The 9 best dehumidifiers in 2021

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

white frigidaire dehumidifier in a living room between an armchair and coffee table
  • Dehumidifiers help remove excess moisture from the air to prevent mold and remove allergens.
  • The best dehumidifiers are from Frigidaire, HomeLabs, and Honeywell.
  • We also include budget-friendly, portable, and small-space options.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The purpose of a dehumidifier is to remove excess humidity from the air, keeping your room dry and helping prevent mold and mildew growth.

You might need a dehumidifier if:

  • Your room feels stuffy and humid
  • You see mold and mildew, and the area smells musty
  • There are wet spots or condensation on the windows and walls
  • You or your fellow inhabitants experience upper respiratory problems like sneezing and coughing

You can also use a hygrometer to directly measure humidity levels in your house. “We recommend keeping the relative humidity in your home between 30-50%. High humidity can increase ground-ozone levels, dust mites, and mold – all of which can be allergy or asthma trigger[s],” said Kenneth Mendez, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

We found the best dehumidifiers for rooms of various sizes and different needs. See the FAQs section for information on how to shop for a dehumidifier, how to clean your unit, and more.

Here are the best dehumidifiers of 2021

Our methodology

white homelabs dehumidifier on the ground next to a bicycle

In our first major rewrite of this guide, we consulted allergy, skincare, and HVAC experts to learn more about how a dehumidifier can help your health and what features to look for. We spoke to Kenneth Mendez, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA); John McKeon, CEO and founder of Allergy Standards Limited (ASL); Jeanine Downie, MD, FAAD, Director of Image Dermatology PC; and a spokesperson for The Home Depot

Using their insights, along with our own research and knowledge of the space, we picked a few dehumidifier options per category. Down the line, we plan to personally test these dehumidifiers to choose one best pick per category.

The best dehumidifiers overall

white frigidaire dehumidifier in a living room between an armchair and coffee table

Our best dehumidifiers are quiet, efficient, Energy-Star certified, and look sleek rather than clunky.

High-Efficiency 50-Pint Dehumidifier with Built-In Pump (medium)Dehumidifier (medium)TP50WK Dehumidifier (30-pint) (medium)
The best dehumidifiers for small spaces

small vremi compact dehumidifier on top of a table next to vases

Whether you have a closet or small bathroom that smells musty, small dehumidifiers can efficiently remove moisture from the air without taking up too much space.

Small Dehumidifier (medium)Compact Dehumidifier (medium)
The best dehumidifiers for large spaces

ivation large-capacity dehumidifier on the floor next to an armchair

Large basements and living rooms will benefit from the following dehumidifiers. Large dehumidifiers also often have the perk of more advanced features like custom settings or auto-shutoff.

70-Pint Energy Star Dehumidifier (medium)70-Pint Dehumidifier (medium)
The best portable dehumidifiers

small white eva-dry wireless mini dehumidifier in a cabinet in front of spices

“For smaller spaces or rental units, I recommend including portable dehumidifiers to keep the space feeling fresh,” said a spokesperson for The Home Depot. Portable dehumidifiers are also great for small closets, cabinets, traveling, and gym bags.

Wireless Mini Dehumidifier (medium)Mini Dehumidifier (medium)
FAQs

Why do you need a dehumidifier? 

A dehumidifier helps maintain the optimal level of humidity in your room so it’s not too humid. It reduces the growth and incidence of mold, mildew, and dust mites.


Dehumidifier vs. humidifier: what’s the difference and which do you need? 

A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to the air. 

If your room feels stuffy and you see condensation or mold, you need a dehumidifier. It’s commonly used in bathrooms, basements, closets, boats, and RVs, but you can use it anywhere else in the house, too. 

If your room feels dry and your skin is irritated, you need a humidifier. We tested the best humidifiers here.


What to consider when buying a dehumidifier 

Dampness level: Dehumidifiers come in different sizes depending on how much moisture they can remove in 24 hours. Here’s what size to buy based on how humid your room is:

Dampness level Characteristics Dehumidifier size Room size
Moderately damp Musty aroma in the area during humid weather 25-39 pint capacity Small (closets, small bathrooms)
Extremely damp Always damp in the area regardless of season 40-59 pint capacity Medium (bedrooms, small basements, large closets)
Wet Visible condensation on ceilings and walls 60+ pint capacity Large (large basements)

How the unit removes moisture: It will either have a built-in pump or a direct drain. “A dehumidifier with a built-in pump allows you to run the drain hose up to a window, sink or elevated drain. A unit with a direct drain will funnel the water directly into a sink or basement drain,” said a spokesperson from The Home Depot. 

Energy performance: To get maximum efficiency out of a unit, look for those that are Energy Star-certified.

Automatic or useful features: Look for a unit with an adjustable humidistat, which will automatically turn your unit on and off to maintain the preset humidity level. Other useful features, according to The Home Depot, include:

  • Automatic shutoff: Turns your unit off once the tank is full 
  • Digital display: Shows the relative humidity level and other settings
  • Filter sensor/indicator: Tells you when it’s time to replace the filter
  • Programmable timer: Lets you run the unit only at certain times of the day
  • Auto-defrost: Keeps your unit from freezing in cold temperatures 

It’s also worth pointing out that many AC units have built-in dehumidifiers. If your AC unit is in your desired room, check first to see if it has a dehumidifier and whether it works well. We tested the best air conditioners here.


How does a dehumidifier work? 

A dehumidifier works by blowing moist air over coolant-filled coils, causing the moisture to condense into water droplets. The condensation then drips from the coils into a receptacle. The collected water is directly drained out or pumped into another area like a sink, depending on the unit you have.


Is a dehumidifier good for your skin?

“Dehumidifiers decrease the incidence of dry skin,” said Jeanine Downie, MD, FAAD, Director of Image Dermatology PC. They also reduce irritation due to allergens like dust mites and mold. If your dehumidifier removes too much humidity from the air, however, it may dry out your skin. 

“It’s important to note that if the humidity starts to drop below 30% it can have a negative impact on health, including drying out of the eyes and mucous membranes,” said McKeon. “Very dry air can also result in dry skin, worsening of eczema, and irritation of the airways.” You should continue to monitor humidity levels and how your skin feels as you use your dehumidifier.


How do you clean a dehumidifier? 

There are two parts to focus your attention on: the air filter and the tank. Clean the air filter under your faucet often (once a week). Wipe down and dry out the tank after every use to reduce mold and mildew growth within your dehumidifier.

Check out our other home-climate-control guides

best air purifier 2021 lead
Read the original article on Business Insider

The best desks for your office in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good desk should be ergonomic, giving you enough room to work without causing back or neck strain.
  • We consulted an ergonomist and an interior designer to find desks that combine comfort with style.
  • If you also need a supportive office chair, check out our guide to the best office chairs.

Whether you work from home or are back in the office, a good desk will help keep you comfortable and productive. A poorly designed desk can lead to back and neck strain, which will inevitably interfere with your day.

To find out what makes a great work desk, we consulted with experts in ergonomics and interior design to narrow down the hundreds of desks available at online retailers. We looked for desks that were between 23 and 29 inches tall for the best ergonomics (with bonus points going to products that are adjustable), as well as being stylish and made from high-quality materials. We explain our research methodology more at the end of the guide.

The best desks for your home office in 2021

The best standing desk

Fully desk with plants and office supplies on it.

The customizable Fully Jarvis Standing Desk provides a spacious work surface and an adjustable height, allowing you to position the desk to suit your frame.

From an ergonomics standpoint, an adjustable desk like the Fully Jarvis Standing Desk is the best option for most people since it allows you to change the surface height to match your frame and chair height. 

This particular adjustable desk comes in several widths and heights. We recommend opting for the “Extended Range” height option, which allows you to adjust the surface height between 24.5 and 50 inches. The metal frame is available in four colors, while the bamboo top comes in two finishes, and you also have the option to swap in a contoured tabletop on several of the larger sizes. 

The Jarvis has a toggle handset to adjust its height and lifting capacity of 350 pounds. While the base version of the desk is fairly simple, you can choose to outfit it with powered grommets, desk organizers, wire management kits, and more, creating a tailored solution to suit your needs. If you’re not satisfied with the desk, the brand offers a 30-day free return policy, as well as a 10-year warranty on desk frame components, mechanical parts, motors, and electrical components.

Read more about the Fully Jarvis in our standing desk guide, where we ranked it the best overall option.

The best desk for corners

Ameriwood L-shaped desk with a lamp, laptop, pencils, and a picture frame on top.

The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk has an L-shaped frame that offers more workspace than traditional desks.

The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk‘s L-shaped design will fit perfectly into the corner of an office, taking advantage of the extra space and providing a larger work surface than traditional desks. It’s just over 59 inches long and wide, and 29 inches tall. That may seem lower than most standard desks, but our experts say that 30-inch desks are too tall for most people to comfortably sit at. 

This corner desk has a black metal frame with a tempered glass top and faux cherry wood accents. The desk can support 60 pounds on each side and has two built-in storage shelves. The wooden corner piece and shelves are made from PVC laminate (a type of plastic), so they’re easy to care for.

The best desk for small spaces

Green Forest desk with laptop, photo frame, pen, and other office supplies on top.

The GreenForest Folding Desk is compact while still providing plenty of space for your work, and it can fold flat so it’s easy to store. 

The GreenForest Folding Desk can easily fit into a small apartment, dorm, or makeshift office, as it’s just 32 inches wide and 32 inches deep. The design features a lower desktop that can easily hold a laptop, notepad, or textbook, and there’s also a 6-inch upper shelf that’s ideal for a computer monitor or other desk essentials. 

This desk is supported by an X-shaped metal frame, and the desktop is made from medium-density fiberboard. There’s no assembly required, and when not in use, you can fold the desk flat and tuck it into a corner or behind a sofa.

The best desk for cable management

Union & Scale desk with white background.

The Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk features an integrated power strip with two USB ports, helping to streamline your workspace.

While its design may be simple, the Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk offers convenience for anyone who is regularly searching for an electrical outlet. It has an integrated power strip that you can access right on the desktop. There are two USB ports, allowing for easy charging for all your devices. The power cable for these outlets discreetly protrudes from the bottom of the desk’s back leg, helping to minimize the number of wires running behind your desk and reducing clutter in your space. 

This desk, which comes recommended by our experts, is 60 inches wide and just over 29 inches deep, and it has a 29-inch height that will be comfortable for most people. It’s supported by four metal legs and has a laminate top. You can choose between an all-white or faux wood finish to complement your decor.

The best affordable desk

Coavas desk with laptop, calendar, and pencils on top.

For a desk that won’t break the bank, the Coavas Computer Desk is a comfortable size and it folds down flat when not in use, making it easier to store and move. 

Despite its low price, the Coavas Computer Desk checks off many of the boxes for a comfortable, ergonomic workspace. The desk has an industrial-inspired design with a metal frame and faux wood top. It’s a moderate size at 40 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 28 inches tall.

Because of its shallow depth (a common feature among budget-friendly desks), it may not be the most comfortable to use when working on a computer, but it will work well for reading, writing, and studying. You can assemble this desk in a matter of seconds, and it’s equally easy to disassemble if you want to put it into storage or move it. 

This desk has a weight capacity of 200 pounds thanks to its metal frame. The top is made from medium-density fiberboard, which means you should avoid getting it wet or placing hot objects on the surface. While it might not last forever, the Coavas desk is budget-friendly and sturdy, making it a worthwhile choice for a temporary office.

The best minimalist desk

Ikea white desk.

The Ikea Bekant Desk has a simple design that adjusts to different heights, and it features an integrated cord management system to keep your workspace neat.

If you prefer a minimalistic appearance, the Ikea Bekant Desk is about as plain as they come with its monochromatic two-leg design. However, this desk is sturdy and functional, thanks to its adjustable height and built-in cable management system. 

The desktop is 63 inches long and 31.5 inches deep, and you can adjust its height between 26 and 33.5 inches to best suit your height and chair. The table has a weight capacity of 220 pounds, and it has a melamine surface that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. Additionally, there’s a net underneath the tabletop that allows you to tuck away unsightly cords, keeping your workspace tidy.

Just keep in mind that the Bekant doesn’t have electronic controls. To change its height, you need an Allen key (otherwise known as a hex key), so it isn’t the best choice if you want a desk you can adjust at the touch of a button.

The best extra-wide desk

Article desk with white background.

The Article Madera Desk gives you plenty of space to spread out thanks to its 71-inch width. The desk is crafted from durable solid wood and features a hidden cable management cabinet.

Need ample room to spread out all your work essentials? The Article Madera has a spacious 71-inch design that allows you to set up a computer, with plenty of space left over for documents, books, and other work essentials. This stylish desk is available in either oak or chestnut finishes, and it’s crafted from solid and veneered wood for a durable frame that will stand the test of time. 

The desk is 71 inches long, 30 inches deep, and 30 inches high. Its height means it might be best for taller people. The table has an industrial style with metal accents and exposed bolts, and the wood is finished with a wire brush for a naturally textured appearance. 

There’s a hidden cable management cabinet at the rear of the desk so you can tuck away charging cables and cords. For added storage, Article also offers a matching Madera File Cabinet to complete your home office.

The best wall-mounted desk

Pottery Barn Trenton desk with white background.

The Trenton Fold Out Table takes up minimal space thanks to its wall-mounted design, and you can install it at the appropriate height for an ergonomic workspace. 

If you’re hoping to turn any space into a makeshift office, the Pottery Barn Trenton Fold Out Table is an ideal solution. The versatile table mounts on the wall, and its solid pine surface easily folds down when it’s time to work. Once you’re done for the day, you can simply clear off the tabletop and fold it back up, freeing up valuable space in your home. 

This fold-out desk is 30 inches wide and just over 22 inches deep. Because of its shallow depth, it’s not the best option for working on a computer, but it will work well for reading and writing. Since you can mount it at any height, you can find the perfect spot to match your height and chair and keep your body ergonomically aligned. 

