Best Inexpensive Cordless Stick Vacuum

According to more than a few messages from you, my dear readers—and in the words of Ricky Ricardo—I’ve got some ‘splaining’ to do! Faithful readers will recall that over the past years, I’d received more requests for the best inexpensive cordless stick vacuum than all other such requests combined. I heard you loud and clear because I’d been hearing the same request from myself.

 

Ricky Recardo telling his wife Lucy that she's got some 'spaining to do

 

Twice now, I’ve pointed you to my Best Inexpensive Cordless Stick Vacuum, and twice things have not gone exactly as hoped.

Today I have good news, but first the background:

I’d been looking for my ideal stick vacuum for so long, I’d just about come to the conclusion that my expectations were completely unreasonable—my perfect stick vacuum did not exist.

My ideal stick vacuum

For me, a stick vacuum is NOT a substitute for a good, powerful household vacuum that can pull dirt, dust, and debris from deep within the pile of a carpet. Just so you know, I am not looking to get rid of my beloved Sharky. Never! A stick vacuum has a different purpose altogether.

It’s a simple tool designed for quick pick-ups; to clean up spills in the kitchen, tracked in sand, dirt, pet hair, cat litter, dust, and loose debris when you don’t have the time or inclination to haul out a full-size vacuum cleaner for such a small task.

A good way to think of a stick vacuum is that it’s an electric broom, dust mop, and dustpan in one. It “sweeps” up and then vacuums away debris in a single pass without the need for the user to bend over or get down on the floor.

In my dreams

I’d almost given up, concluding that my ideal stick vac didn’t exist—that my list of must-haves was beyond reality—nothing more than a pipe dream.

  • Cordless and rechargeable with a runtime of at least 25 minutes
  • Able to stand up alone—who wants to lay the thing down to answer the door or take a call?
  • Lightweight so I can easily carry it up and down stairs in one hand while carrying a load in the other
  • An On/Off switch so I don’t have to continuously hold down a trigger during operation
  • Generous size dirt and debris cup that is easy to empty
  • The dirt cup, filters, and brush roll need to be washable because I like my appliances to be nice and clean
  • Quiet while in operation

I’ll admit that’s a lot of must-haves, but if I could ask for just one more feature, I would want it to be nice looking in a subtle way so that if I were to ever leave it out, it would add a little beauty to the place, not stand out like a sore thumb.

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An Important Update on Best Inexpensive Bed Sheets

For some time I’d been toying with whether or not to write this post on bed sheets. For months I’d been researching, testing and assessing bed sheets with the goal to identify what I could offer to you as the Best Inexpensive Bed Sheets.

You may recall that about two years ago, I did achieve my goal—our Best Inexpensive bed sheets. And then some things changed. One of our Best Inexpensive options was discontinued! And new options appeared, prompting fer today’s update.

 

White bed sheets with flowers

 

Sheet snob

Here’s the reason I was conflicted. When it comes to bed sheets, I am particular. Call me a sheet snob and you’d have me pegged, which could make my personal standards too high to be considered affordable.

It’s not a matter of decor or brand. It’s the way the sheets feel. They should be smooth and wrinkle-free. The sheets need to breathe and not stick to me. But they can’t be slick, slippery, crunchy or noisy. The weave has to be tight and sheets can’t feel like sandpaper.

For me, sheets have to fit well, too. The fitted sheet cannot pop off the corners of the mattress; but it can’t be too big, so as to become baggy, which can lead to bunching up. Above all, my sheets must be 100% cotton. Not linen, not microfiber or polyester or any other type of fiber or blend thereof.

Seriously, if the sheets are not right, I don’t sleep well. And by well I mean sound asleep—not tossing, turning, and continuously waking up.

Where did the percale go?

There was a time when decent sheets were common and affordable. I don’t know for certain what’s happened there, but I  blame it on synthetic fibers—microfiber, polyester, lyocell and their manmade fiber-cousins that are cheap to manufacture.

We used to depend on the word “percale” to be the sign of a great sheet, but truth be told percale has nothing to do with fiber content. Percale refers to a type of tight weave. I’ve been fooled by percale sheets that turn out to be polyester percale or microfiber percale—not the fine cotton percale I  remember from childhood.

