, which make it easy to move around.

Other than the odor, the biggest negative is the Casper Nova Hybrid has poor motion isolation, and I could clearly feel it when my wife or dog were moving around on the bed.

The best budget mattress for side sleepers

best budget mattress for side sleepers 2021 nest bedding flip

With its outstanding edge support, impressive heat dissipation, and sub-$800 price, the Nest Bedding Flip Hybrid Mattress is the best mattress for side sleepers on a budget.

Pros: Affordable, two levels of firmness to suit all sleeping styles, outstanding edge support, excellent heat dissipation, lifetime warranty, easy setup, made with CertiPUR-US certified foams

Cons: Heavy, poor motion isolation

The Nest Bedding Flip Hybrid Mattress gets its name from the different firmness levels on each side of the bed. One side is medium firm, which I found good for side sleeping. The other side of the reversible mattress is very firm — far too firm for side sleepers — so this review focuses on the medium firmness side.

The unboxing process was effortless and took about five minutes. However, the Flip Hybrid weighs close to 100 pounds and I needed help lifting it; though it fortunately doesn’t flop around much.

The pocket coil center of the Flip Hybrid is sandwiched by gel-infused support foam on the medium-firm side and high-density base foam on the firm side. All of the foams are CertiPUR-US certified. 

The Flip Hybrid is a smart solution if you’re looking for a mattress that quickly dissipates your body heat. It quickly removed the heat built up in bed when I got up, based on my temperature readings.

The mattress also had impressive edge support. When sitting on the side of the bed, I felt supported thanks to the minimal sinkage. And, laying on the edge felt comfortable. The motion isolation wasn’t as good, though. It failed the bowling ball test each time. However, the mattress does have some good bounce to it, and I found it was easy to shift from one side of my body to the other during the night.

The best mattress for side sleepers with back pain

best mattress for side sleepers with back pain 2021 leesa

The combination of pocket springs and memory foam make the Leesa Hybrid Mattress ideal for side sleepers with back pain, and the excellent edge support and motion isolation make it great for couples.

Pros: Made of CertiPUR-US certified foam and pocket springs for support and breathability,  motion isolation and edge support are ideal for couples, average firmness that will appeal to a broad range of sleepers 

Cons: Heavy and hard to move around

For about a year, the Leesa Hybrid was the main mattress I slept on when I wasn’t testing other models. During the time I slept on it, I rarely experienced back pain, which is impressive considering my history of chronic lower back pain that’s regularly aggravated by unsupportive mattresses. 

The mattress is made of pocket springs and four layers of CertiPUR-US certified foam. The top layer is cooling foam, which did its job; I stayed cool while testing, even when the heat was pushing my AC to its limits. 

The next layer is contouring memory foam that offers pressure relief where your body needs it most. And, the individually-wrapped coils are sandwiched between two core foam support layers. 

The Leesa Hybrid is an ideal option for couples for several reasons. First, the average firmness caters to all sleeping styles. Second, the bed has terrific motion isolation and did well in both my objective tests and my subjective experience. Lastly, with the coils going all the way to the peripheries of the mattress, the Leesa Hybrid has excellent edge support. 

The biggest negative is its weight. I risked aggravating my back and decided to unbox the 142-pound King mattress on my own. Even the Queen weighs 115 pounds, which is more than most mattresses. When it was time to replace the Leesa Hybrid, I relied on the white glove delivery people with their young backs to remove it for me.

Read our full Leesa Hybrid Mattress review

The best foam mattress for side sleepers

best foam mattress for side sleepers 2021 tempur pedic

The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress features contouring foam that cradles side sleepers of all body types while providing excellent heat dissipation and pressure relief.

Pros: Most comfortable mattress I’ve slept on, three layers of supportive and comforting  CertiPUR-US certified Tempur foam that caters to all sleeping types, outstanding motion isolation, great heat dissipation, easy to move around

Cons: No white-glove delivery, unimpressive edge support, shipping charge is deducted from your refund if you choose to return your bed 

For my body type and sleeping style, the Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress is the most comfortable mattress I’ve slept on. Each night on the Cloud, I fell asleep within a few minutes, and it kept me cool through the night. I didn’t want to give it up to test the next mattress.

While firmer mattresses aren’t generally recommended for side sleepers, the Tempur-Cloud bucks the norm thanks to the outstanding pressure relief provided by the company’s patented foam. The top layer features this CertiPUR-US certified foam designed to cushion your pressure points. The next layer, also Tempur material, is firmer and adapts more slowly to your body for additional pressure relief. Finally, the base foam layer offers support and durability. 

Setup was a snap thanks to the light weight of the mattress and the easy-to-maneuver duffel bag-like packaging. While it had a bit of an initial odor, it was gone by bedtime 10 hours later.

The Tempur-Pedic Cloud does a great job of dampening motion transfer. Not only did it pass our bowling ball test, but when my wife and dog moved around in the night, I didn’t notice. 

The Cloud isn’t perfect, though. The foam sinks significantly when you sit on the edges, and when I laid close to the edge, I felt like I was going to fall off. All-foam mattresses also aren’t for everyone, especially those that like some bounce to their mattress.

Finally, Tempur-Pedic’s policies leave something to be desired: it doesn’t offer white glove delivery for the Cloud, the company deducts $175 from your refund if you decide to return your mattress, and the 90-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty are the shortest of the beds in our guide.

Read our full Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress review

The best customizable mattress for side sleepers

best customizable mattress for side sleepers 2021 sleep number

The Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed is designed for couples with different comfort preferences thanks to the 20 firmness levels that are independently adjustable on each side. 

Pros: Automatic air adjustments based on sleeping position, built-in sleep tracker, white glove delivery included, good edge support, 20 firmness options make it ideal for all sleeping styles  

Cons: Poor heat dissipation, poor motion isolation, tough to move

What do you do if you and your partner have completely different firmness preferences or sleep styles? Get an adjustable airbed. The Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed is the best I’ve tested and has features you won’t find in other adjustable mattresses.

There are 20 firmness options, or “Sleep Numbers,” and each side is independently adjustable so you can have a softer experience (my Sleep Number is 35), while your partner might prefer something firmer (my back-sleeping wife prefers 80).