The desk’s frame is made from powder-coated steel for durability, and its kiln-dried pine surface is easy to maintain. You can use the steel brace as a magnet board, pinning up important notes and other documents in front of your work area.

The best writing desk

Pottery Barn Bedford white desk with 3 drawers on the left.

The Bedford Writing Desk from Pottery Barn is a well-made piece of furniture with a classic design, and it features a two- or three-drawer cabinet for all your storage needs.

Writing desks have a simple yet timeless design. Because they’re designed for note-taking, reading, and writing, they’re often not as large as computer desks. The tricky part when shopping for a writing desk is finding one that doesn’t have a pull-out drawer in the center that will interfere with proper ergonomics. With that in mind, one of the best options is Pottery Barn’s Bedford Writing Desk.

This desk is 52 inches long and 23 inches wide, giving you ample space to spread out with your papers. It’s crafted from kiln-dried pine and veneers with an antique white finish, and you can choose whether you want a two-drawer cabinet with two file drawers or a three-drawer cabinet, which has one file drawer and two small standard drawers for supplies. This cabinet tower fits on either side of the desk, allowing you to tailor the piece to your space. The back of the desk is finished in case you want to have it facing the room.

The best drafting desk

Zeny light brown desk with stool in front of it.

It’s easy to adjust the height of the Zeny Drafting Desk to suit your needs, and the top tilts to make it easier for architects and other creative professionals to draw. 

Drafting desks are a popular choice for architects and creative professionals, as the tabletop tilts to allow for more comfortable drawing, painting, or sketching. The Zeny Drafting Desk is ideal for any of these tasks. It has a spacious and adjustable workspace, as well as two storage drawers, a built-in pen container, and a side table for other supplies. 

The desktop measures 34 inches wide and over 23 inches deep, and you can adjust the height of the drafting desk between 28 and 36 inches. Additionally, the tabletop adjusts from 0 to 45 degrees, allowing you to tilt it to a comfortable angle. The desk has a steel frame and MDF surfaces, and it also comes with a matching stool.

What to look for in a desk

Two desks with one having a lamp, picture frame, pens, laptop, and other office supplies on it. The other is empty.

To develop criteria for evaluating desks, we consulted with two experts. We spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS-HFE, CPE, the principal ergonomist of Learn Ergo and a consultant with UC Ergonomics Research Lab, and interior designer Sherri Monte of Elegant Simplicity. Both regularly work with their clients to create comfortable, ergonomic, and highly functional home offices. They highlighted several important features that you should prioritize ahead of aesthetic appeal.

I used their guidance, as well as my background as a product reviewer for four years, when selecting desks for this guide. I used my experience testing household products to develop a comprehensive testing methodology. 

Height

While 30 inches is the standard height for many desks, this is actually too high for most people. “The correct height for your computer desk is your relaxed elbow height when you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor,” said Afterman. 

“It really depends on your own height and upper arm length, but the range that most people fall in is between 23 and 29 inches above the floor. I usually recommend a 28-inch tall desk if you can find it, but even that may be too high” said Afterman. She typically prefers height-adjustable desks, which allow you to find the best height for your frame. If you’re looking specifically for standing desks, check out our guide.

Depth

While desk width is a matter of preference, the depth of the surface can impact your comfort if you’re using a computer. If you plan to put a computer monitor on your desk, our experts recommend avoiding desks that are too narrow, which can cause back strain.

“I always recommend a 30-inch-deep desk,” said Afterman. “The problem with a shallow desk is that you cannot get enough distance between your eyes and the monitor when sitting relaxed back in the chair.” You end up resting your hands and wrists on the desktop when using the keyboard and mouse. “These postures can quickly fatigue the upper back and compress the soft tissue or nerves in the wrist,” Afterman said.

However, for those who don’t need a computer, a narrower desk may work just fine.

Thin table top without drawers in the center

Many desks include a drawer or two underneath the tabletop, but this type of design can cause strain on your body. Afterman explains that you increase the risk of bumping your knees on features like drawers, shelves, or panels, and they can interfere with your ability to set your work chair at an appropriate height. “When you have a drawer under the desk, you can only raise your chair so high without your legs bumping into the bottom of the table. This leads to shrugging your shoulders up to use the keyboard and mouse, which quickly leads to shoulder and neck soreness or pain,” said Afterman.

Material

The most common desk materials are wood, metal, glass, and manufactured materials such as medium-density fiberboard, frequently called MDF. Kiln-dried hardwood and metal are more durable choices, but they also drive up the price. If you only need a temporary solution to last a few years, MDF or other faux materials are budget-friendly, but they’re also more prone to wear, stains, and warping. 

Storage

There are many items you may want to keep on hand as you work, ranging from pens and pencils to files, books, and charging cables. If there aren’t other storage spaces nearby, you may want to look for a desk with a side tower of drawers or a built-in file cabinet, as long as they don’t protrude into your leg space

“Ultimately, a good desk provides you with the basic things you need for when you need them,” says Monte. “Maybe this desk has file storage built in or perhaps it’s just got a few basic drawers, but functionality matters.”

Design

Finally, there’s also the matter of choosing a desk that matches your aesthetic. This should be a secondary consideration after ergonomic requirements are met, but there is no shortage of desks to choose from, including modern, contemporary, mid-century, traditional, and more. We focused on ergonomics here in our guide and considered the design when choosing our top picks.

What type of desk do I need?

Four different types of desks in one photo.

There are several common desk styles that you will encounter, and the differences between them can be confusing. Here are the distinctions of each style.

Height-adjustable desks

Height-adjustable desks have gained popularity in recent years, as they allow you to set the exact height of the desktop to suit your chair and body. “A height-adjustable table can be used to optimize the desk height when you’re sitting and has the added bonus of providing a standing option as an alternative to mix into your day,” said Afterman.

These desks are often controlled by electronic panels (which means they need to be plugged into an outlet), but some budget options are manual. Others require tools, like an Allen key, which is more time-consuming.  

Computer desks

Computer desks are specifically designed to accommodate an electronic setup. These desks typically have larger desktops that provide space for a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other components, and they often have various cord management features, as well. 

Writing desks

When compared to computer desks, writing desks are typically not as spacious. They’re often not deep enough to comfortably use a computer monitor. Writing desks frequently have drawers on one or both sides, as well as under the desktop, providing space to store writing implements and notebooks. Some also feature a hutch on top for additional storage. Because they’re a more traditional style of furniture, you’ll find that many writing desks have a classic aesthetic.

Corner desks

Corner desks have an L-shaped design that fits into the corner of a room. They come in many different styles and materials, and they often provide more workspace than traditional desks. Some may also feature shelves, file cabinets, or drawers built into their designs.

Executive desks

Originally used by managers and other high-ranking professionals, executive desks are large and stately. Because they’re often arranged in the center of a room, they typically have finished backs. Many executive desks have a double-pedestal design, meaning there are file cabinets or drawers on each side. They naturally become the focal point of any space.

Drafting desks

Drafting desks, also called drafting tables or architect’s tables, are used for drawing and sketching. They’re defined by a tilting tabletop, which can generally be fixed at several angles. These desks often have large work surfaces that can accommodate oversized architectural plans or sketch pads, and there may also be drawers, side tables, and organizers for things like pens and paper.

How should you sit at a desk?

White desk with laptop, notebook, lamp on it and a black office chair in front.

In addition to having a desk that’s the proper height, width, and depth, you should also sit properly for comforot and ergonomics. “Foot support is critical to reducing back strain,” said Afterman. “Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest if your seat is raised. The knees should be even with, or slightly lower than, your hips.”

You’ll also want to ensure that your arms are in an appropriate position. “The arms should be supported with the shoulders relaxed,” said Afterman. “You can get support from the chair armrest or the work surface. Avoid resting on the elbows as this can compress the ulnar nerve. Instead, rest on the muscle area of the forearm to allow the shoulders and back to relax.”  

Finally, be sure to position your chair and computer monitor in proper locations to reduce strain. “You should sit close enough to the desk to keep the elbows near the body and avoid reaching forward,” says Afterman. “Set the monitor height with the top of the screen at eyebrow level (lower for bifocal wearers) and close enough to read while you relax back in the chair.”

How should you style a desk?

Desk with photo frame of puppies, black lamp, several books leaning together and flat on the desk as well.

It’s not always easy to arrange your furniture in a way that’s functional but also stylish, and it’s extra challenging when it involves a work desk in your home. “When arranging your desk in your home or office, you want to think about what the focal point of the space is,” says Monte. “When a room lacks a focal point, our eyes tend to bounce all over the place.”

If you have a designated room for an office or want to create a dedicated office space in a living room or bedroom, try creating a natural focal point with a rug. “Not only will this be soft under feet while you’re working, but it will also layer in a bit of warmth to any office,” said Monte. 

Monte recommends opting for a rug that’s significantly larger than your desk, as this will ensure your chair isn’t constantly rolling off the edge. If you’re looking for recommendations for office seating, check out our guide to the best office chairs.

Check out our other home office guides

Full photo of a desk with two monitors, various office supplies, a plant on the floor, and a lamp to the right of the desk.

The best standing desks


The best active seating for your office


The best office chairs


The best desk lamps for your office

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 13 best planners for staying organized in 2021, including tips and tricks from experts

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Person writing in planner using a ballpoint pen. Photo cropped to only show hand and planner.
  • A planner is an all-in-one productivity tool for writing down events, to-do lists, and goals.
  • Planners come in all varieties, from dated and undated to daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
  • The best planner is a personal choice, whether it’s small and undetailed or big and densely packed.

Paper planners are calendars that help you keep track of tasks, appointments, ideas, and so on. They let you see the week or month all at once, in a clear and legible way. But no planner is one-size-fits-all: The best planner for you might be unsuitable for someone else’s needs.

Picking a planner comes down to personal preference, whether you like to schedule things down to the minute or just jot a few weekly notes. Many have space for notes, to-do lists, and other tasks. Some people want a balance of enough space for their jottings but in a book that can easily fit in their backpack.

Planner styles get even more detailed, and we break down the ways to choose what’s right for you at the end of this guide. We talked to two stationery store owners and a productivity expert to get their advice on how to pick a planner.

“There’s lots of different, great planners, and it just kind of depends on thinking about how you want to plan your week and how you want to visualize your week,” said Jeremy Crown, who co-owns Little Otsu, a paper store in Portland, Oregon.

Whatever style of planner you prefer, you’ll be able to find something in the list below. Keep in mind that manufacturers often make their planners in several styles and sizes, and we try to reflect that in the list.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Here are the best planners

Apica CD Free Monthly Planner

Apica Schedule Book Planner open page to schedule.

The Apica CD Free Monthly Planner is very affordable, with minimal frills.

Basic but very functional, Apica’s monthly planner has 32 pages, a cardstock cover, and thread binding. It’s undated, so you can pick it up and start scheduling any part of the year. There are 16 sheets of monthly calendars (one month stretches over two pages), plus another 15 pages of grid paper. There are also a couple of pages for a yearly overview. If you don’t need a super-detailed calendar but still want something with nice paper and an affordable price, the Apica is a great option. 

BestSelf Co. the Self Journal

BestSelf Journal open on desk with a pen on it, with various desk items like sunglasses, a wallet, and plant to the side.

The Self Journal from BestSelf is geared toward quarterly planning, with daily, intensive options for tracking your goals.

If you’re looking for a lot of structure and prompts, the Self Journal might be right for you. It has pages of tasks and templates to guide your goal-setting. While undated, it’s only meant to last 13 weeks, so you won’t have a full year at your fingertips. The idea, though, is to break the year down into chunks and do the same for daunting projects. There are spaces to fill out what you’re grateful for, goals, and targets. 

With 240 pages, the size is fairly portable, and it has a hardcover. The paper is also fountain-pen friendly.

Bloom Daily Planner

Bloom Daily Planners

The Bloom Daily Planner comes in many versions to suit many styles, all with plenty of supplemental sheets for tracking progress.

Bloom’s planners are full of lists and charts for you to fill out and help you figure out how to schedule the year ahead. There are vision boards and habit-tracking options included. You can also sign up for additional, downloadable sheets for bill tracking, meal planning, and so on. 

The nice thing about Bloom is that it has almost countless options for getting exactly what you want. The planners come in both softcover and hardcover options, and there are several planner layouts to choose from. For teachers, there are undated versions, as well as ones that start in July. If you have a wedding or new baby on the horizon, there are planners for that, too.

Clever Fox Non-Dated Daily Planner

Clever Fox Planner opened with two hands and one is holding a pen to write in it.

With a full page for each day, the Clever Fox Non-Dated Daily Planner gives you space for your packed schedule or brainstorming sessions.

Clever Fox‘s daily planner has scads of room for those with busy days — or anyone who likes to doodle and brainstorm in their calendars. Each day of the week has its own page, with space to schedule from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are also prompts for weekly goals (both work and personal priorities) and productivity tracking. The planner also comes with stickers to help you personalize your pages. With a sturdy cover in colors from black to rose gold to royal blue, it should be easy enough to find one that matches your style. 

In addition to the daily version — which is only for six months — there are weekly options that have space for a full year. If you want a larger planner, the pro version measures 8.5 by 11 inches. 

Cultivate What Matters Powersheets Goal Planner

Cultivate What Matters Powersheets open on a table with a blue pen to the side.

From Cultivate What Matters, the PowerSheets Goal Planner has lots of prompts to keep you on track and inspired.

Getting started with PowerSheets is a bit of a commitment; it can take a couple of hours to fully fill out your goal sheets. There are also video explainers to help you check all the boxes. The planner is hefty and sturdy and should have no problem lasting the year. There are 160 pages, with the months spread over two pages. There are also two pages per month for monthly, weekly, and daily ideas and action items. PowerSheets aren’t made for day-to-day notes but are more for bigger-picture projects and goals. 