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This is the Best Car Trash Can Ever

Wouldn’t you think that if car manufacturers can perfect self-driving cars, they could also come up with a way to conquer the car trash problem?

Inside of a car with every nook and cranny stuffed with trash

Photo Credit TheOnion.com

I’ve always thought that a built-in trash compactor would be great. Or even better, some kind of incinerator that sucks the accumulation of trash and garbage right out of the car and into a holding tank somewhere that magically converts it into purified drinking water. Or gasoline.

While waiting for that kind of invention to appear, I’ve tried plastic bags, plastic tubs, and every kind of frugal trick and tip you can imagine to handle the annoyance of car trash.

I’ve tested and tried. Some ideas are better than others, but nothing has ever proven 100% satisfactory. Until now.

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Best Inexpensive Gadgets and Gear for the Home Gardener

There’s nothing like a series of sunny days in late winter to awaken my inner gardener. Apparently, I’m not the only one as evidenced by my inbox these past few weeks.

Mary Hunt's garden in spring

Dear Mary:  I just moved into my first home after living in an apartment for the last 10 years. As a novice home chef, I’ve been dreaming of the day I could grow my own vegetable and herb garden and have a nice yard with grass and shrubbery as well. 

Do you have any suggestions for some basic tools I need to get started? Thanks for your help. I love your column and read it daily! Asher

Dear Asher:  I’ve got gardening on my mind, too. Currently, mine in this photo is under a few inches of snow but I have faith. I know that in a few weeks we’ll be back to temperatures in the 70s, which gives me a new appreciation for the condition known as spring fever! I’ve got it bad and can’t wait to get my hands dirty and my garden planted.

With that in mind, I came up with a list of my favorite inexpensive yard and garden gadgets and gear.

While this may look like a sizable investment, it’s not likely you will need all of these items on day one. Just hang onto this list as you begin to furnish your tool shed.

I’m confident you can rely on this list to build a collection of garden tools that will work well for many years to come. I’d rather see you spend a few more dollars on good quality tools from the start than to find yourself having to replace poor quality items every season. Been there, done that and wasn’t very happy about it.

Here for your gardening pleasure are my best inexpensive garden tools:

Gloves, trowel and weeder for the DIY gardener

1. Gloves

I tried so many until I found the gloves that work for me. Atlas Touch Gloves are awesome. Made of cotton with nitrile (similar to vinyl) coating on the palm and fingers, these gloves fit so well and are so flexible I can easily open a can, pick up a small pebble or even take a call while wearing them.

A pack of six pair comes in an assortment of pastel colors and sizes small, medium and large. These gloves are machine washable. Best garden gloves ever.

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Here are the Best Headphones for Every Budget and Kids, Too

Several readers have asked recently about the best inexpensive headphones and earbuds both for themselves and their kiddos. Today seems like a great day to respond.

Generally, these are the best values, price points and styles of headphones for adults and kids, too:

Best inexpensive wired earbuds

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds are smartphone compatible with integrated microphone and remote for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices. Comes with small, medium and large earpads a perfect fit for adults and children. Your choice of several beautiful colors. Under $15.

Best mid-level wired headphones

1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones deliver an extremely accurate music-listening experience. For the discriminating listener as they delivery dynamic power and clarity. You’ll love the sizzling highs and deep lows. The built-in microphone and remote are Apple and Android compatible. Around $75.

Best value for high quality wired, noise canceling

Bose QuietComfort 20 is the Cadillac of smartphone replacement earbuds. These are only for those with discriminating hearing and music appreciation to go along with it. Available in two models: one for Apple devices* and one for Samsung/Android devices. Features noise canceling that reduces surrounding distractions, letting the music stand out. Many other high-end features. Under $250.

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The Best Inexpensive Skin Care Products Recommended by My Doctor

How shocked was I to read it in a popular women’s magazine? Speechless, but somehow I gathered enough strength to respond, “There’s no way!”

Even so, I did a quick search only to discover it was no typo at all. 111SKIN Celestial Black Diamond Cream 1.7 oz. — $1,095!

All I can say is at that price, it better contain a miracle. Seriously. It almost makes Lancome’s Hydra Zen Neurocalm Soothing Recharging Night Cream 1.7 oz. look like a bargain!