As someone who shifts from one side to the other with occasional pit stops on my stomach or back, I love the adjustable air option in the SleepIQ app (available for iOS and Android). When you activate this feature, the 360 i8 Smart Bed automatically adjusts the firmness as you shift positions to provide you with consistent comfort and pressure relief.

Another great feature of the app is sleep quality monitoring and recommendations. As it collects data about your habits, it gives personalized recommendations for how to improve your sleep. However, I found the SleepIQ app’s sleep data wasn’t as accurate as my Garmin Forerunner 945 smart watch, but Tempur-Pedic is constantly making tweaks to improve the app. I noticed minor improvements even during the month I tested the bed.

Sleep Number has its own team that comes into your home to set up your mattress and ensure it pairs with your phone. The white glove delivery took about 45 minutes.

While I never felt like I would fall off when lying on the edge of the bed, there was significant sinkage when I sat on the edge to put on my socks and shoes. Another negative is the motion isolation: it failed my bowling ball test on every firmness setting. 

What else we tested

best mattress for side sleepers 2021 what else we tested

We’ve tested dozens of mattresses over the years, and there are none that we outright don’t recommend. Every mattress we’ve tested could potentially be a good fit for the right individual. However, here are a few that missed the cut for our guide but that side sleepers might want to consider.

What else we recommend and why:

DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress ($1,399): We named this mattress the best overall pick in our guide to the best mattresses. So, why isn’t it a top pick in any of our side sleeper categories? The DreamCloud Premier just wasn’t as comfortable for side sleeping in my subjective opinion. If I had to rank it, it would be the fourth most comfortable mattress I’ve slept on behind the Tempur-Pedic Cloud, Leesa Hybrid, and Casper Nova Hybrid. But, when you take all factors into consideration — including the 365-night trial and lifetime warranty — this is an outstanding mattress worth your consideration.

Nectar Memory Foam ($1,198): The 365-night risk-free trial and lifetime warranty are obvious pros of this mattress. Additionally, it was easy to set up and move around, has great motion isolation and heat dissipation, and is constructed from CertiPUR-US certified foams. The Nectar mattress just wasn’t tops in any of our categories. Subjectively, I didn’t find it particularly comfortable, and the edge support was poor.

Bear Pro Mattress ($1,295): With its breathable Celliant cover and foam layers, the Bear Pro is terrific for a cool sleep. Setup was effortless, though the mattress experienced some damage in transit. The bed has impressive motion isolation. However, the edge support was poor, and while it’s comfortable, it wasn’t noteworthy enough to earn a top spot in any of our categories. Read our full review.

Saatva Solaire Adjustable Mattress ($2,595): If our customization pick isn’t available or you just don’t want a Sleep Number mattress, the Solaire is an excellent option. It has 50 firmness options, comes with white glove delivery, and has better edge support than the Sleep Number. It’s the mattress my teenager sleeps on. I prefer the Sleep Number, though, because of the automatic adjustable air feature and sleep monitoring. Read our full review.

Birch Mattress by Helix ($1,299): If we had a best latex mattress for side sleepers category, the Birch Mattress would be our pick, provided you spring for the plush mattress topper add-on ($450). The eco-friendly latex is responsive, offering nice bounce and easy mobility on the bed while still dampening motion transfer. The biggest negatives are that the topper doesn’t attach to the mattress and is slightly smaller than the bed.

Bear Mattress ($796): In a previous version of this guide, the Bear Mattress was the pick for athletes because of its Celliant technology, which is supposed to aid in faster recovery and better temperature regulation. That may be so, but we removed the category because we didn’t find it as useful as our current categories. Also, after testing the Bear firsthand, I found it was too firm for side sleeping. We look forward to testing the Bear Hybrid, which is softer.

Purple Hybrid Premier Mattress ($2,099): If you tend to overheat at night, we strongly recommend considering the Purple Hybrid Premier. It has excellent heat dissipation, comes with free white glove delivery, and the patented Purple grid offers outstanding pressure relief. The biggest negatives are it weighs 145 pounds (so don’t plan on moving it) and that it failed our motion isolation tests.

Nectar Lush Mattress ($1,499): On the other hand, if you get cold at night, the Nectar Lush may be more to your liking. Made of all CertiPUR-US certified foam, this bed held onto heat more than any other mattress we tested. It also comes with a 365-night risk-free trial and a lifetime warranty. 

For a full listing of the mattresses we’ve tested, check out our guide to the best mattresses.

Testing methodology

best mattress for side sleepers 2021 methodology
We used an infrared thermometer to evaluate heat retention and dissipation.

I personally tested all of the mattresses featured in this guide. In addition to sleeping on each mattress for at least two weeks, I put each through a series of objective tests. The most important factors to consider when testing a mattress are comfort, edge support, and motion isolation.

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Comfort: This is based on my subjective experience having tested dozens of mattresses over the years. Side sleepers typically benefit from a softer mattress than other sleeping styles. I took that into consideration when evaluating comfort for this guide. Fortunately, I’m a side sleeper myself, so my subjective comfort played a big factor here. While sleeping on each mattress, I pay close attention to how firm it is, which sleeping positions my wife and I gravitate to, and if I wake up in the morning feeling refreshed or in pain. I also measure how well it dissipates heat by using a laser thermometer to compare readings before I lay down for at least an hour, as soon as I get up, and two minutes after I get up. 

Motion isolation: If you’ve ever shared a bed with a partner who tosses and turns, you know how important motion isolation is to getting a good night’s sleep. I test this by setting a can of soda pop in the middle of the mattress. Then, I drop a 15-pound bowling ball from four feet above the bed so that it lands 12 inches from the can. If the can stays upright, the bed has good motion isolation. If the can falls over, the motion isolation could use some work. In future updates to this guide, watch out for more detailed assessments using a vibration meter.