There are lots of stickers and a pastel palette, which won’t appeal to everyone. 

Day Designer Daily Planner for Blue Sky

Day Designer Planner for Blue Sky open to a page to write in.

A thorough planner with lots of room for notes, the Day Designer Daily Planner for Blue Sky is great for people with busy days or lengthy to-do lists.

Usually, Day Designer planners are $59, but the Blue Sky collaboration version is $28. The Blue Sky planner does have lower-quality paper and a flexible cover that may not stand up to wear and tear as well as a hardcover. The day has a 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. schedule, along with room for to-do lists. At the top and bottom are boxes for gratitude, your “top three” important items, and notes for the night. 

If you have a larger budget and prefer a daily calendar, Day Designer’s flagship planner has a page dedicated to each weekday, with a single page for weekends. 

2021-2022 Academic Year Daily & Monthly Planner (small)
Field Notes 56-Week Planner

Field Notes 56 Week Planner flipped open to write on a blank planning sheet.

Robust yet portable, the Field Notes 56-Week Planner is a great low-priced choice that still lasts a full year.

Compact yet rugged enough to toss in a backpack, Field Notes‘ 56-week planner is no-frills but fully functional. Each week gets two pages, with Saturday and Sunday sharing space. They’re undated, so you can start anytime, miss a couple weeks, and pick back up without wasting pages. As the name suggests, you get space for over a year, with 112 pages total. 

At less than $20, it’s one of the more affordable planners on the list, though we wish there were a few options for the cover. 

Happy Planner

Happy Planner faced open on a desk with two pens on the right page.

Happy Planner has lots of customization options, including layout and length.

Happy Planner is all about making its products work for you, so there are quite a few ways to customize your planner. It offers horizontal, vertical, and dashboard layouts, as well as a few different sizes and undated options. You can also buy plenty of stickers to add more flair. The covers tend to be pastel, boldly colored, or Disney-themed, so it might be hard to find something more understated. We also like the planner’s discbound binding, which is like a three-ring binder you don’t have to open and close.

Happy Planners are popular with teachers, and they offer 18-month versions that start in July. 

Classic Planner (12-Month) (small)
Panda Planner

Person looking at their Panda Planner with pen in hand and coffee to the left.

The Panda Planner is meant to be hyper-focused on a three-month period, with daily tracking.

The classic version of the Panda Planner is undated, with room for three months of daily tracking. There are also weekly and monthly sections. The planner is designed for those who need lots of on-page support, with boxes for morning and end-of-day reviews, habit tracking, and priorities. Each day gets a two-page spread, and they’re undated, so you can skip weekends if you want something more work-focused. The cover and interior designs are less flowery than many other planners on the list, which may be a positive or negative, depending on what you like. 

Panda Planners also come in undated, six-month and dated, full-year versions.

Passion Planner

Passion Planner faced open on a desk.

Designed with motivation in mind, the Passion Planner has a few layouts to help you follow through with your goals.

The Passion Planner is focused on motivation and helping you achieve your yearly goals. The weekly version has places for you to note what you’re focusing on and good things that happened. The layout is vertical, so keep that in mind if you prefer a horizontal setup. There are a few styles to choose from, including undated daily and weekly layouts. On the website, you can choose whether you want your planner’s week to begin on Sunday or Monday. Small, medium, and large sizes are available, with the biggest being a bit larger than a standard sheet of paper. 

If buying a Passion Planner doesn’t fit into your budget, the site has downloadable content that you can print and fit into a regular, three-ring binder. There are also digital versions available. 

Rhodia Webplanner

Rhodia Webplanner

With nice paper and a stylish design, the Rhodia Webplanner may appeal to those looking for a mix of structure and freeform planning.

Rhodia is a French notebook company with a trademark orange and black scheme, so there aren’t a ton of color options. Unfussy, with a faux leather cover and nice paper, the Webplanner gives room for a weekly schedule on one page and a grid for notes on the right. It’s a nice compromise for those who like bullet journaling but want a little more structure. 

Quo Vadis Weekly Business Planner

Qua Vadis Business Planner open to pages.

Good quality yet affordable, the Quo Vadis Weekly Business Planner is a no-nonsense way to keep tabs on your weekly to-dos.

A well-designed, pocket-sized planner from Quo Vadis, it has a textured, faux leather cover. It’s helpful to go on the Quo Vadis website because it lays out all the options available for its planners: academic or calendar year; daily, weekly, or monthly format; and small, medium, or large size. The planner’s weekly layout is vertical, with scheduling space from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are large squares on the right page for extra notes. The cover comes in several colors, and you can also find the planner in faux suede or smooth faux leather options. 

Though there isn’t a lot of extra space for habit tracking, the back of the planner does have some space for personal notes and a map of the world’s time zones. 

Wit & Delight Stay on Track Desktop Notepad

Wit and Delight Desktop Planner faced open with hands and a pen in one hand.

Portable planners aren’t for everyone, so the Wit & Delight Stay on Track Desktop Notepad is a great (big) way to jot down notes, appointments, and the like.

If you want a planner that you can’t ignore, this desk version from Wit & Delight is a good option. It’s undated, with 180 sheets. Each page has vertical space for Monday through Friday. There aren’t Saturday and Sunday spots, but there’s a “home life” box that could work for weekend activities. There are also places for notes, projects, and big picture items. 

How to choose a planner

There are an overwhelming number of planner types. “I used to try to just stock as many as possible because it’s such a personal thing,” said Chandra Greer, who owns Greer, a stationery store in Chicago, Illinois.

She eventually realized it was impossible to cover every base and now just selects functional, quality options, knowing they might not be the right fit for everyone. “I’m more interested in the function of it,” she said. “Is the layout useful? Is the layout well-designed? Is the paper great? Is it something that is going to withstand being your daily friend for 365 days?” 

To find out what will work for you, you can start by considering what qualities are most important to you. “I think if you sort of start with, ‘What is it that I want to use this for?’ that gives you a good starting point,” said Alexandra Cavoulacos, founder of The Muse and author of “The New Rules of Work“.  You can start with format — daily, weekly, or monthly — and overall length. Do you want to keep it to a few months for a specific project, or would you prefer something that gets you through a month or even longer? 

Daily, weekly, monthly

For some people, a planner is merely a portable calendar, Cavoulacos said. “They want to know where they need to be, when they have a doctor’s appointment, those sort of things,” she said. Other people want to track projects and create to-do lists. The amount of detail per day will start to dictate how much space you need. “There’s a hundred ways somebody might schedule their day,” said Greer. Some people need an hour-by-hour breakdown. If you’re mostly making to-do lists, a weekly calendar might work. If it’s more about keeping tabs on a few appointments, monthly might work. 

“It’s all about what works for you,” said Cavoulacos. 

Dated or undated

There are many reasons you might decide to buy an undated calendar. “People might decide on March 28th, they want a planner,” said Greer. “But if a planner is dated, they’re already three months through the year.” With an undated planner, they can get more bang for the buck by having it carry them through the next March. 

Another reason might be you know yourself to be a fickle planner user. If you keep it undated, you can always pick up where you left off without wasting days’ worth of paper. People working on a big project, planning a wedding, or focusing on a specific goal might also prefer an undated planner, for more flexibility or to keep everything contained in one book. 

Months or years

Some hyper-focused, daily planners will only last a few months. It helps keep them from being too bulky and cumbersome. Others are much bigger picture, with five-year plans. In between, there are standard yearly planners and academic versions, which tend to start in the summer or early fall. 

The only thing that might stop you from buying an academic planner in January is that most manufacturers don’t have the current year’s available, so you’re better off waiting a few months for that. 

Horizontal or vertical

You’ll often see weekly planners arranged with each week covering two pages and the days spread out horizontally or vertically. When someone comes into Little Otsu looking for a planner, co-owner Jeremy Crown first asks, “Are you more of a task-oriented planner?” He thinks people with detailed schedules or long to-do lists will prefer the column format of vertical layouts. Those who like making notes or doodling might like the horizontal layout better. 

Some planners use a “dashboard” view, with a week or day on one page and the other dedicated to habit trackers, gratitude prompts, and other fill-in-the-blanks. 

Size

Doctors, nurses, and chefs always want pocket-sized notebooks and planners, said Crown. You might want something big enough to hold your sprawling handwriting but small enough to carry around in your purse or messenger bag. Many planner makers will offer at least a couple of choices when it comes to size. 

Minimalist or full of prompts 

Planner aesthetic ranges from very barebones to packed with extras. What you like is completely personal. You’ll find plenty of basic books with a plain cover and just the calendars. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can get a planner with quotes, charts, and check-ins. You may want something in between, with a pretty cover but few internal embellishments. 

“You want your planner to inspire you, whatever that means for you,” Cavoulacos said. That could mean a simple planner with zero distractions, she said, or something with quotes and your horoscope that makes you look forward to opening the book every day. “I do think the sort of aesthetic piece, the inspiration piece, is also something that shouldn’t be forgotten,” she said.  

If you do want something more stripped down, Greer suggests looking to Japanese planner makers. “You’re not going to see little flower illustrations and little quotes and 85 pages of guided journal meditation,” she said. “They keep it very simple. They’re very serious about it.” 

Both Greer and Cavoulacos point out that you can add your own quotes and personalizations to even the most minimalist planner, as long as there’s space. “It could become more of a person’s little command center,” said Greer. 

Paper quality

For some, the quality of a planner’s paper isn’t really a factor. There are a few things to know, though. Two Halloween-ish-sounding words that are useful to know, stationery-wise, are bleeding and ghosting. Bleeding is when the ink leaks through. Ghosting is when you flip the paper over and can see what’s written, even though it hasn’t actually bled through. “Good paper, whether it’s thin or thick, doesn’t ghost,” Crown said. 

In many countries, fountain pen use is much more widespread than in the United States. The paper made there reflects that. “As a general rule, Japanese paper tends to be softer and smoother, and American paper is kind of the roughest — or we’d say the toothiest — and Europe’s kind of in the middle,” Crown said. 

“Fountain pen usage is a really big factor,” Greer said. “It’s probably the number one question we get about any of our notebooks and planners, ‘Is the paper fountain pen friendly?’ and not all papers are.” If paper quality is high on your list of importance, Greer suggests taking a close look at who makes a planner. 

“I definitely gravitate towards manufacturers who have a background in paper,” she said. “So they’re not so much about being a planner company. They’re about a notebook/paper company that has planners.” Some of the manufacturers that make planners with excellent paper include Midori, Paperways, High Tide, and Kokuyo Jibun Techo, she said.  

Cover

Even if you’re not into paper, you’ll want to pay attention to the cover’s material. Hardcovers will stand up to more wear and tear than softcovers. “Sometimes people will trade off that durability for something that doesn’t cost very much so, but definitely people are expecting, when they purchase a planner, that it’s going to get through the whole year and not look like it was run over by a truck,” Greer said. 

Binding 

It’s important that planners lie flat since you’re writing in them. Many are spiral bound, but others are stitch bound. Either will let you write on them, but you can flip one side of the book behind the other with a spiral binding. “A lot of people are kind of indifferent between spiral and stitch bound now, as long as it lies flat because that’s really what they’re looking for,” Greer said. 

Discbound is similar to spiral-bound, but it’s a bit different. The pages in a discbound book can be easily removed and put back in, but you don’t have to open the discs, as you would with a three-ring binder. Instead, there are little notches in the paper that fit around the disc. It makes planners more customizable because you can quickly and easily move pages from one section to another. 

Another concern with the binding is whether it will keep the planner together for the whole year. Some glued-in pages might not hold out as well. “If you have something that’s stitch bound or spiral, it’s very sturdy for the long haul,” Greer said.

Bullet journaling 

Bullet journaling is a system of tracking and tackling tasks, goals, and projects. It can be used with basically any notebook, but it’s not for everyone. “I think for some people you want the prompt and you want the structure to guide you because you’re not exactly sure how to organize everything,” Cavoulacos said. 

“There’s a lot of stationery enthusiasts in the United States, and so there’s all these different subcultures with people who are really into making their own space on paper,” Crown said. “And that’s what bullet journaling is perfect for.” 

If you’ve never tried it, you can either start with an ordinary notebook you have lying around. There are also plenty of hybrid options, with calendars and space for notes or bullet journaling. 

Extras

There might be some little perks with certain planners that might be deal-makers for you. Maybe you want a front pocket to keep extra papers. Perhaps you prefer a planner with an elastic band to help keep it closed. 

If the extra that’s most attractive to you is stickers, keep in mind that you can probably buy them separately.  

Why not just use your phone as a digital planner?

“I don’t necessarily think a planner is for everybody, just like any particular productivity hack or tool,” Cavoulacos said. There are plenty of people who prefer to keep their calendars and notes strictly digital, and getting a paper planner might not make sense for them. 

If you’re on the fence, she suggests asking yourself what’s attractive about a paper planner. “I think for a lot of people it’s slowing down, right?” Cavoulacos said. “It’s like the lack of distraction. It’s the moments to think, to cross things off — the satisfaction of crossing things off.” 

Greer said she went through a few years where not many people were buying planners. Now she’s seeing more customers who want something physical to carry around and write in. She even gets tech workers buying them. “They’re saying that their schedule’s more accessible to them in some ways, in terms of getting the big picture, if they’re using a physical book,” Greer said. 

For Crown, it’s more personal than a phone calendar. “It’s your life in a book,” he said. “That’s kind of what’s special about them. The end of the year, you have this book that was like, this is what I did. That’s something that the phone doesn’t do that well.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best closet shelf dividers in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Closet shelf dividers are the easiest, cheapest way to instantly organize and separate clothing.
  • The Lynk Tall White Solid Shelf Divider is the best because it’s sturdy, slim, and affordable.