Lady taking care of her skin

High-quality and effective skincare should not be considered a luxury available only to the wealthy. You can find high quality, reasonably priced skincare products that are equal, if not superior to their department store cousins—right in your drugstore or discount department store.

Some years ago, as my dermatologist was wrapping up my routine office visit, I asked him what specific products he recommends I use for daily skincare. Without hesitation, he pulled out a note pad and wrote down the following:

Cleanser

Cetaphil makes is an excellent line of affordable skincare products. For example, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Other cleansers that receive high marks with my dermatologist are Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser Moisturizing Deep Cleanser; Basis Sensitive Skin Bar; Lever 2000, and Dove for Sensitive Skin.

Moisturizer

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is priced well. Tip: Walmart sells a generic version under its brand name Equate. I’ve had reports from several readers who insist it’s just like the real thing for a lot less.

Anti-Wrinkle

If you are concerned about wrinkles and avoiding skin cancer (tell me who’s not), Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream is a Retinol facial treatment with multi-vitamins—an excellent product you should consider. This is more than a moisturizer. It’s a skin preservation system and much cheaper than a very expensive dermatologist’s pre-cancer procedure.

Eye-Makeup Remover

Johnson’s Tear-Free Baby Shampoo is an excellent eye-makeup remover. I have had a number of ophthalmologists tell me that they prescribe baby shampoo for their patients who wear contact lenses because the product also removes protein build-up that plagues many lens wearers. Can be used full strength. Rinse well.

Toner

Instead of purchasing a name-brand astringent for use in your skin-care regimen, use witch hazel, an old natural stand-by that has been recommended by skin professionals for decades. As a natural astringent, witch hazel has the ability to remove excess oil from the skin and shrink down pores.

A topical application can help reduce the number of contaminants that enter the skin’s pores and can potentially aggravate skin conditions like blemishes, blackheads, and even acne.

Witch hazel is available over the counter at any drug store and any generic brand performs equally well to any brand astringent no matter how expensive.

Exfoliant

Mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar with the juice of one whole lemon to form a paste. While showering invigorate your skin with the paste. Rub heels and elbows with the inside of the lemon rinds. You will swear you’ve just had a spa treatment!

Daily Sunscreen

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen with SPF 45 is what my doctor recommends. It is available online but also in nearly every drug store and Costco. I love this brand because it is ultra sheer and non-greasy.

Updated: 11-9-19

PREVIOUSLY: How to Take the Pain Out of Saving Loose Change


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A New Name for Our Best Inexpensive Cordless Stick Vacuum

I’ve got news! But first a little story.

Faithful readers know that in my spare time, I love to knit. And I when I say love, let’s just say I’m a serious knitter. Don’t mess with my yarn.

Natural woolen yarn and knitting on vintage wooden background.

Running out of yarn is every knitter’s fear. For me, it’s more of a nightmare. It’s that time that I ran out of yarn with one sweater sleeve still to go. No problem, I thought. I’ll just go back to the yarn shop and pick up what I need to finish.

That’s when I came face to face with the dreaded word, “Discontinued.” My heart sank. Apparently, I’d waited a year or two too long to get this project on the needles and finished. There wasn’t a scrap of the exact yarn I needed anywhere on the planet. I checked. Read more

Best Inexpensive Toaster, Eufy Customer Service, Stainless Steel Cleaner

There are times that the old adage that you get what you pay for doesn’t hold up. Sometimes, it’s the less expensive option that turns out to be best—better than its pricier competitors.

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Best Inexpensive Toaster

Does anyone make a decent, simple, reliable pop-up toaster? I don’t need it to do anything but make evenly-toasted toast!

 

I was wondering the same thing. After a good deal of research, I narrowed the field to this Hamilton Beach Keep-Warm 2-Slice Toaster. I am so happy with it, it has become my new pick for Best Inexpensive. Here are the reasons I am such a fan:

The bread slots handle all thickness of things to be toated: Bagels, Texas toast, English Muffins, thin-sliced and regular sized bread.

When I press down on the handle, “clamps” gently move into place to hold the toast straight and upright. And when the toast is ready, I just lift up on the handle, which gives the toast a boost, making it easy to remove. Read more