Edge support: Edge support is important for feeling comfortable and supported on all parts of the bed. While we are developing an objective test to roll out in future updates to this guide, we currently use a helpful quasi-subjective test. First, I note how much the edge sags as I sit on it to put on my socks and shoes. Secondly, I lay on the very edge of the bed and slowly — and literally — roll off. If I can get to a 45-degree angle without falling, then the edge support is great. Otherwise, it could use some work.

Portability: I look at how heavy the mattress is, if it has handles, and if it flops around when I try to move or rotate it. Also, as a mattress tester who is constantly setting up and rearranging mattresses, I move the mattress and rotate it several times throughout the time it’s in my possession. My chronic lower back pain serves as a useful meter for how much effort I’m putting in, though we also look at objective measures like weight. 

Trial and warranty: The most foolproof way to know if a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it for an extended period, so a long trial is a must. I look at how long the trial is (100 nights was the median of the mattresses I tested) and if there are hidden costs. And, since a mattress is such a big-ticket item that should last you up to a decade, I look at the warranty length (20 years was the median of the mattresses I tested).

Setup: Unless a mattress comes with free white glove delivery, I set up each mattress by myself. I note how long it takes, how difficult it is, if it comes with special instructions and tools, if there’s an initial odor, and if the odor dissipates and the mattress expands by bedtime (always at least 10 hours after setup). I also note whether white glove delivery is available for a fee.

What we look forward to testing

We’re constantly testing new mattresses and re-testing our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re currently testing and considering for inclusion in this guide:

Olaf by Mellow ($446.80): Our coverage of budget mattresses is admittedly limited. We are testing the Olaf by Mellow to help rectify that, though we don’t think a mattress is something you should scrimp on. 

The Botanical Bliss by PlushBeds ($3,499): This PlushBeds mattress is made of GOLS certified organic latex, a material that we like for its ecofriendliness and balance of support and responsiveness to the contours of one’s body.

Leesa Original ($949): This is perhaps the most popular online mattress that I haven’t tested yet. I’ve found that Leesa makes very comfortable mattresses for side sleepers, so I’m considering this mattress for potential inclusion in this guide.

Bear Hybrid ($1,356): We recommend two Bear mattresses and are excited to test this because it’s Bear’s softest mattress, which suggests it might be good for side sleeping.

Helix Midnight ($999): This mattress appeared in a previous iteration of this guide, but I have yet to test it personally. We look forward to rectifying that and seeing if it lives up to the hype.

FAQs

Best mattress for side sleepers 2021 FAQs

What should side sleepers look for in a mattress?

Dr. Rebecca Robbins, PhD, associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, recommends shopping around before choosing a mattress and trying in person if you can. “The most important thing when it comes to buying a mattress is making sure that you can lie down on the mattress,” said Robbins. “The ability to lie down on it is key because then you can see if the mattress will support you. You won’t know until you try. So trying is key.”

Unfortunately, many folks still feel unsafe visiting showrooms and many remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, our mattress picks come with sleep trials of at least 90 nights. So, if you find the bed isn’t right for your sleeping style, you can return it.

Robbins warned about the environmental implications of this policy, though. “It is nice, of course, to be able to return the mattress if it’s not suiting your personal preferences,” she said. “But, some of the mattresses will unfortunately go into a landfill after they’re returned, which is a little bit hard on the environment, but it is good to have the ability to return the direct-to-consumer options.”


What firmness is best for side sleepers?

Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida, recommends mattresses that are not too firm. “Vast research exists to support side sleepers benefit from medium-firm mattresses to support pressure point relief,” said Peña-Hernández. 

Robbins agreed, “You are trying to support your spinal column as your body is on its side. So you want to think about something that’s not going to be super firm,” she said. “So, a rock-hard mattress isn’t going to be ideal for a side sleeper. If you imagine the body, all of its curves, as a side sleeper, your hips, your spinal column, your cervical spine, all of those points ideally need a little bit of support. So, if you have something that’s more cushiony supportive but has a little bit of a plush top, that might be a better option for a side sleeper.”

Only one of our picks is firmer than average, the Tempur-Pedic Cloud, but I found the mattress’ foam did an excellent job of contouring to my side-sleeping body and offering pressure relief, support, and spinal alignment.


What if I’m a side sleeper and my partner is not?

“There are mattress pads you can get if you have a mattress and one partner is not particularly comfortable and the other is,” said Robbins. “It is one stopgap measure if you’re not in the market for a new mattress.”

However, she added, “There’s actually a huge proportion of couples that sleep apart. If you think about it, it’s nice to have some time to cuddle before bedtime, but when you’re asleep, you’re not going to be able to spend quality time with your spouse. So, if it means sleeping in different bedrooms, either because one partner snores or one partner isn’t happy with the mattress, then that’s absolutely okay. Furthermore, a good night’s rest will allow you to be a better partner to that person you share your life with. So, prioritizing sleep is really critical for couples.”

If separate beds or bedrooms seems too extreme for you, we suggest an adjustable air bed that allows you to independently customize the firmness of each side of the bed. Our top pick for customization in this guide and our best mattress guide is the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed, which has 20 firmness options. 

For more answers to your mattress questions, check out our guide to the best mattresses.

Glossary

CertiPUR-US certified: CertiPUR-US is a not-for-profit certification program that evaluates the foams used in consumer products to ensure they are made without phthalates, formaldehyde, heavy metals, hazardous flame retardants, ozone depleters, and other harmful substances. Each foam must also emit less than 0.5 parts per million of volatile organic compounds to earn certification.

Edge support: Edge support is important if you like to sit on the side of your bed or tend to gravitate to the edges when sleeping. The term refers to how supportive a mattress is to its very periphery. Some mattresses will sag significantly as you get to the edge. We say these models have poor edge support. 

Hybrid: When referring to mattresses, a hybrid is one that has coils and another material, typically foam or latex. Hybrid mattresses are a lot like traditional innerspring mattresses, and “hybrid” and “innerspring” are often used interchangeably. We think the line between the two mattress types is so blurred these days that there isn’t much value in differentiating between them.

Motion isolation/motion transfer: These terms are two sides of the same coin. Motion isolation refers to the mattress’s ability to keep movement on one part of the bed from disturbing other parts of the bed. So, if your partner gets up in the night, you aren’t jostled. A bed with good motion isolation will have minimal motion transfer. A mattress with awful motion isolation will have easily noticeable motion transfer.