There are a couple of reasons why a shelf divider is an absolute must-have for every closet. First and foremost, it’s way less expensive than a closet renovation or hiring a professional organizer. It also takes up less space than bins or boxes, while still keeping everything visible and within reach. Plus, a divider can be easily installed and removed.

Most people have limited closet space and shelf dividers indisputably help you make the most of every precious inch. There are lots of options out there, but we focused on the most important categories to consider; your shelving style (wooden or wire), the divider size (especially height and depth), the design or style (solid or open), and the cost.

Here are the best closet shelf dividers in 2021

The best closet shelf divider overall

lynk white closet shelf dividers separating a variety of towels and linens the best closet shelf divider overall in 2021

Transform your cluttered closet shelves into a streamlined, tidy space with a few sets of Lynk tall shelf dividers.

Pros: Easy to install, simple design, affordable, taller than most dividers

Cons: Not compatible with wire shelving

These durable and minimalist metal dividers are the way to go if you’re trying to create a better storage solution in your closet. With a sturdy, sleek and unobtrusive design, they are simply the best option for most people. 

Each divider clips easily onto wooden shelves up to 7/8 inches thick with no tools required. Once in place, the Lynk tall shelf divider stays put. A stabilizing crossbar on the bottom of the divider helps hold it securely on the shelf, ready to keep anything from pants, sweaters, and accessories in place. They’re also strong enough to handle leaning items like bags, thanks to the grips which attach them to the shelf.

They are taller than most dividers, which means you can fold higher stacks and save even more space. You might want to measure your closet height to ensure they’ll fit, but the average closet should be able to accommodate them. At 8.4 inches deep, they’ll fit on both deep and narrow shelves.

The best solid closet shelf divider

Container Store dividers separating stacks of folded sweaters the best solid design minded closet shelf divider in 2021

If design is especially important to you, opt for the sleek modern look of the acrylic Container Store Clear Shelf Divider.

Pros: Great looking from a design perspective, easy to install, fairly sturdy

Cons: A little pricey

The Container Store Clear Shelf Divider measures 9.5 inches high and a healthy 12.5 inches deep, so it’s able to fully separate your stacks of neatly folded clothes.

This product is particularly great because it’s easy to install on thicker shelves, durable, and slides into place easily. There’s also a handy extra with this divider, a space-saving valet hook that you can use to hang items like bags, belts, or a robe in front of your shelves. 

Although some users mention that it’s not quite as sturdy as they would have hoped, the Container Store Clear Shelf Divider is still a great bet and is an upscale, aesthetically pleasing choice that’s perfect for interior design buffs or anyone looking to upgrade the look of their closet.

The best closet shelf divider on a budget

metal mDesign shelf divider holding a pair of jeans the best budget affordable closet shelf divider 2021

If keeping costs down is your primary concern, the mDesign Metal Wire Closet Shelf Divider set comes with eight pieces and stays affordable.

Pros: Great value, simple design, easy installation, multipurpose, comes in many finishes

Cons: Not as tall or deep as other dividers

The cheapest, most popular shelf divider is the mDesign Metal Wire Closet Shelf Divider. Promising an easy, tool-free installation, polished, rust-resistant steel finish, and a stable, sleek design, this is the perfect choice for a rental or dorm closet. With eight per set, you’ll have extras to keep as replacements or to set up in multiple closets.

At just over 9 inches tall, it’s pretty decent for maximizing vertical space, but it does measure a bit short in depth at only 8 inches. You need to stretch it a bit to attach it to a standard 1-inch thick shelf, but the wide stabilizer on the bottom will keep the divider securely in place.

The clean, metal design, available in five different finishes, matches perfectly with any décor, which is helpful if you’re thinking about using this divider in a pantry, linen, or bathroom closet.

The company also suggests flipping the divider upside down and hanging it under the shelf, which gives you seven bars of hanging storage for things like scarves, belts, or bags.

The best wire closet shelf divider

evelots white closet shelf divider holding folded sweaters the best wire closet shelf divider 2021

Wire shelving is incredibly popular since it’s easy to install, affordable and durable. With that in mind, we recommend the Evelots Closet Wire Shelf Divider.

Pros: Durable, sturdy, inexpensive

Cons: The design of open space in each divider may make it hard to keep some items from spilling over

Evelots shelf dividers get consistently top-rated reviews — we even included one of the brand’s wooden shelf dividers in a recent guide to organizing your closet — because they’re solid, dependable products.

Durable, affordable, and specially designed to clip on to wire shelving closet systems, their plastic coated steel design won’t rust or get dingy over time. With a substantial 12-inch x 12-inch frame, consider these as a practical solution for a rental property, where most closets have wire shelving. The dividers are super quick to install and no tools are required. 

One criticism, however, is that the open sides don’t keep certain items securely inside. 

The best cloth closet shelf divider

Lynk gray cloth dividers separating sweaters and purses the best cloth shelf divider 2021

If you’re looking for the full divide of a solid material but don’t want to splurge on acrylic, try the Lynk Vela Shelf Divider.

Pros: Visually appealing for those who want a solid divider, items won’t snag or get scratched by the cloth material

Cons: Material may scuff or tear over time

There are lots of reasons why people like the Lynk Vela Shelf Divider. The simple, durable fabric is available in two colors: platinum and bronze. The soft material also means that there’s no risk of snagging your clothes on a metal design.

Not only do these look nice, but they also are also tall at 13 inches, and are easy to install by sliding onto standard size wooden shelves. You’re getting a great deal, too, as the price is fairly low.

This solid style of shelf divider is recommended because it creates a visual definition of your space and keeps everything neat.

Cloth dividers also work particularly well in linen closets, where they can keep folded towels, blankets, and other linens neatly organized.

See more great organization buying guides here

large closet of neutral clothing
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best dusters we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • No matter how clean you keep your home, it’s going to generate unwanted dust.
  • A great duster removes dust quickly and easily, and it can get to those hard-to-reach places.
  • Our top pick by OXO will remove dust from your home and help you breathe easier.

While I would like to say that the dust and cobwebs in my home are early Halloween decorations, that line doesn’t work most of the year. Dust just seems to accumulate at an extraordinary rate. That’s not surprising when you consider how dust originates.

The dust that settles in your home each is a combination of pollen, pet dander, dead skin cells, dust mites, insect droppings, soil, food crumbs, and particulates in the air, among other things. The more people and pets in your home and the more often the doors and windows open, the more dust you’re going to have.

Even if you claim to love the patina of dust-covered surfaces, there are plenty of good reasons to remove the dust. When we breathe in dust particles, depending on the type of particulate, our respiratory tracts respond. Some particles are fairly benign and cause mild allergic reactions like sneezing and a runny nose. Other particles can trigger asthma.

Even with diligent cleaning, there will still be dust, so it’s a good idea to buy a duster. We’ve done the research and testing to find the best dusters.

Here are the best dusters in 2021

Our testing methodology

Our picks are based on my more than 40 years of experience with laundry and cleaning products, as well as my own testing. In addition to dusters, I’ve also tested and written guides to the best mops, floor cleaners, cleaning cloths, stovetop cleaners, stainless steel cleaners, and more.

The best duster overall

oxo duster

The OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster traps dust easily, extends and adjusts to reach high surfaces, and can be washed for years of reuse.

Pros: Microfiber duster head traps and holds dust, machine-washable head, aluminum extender handle reaches from 27 to 54 inches, replacement heads available

Cons: Duster head will shed fibers unless washed first

As a woman who is both short in stature and always watching expenditures, the OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster is my duster of choice. My favorite thing is that after dusting, I can remove the head and toss it in the washer so I can start each dusting session with a clean duster. The washable head means no additional expense and no excuses to put off cleaning because I’m out of disposable duster heads.

With a sturdy but lightweight and comfortable handle, the duster can stretch from 27 to 54 inches. The duster head rotates 270 degrees and can be locked into place at multiple angles. Since the duster head has microfibers on each side to capture dust, you can simply switch the angle and continue dusting when one side is heavily soiled.

Microfiber is made from polyamide (nylon) and polyester and creates an electrostatic fabric that attracts dust. The dust is then trapped in the many, tiny fibers until you use laundry detergent and water to flush them away. Because of the way microfiber is manufactured, you may see lint or loose fibers at first on the duster. Just rinse the head under cold water and give it a good shake before drying. The lint will be gone.

To keep your duster in top shape, avoid bleach that can damage fibers and fabric softeners and dryer sheets that coat the fibers and lower their ability to trap dust. I find that air-drying the head works best. If you’re concerned about washing microfibers, some laundry bags can help keep microplastic out of the wastewater.

The best disposable duster

swiffer

With a 360-degree duster surface that has more fibers and an extendable handle, the Swiffer Heavy Duty Dusters with Extender Handle is a hard-working, disposable duster.

Pros: Disposable, lightweight, fits into tight spots to trap dust, extendable handle reaches three feet, dusting head locks into place

Cons: Replacement dusters can become expensive and aren’t eco-friendly

When I want to use a disposable duster, I turn to Swiffer. I’ve tried every brand on the market and the Swiffer Heavy Duty Dusters with Extender Handle is the very best one I’ve found.

Because there are more electrostatic fibers on the duster head, I find the Swiffer Heavy Duty Duster picks up twice as much dust as other brands. The sturdy plastic extender handle expands from about 15 to 36 inches plus the 8-inch duster head. The head can be locked into four different angles to clean hard-to-reach surfaces.

This starter kit comes with one handle and 12 dusters. The disposable dusters are easy to find online and in many stores; however, a heavy-duty duster refill costs around $1 each. It’s not the most environmentally friendly solution.

I like Swiffer for dusting “knick-knacks” on mantels and shelves. The duster is flexible enough that I don’t have to move each small item every time I want to capture the dust. I also use it in my car to reach those tight spaces in the corners between the windshield and dashboard and all the little nooks and crannies of air vents.

The best lambswool duster

Norpro duster

The Norpro Pure Lambswool Duster acts as a natural magnet for dust, comes from a renewable source, and will last for years.

Pros: Natural fibers, a renewable material source, picks up dust easily, reusable, lasts for many years

Cons: Handle is not extendable

If you prefer a natural fiber duster, then lambswool is an excellent choice. Many synthetic fibers were developed to mimic the characteristics of wool. The qualities of wool fibers and the lanolin they contain make them a natural magnet for dust.

Wool has an inner cortex that is elastic and resilient to damage, meaning the fiber can be bent more than 20,000 times without breaking. The cortex is covered with a cuticle layer that is composed of hundreds of microscopic overlapping scales. The scales create tiny pockets that trap and hold dust particles. Finally, the scales are covered by a thin, protective film called the epicuticle that makes the fibers resistant to abrasion on even the most delicate surfaces.

If you decide on a wool duster, look no further than the Norpro Pure Lambswool Duster. I was introduced to the Norpro line while in college and still have the duster I purchased then. The dusters are available in 12-, 24-, and 48-inch lengths. The head is around 12 inches long and seven inches wide when fluffed. The handle is wooden, with a leather loop for hanging.

When you have finished a dusting session, simply step outside and spin the handle between your hands to release the dust. (Consider wearing a dust mask to avoid breathing in the dust particles.) If the head becomes excessively soiled, it can be hand washed with cool water and a gentle detergent. Give the head a good spin to fluff the fibers and then allow the duster to air dry.

If you are ready to lessen your dependence on plastics and choose a natural fiber, Norpro Lambswool is an excellent choice.

The best duster for tight spaces

OXO under appliance duster

One glance under your kitchen and laundry room appliances and you’ll know why you need the OXO Good Grips Under Appliance Microfiber Duster.

Pros: Slim profile and flexible handle fit under appliances and in tight spaces, the duster head is removable for washing, reusable

Cons: Duster head can shed if not washed before the first use

After an embarrassing moment when the refrigerator had to be moved to retrieve some dropped jewelry, I discovered the OXO Good Grips Under Appliance Microfiber Duster. It is the perfect dusting tool. I simply can’t move some appliances and furniture during weekly cleaning, but a few swipes with the OXO Under Appliance Duster and I can feel satisfied that my house is cleaner.

You may say, “who cares” about the hidden dust. Unfortunately, it can be a breeding ground for insects and can even hinder the proper operation of an appliance. Dust and lint under a refrigerator can clog the circulating fan and cause it to overheat and fail. With a clothes dryer, excessive lint can cause a fire, especially with gas dryers. It’s not all a vanity thing.

The OXO Under Appliance Duster has a microfiber head that is removable for easy cleaning in the washer. The duster head flexes so it can conform to tight spaces and the 33.5-inch length will reach the back of most deep appliances, cabinets, and furniture. The duster head can be removed and washed for reuse.

The best duster for window blinds

window blind duster

If you want to remove dust from window blinds and shutters more quickly, the Hiware Window Blind Cleaner Duster is for you.

Pros: Cleans window blinds, indoor shutters, and air vents thoroughly, comes with five duster heads, washable, reusable, can be used with a cleaning solution if needed

Cons: Microfiber can shed if not rinsed before first use

I have white wooden blinds on every window in my home. They are great for privacy and to shut out the heat of the sun but they do attract dust. I’ve tried other types of dusters to get rid of the dust that clings to both sides of each slat but just when I thought I had all the dust removed, I’d see it clinging to a slat I missed. Then I found Hiware Window Blind Cleaner Duster.

This ingenious little contraption has a sturdy three-pronged plastic handle and microfiber “gloves” that slip over the prongs. I can dust the top and bottoms of blinds at the same time. To get the best results, give the flexible handle a little squeeze to get good contact with the slat surfaces.

Since there are five microfiber cloths included, when one gets soiled I can just slip on a fresh one and keep dusting. At the end of the job, all the cloths go in the washer.

FAQs

How do you reduce dust in your home?

In addition to looking for the most effective, easiest to use, and the best value in dusters, there are also other steps you can take to lower the amount of dust in your home.

  • Declutter: The less stuff you have in your home to accumulate dust, the less dust there will be.
  • Clean from the top down: When you’re ready to clean, start at the top of the room and do the floors last, so you can capture all of the dust that settles there. No need to dust twice.
  • Wash bedding weekly: We spend hours and hours in a bed and within a week bedding accumulates a great deal of human and pet dander, dust mites, and dead skin. Washing is a simple way to get rid of the problem.
  • Remove your shoes at the door: Around 60% of dust particles come from outside, and removing shoes reduces the amount of dust in a home.
  • Lower the humidity: Keeping interior humidity levels around 40% will reduce the number of moisture-loving dust mites.
  • Change your air filters: Fresh filters in your HVAC system will trap more dust and keep your system running more efficiently.
  • Bathe and groom pets: A clean animal sheds less dander and hair.
  • Vacuum regularly: Keep floors clean with a good vacuum that has a HEPA filter to trap the smallest dust particles.

Are reusable dusters or disposable dusters better for removing dust?

The choice of whether to use a reusable duster, such as the OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster, or a disposable duster, such as the Swiffer Heavy Duty Duster, mostly breaks down to cost and personal preference. Reusable dusters offer a significantly cheaper alternative to dusting while disposable dusters must be replaced after each use. Both options work very similarly when it comes to removing dust, as they both are made of special fibers that grip dust easily and efficiently.

If you’re planning on buying a reusable microfiber duster, consider also purchasing a microplastic-capturing bag for when you wash it.

Check out our other great cleaning guides

window cleaner
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 14 best bathtubs in 2021

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

A closeup of a tub in a tiled shower with the water falling from the showerhead
  • When shopping for a bathtub, consider the size of your bathroom and how you intend to use your tub.
  • The best bathtubs come from brands like Delta, Kohler, and Rejuvenation.
  • Consider calling a professional to install your new tub since it can involve tricky plumbing.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Whether you enjoy an occasional deep soak or regularly treat yourself to bubble baths, a comfortable and well-built bathtub is an essential fixture of your home. It’s a big investment, so it’s important to carefully weigh how you intend to use it, your budget, and the amount of available space.

The most common kind of bathtub is an alcove tub, which is surrounded by walls on three sides. You can add a showerhead to an alcove tub to maximize space and utility. Other types of bathtubs include drop-in, corner, freestanding, and walk-in tubs.

The best bathtub for you depends on many factors. The biggest things to consider are the size of your bathroom and where you’d like to place the tub. Certain materials, like cast iron, are heavy and you may need to reinforce your floor. The location of your plumbing and the size of your water heater may also impact what type of tub you buy. Finally, you’ll want to consider whether you want certain features, including massage jets or accessibility options such as grab bars or seating. Learn more about the differences among bathtub types, factors and features to consider, how to install a bathtub, and other bathtub FAQs.

For each type of bathtub, we included a few options so you can find the best one for your needs, budget, and style. Alex Rennie contributed previous reporting to this piece.

Here are the best bathtubs of 2021

Our testing methodology

white freestanding bathtub in front of a tiled wall testing methodology for best bathtubs in 2021

We consulted Kerrie Kelly, National Board Chair of the American Society of Interior Designers, and Tricia Fraser, a merchant and bathtub expert at The Home Depot, for insights into the bathtub-buying process.

Taking their advice and our own research and experience into account, we chose two to three options covering a variety of materials, budgets, and styles for each category. We also looked at whether the retailer offered home installation and other services that make it easier to buy a bathtub.

The best alcove bathtub

closeup of white alcove bathtub with bath products lining the wall the best alcove bathtubs in 2021

You’re probably most familiar with the ubiquitous alcove bathtub. There are plenty of options to choose from, and we love them because they’re usually pretty affordable.

Classic Rectangular Alcove Bathtub (medium)Aloha Rectangular Alcove Bathtub (medium)Villager Rectangular Alcove Bathtub (medium)
The best drop-in bathtub

american standard drop-in bathtub in front of a window the best drop-in bathtubs in 2021

A drop-in tub requires a little more space than an alcove tub because it doesn’t touch your walls. It has a slightly more sleek look and tends to be more expensive.

Evolution Bathtub (medium)Devonshire Drop-In Bathtub (medium)
The best corner bathtub

the ariel right drain corner whirlpool bathtub in a bathroom the best corner bathtub in 2021

Corner bathtubs make the most of limited space. These days, they commonly have built-in jets so you can enjoy a bath and massage without going to the spa. Extra features like jets or lights do make corner tubs more expensive.

Eureka Corner Whirlpool Bathtub (medium)Right Drain Corner Whirlpool Bathtub (medium)Dual Corner Bathtub (medium)
The best freestanding soaking bathtub

curved red clawfoot soaking bathtub with white trim the best freestanding bathtubs in 2021

Freestanding bathtub styles range from vintage and elaborate to modern and minimalist. Whatever your personal style is, keep in mind that freestanding tubs take up a lot of space and can be heavy since many tend to be made from cast iron.

Arseni Clawfoot Soaking Bathtub (medium)Rebecca Flatbottom Bathtub (medium)Bordeaux Flatbottom Bathtub (medium)West Slope Cast Iron Tub (medium)
The best walk-in bathtub

universal tubs quick fill walk-in bathtub the best walk-in bathtub in 2021

Walk-in tubs are designed with accessibility and ergonomics in mind, so you don’t need to lift your leg over a ledge. Not only are they easier to enter, they often feature comfortable benches, a grab bar, and other add-ons to enhance your bathing experience.

Quick Fill Walk-In Bathtub (medium)Walk-In Jetted Tub (medium)

What are the different kinds of bathtubs? How do I know which one is best for my bathroom?

Alcove bathtub: An alcove tub is surrounded on three sides by walls, so you get in on the exposed side. It’s usually the most affordable and space-efficient. 

Drop-in bathtub: A drop-in tub is “framed by materials like cabinetry, tile, or solid surface slabs and ‘drop-in’ to a deck,” said Kerrie Kelly, National Board Chair of the American Society of Interior Designers. Although it might be surrounded by walls like an alcove tub, its sides do not actually touch the walls directly. 

Corner bathtub: A corner tub is often three-sided or heart-shaped, with two of the sides in the corner of your space. It’s best for small spaces. 

Freestanding bathtub: A freestanding tub can be placed anywhere in the room and is often the focal point. It can stand directly on the floor, on a low pedestal, or on claw feet. It takes up a lot of space and tends to be heavy, so you might need to reinforce your floor, but it has the most eye-catching and elegant look of all the tub types. Both Kelly and Tricia Fraser, a merchant and bathtub expert at The Home Depot say freestanding tubs are growing in popularity and the biggest trend in bathroom design recently. 

Walk-in bathtub: A walk-in tub is for people who can’t step into a regular tub. It has a watertight door and “typically has safety features, like a grab bar, slip-resistant textured flooring, and ADA-compliant seating. These tubs can also offer a therapeutic massage experience with features like jetted whirlpool or jetted air,” said Fraser.


What to consider when buying a bathtub 

The main factors to consider as you decide which bathtub to buy are: 

Bathroom size: Take measurements of your bathroom and doorway. Depending on the amount of space available, you may only be able to buy certain tub styles. 

Plumbing location: The location of your plumbing rough-in limits where you can place your tub. The drain location needs to work with your tub’s design. 

Water heater size: “Confirm that your water heater can handle the size of tub you are looking to fill. Make sure your water heater is large enough to fill about 2/3 of your tub with warm water,” said Kelly. This is especially important if you opt for a deeper soaking tub. 

Material: Material affects the price, feel, and longevity of your tub. The most common bathtub materials are acrylic, fiberglass, porcelain-enameled steel, and porcelain-enameled cast iron. Acrylic is long-lasting, lightweight, affordable, and widely available in many colors and styles. Fiberglass is the most affordable but not as durable. Both enameled cast iron and steel are very durable and resistant to scratches and stains, but cast iron has even greater heat retention, keeping your bath water hot for a longer period of time. 

Weight capacity of your floor: If your tub is going on the second floor, you might need to reinforce the floor based on what materials you choose. Acrylic tubs are lighter in weight, while cast iron tubs are a lot heavier. 

Extra features: Features like whirlpool jets, grab bars, and seating will bring the price of your tub up but add to the overall experience of your bath.


What are the standard measurements for a bathtub? 

According to Fraser, a standard tub measures 60″ x 30″. The average water depth is 16 inches. Corner, freestanding, and walk-in baths tend to be deeper. As you look at different sizes, consider the heights of anyone who will use the tub, how many people will usually be in the tub at once, and if you prefer to curl up or splay out in the water. If you’re in a physical store or showroom, it always helps to climb into the tub to test the ergonomics and feel out the size for yourself.


How much does a bathtub cost? 

It all depends on the materials and features, but a bathtub usually starts at $200 and averages around $300 to $500. Corner, freestanding, and walk-in tubs tend to be more expensive and can cost thousands of dollars.


Should I install a bathtub by myself or call a professional? 

We love a DIY project, but it’s best to call a professional for this one. Because bathtub installation involves plumbing and tiling expertise, “incorrect installation can result in water damage or an unleveled tub,” said Fraser. 

If you do have prior plumbing experience, Fraser’s advice is “to double check the door width to make sure you can move the tub into the bathroom, be knowledgeable on basic plumbing and framing, and know your existing flooring and plumbing’s condition.”

Check out our other home renovation guides

Bath mats thumbnail image
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best alarm clocks we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • An alarm clock should be loud enough to wake you up but not so abrupt that it’ll shock you out of bed.
  • These alarm clocks can help avoid morning grogginess so you can start your day in a better mood.
  • The Loftie features a two-phase alarm system for a gentler and healthier wake up experience.

Keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule is an important factor in maintaining healthy sleep habits. A reliable alarm clock can help us wake up at the same time regularly. Traditional alarm clocks are intended to jolt us out of sleep with irritating noise, but waking up abruptly is unnatural and can even cause health issues; a recent study found a link between harsh alarm tones and increased levels of morning grogginess. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a quality alarm clock; in fact, the same study found that melodic alarms could improve alertness in the morning.

There are many options when it comes to alarm clocks, from the obnoxiously loud and dangerous to gentler and more practical options. Choosing an alarm clock depends on each individual’s sleep habits and needs. For this guide, we spoke with Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine who I also interviewed for our best sunrise alarm clocks guide. “Light sleepers may want as few distractions and artificial light as possible” said Dimitriu. “Deep sleepers may want an alarm that is loud, or gradually loud, possibly with light or a sunrise simulator to facilitate waking up from a deep slumber.”

As a certified sleep science consultant and sleep researcher, I always test products critically to see if they can improve sleep quality. For this guide, I tested eight alarm clocks for three days each. We evaluated them on how easy to use and reliable they were, and noted each alarms’ volume, quality, and any additional useful features. We learned that with the right alarm clock you can actually look forward to waking up.

Here are the best alarm clocks of 2021

Our testing methodology

Six alarm clocks sit in semi-darkness on a bedside table as part of testing for the best alarm clock in 2021

I spoke with sleep expert Dr. Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, and also relied on my own experience as a sleep researcher and certified sleep science consultant to write this guide. Prior to writing this guide, I authored our guide to the best sunrise alarm clocks. I’ve learned an alarm clock should be reliable in waking us up, but also gentle in doing so. For this guide, I tested eight different alarm clocks and evaluated them on the following criteria: 

Setup: For each alarm clock I noted how easy or difficult it was to set up the time and alarms, and also how helpful the instructions were. 

Performance: I used each alarm clock for a minimum of three consecutive days to get used to the routine and noted how effective they were in waking me up on time with the features I selected. 

Alarm sound: I carefully assessed each alarm’s volume and sound selection, and noted whether the alarm was a gradual melodic tune and loud enough to wake up heavy sleepers. 

Extra features: I tested out any additional features of each alarm clock including Bluetooth integration, sleep timers, accompanying mobile apps, projectors, and voice control features.

Durability: I tested and noted how durable and resistant each was by knocking them off my nightstand to see if they were easily damaged.

The best alarm clock overall

A hand touching the Loftie alarm clock on a bedside table in front of a lamp and a plant as part of testing for the best alarm clock in 2021

The Loftie is constantly updating its firmware to provide a unique and healthy wake-up experience with a growing library of pleasant melodies. 

Pros: A two-phase alarm system, multiple alarms, an ever-growing library of content, Bluetooth speaker that can play music from your device

Cons: Relies on Wi-Fi for continuous system updates

The Loftie was engineered to break the bad habit of scrolling through our phones up until bedtime or as soon as we wake up. It’s easy to use with only three buttons at the top of the device and features a built-in dimmable amber nightlight. It works as a white noise machine, Bluetooth speaker, and sleep timer.

The alarm clock is set up in two simple steps: plug into a power outlet and download the Loftie app (available for iOS or Android). Configuring the device took longer than expected — approximately 15 minutes — as it needs time to sync to reliable Wi-Fi and to catch up on the latest system updates. Loftie is constantly making updates to its device with a growing library of sounds, alarms, and new features. The time sets automatically, and multiple alarms can be set through the app or directly from the device.

What’s unique about the Loftie is the two-phase alarm system, something I haven’t seen in any other alarm clock. The first alarm is a gentle tone that helped my body and mind to slowly awaken, the second is a louder melody that gets me out of bed. This method is effective in reducing sleep inertia (morning grogginess). The Loftie did a fantastic job at waking me up on time every single day to pleasant, gradually loud tunes.

I also like that the display dims automatically as the night progresses. The warm amber glow serves as a gentle nightlight that is easily adjustable with the larger button on top. Scrolling through social media right before bed can be replaced with the wellness content that the Loftie offers. I enjoyed the breathing techniques, sound baths, and bedtime stories to fall asleep.  