Check out more mattress guides

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The 4 best fans we tested in 2021

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  • The right fan can boost the comfort level of your living space.
  • Vornado’s 660 is our favorite fan overall for most spaces.
  • It’s small, quiet, and has four distinct settings for everything from a gentle breeze to a blast of wind.

Fans are great for in-between weather and shoulder seasons when you’re not quite ready to lug out the air conditioner.

Even in the dog days of summer, the right fan, or the right system of fans, will eliminate hot spots and help you save big on your electricity bill, relatively speaking.

We tested several types of fans, measuring everything from average wind speed and electricity consumption to decibels. We also spoke with Duncan Freake, a mechanical engineer at Epam Continuum, to learn what, if anything, has changed about fans in recent years (or decades). Spoiler: they have become quieter, safer, more energy-efficient, and more effective, thanks to overlapping blades and bladeless designs with built-in HEPA air purifiers.

Here are the best electric fans in 2021

The best fan overall

The best fan overall Vornado 660

The variation in speed, five-year warranty, and convenient size make the Vornado 660 the best fan for most spaces.

Pros: Small, quiet, lots of speed variation, smooth 90-degree tilt mechanism

Cons: We wish it came with a remote, a bit large to put on a desk

When you take price, wind speed, energy efficiency, and noise into account, Vornado’s 660 Whole Room Air Circulator is the electric fan that fits the widest range of needs and living spaces. 

Its comprehensive variation in wind speed is what really sets the Vornado apart from the competition. From a light, cool breath of air to an absolute calamity, the Vornado 660 can offer relief from everything from mild discomfort to, say, a bad spill or even a flood. Because of its high velocity, it is the fan I turned to after a recent roof leak, and I’ve also used it to dry wet bicycles after a day in the rain. 

Admittedly, it gets a little loud at top speed, but you probably won’t find yourself sitting too close to it at that level, and it’s not outrageous; its noise level is on par with that of any high-powered blade fan.

On the other hand, you can barely hear it running when it’s at its lowest setting, which offers just enough air for a small room.

The relatively long six-foot power cord is also appreciated, as it allows you to reposition the fan as needed. 

Considering the Vornado’s size and might, we think a couple of these fans would address most anyone’s needs, and storing them is completely manageable.

The best budget fan

Genesis best fan 2021

Genesis’ Max Cool 20″ Box Fan is a great budget option because it moves a lot of air and doesn’t take up much space.

Pros: Easy-to-use design, more child-safe than some other options we tested

Cons: Loud, dial could be better marked (but there are only three settings)

A box fan stirs up a lot of air and can be stored easily, while other types of fans may fall short when it comes to output or stowability. Box fans also tend to be more affordable, and while Genesis’ 20-inch option isn’t the cheapest out there, it’s steady, sturdy, and powerful.

It’s also relatively loud, though, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for something a little more discreet.

We especially like box fans for home-improvement projects that require drying out a room, and they’re great for keeping mosquitoes at bay outdoors.

The Genesis is one of the prettier models we’ve encountered, and thanks to the location of the speed setting knob, it doesn’t have any awkward parts sticking out to prevent it from being stashed away in the attic. It’ll get you through anything a pricier fan will, but, again, it can be a little too noisy, and you may want to invest in something quieter, like Dyson’s Pure Cool TP04, which also comes with a built-in HEPA air purifier (though it’s quite pricey).

The best tower fan

The best tower fan Genesis

The Genesis Powerful 43″ Tower Fan offers 18 settings and a sleep timer, as well as the lowest noise levels and the best energy efficiency of any large fan we tested.

Pros: Quiet, easy to use, lots of settings, highly efficient

Cons: Takes up a lot of space, tower fans aren’t terribly durable

Tower fans are efficient, often remote-controlled, and covert enough that apart from a relatively subtle drone, you’ll hardly even notice they’re there. Of the tower fans we tested, the Genesis Powerful 43-inch performed best across the board. It’s quiet, offers 18 settings, comes with a programmable timer, and so far, oscillates without any trouble.

We should note that tower fans do have their drawbacks. They tend to break after a few years, or as soon as they’re mishandled. They are also notoriously difficult to clean. This one requires a couple of nuts and bolts to be removed.

That being said, tower fans tuck away neatly in corners and closets, they’re typically quiet, and they usually come with programmable timers and remotes, which are great features for those who don’t want to sleep with the fan running (or get up to adjust the settings).

I can sleep easily with the Genesis, thanks to its “natural” and “wind” modes, which are soft and softer, respectively. I find the natural mode to work best at night because it’s barely audible and it doesn’t wake me with a chill, even with the fan placed at the foot of the bed.

The best tabletop fan

The best table top fan genesis

The most practical and effective fan for small spaces and desktops, Genesis’ 6-inch Clip Convertible Table Fan is quiet, adjustable, and moves plenty of air for one or two people.

Pros: Compact, powerful, convertible between clip-on and stand

Cons: Kind of loud, can be too strong if positioned closely

Clip-on fans are ideal for table tops, largely because they’re a lot less likely to meet their demise by getting knocked to the ground. The Genesis Convertible Table-Top and Clip Fan offers both a clip and stand (easily switched out with a screw and nut), so you can place it wherever and however you like. This comes in handy on desks and in smaller rooms where space is a precious commodity.

We like this fan because it is sturdy, doesn’t have an overly ambitious oscillating mechanism (but does rotate manually, and clicks firmly into place), and it is easy on the electricity bill.

The only real downside is that it does run on the loud side for a small fan (even at the lower setting), but it’s still not as loud as most larger fans. Otherwise, it’s great for just about anywhere you might place it within a small room; about three feet of distance is more or less appropriate, though we still easily enjoyed the relief it offered at six feet.

What else we tested

What else we recommend and why:

Genesis Twin Window Fan: This fan works perfectly well and will likely fit in most windows, (you can also install it vertically), but we prefer using a smaller model like the Genesis 6-inch Clip Convertible Table-Top as a window fan because you can angle it. 

Honeywell TurboForce Tower Fan: We’ve recommended this fan in the past, but it’s relatively loud, and we’ve since found quieter tower fans. Still, we like the design, and it’s powerful, so if you’re looking for a tower fan for a particularly large room, it’s worth considering. 

Lasko Wind Curve: We’ve never had any trouble with Lasko’s fans (and we’ve tested a number of them). This one works perfectly well, and if you want to save a few bucks, it will certainly suffice in the place of our tower fan recommendation, but it doesn’t offer quite as much in the way of settings and programming.

Rowenta Turbo Silence Oscillating Fan: We’ve recommended this fan in the past, but considering the price, we bumped it out for more efficient, technologically advanced options.

Our methodology

Our Methodology best fans

We tested seven fans side-by-side for two weeks, to determine which ones offered the best combination of airflow, speed, and energy efficiency. We also spoke with Duncan Freake, a mechanical engineer at Epam Continuum, who likes taking apart home appliances in his spare time, about qualities to look for in a fan.

Here’s what we looked for in our top picks:

Ease of use: Most fans are fairly easy to use, but the convenience of visible controls and/or a remote made a big difference.

Durability: More features often mean more problems, and while we still recommend oscillating fans (like our tower fan pick), they’re not the sturdiest. 

Power: We measured airflow in feet per second using a wind meter at six feet away to determine the average wind speed coming off of each fan.

Energy consumption: We used a basic digital energy consumption meter to measure fans’ consumption at their lowest and highest speeds.

Volume: We used a decibel meter to measure how loud fans were at their lowest and highest settings.

What we’re testing next

Dyson Pure Cool TP04: This fan is so popular at the moment that we couldn’t even get our hands on it for this round of testing, so we left it out for now. It’s bladeless, and comes with a built-in HEPA air purifier. It’s on the pricey side, but it’s supposed to offer some of the best airflow with almost no noise. We’ll report on our findings once we’ve tested it in the coming months.

Holmes Lil Blizzard: An oscillating table fan, this might be a contender for our table-top pick, but we’re wary of oscillating fans in general, let alone more budget-friendly ones. Still, it’s a favorite around the web, and we reckon that’s for a reason, so we’ll be giving it a go soon too.

Check out our other heating and cooling guides

Best air conditioner 2021 FAQs
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The 5 best odor eliminators to spring clean your home in 2021, with guidance from the American Cleaning Institute

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A quality odor eliminator will remove or cover up odors while freshening up your space.
  • We spoke with an expert from the American Cleaning Institute to best explain how they work.
  • Hamilton Beach is our top pick because it uses three carbon filters to eliminate odors.

Whether you’re cooking up a new concoction in your kitchen, pet-sitting your neighbor’s dog, or stumbled upon stinky gym shoes left behind, household odors are inevitable. To combat these unpleasant aromas from circulating, an odor eliminator will work wonders to remove wonky smells.

Malodors come from a variety of sources including bacteria (spoiled food and body odor), fungus (mold and mildew), and volatile organic compounds or VOCs (paint fumes).

While scented cleaning sprays may mask smells, Brian Sansoni, SVP of communication at the American Cleaning Institute, said that if you really want to remove an odor from your home, you have to eliminate the bacteria or germs at the source.

“Fragrances that cover an odor might be used alongside an odor absorber or a product that kills odor-causing bacteria,” he said.

Sansoni said that odor-eliminating sprays use chemical compounds like cyclodextrins to trap odor molecules, but you can also use baking soda to absorb odors. Odor eliminators are safe to use on upholstery, curtains, and carpets to neutralize any smells, while surface cleaners with antimicrobial ingredients will help to kill odor-causing bacteria. Be sure to check your product label to ensure it’s recommended on certain surfaces.

Here are the best odor eliminators of 2021

The best overall

Hamilton Beach odor remover

The Hamilton Beach TrueAir Room Odor Eliminator will automatically neutralize odors in a room for up to three months and comes with replaceable filters.

Pros: Continuous odor elimination, can be used with or without fragrance filter, low wattage, quiet, covers 100 square feet, replaceable filters

Cons: Replacement filters not readily available in all mass-market stores

The Hamilton Beach TrueAir Room Odor Eliminator is only a small 8-inch cube, but it’s a mighty tool for removing odors. Simply plug it in and the TrueAir fan pulls in air, pushes it through three carbon filters, and traps dust and malodors to leave your room smelling fresh. There are two settings and I keep it on low, which makes very little noise. You can increase the speed to tackle tougher smells — like tobacco smoke or pet odors — too.

The product claims to cover a 10-by-10-square-foot room for three months. After that, the filters should be replaced. Changing the filters is very simple and if you don’t use them all the time, the filters are effective for more than three months. It also comes with a fragrance cartridge, Green Meadow, that you can use or skip. 

I’ve been using the device for several months and my home is less dusty and smells fresh. It’s powerful, effective, and you can store it in a closet when it’s not in use for easy storage.

Best for pet odors

Anti Icky Poo odor remover

If you want to keep the pet but not the smells, Mister Max Anti-Icky-Poo is your best bet.

Pros: Eliminates tough pet odors, environmentally safe to use around humans and pets, 100% money-back guarantee

Cons: Doesn’t remove visible stains, not readily available in most mass-market stores.

Pets have accidents but even if you thoroughly clean after them, the odor often lingers in the carpet, upholstery, tile grout, and hardwood floors. And once the animal catches a whiff of that spot, it will return to the scene of the crime. Enter Mister Max Anti-Icky-Poo — the cleaning agent that will have your home smelling fresh and void of lingering pet smells.

I have a precious rescue pup that tends to urinate when startled or when she feels threatened. When accidents happen, I simply grab Mister Max and give the area a good spray. Live bacteria and enzymes in the formula destroy the odor molecules, so there is no residual stench remaining.

Safe to use on all types of floors (it even penetrates concrete), carpets, and fabrics, the nontoxic Mister Max comes in a light scent or an unscented formula, and features a 100% satisfaction guarantee if it’s not up to par for your household.