Even though everything is adjustable through the device itself, downloading the Loftie app is necessary to launch the alarm clock. It’s the only way to keep up with the latest updates. Overall, the Loftie exceeded my expectations, and I can’t wait to see what other updates it comes up with next.

The best alarm clock for a gentle wake up

Philips Smartsleep Connected alarm clock on a bedside table - Philips Smartsleep Connected Review

The Philips Smartsleep Connected creates a pleasant morning experience with a stunning sunrise simulation and melodic nature sounds.  

Pros: Fully customizable, uses light and sound to wake you up or help you fall asleep, built-in sensor that calculates bedroom conditions, AUX cable

Cons: Larger than most alarm clocks, not a Bluetooth speaker

The Philips Smartsleep Connected is a relatively large sunrise alarm clock that is controlled almost entirely from the SleepMapper app (available for iOS or Android). Instead of relying on harsh alarms, sunrise alarm clocks like the Philips Smartsleep use increasing light intensity and natural sounds to wake you up gradually. It features customizable “wind-down” and “wake-up” profiles, a USB port to charge your phone, and an AUX cord to play music from your device. Up to 16 alarms can be set and it has a backup battery to ensure you still wake up on time in case of power outages. 

The Philips Smartsleep was the top pick in our guide to the best sunrise alarm clocks because of its quality and unique functions. The alarm is a combination of a beautiful sunrise simulation and gradual melodic sounds that can reduce sleep inertia. The device calculates bedroom temperature, humidity, and brightness and makes recommendations for a better sleep environment. 

This alarm clock is built with many useful features but one thing it lacks is the ability to play music via Bluetooth. Although this device can’t wake you up to your favorite song, it will improve your morning routine. I’ve continued using this alarm clock since writing our sunrise alarm clock guide, and after months of waking up to its gradual sunrise and melodies, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in how I wake up. This sunrise alarm clock helps me wake up in a better mood, feeling productive and ready for the day.

Read our full review of the Philips Smartsleep Connected.

The best alarm clock for heavy sleepers

A hand touches the Emerson SmartSet alarm clock as it sits on a bedside table as part of testing for the best alarm clock in 2021

The Emerson SmartSet has the best digital LED time display with easy-to-read large numbers and a beautiful cyan nightlight.   

Pros: Large easy-to-read time display, Bluetooth capabilities, convenient USB port

Cons: Time display cannot be completely shut off

The Emerson SmartSet clock radio is designed with a lovely cyan LED time display that is large, clear, and easy to read. Two alarms can be programmed to operate on weekdays only, weekends only, or all seven days of the week. A soft, cyan nightlight is conveniently turned on and off at the touch of a button on top of the device. Other features include a USB charging port, Bluetooth speaker, and FM radio. 

The time and date are set automatically after selecting the correct time zone. The buzzer is a gradual beeping alarm sound that gets loud enough to wake up even heavy sleepers. You can also wake up to your favorite FM radio station that gradually increases in volume. While it includes a Bluetooth speaker, it unfortunately doesn’t have the option to wake up to your own music. 

The cyan nightlight glow is a nice addition to this alarm clock, and it looks great in the dark. I find that it sets a very relaxing mood in the bedroom. The device is easy to navigate with the buttons located at the top of the device and the sound quality is decent for an alarm clock. 

One issue that I had with this alarm clock is not being able to change the alarm settings while listening to music via Bluetooth. To set the alarms or adjust other settings users have to stop the radio or music first. Additionally, even though the nightlight can be fully turned on or off, the time display can only be dimmed and it doesn’t shut off completely. It’s recommended that light sleepers and people with insomnia maintain a dark bedroom throughout the night. 

Overall, the Emerson Smartset is still a great device for people who like a big-time display, a beautiful cyan glow, and reliable alarm clock.

The best projector alarm clock

The Magasonic projection alarm clock sits on a bedside table and projects the time onto a white wall as part of testing for the best alarm clock in 2021

The Magnasonic Projection-Temp-Connection alarm clock is a reliable time projector that will ensure you wake up promptly every morning. 

Pros: Easy to use, convenient time and temperature projector, AUX audio input

Cons: No Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, only three brightness levels and one alarm sound option

The Magnasonic alarm clock is a sleek and easy to set up alarm clock with a projector for convenient viewing. It features a blue LCD display with a clear view of the time and indoor temperature. These stats can also be viewed via an adjustable projector that displays on wall or ceiling. When total darkness is needed, an auto dimmer feature turns off both the display and light projector. Two alarms can be set to wake to your favorite AM/FM radio station or the built-in buzzer. Other features include the sleep and nap functions, a backup battery, and AUX audio input to listen to your music (but you can’t wake up to AUX audio).

The time and date automatically set after the device is connected to a power outlet and the correct time zone is selected. You have the option to activate the alarms on Monday through Friday, the weekend only, or just one day. The sound is a gradual loud beeping tone that woke me up gently as the time projected on the ceiling. Looking at the time immediately after opening your eyes can be a good reminder to avoid hitting that snooze button. It encouraged me to get out of bed. 

I like that this alarm clock displays the time, indoor temperature, and day of the week; keeping track of bedroom conditions and adjusting accordingly can really impact the way we sleep. I also like that for a traditional alarm clock the sound is not abrupt and obnoxious. Instead, it’s a gradual sound that gets loud enough to wake up even heavy sleepers. For light sleepers like me, this alarm clock offers reliability without being too jarring.   

The Magnasonic alarm clock lacks some nice-to-have features compared to other alarm clocks, including more alarm sound options and Bluetooth connectivity. It would be nice if the display dimmer had more than three brightness levels. Overall, the Magnasonic is a reliable, easy to use and convenient device.

The best minimalist alarm clock

A close up of the JALL alarm clock as it sits on a bedside table as part of testing for the best alarm clock in 2021

This alarm clock’s minimalist design won’t take up much space on your nightstand, and even though it’s small, it’s loud enough to wake up heavy sleepers. 

Pros: Simple, elegant design; displays bedroom temperature and humidity levels

Cons: Alarm sound is not gradual

The Jall Digital alarm clock is modern piece that looks great on any bedside table. Its triangular wooden design and small size are perfect for individuals who want a simple yet effective alarm clock. In addition to its stylish design, this alarm clock also features a dimmable time display with humidity and temperature indicators. Up to three alarms can be set for different times of the day or week. The brightness of the display can be adjusted by turning the scroll wheel. 

Setup is fairly simple with the easy-to-follow instructions — besides setting the time, date, and alarms, there’s not much else to do. It’s always a bonus when an alarm clock can calculate bedroom conditions — this device detects humidity levels and temperature through an integrated sensor. Having that information at hand can encourage people to strive for the best bedroom conditions for optimal sleep.

I like the elegance and simplicity of this alarm clock. The sound sensitive mode is a unique function that makes the screen display disappear and reappear by tapping it or making noise, like clapping. This is a great feature for people with sleep anxiety or insomnia who should avoid looking at the time throughout the night. It also keeps the bedroom dark. 

That said, the alarm sound on this device is not gradual like most of the others I tested. It wasn’t a jarring, unpleasant alarm, but individuals who are looking for a more natural wake up experience might want to check out something different. Overall, the Jall digital alarm clock is a great option for minimalists — you can also purchase it in brown, black, white, or yellow to match your decor. It won’t take much space on your nightstand but it’s still loud enough to wake up heavy sleepers.

The best alarm clock for waking up to music

A hand touches the iHome iBT29BC alarm clock as it sits on a bedside table as part of testing for the best alarm clock in 2021

Wake up to your favorite song and a light show with the iHome iBT29BC Bluetooth Color Changing Dual Alarm Clock.

Pros: Wake up to a fun light show and favorite sounds or music, Bluetooth speaker, USB charging port 

Cons: Buttons are not easy to navigate in the dark 

The iHome BT is designed as an LED color changing sphere equipped with all the functions of an alarm clock and more. Up to two alarms can be set, it plays FM radio, and works as a Bluetooth speaker. Other features include an adjustable clock display that can be shut off for total darkness, a USB charging port, and voice control functions when paired to a smartphone. This is a great device for individuals who like to wake up to a light show and their favorite music. 

Setting up the unit was easy with the included instructions. I set the alarm to wake me up to a combination of the “sky” light mode (this mode matches the color of the sky at the current time of day) and my morning Spotify playlist. I also tested out the four different wake tones and the volume. The alarms are melodic tunes that are loud, but won’t shock you out of bed. The sleep timer feature is a nice-to-have for people who prefer to fall asleep to soothing sounds or relaxing music.

I enjoyed waking up to my favorite songs with this device; it makes getting up in the morning an easier transition. Being able to dim and completely shut off the time display is another great feature for light sleepers like me who prefer total darkness at night. The volume on this device gets loud, so it’s also a good option for heavy sleepers. 

That said, this alarm clock failed to wake me up to my music a couple times when my Wi-Fi got disconnected during the night. Fortunately, the backup battery still worked even when the device was unplugged; I just got the standard alarm sound instead of my playlist. Second, the control buttons are not easily visible in the dark and it’s hard to differentiate them. 

What else we tested

Two alarm clocks sit on a bedside table as part of testing for the best alarm clock in 2021

In addition to our top picks, we also tested several other alarm clocks that didn’t quite make the cut. 

What else we recommend and why:

iLuv Time Shaker: This alarm clock has many useful features including Bluetooth, a wireless charging platform, dual alarms, and more. The vibration shaker is supposed to be placed under the pillow to wake users without disturbing their partner (or for folks with hearing impairments who won’t wake up to an audio alarm). The shaker’s vibration level is very powerful and cannot be adjusted. It’s a very abrupt awakening when placed under the pillow. A gradual adjustable vibration option could make this device better. However, if you need an alarm that will physically alert you when it’s time to wake up, this is a decent option. 

What we don’t recommend and why:

Smartro: The Smartro alarm clock features an outdoor wireless remote sensor to calculate outdoor temperature and humidity, and a built-in sensor for indoor conditions. However, the device lacks some key features such as FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s lightweight and gets knocked over very easily when trying to hit the snooze button. The display is low quality, and the projection is only visible when directed to the ceiling (it appears upside down when directed to the wall). Overall, it was just not a practical device.

FAQs

What type of alarm clock is best for light sleepers?

One important aspect to consider when choosing an alarm clock is what type of sleeper you are. If you’re a light sleeper you might not need something very loud, and you’ll also want something with lights that can be dimmed and turned off during the night — light sleepers are typically very sensitive to ambient light in the bedroom. You may find the most benefit from a gentle alarm like a sunrise alarm clock.


What type of alarm clock is best for heavy sleepers?

Dr. Dimitriu recommends loud alarm clocks for heavy sleepers “which can be placed far from the bed stand — so they would require getting up and walking over to turn it off.” Like light sleepers, heavy sleepers can also benefit from an alarm clock that integrates light to help with the wake-up process.


Why can’t I just use my phone as an alarm?

If you’re trying to break the habit of being on your phone from the second you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, you should consider using a dedicated alarm clock. “Keeping a phone on a nightstand is a bit of a distraction and can negatively impact sleep,” said Dimitriu. “It can create too much excitement.” Similarly, if you experience sleep anxiety or insomnia, many modern alarm clocks like the Loftie or Philips Smartsleep offer meditation and slowly dimming lights to help you fall asleep faster.

Lastly, no matter what kind of sleeper you are, it’s better to wake up gently. Waking up to the blasting sound of a phone alarm is unnatural and unhealthy. “It’s important to wake up gradually, not to the sound of a four-alarm fire,” said Dimitriu. A good bedside alarm clock has an array of gentle, gradual sounds.

Check out more of our bedroom guides

smiling child laying on a mattress
Read the original article on Business Insider

The best indoor herb gardens in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Indoor herb gardens make for delicious meals year-round.
  • The best options are easy to set up and have successful seed growth, even if you don’t have gardening experience.
  • Our top pick by Click and Grow allows for year-round growth and automatically feeds your plants.

Herbs enhance the flavor of any meal, but it’s too easy to run out of a particular herb once you’ve already started preparing dinner. Buying an entire bundle of parsley at the store doesn’t make much sense if you only need a bit of it for a recipe. Growing an own indoor herb garden solves these problems, and ensures that you’ll have herbs on hand, year-round.

When it comes to indoor herb garden kits, though, you’re sure to run into variations in quality. Some kits have poor seed growth success rates, while others are made with flimsy materials that you’ll soon need to replace. We did the research and have found the best indoor herb gardens you can buy.

The herb gardens in this list are ideal for indoor use, although some of them can be transferred outside. The kits are beginner friendly, so if you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry. These herb gardens have been chosen for their quality, practicality, and design. Some of the planters use innovative ways to grow a garden within your home, and the kits offer just about everything you’ll need to get started, making gardening a hassle-free experience.

If you want to add a bit of freshness and flavor enhancement to your cooking and love the idea of always being able to harvest just the right amount of fresh herbs, then these indoor herb gardens are right for you.

Here are the 3 best indoor herb gardens in 2021:

The best indoor herb garden overall

Best low maintenance indoor herb garden shown with a beige base and growing basil.

The Click and Grow Smart Garden Indoor Gardening Kit simplifies gardening with automatic maintenance so you can grow herbs year-round.

Pros: Automatic watering and lighting makes for hassle-free gardening, year-round indoor plant growth, easy to set up and maintain

Cons: Smallest version has space to grow only three plants at a time, pricey

Growing herbs indoors couldn’t get any easier than with the Click and Grow Smart Garden Indoor Gardening Kit. You can set this kit up in just seconds — drop the plant cartridges into the container, fill the water reservoir, plug the unit in, and you’re done.

Using Click and Grow’s Smart system, the special plant pods gradually release nutrients to your plants, so there’s no worry about forgetting to add a nutrient solution into the soil. The watering system works through capillary action; it’s completely silent and keeps the soil appropriately moistened. Energy efficient LED lighting means you don’t have to rely on window light to grow your plants.