Best for carpets

Arm and Hammer odor remover

Arm & Hammer’s Extra Strength Carpet Odor Eliminator only takes a light sprinkle and a good vacuum to freshen up your room. 

Pros: Eliminates odor from carpet and upholstery, contains baking soda to fight tough stains 

Cons: Scent can be overpowering if too much is used

Soft surfaces like carpets, area rugs, and upholstery are magnets for odor molecules. The fibers grab hold of the molecules and simply won’t let them go. This is particularly true for natural fibers like wool that are barbed, and synthetic fibers made from petroleum products that like to hold onto greasy molecules.

To get the most benefit from this product, I sprinkle a very light dusting of Arm & Hammer’s Extra Strength Carpet Odor Eliminator and then use a slightly damp sponge mop to work it into the carpet fibers (use a damp sponge when cleaning upholstery) and then step away for an hour or so. When I come back and give the area a good vacuuming, it’s amazing to see how much soil is trapped in the powder.

Best for small spaces

Moso natural odor remover

When your closet, car, or even the inside of your sneakers is less than fresh, toss in a Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag to effectively absorb odors.

Pros: Nontoxic, natural product containing no petroleum-based chemicals, available in a variety of colors and sizes, reusable for two years

Cons: Doesn’t remove odors immediately, takes several hours for effects to kick in

Small spaces packed with lots of clothes, shoes, or linens can begin to smell stale, and the last thing you need is another strong scent layered on top. Luckily, the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag contains 200 grams of bamboo charcoal to absorb odors, hassle-free.

Moso bags come in several sizes to fit any space and will last up to two years. They can be “recharged” by placing them in the sun for one hour per month. This helps remove the moisture that has accumulated in the charcoal. Since this is a natural product, after two years the charcoal can be composted for the garden, making it a sustainable product to have on hand.

I love that the bags come in several colors and I use them to freshen clothes and linens in every closet, in the laundry room near the dog’s crate, and in my car to keep it fresh.

Best air freshener

Renuzit odor removers

Renuzit Snuggle Super Fresh Air Freshener provides continuous odor elimination, thanks to its long-lasting gel formula.

Pros: Biodegradable gel, no batteries needed, scent level is adjustable

Cons: None

There are dozens of air fresheners in the market, and they’re available in various forms — from sprays and oil diffusers to plug-ins and gels. The problem with almost all of them is that they only add fragrance to the air and don’t eliminate odor. For an air freshener that actually gets rid of odors, I use the Renuzit Snuggle Super Fresh Air Freshener

The science is similar to that in fabric refresher sprays, where offensive odor molecules are trapped by ring-shaped cyclodextrin molecules (imperceptible to the human nose). The 98% biodegradable gel in the formula traps malodor molecules and eliminates odors.

Housed in a contemporary-looking container, the air freshener can be opened as much or as little as you’d like to release the Snuggle fragrance. There’s no need for batteries or an outlet, either. I’ve been using this gel for many months and the bathroom still smells fresh and clean even when it has had plenty of traffic. 

Our testing methodology

I have more than 40 years of experience testing cleaning products. Our picks are based on hands-on testing and use. We also interviewed Brian Sansoni, SVP of communication at the American Cleaning Institute, on what to look for in an odor eliminator.

In making our picks, we looked at the following criteria:

  • Efficacy: We looked at how well each odor eliminator removed odors from household areas. This involves how quickly the scent was removed, how long it took to make the living area smell great, and if it was consistent over time.
  • Ease of use: We looked at how easy each machine, spray, or stationary product was to use.
  • Good value: We looked at how closely efficacy and ease of use corresponded to price. While price wasn’t the primary consideration, we found that you don’t have to spend a lot to get good performance. 

Check out our other cleaning guides

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The best Google Assistant-enabled products

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  • Hundreds of smart home devices are compatible with Google’s voice assistant, Google Assistant.
  • You can control these devices with voice commands or automated routines in the Google Home app.
  • Look for the “Works with Google Assistant” logo to find devices certified by Google.

A voice-controlled smart home lets you turn on lights, adjust the thermostat, and more with a few simple commands. Google Assistant has consistently led the smart-home field in terms of voice recognition, depth of features, and regular updates. It’s a natural choice for Android phone owners and anyone who uses a lot of Google services.

Some smart-home devices have Google Assistant built-in. Others require a separate device, like a phone or a smart speaker. The Google Home app offers deeper control, with the option to set up routines that can be automated or triggered by specific phrases.

This guide to the best Google Assistant-enabled devices is based on extensive testing, supported by in-depth research of reputable reviews covering trusted brands. All come highly recommended and work seamlessly with Google Assistant.

Here are the best Google Home devices you can buy:

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart display

The Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) can measure your sleep quality.

Compact and clever, the Google Nest Hub is a great control center for any Google Assistant-led smart home.

The affordable Google Nest Hub is a versatile smart display that fits neatly into any home. It has a 7-inch touchscreen and a speaker that’s powerful enough to fill most rooms. It can display your calendar or a weather report, stream movies or TV shows, and play music or podcasts. If you use Google Photos, it doubles as a digital photo frame. It also works well as a simple control hub for smart-home devices, offering touch controls and live camera feeds. 

The second-generation Nest Hub has ultrasound technology built-in so that it can sense your presence and respond to gesture controls. This means you can wave to stop a morning alarm or to skip a music track, for example. If you use it as a bedside display, then it can sense and analyze your movement and breathing during the night, though our reviewer found it can’t replace a wearable sleep tracker. 

With Google Assistant built in, you can ask the Nest Hub to provide recipes, read the latest news, or give you a breakdown of your day. There are three far-field microphones to pick up any voice commands or questions you have for Google Assistant. There’s a mic-off switch for when you want privacy. Any linked smart-home devices added via the Google Home app can be controlled on the touchscreen or with voice commands.

The Google Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera, which is good from a privacy point of view, but means you can’t use it for video calls. The screen also has a relatively low resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels, so it’s not the best device for watching movies. 

Read our full second-generation Nest Hub review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart speaker

Nest Audio

Featuring a new design and improved audio quality, the Google Nest Audio has a highly responsive Google Assistant inside.

While Google’s smart speakers have always been smart, you could argue that the design and audio quality have lagged behind the best smart speakers. That changed with the Nest Audio, which is 75 percent louder than the original Google Home speaker and offers much deeper bass. There’s also a new rounded rectangular shape with a choice of cloth finishes that blend in nicely with any décor. 

Google Assistant is ready and waiting for your music or podcast selections. You can also set timers, check your calendar, or issue smart-home commands to any devices linked to your Google Home app. The Nest Audio packs three far-field microphones to ensure Google Assistant always picks up your voice, and there’s a switch on the back that allows you to turn the microphone off when you want privacy.

If sound quality is your top priority, something like the Sonos One may be a better pick, but it is far more expensive. The Nest Audio also lacks a few extras that Amazon’s latest Echo offers, such as a 3.5mm port or smart-hub connectivity. Ultimately, the Nest Audio is a solid smart speaker offering good sound, and there’s nothing better for Google Assistant access. 

Read our full Google Nest Audio review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible streaming stick

Chromecast with remote 2

With app support and a remote that supports voice controls, the Chromecast streaming stick serves up 4K and HDR content.

The Google Chromecast fits into an HDMI port on your TV and allows you to stream all sorts of content in up to 4K resolution. It also supports other high-dynamic-range formats, including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. You can install apps for streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video. It’s also ideal for YouTube TV subscribers and offers easy access to your Google Play library. 

A compact remote control makes navigation easy and features a dedicated Google Assistant button to help you find content. You can search by genre, actor, mood, and more. You can also ask Google Assistant questions, get the latest weather, or bring up a live feed of any security cameras you have added in the Google Home app.

While it does support a wide selection of streaming services, 4K HDR support is currently missing from a few of them and there’s no Apple TV app. We also ran into a few minor glitches in our testing, but this is Google’s best Chromecast yet and your best bet if you want a streaming stick with Google Assistant built in.

Read our Google Chromecast with Google TV review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible light bulbs

Philips hue

The reliable Philips Hue range has some of the smartest lighting around and works seamlessly with Google Assistant.

There are plenty of good reasons that the Philips Hue range tops our smart-lighting guides. Its bulbs, strips, and fixtures support all kinds of colors, adjustable color temperature, and easy dimming via the Philips Hue app. There’s a wide choice of scenes, which serve as shortcuts to the mood you want to achieve, whether you’re relaxing in front of the TV or throwing a party. 

Using Google Assistant voice commands, you can turn lights on or off; select specific scenes; and change the brightness, color, or color temperature. If you set up a routine in the Home app, then you can say “Hey, Google, Good Morning” and have specific Hue lights turn on. You can also have lights turn on or off automatically based on who is at home.

The Bluetooth and hub-connected Philips Hue lights work with Google Assistant, but the Bluetooth bulbs are often slower to respond and support fewer voice commands. The main drawback to Philips Hue lighting is the relatively high price. We recommend the Philips Hue Starter Kits, which come with two or three bulbs and the Hue Bridge.

Read our Philips Hue Smart Lights review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible thermostat

Nest

The Nest Learning Thermostat learns over time to keep the temperature just the way you like it.

The big selling point of the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is its ability to learn about your behaviors and routines. It can balance your temperature preferences with the need to save energy wherever possible. The app is excellent and very easy to use. There’s support for geofencing, so it knows when you’re at home or away, and it works with a wide variety of HVAC systems. 

You can issue voice commands through Google Assistant on your phone, smart speaker, or smart display to check on and change the temperature or to switch the heating off. You can simply ask to make it warmer or cooler, or you can get specific with a request to raise or lower by 2 degrees, for example, or set the temperature to 72 degrees.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is quite pricey, and you’ll want to check compatibility with your HVAC system. The more basic Google Nest Thermostat is cheaper, but it doesn’t have this model’s learning capability.

Read more about the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The best Google Assistant-compatible security camera

Best security camera for smart homes Nest Cam IQ

Google’s Nest Cam IQ captures high-quality video day or night, tracks motion, and can recognize faces.

The Nest Cam IQ comes in outdoor and indoor models, both in a minimal design that’s easy to install. The cameras support two-way audio, activity zones, intelligent alerts, motion tracking, and facial recognition. HDR enhances the video quality, there’s a 4K-image sensor for zooming in on people’s faces, and there’s infrared for when night falls. 

You can bring up live feeds on a smart display or on a TV with a Chromecast using Google Assistant voice commands. You can also set up routines in the Google Home app to automate your cameras and have them turn on automatically when you leave home. While both Nest Cam IQ models work with Google Assistant, only the indoor version has Google Assistant built in. 

The Nest Cam IQ is expensive and requires a Nest Aware subscription, which starts at $5 per month for 30 days of cloud storage. It’s also worth noting that Google is set to revamp its security camera lineup this year, replacing the Nest Cam IQ with something new. For now, though, this is the best security camera with Google Assistant. 

Read our guide to the best home security cameras.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart plug

best smart plug tp link kasa

TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Plug can make any device smarter and allows remote control through Google Assistant voice commands.

You can make older devices smarter by plugging them into a smart outlet or plug. The Kasa Smart Plug supports automation, remote control, and voice control. The compact design ensures that it doesn’t block adjacent outlets. The Kasa app is very easy to use. This is also one of the most affordable smart plugs on the market, so you can put them all over your home for a low price.

By naming individual Kasa plugs (for example, “hall lamp” or “living room fan”) and adding them to the Google Home app, you can use voice commands through Google Assistant to turn devices on or off. You can also schedule them to turn on and off automatically in the app. Google Assistant routines also automate them. You might set the hall lamp to turn off when you say, “Hey Google, Goodnight,” for example.

These basic smart plugs have the features most people want, and they work reliably with Google Assistant. The only caveat is that you need a good Wi-Fi connection, and they only work on the 2.4GHz band. They also lack built-in surge protection. 

Read our guide to the best smart plugs and outlets.

The best Google Assistant-compatible light switch

best alexa enabled light switch belkin wemo dimmer

Remote control, dim, and schedule almost any kind of light with the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer.