This kit includes pre-seeded basil capsules, but you can grow countless herbs with Click and Grow’s variety of plant pods. Choose from parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and cilantro. Salad greens and fruiting plants are also available. None of the Click and Grow plant pods use any GMO seeds or herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides.

This particular kit is the smaller version, which has room for growing only three plants at a time. A larger option, with space for nine plants, is available.

The best indoor herb garden for decor

A hanging plater made of cotton rope and three white, ceramic pots.

Sleek, charming, and conveniently sized, the Mkono Ceramic Hanging Planter adds style to an indoor herb garden.

Pros: Cords allow you to adjust the distance between the pots, aesthetically appealing design, pluggable drain holes

Cons: Ceramic pots are heavy, careful mounting is required

With the Mkono Ceramic Hanging Planter, your herb garden won’t just be functional, but it also makes an attractive statement in your home. This sleek and chic planter is crafted from quality white ceramic and cotton rope. It fits right in with modern aesthetics but is also a wonderful way to add stylish contrast to a country design. Hang it in a sunny spot in your kitchen, dining room, or sun room for a living art piece.

This planter is ideal for an herb garden, though you can also use it for succulents, ferns, and other small plants. Each ceramic pot includes a small drainage hole and plug, so you can open up the hole only when it’s needed. The pots measure 6.5 inches long by 3.75 inches wide and 2.5 inches high, making them large enough to accommodate your herb garden without overwhelming a room. If you don’t have a windowsill or countertop space to spare, this planter is a convenient alternative since it’s hung from above.

The best space-saving indoor herb garden

The best stackable indoor herb garden with five levels of three pots each.

The Amazing Creation Stackable Planter lets you create a comprehensive herb garden even if you’re short on space.

Pros: Accommodates up to 15 different plants, easy to assemble, sturdy construction

Cons: Limited colors

Want to grow an assortment of herbs in your home, but don’t have the window or counter space for a large garden? The Amazing Creation Stackable Planter lets you utilize vertical space, so you can plant an herb garden without restriction. This five-tier planter consists of five different stackable pots that can accommodate up to 15 different plants. Each pot has 5 inches of space, so your creativity is the only limit to your herb garden.

This stackable planter includes built-in drainage grids, so water will drain down through the whole planter — all the way to the bottom tier. The planter is easy to set up and maintain, which is great for beginners. If you choose, you can take the planter outdoors during the summer and bring it indoors during the winter. The high-quality polypropylene is resistant to harsh weather.

Check out our other gardening guides

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Gardenite 10 Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best places to shop for bean bag chairs in 2021

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

A woman in a cardigan laying on a Moon Pod bean bag chair listening to headphones
  • A cozy bean bag chair can be a great addition to any children’s room, dorm room, or game room.
  • The best bean bag chairs are filled with soft materials and can support multiple seating positions.
  • We recommend shopping with these six brands for comfortable bean bag chairs.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

When many of us think of bean bag chairs, we think of the uncomfortably flat, outdated blobs of childhood. However, modern bean bags have evolved significantly, and are now made of more durable materials, have stylish designs, and are big enough to be used while sitting and laying in different positions. Bean bag chairs make a great addition to game rooms, small living spaces, and of course any college dorm room.

As anyone who’s lived in a college dorm knows, seating and space are extremely limited. Bean bag chairs can be a fun way to decorate your space while also adding more seating for friends and roommates. They can also be a very inexpensive furniture option if you’re outfitting a room on a budget.

After doing extensive research, we found that these six retailers are the best places to shop for bean bag chairs. These brands offer chairs that are great for movie nights, impromptu naps, and even for working comfortably from home.

Here are the best places to buy bean bag chairs in 2021

Moon Pod

A young boy and his dog sitting on the Moon Pod in a living room

Moon Pod offers bean bag chairs that are crafted to mimic the feeling of anti-gravity weightlessness and can change shape based on your preferred seating position or activity.

Pros: Offers support and holds its shape, eco-friendly materials, built-in carrying handle

Cons: Some models are too small for larger adults

Moon Pod‘s uniquely shaped bean bag chairs are built to support multiple body types and seating positions. Each Moon Pod is hand filled with high-density beads to replicate the feeling of flotation therapy, which purportedly promotes relaxation and stress relief. A soft cover is included with every Moon Pod purchase and can be removed and washed. Choose from five different cover colors including Neptune blue, rose quartz, and space gray. 

I tested the Moon Pod over a period of several weeks and found it to be comfortable and easy to set up. Upon receiving your Moon Pod you’ll need to put its cover on it, a process that is extremely easy due to the bean bag only weighing around 12 pounds. It takes a few days of sitting on the Moon Pod for it to fully expand and become more flexible. Overall, the chair is comfortable and provides enough support to work sitting up, but is still cozy enough for a quick nap. The Moon Pod can also be stored standing up and can easily fit in smaller corners and spaces without taking up an excessive amount of space.

Moon Pod also offers fun accessories to pair with your chair, including the back rest Crescent and the Lunar Lift foot rest. Extra covers are also available for purchase if you need a replacement.

What to buy:

The Moon Pod (medium)Super Moon Pod (medium)
Wayfair

A blonde woman sitting in a blue Big Joe bean bag chair talking on the phone

Wayfair combines budget-friendly prices with a wide selection of products.

Wayfair‘s wide selection of bean bag chairs includes many price points and styles. You can even find chairs specifically for children, along with uniquely-shaped chairs.

Wayfair prioritizes a positive customer shopping process; each of its bean bag chairs has easy-to-read product snapshots of the most important features. These features include the chair’s weight capacity, fill type, and whether it has a removable cover. 

The retailer also offers extensive customer service hours, with representatives available until midnight EST.

What to buy:

Milano Medium Bean Bag Chair (medium)Large Classic Bean Bag (medium)
Lovesac

A women and two children sleeping a large Lovesac under blankets in a living room

From small game room chairs to giant multi-seaters, Lovesac offers a wide size range of bean bags.

Lovesac is no stranger to creating comfortable seating options; the brand has been making bean bag chairs since 1995. It offers its “Sacs” in six different sizes which range from single seaters to giant bean bags that can accommodate up to four people. Each Sac is covered in a removable cover that can be washed. The brand currently offers more than 200 cover options, making it easy to find a style that will complement your home’s decor. 

Instead of using microbeads like most brands, Lovesac’s Sacs are made of durafoam which helps to absorb body weight while maintaining shape and support. After unboxing your Sac you’ll want to give it up to a week to fully expand to its true size. The brand also offers accessories like its Squattoman and Footsac blankets.

Lovesac also has a generous 60 day home trial so you can decide if it’s right for you. While the brand’s prices are on the higher side, its durable designs, generous warranty, and return policy make it worth the splurge.

What to buy:

GamerSac (medium)MovieSac (medium)
Target

A woman sitting in a living room on an orange bean bag chair

In addition to a seamless shopping experience, Target offers a selection of affordable bean bags in a variety of unique designs.

Target prioritizes its customer’s shopping experience by offering curbside and in-store pickup, and free two-day shipping on orders over $35. Its bean bag chair selection isn’t extensive, but includes several affordable, highly rated chairs. 

Many of the chairs are available in multiple colors, styles, and materials including suede and microfiber. Target also makes it easy to search by budget, color, and material preferences for a seamless shopping experience.

What to buy:

3′ Kids’ Bean Bag Chair (medium)Madison Faux Suede Beanbag 5′ (medium)
Pottery Barn Teen

Two teens reading a magazine each sitting in a bean bag chair

If you’re looking for a stylish bean bag chair that will complement your decor, Pottery Barn Teen has a collection of modern designs.

Pottery Barn Teen is well-known for its furniture, which offers Pottery Barn’s classic style with a fun teenage flair. Its furniture doesn’t just look great, but is also designed to be fully functional. The retailer’s bean bag offerings include chairs made of unique materials like sherpa, denim, and pony faux fur. It also has fun Harry Potter-themed designs, which would be a welcome addition to any fan’s room. 

Pottery Barn’s bean bag chairs are surprisingly affordable given the high-quality materials and typical premium prices of the brand.

What to buy:

Charcoal Chamois Bean Bag Chair (medium)Ivory Polar Bear Faux-Fur Bean Bag Chair (medium)
Amazon

A woman holding a cup of coffee on a big brown bean bag chair on a white background

Amazon offers a wide variety of products and convenient two-day shipping for Prime members.

Amazon is well known for its customer-friendly shopping experience that includes a wide product selection, and free and fast shipping with a Prime membership.

Customers can narrow down their bean bag chair selection by using one of Amazon’s many filters: search by brand, material, bean bag chair size, color, or by other customer reviews. The retailer currently offers more than 1,000 different bean bag chairs.

What to buy:

Memory Foam Filled Bean Bag Chair (medium)Bean Bag Chair (medium)
FAQs

A woman and a black puppy sitting in a large bean bag in a living room

What’s the best bean bag chair size for your college dorm or small space?

If you have a smaller space and are looking to add additional seating with a bean bag chair, you’ll want to be very aware of the size limitations of your space. We strongly suggest paying attention to measurements when shopping and even taking the time to measure your space prior to making any purchases.


How do you clean a bean bag chair?

When purchasing a bean bag chair you have two main options, a chair with a removable cover and a chair with a non-removable cover. You can easily machine wash and dry a removable cover if any spills or messes happen. However, with a non-removable cover, you’ll need to spot clean the chair, which may be difficult depending on the materials. Overall, if you’re worried about having to clean your bean bag chair, we recommend opting for a chair with a removable cover.


What are the best materials to look for when purchasing a bean bag chair?

Choosing a material for your bean bag chair is mostly dependent on your personal style preferences. Fabrics like denim, sherpa, and velvet can add a stylish hint of decor into your space. Faux leather and nylon are also performance fabrics and can work great at repelling liquids and stains. If you’re purchasing a chair for young children, we recommend prioritizing function over style.


How do you refill a flat bean bag chair?

Your bean bag chair may flatten after sitting and laying on it over time. Some brands such as Posh Creations sell extra beads or inserts that you can purchase to refill your bean bag chair if it’s starting to feel deflated. Other brands like Moon Pod encourage customers to reach out to its customer service team if your chair has flattened.

Check out more furniture guides

Best sofas and couches graphic
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best cocktail shakers we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

With the right equipment, making your own cocktails at home is easier than you’d think.

If you’re making a cocktail with citrus juice, egg whites, or cream, you’ll need a cocktail shaker to fully combine all the ingredients. “Ultimately, shaking lightens a drink – both through dilution and aeration – so it works better for fresher, brighter drinks (sours, fizzes),” said Ryan Chetiyawardana, the Global Bar Innovator of international hospitality company Lore Group and founder of cocktail bar Silver Lyan.

Cocktail shakers come in two forms. A Boston shaker is what you see professional bartenders slinging at your favorite cocktail bar. It’s made up of two metal tins that are jammed together to create a natural seal, and you usually have to buy the measuring jigger and strainer separately. A cobbler shaker, on the other hand, has three pieces: a metal tin (sometimes with interior measuring lines), cap, and built-in strainer.

The bartenders we spoke to unequivocally recommend Boston shakers because they’re light, durable, and chill their contents quickly. After testing, we also prefer Boston shakers, but some people like cobbler shakers for their built-in parts and attractive look so we’ve included both styles to give you the full range of options.

As for how to shake, everyone develops their own style – just don’t be shy about shaking aggressively, and shake long enough (usually about 15 seconds) for the tin to frost up. According to Jarrett Holborough of 12 Cocktail Bar, “you can shake your cocktail any way as long as your ice is hitting all four sides of the tin.” Find more cocktail shaking tips and cocktail shaker FAQs answered here and learn how to use a shaker in this 5-minute video below:

To test the best cocktail shakers, we made daiquiris (a standard test for bartenders) and blood orange whiskey sours with each contender, comparing cocktail smoothness, temperature, and volume. We also evaluated the ease of use, seal tightness, and durability of each shaker. See our full testing methodology here. After many cocktails made and enjoyed, we determined the top four cocktail shakers for home bartending.

Here are the best cocktail shakers of 2021:

Our testing methodology

best cocktail shakers 2021 testing methodology cocktail ingredients

We made one daiquiri and one blood orange whiskey sour (recipes below) in each cocktail shaker. For each cocktail, we noted and compared the following: 

  • Taste, consistency, and smoothness: Whether the ingredients were incorporated evenly and if the cocktail tasted balanced. 
  • Temperature: How cold the cocktail was after shaking. 
  • Volume: The final volume after shaking, to see the effect of the shaker on ice melt and dilution. 

An example of our test results:

Product name Daiquiri Whiskey Sour
OXO Steel Cocktail Shaker

Cold, didn’t seem to mix all the ingredients super evenly – some sips were very rum-y while others were more citrusy 

Temperature: 34°F

Volume: ⅝ cup

Really thick (too thick) and even foam, smooth, cold, again didn’t seem to mix all ingredients super evenly

Temperature: 34°F 

Volume: 1 cup (lot of dilution?)

To test seal strength and overall durability, we filled each shaker with 5 oz. water and ½ cup of ice, created a tight seal or closed the lid (depending on whether it was a Boston or cobbler shaker), and dropped it on concrete ground from shoulder height three times. We noted if the seal broke, scratches and dings to the shaker, and other durability issues. 

To test ease of use, we noted the size, weight, feel, comfort, and any leakage of each shaker. 

Daiquiri recipe used: 

  • 2 ounces light rum (Bacardi) 
  • 1 ounce lime juice (fresh-squeezed) 
  • ¾ ounces simple syrup 
  • ½ cup ice 

Blood orange whiskey sour recipe used:

  • 2 ounces whiskey (Kikori) 
  • 1.5 ounces blood orange juice (Stirrings) 
  • 0.5 ounces lemon juice (fresh-squeezed) 
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white 
  • ½ cup ice

The best cocktail shaker overall

best cocktail shakers 2021 best overall boston shaker cocktail kingdom

Beloved by bartenders everywhere, Cocktail Kingdom’s no-frills Koriko Weighted Shaking Tins create consistently smooth and cold cocktails. The tins fit together well to create a leak-free seal and they’re comfortable to hold and shake.

Pros: Doesn’t leak, light and sturdy construction, frosts up quickly, practical size, affordable 

Cons: Strainer and jigger not included, exterior may get uncomfortably cold  

The Koriko Weighted Shaking Tins look deceptively simple, but as is the case with many of the best products out there, straightforward, thoughtful design and durable construction lead to top results. 

In our cocktail making tests, the tins evenly mixed all the ingredients, taking the harsh edge off liquor and bringing out the subtle brightness of citrus juices. The final daiquiri and whiskey sour were mellow, balanced, and delicious. 

The two tins fit well together with little effort, no aggressive jamming necessary. They never leaked while shaking, and even after I dropped them a few times from shoulder height, their seal stayed intact. These drops led to light scuffing and tiny dings, but nothing substantial. The tins were also the easiest to pop open after shaking. 

It only takes a couple seconds of shaking for the tins to frost up, and the contents get really cold: it made the coldest daiquiri and the second-coldest whiskey sour of all the contenders. The tins themselves are lightweight and comfortable to shake, but they can get uncomfortably cold since there’s no added insulation. 

If you’re looking for efficiency and ease of use, Koriko’s tins deliver. Keep in mind that you still need to buy a strainer and jigger separately. They also come in gold-plated, copper-plated, and matte black versions if you like those styles, but they’re not dishwasher-safe.

The best cobbler cocktail shaker

best cocktail shakers 2021 cobbler shaker brumate

The sturdy BrüMate Shaker is triple-insulated to provide a condensation-free shaking experience and keep your cocktail cold in case you don’t drink it right away. It also doubles as a tumbler and comes with a lid for convenient enjoyment.

Pros: Doubles as drinking vessel, triple-insulated, built-in strainer, variety of colors 

Cons: Doesn’t come with jigger, strainer doesn’t always catch small pieces of citrus and ice 

The Brümate Shaker and Tumbler was the most durable and substantial cobbler shaker we tried that also didn’t leak. It gets its contents really cold and decently integrated (though not as much as our Boston shaker picks). 

I loved that the triple-insulated walls kept the exterior comfortably dry as I shook the shaker. Usually, frost is an immediate indication of whether the drink is getting cold enough. It’s hard to tell by feel alone with the Brümate, but in our temperature tests, it got just as cold as drinks made in non-insulated shakers. 

Unfortunately, the cap doesn’t double as a jigger, like with some cobbler shakers, but there is a built-in strainer. All the parts fit together well and don’t leak during shaking or pouring. For my whiskey sour test, the strainer didn’t catch the smallest pieces of lemon and ice. It’s not the biggest deal breaker if you don’t need the most perfect drink every time; just know your cocktail may have stray ice or citrus from time to time. 

This shaker is great for casual or outdoor drinking if you want to drink directly from the vessel rather than pouring it out into a new glass. Because of the insulation, it’ll stay cold, and it comes with a lid to protect your drink. The bottom is reinforced with a non-slip grip material to prevent spills whether it’s set on a kitchen countertop or outdoor deck. 

If you drop the shaker while shaking, it will break apart and spill the contents on the floor. However, the actual parts are strong and won’t suffer any damage.

The best cocktail shaker on a budget

best cocktail shakers 2021 budget affordable cheap oxo good grips

Low-cost materials and a flawed jigger design prevent the OXO Good Grips Cocktail Shaker from reaching full effectiveness. It makes a cold, integrated cocktail, but we’d only recommend it if you don’t want to spend more than $10 or don’t make cocktails often.

Pros: Affordable, lightweight, easy to shake, double-insulated, built-in strainer 

Cons: Materials aren’t durable, strainer doesn’t always catch small pieces of citrus and ice, jigger design is messy and doesn’t include useful measurements 

It can be pricey to build a bar cart of equipment and ingredients. Whether you’re a casual entertainer who doesn’t anticipate daily happy hours at home or you’re new to cocktail making and don’t want to splurge right away, OXO’s Good Grips Shaker is a solid, budget-friendly option. If you’re more serious about home bartending, we recommend investing in one of our other picks. 

The shaker is comfortable to hold and the top section is coated with a non-slip material, making it even more difficult for your hands to lose their grip as you’re shaking. Since it’s made from plastic instead of the usual stainless steel, it’s light and easy to shake. 

Surprisingly, this shaker, despite being made of plastic, also got the contents really cold. The final cocktails didn’t taste as smooth or balanced, and that’s likely because there isn’t enough space for all the ice and ingredients to move around in the small shaker. Still, they didn’t taste bad at all. 

The cap has handy (in theory) measurement markings for ¾ oz., 1 oz., and 1.5 oz. I would’ve found it even more useful if it had a ½ oz. marking, which is also common in recipes. In addition, the 1.5 oz. mark sits too closely to the top edge of the conical cap, meaning you have to be extra careful and slow as you pour ingredients in or they risk spilling out. Lastly, if you do choose to use the cap as a jigger, it could make the rest of the shaker slightly sticky once you flip it over and reattach it as a cap.

The best cocktail shaker for beginners

best cocktail shakers 2021 beginners charles joly crafthouse fortessa

Enter the world of cocktail making confidently with the Crafthouse by Fortessa Boston Shaker Set, which is designed by a professional bartender with typical user pain points in mind. It comes with an effective Hawthorne strainer, which means less shopping around for individual parts.

Pros: Designed by an expert, doesn’t leak, frosts up quickly, sturdy construction, includes strainer 

Cons: Jigger not included, harder to pop open than the Koriko 

For the uninitiated, the Crafthouse tins feel approachable since they’re a little smaller than average, ergonomic, and conveniently include a well-made strainer. 

Like the Koriko tins, this Crafthouse set helps make consistently smooth, cold, and delicious cocktails. It’s a little heavier and thicker than the Koriko, but I liked that the bottoms have ridges to provide a better grip while shaking. The tins fit into each other well but were slightly harder to release from each other than the Koriko set. 

The tins frost up within a couple seconds of shaking and get really cold, in fact yielding the coldest whiskey sour of all the contenders (29°F). It also produced a nice, even layer of foam that wasn’t too thin. While shaking, there was no leakage, and the tins didn’t break apart in my drop tests. 

The included Hawthorne strainer was also excellent: the coils fit inside and the wings fit over the large tin comfortably, and all the tiny holes strained the contents completely. You can complete the set with the jigger, which is two-sided and has all the appropriate and common measurements.

What else we tested

best cocktail shakers 2021 what else we tested barfly basics huckberry oxo

What else we recommend and why

Barfly Basics Cocktail Shaker Set: We loved the look and sturdy construction of this complete Boston shaker set (includes a jigger, bar spoon, and strainer), though the shaker tins are less flexible and more difficult to pop open. They made smooth and cold drinks that tasted a bit brighter and citrus-forward than other contenders and didn’t leak during shaking or pouring. 

Huckberry Elevated Cocktail Shaker: This 25-oz. cobbler shaker is large, rugged, and able to make up to four drinks at a time. Its measuring cap only measures in 1 oz. increments, and it was the only cobbler shaker we tried that had a screw-on top, which guaranteed against leakage. Though it mixed drinks evenly, we think it’s ultimately best for travel or group situations due to the design. 

What we don’t recommend and why 

OXO Steel Cocktail Shaker: OXO’s sturdier steel shaker option leaks a lot during both shaking and pouring, unless you hold it closely and carefully at the seam. It’s too much of a sticky mess to deal with when you can get more versatile, leak-proof options at the same price — like the Brumate.

What we’re testing next

best cocktail shakers 2021 testing next cresimo rabbit

Cresimo Boston Cocktail Shaker Set: The Cresimo set is popular on Amazon and looks like it could be a Koriko dupe thanks to the similar specs and design. Adding even more value, it comes with a jigger and strainer. 

Rabbit Twist-to-Lock Cocktail Shaker: We’re interested in taking a closer look at the twist-to-lock function, which solves the leakage issues of most cobbler shakers. It’s made from double-walled stainless steel that should keep the outside condensation-free while making an icy-cold drink inside.

Cocktail shaker and home bartending FAQs

best cocktail shakers 2021 faqs tips and tricks shake or stir boston cobbler shaker

Why do you need a cocktail shaker in the first place? Can’t you just stir the drink?

“As a general rule of thumb, cocktails that contain only spirits are stirred,” said Charles Joly, a Diageo World Class bartending champion, official bartender for the Oscars and Emmys, and founder of Crafthouse Cocktails. “Stirring chills, dillutes, combines ingredients, and adds texture, but that last point is the big difference. Stirring doesn’t aerate the cocktail like shaking does.” 

Stir: Cocktails containing only spirits, like a Negroni, Manhattan, or martini (“Yes, James Bond was wrong, you do not shake a martini,” emphasized Ivy Mix, partner at FIASCO! Wine and Spirits and head bartender and co-owner of cocktail bar Leyenda). 

Shake: Cocktails containing citrus, egg white, and other non-alcoholic ingredients, like a daiquiri, whiskey sour, or Cosmopolitan.


What’s the difference between a Boston shaker and a cobbler shaker? Which one is better? 

A Boston shaker has two parts — two tins that you push together to create a natural seal. The measuring jigger and strainer are distinct parts and may be sold separately or as part of a larger Boston shaker set. A cobbler shaker has three parts — one large tin, a much smaller top piece that is screwed on or placed on top and contains a built-in strainer, and a cap. Sometimes the cap or smaller top piece has interior measurement markings so it can double as a jigger.

Functionally, cobbler shakers are more likely to leak and they’re smaller, making it harder to shake and “whip in sufficient amounts of air,” according to Chetiyawardana. But because they have a built-in strainer and you don’t need to learn how to create a natural seal, they may be more approachable and convenient to use for some people. 

Boston shakers could have a learning curve because you must place one tin in the other at the correct angle in order to create a tight seal. However, well-designed and sized Boston shaker tins should fit perfectly in each other and are also easy to release. They’re also really durable, and in our durability tests, they suffered the least damage. When dropped on the ground, they hold all the contents in. Even if you have a too-vigorous shaking session and the shaker slips from your hands, your cocktail will still be safe. Like most professional bartenders, we prefer the Boston shaker.


How do you shop for a cocktail shaker? What are the most important features? 

Material: Stainless steel is the standard. It’s durable and relatively lightweight, and when shaken with ice, it helps get your drink very cold, very quickly. It’s also easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. 

Size: Consider how many people you’re making cocktails for in one session. The average Boston shaker tin holds 28 ounces and the average cobbler shaker holds 18-20 ounces to serve one drink. If you regularly entertain, it could be worth looking for a shaker with a larger capacity. And, if you have small hands, look for more narrow tins. 

Included accessories: To make a cocktail, you need a shaker, jigger, and strainer. Does the set you’re buying have all three parts? Are you comfortable shopping for a jigger and strainer separately, or would you prefer if they came in the set? A cobbler shaker partly solves this problem because it has a built-in strainer and sometimes the cap has measurement lines.


How do you shake a cocktail shaker? How long do you shake it? 

Be vigorous. “The key is you want to shake it awake, not rock it to sleep…I recommend channeling your inner quarterback and really getting some movement in there, being sure to put a hand on the top and the bottom of the shaker so nothing explodes,” said Mix. 

Our experts recommended anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds and explained that the exact duration can depend on the ingredients, amount of ice, and specific cocktail. The biggest thing to remember is that you need to shake until the outside frosts up. 

For a Boston shaker, insert the small tin into the larger tin at an angle so that you create a flat line on one side. Apply some pressure to seal, and hold the shaker with two hands. “I like to keep my pointer and index finger on the top of the outside tin and my thumb over the top of the tin closest to me,” said Joly.


What brands do bartenders like and use? 

“Cocktail Kingdom is tried and true and I also love Charles Joly’s Fortessa Shaker,” said Mix.  Holborough also cited Cocktail Kingdom, while Joly recommended Eric Lorinz’ Birdy shaker. Chetiyawardana favors Japanese and German brands in general.


Some final tips and tricks 

  • If using a Boston shaker, shake with the small tin facing you. In case of any leakage, the liquid will land on you instead of your audience. 
  • If you want to make a cocktail but don’t have a shaker on hand, you can always use Tupperware or a jam jar, said Chetiyawardana. “A shaker simply gives you comfort and control.”

Glossary

best cocktail shakers 2021 glossary dry shake jigger hawthorne strainer

Dry shake: Shaking cocktail ingredients together without ice, typically done for cocktails containing egg white or cream. The higher temperature lets the ingredients mix together better and create more aeration, resulting in a thicker foam. 

Wet shake: Shaking cocktail ingredients together with ice, which help dilute and chill the drink. 

Jigger: A small, usually two-sided measuring cup that you use to measure and pour liquid ingredients. The standard size is 1.5 ounces on one side and 0.75 ounces on the other. There may be additional, smaller markings inside. 

Hawthorne strainer: A common type of strainer that is flat and has small holes, a spring on one side, a finger tab or indentation on the other side, and sometimes side wings. It’s placed spring side down over the opening of the shaker. 

Muddler: A tool used to mash fruits, herbs, or spices to bring out their flavors. Drinks like mojitos and mint juleps require muddling. 

18/8 stainless steel: A type of stainless steel that is made up of 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It’s extremely resistant to corrosion and commonly used in commercial food processing equipment.

Check out more of our home entertaining guides and stories, including cocktail recipes and where to buy alcohol online

Hotel cocktails 4x3
Read the original article on Business Insider