You can add voice controls to your existing lights with the Belkin WeMo range of switches. A direct Wi-Fi connection means there’s no need for a hub. The app allows you to schedule lights, set timers, and dim your lights. You can also change the brightness with your finger by running it along the channel in the middle of the switch. You can always find the switch in the dark thanks to the backlight, and there’s a clever night mode that dims the light appropriately, so you aren’t blinded if you get up in the night.

Add the WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch in the Google Home app, and you can use Google Assistant voice commands to turn the switch on or off or to dim or brighten your lights. According to Belkin the switch automatically adjusts the dimming range to suit your bulbs. Use routines in the Home app to automate the switch, so a voice command like “Hey, Google, Goodnight” turns the lights off. 

While it’s fairly straightforward, the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer does have to be wired in. It only works with one-way connection switches and requires a neutral wire. Belkin also has a WeMo Smart 3-Way Light Switch which works with Google Assistant, but it doesn’t support dimming.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart lock

best alexa enabled smart lock august

Easy to install and offering Google Assistant support, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock allows you to set up secure keyless access.

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock works with some existing deadbolts. You simply replace the interior portion, which means you can still use your keys outside. Installation is quick and easy, but you need a reliable Wi-Fi connection on the 2.4 GHz band. With the app, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere, track people coming and going, and receive alerts when the door is left open. There’s also geofencing support for automatic locking and unlocking when you leave and return. 

The support for Google Assistant means you can lock or unlock the door with voice commands. You can also ask if the door is closed and locked. If you add a routine in the Google Home app, you could have a particular Google Assistant voice command lock your door. 

This fourth-generation device features a more compact design than previous versions, and August continues to release new features, such as optional biometric verification using the fingerprint or face unlock on your smartphone. However, This is a relatively expensive smart lock, and the battery life isn’t the greatest. Both Tom’s Guide and PC Mag gave it 4.5 out of 5.

Read our guide to the best smart locks.

The best Google Assistant-compatible robot vacuum

best alexa enabled robot vacuum irobot roomba s9+

The iRobot Roomba S9+ is a clever robot vacuum that performs well on carpet and hard floors, supports lots of Google Assistant voice commands, and can even empty itself.

The iRobot Roomba S9+ is our pick for the best robot vacuum for hard floors and performed impressively in testing. The Roomba S9+ rarely gets trapped and has good path-finding skills. It has a large dustbin built into the charging cradle, so it can empty itself when it returns to charge. You won’t have to empty the bin often, which is great because emptying the dust is an unpleasant necessity after every clean with most robot vacuums.

Add your iRobot account to the Google Home app for a wide array of potential voice commands through Google Assistant. You can ask the Roomba S9+ to start, stop, pause, resume, return to home base, clean by room, and more. 

The high price is an obvious downside, and this is quite a loud robot vacuum when cleaning. We also found the corner cleaning performance a bit lacking. There are some additional ongoing expenses, too; you must replace filters every couple of months, the side brush every three months, and the dirt disposal bag every month or so. You may also consider the slightly cheaper Roomba i7+ which supports the same Google Assistant voice commands.

Read our full iRobot Roomba S9+ review.

Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind when you go shopping for new Google Assistant-enabled devices. 

Works with the Google Assistant: The first thing to look for when buying a smart-home device is the “Works with the Google Assistant” logo. This is Google’s official certification program, and the presence of this logo on the box means you can add it via the Google Home app and control it with voice commands through Google Assistant.

Google Assistant built in: While a device may work with Google Assistant, you may not be able to talk to it directly. Devices like smart speakers and displays have Google Assistant inside, with microphones to pick up your voice commands. The majority of products that work with Google Assistant need a phone, smart speaker, smart display, or another device capable of hearing your voice commands.

Google Home app: To gain voice control of a device through Google Assistant, you will need to link your account via the Google Home app. The procedure is pretty straightforward, and Google Home can often automatically detect devices on your home network. You will usually need login details, and you will have to agree to share access and some data with Google. 

Internet connectivity: Smart-home devices require a strong internet connection for Google Assistant to work well. Think about where in your home the device will live and whether it can get a good wired or Wi-Fi connection in that spot. 

What else we considered

Here are a few options that may still work well for your smart-home setup.

Google Nest Hub Max: This smart display offers everything that the smaller Nest Hub does but adds a bigger and better screen, louder audio, and a camera for video calls. Read our Google Nest Hub Max review for more information.

Roku Ultra: This versatile streaming device supports just about every service you can think of, works reliably, and has Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair it with Google Assistant to control it with voice commands. Read our Roku Ultra review for more information.

Sonos One: For such a small speaker, the Sonos One offers a fantastically rich sound and can get very loud when you need it to. It also has Google Assistant built in for questions, commands, calls, and more.

Wyze Bulb: Wyze offers a basic white smart bulb that’s very affordable and works well with Google Assistant. You can ask Google Assistant to turn bulbs on or off, tweak the brightness, and change the color temperature.

Google Nest Thermostat: This affordable smart thermostat offers remote control of your HVAC system, geofencing, and support for Google Assistant.

Wyze Cam v3: Perhaps the most affordable camera on the market the Wyze Cam v3 offers full-color 1080p footage and has an IP65 rating, two-way audio, and night vision. You can also turn it on or off and access a live feed with a Google Assistant command. Read our Wyze Cam v3 review for more information.

Wyze Smart Home Plug: You can remotely control this compact smart plug, and it supports scheduling and automation. You can also turn it on or off by asking Google Assistant. 

C by GE Smart Dimmer Switch: This versatile smart light switch brings remote control to your regular lights, and you can tweak the brightness from the app or via a Google Assistant voice command. The functionality is good, but the design isn’t as attractive as our top pick.

Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt: You can remotely lock and unlock this smart lock with the app. It has a number pad for setting up to 100 access codes. Google Assistant voice commands enable you to lock or unlock your door and check its status.

Roborock S6: This was the best-performing robot vacuum in our testing and it’s a lot cheaper than the Roomba S9+. But the Google Assistant integration is very basic, simply allowing you to start or stop cleaning with voice commands. Read our Roborock S6 review for more information.

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