Thanks for Asking—You’re 1 in a 1000!

Years ago I had an editor who told me that I should value highly every letter I receive because each one represents 1,000 readers with the same question or comment. Honestly, I was skeptical because there was no way to prove such a thing. But I never forgot what she said.

This many years later, I’m a believer! How do I measure? By the number of thanks I get after the fact, when I do respond to those readers who take the time to write. It’s like, “Oh, that’s exactly what I needed to know!” or “I was just going to write and ask the same thing.”

A regular, albeit random, feature of this column—EC’s Best Inexpensive—has begun to bring a lot of mail in the form of reader requests for their particular item of interest.

And so for Jeannine, Francine and Brenda—and the 999 others who haven’t asked yet—here are the EC picks for Best Inexpensive hairdryer, electric mixers and clothes steamers.

HAIR DRYER: Conair 1875 Watt with Cord Keeper. This hairdryer has it all and by “all” I mean the things on my particular must-have list: three levels of heat, two speeds, cool shot button, diffuser attachment and retractable cord (awesome). This is a powerful dryer that comes in a choice of two cool colors. About $35. 

STAND MIXER. KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Qt. Stand Mixer in Green Apple. When it comes to kitchen stand mixers, for me there is only one brand of choice and this is based on having tried others only to be sorely disappointed. KitchenAid makes the best. Buy it once for life. That’s how reliable KitchenAid is. KitchenAid’s mid-range Artisan Series in the 5-quart size is an excellent choice. While this mixer comes in a bevy of colors ranging from $259 to $399 (the only difference is the color) my personal color of  choice is Apple Green. About $260.

HANDHELD MIXER. Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer with Storage Case. I love this mixer not only for its price, but for versatility. And that great storage case. The 9-speeds operate from a single touch. Comes with traditional beaters plus other attachments like a dough hook, whisk and spatula that is perfect for “folding in.” About $80 

STANDING CLOTHES STEAMER. PureSteam XL – High-Powered Standing Fabric Steamer. For me, a good clothes steamer needs to produce steam. And lots of it! And it needs a reservoir large enough to handle a big job before needing to be refilled. You can spend a fortune on a commercial grade steamer, or opt for this fabulous home model for just a fraction of the price. This standing steamer heats up in less than a minute (really) thanks to  its 1500-watts of power. With one full reservoir of water (holds two quarts), you can steam for up to an hour. A great product! About $60.

PORTABLE CLOTHES STEAMER. Wollin Handheld Portable Garment Fabric and Clothes Steamer. While not as powerful as a standing steamer, this little giant is what you’ll want in your travel bag, apartment or other situation where a standing steamer is just not appropriate. A full reservoir of water will give you at least 10 minutes of continuous steam, which is really great for a handheld model. Comes with an 8-foot cord. Reservoir empties quickly when it’s time to fit quite easily into luggage. About $20.


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  • barbara baird

    Previously, our column had recommended the Cheftronic Stand Mixer as being as good as or better than those costing 2 or 3 times as much. But in this column, you are recommending the Kitchen Aid mixer for nearly double that price. Has something changed in the products?

    • maxhalberg

      Hi Barbara,

      Over a long length of time we’ve found that the KitchenAid is ultimately performing better with less issues and believe the extra $100 is worth it in the long term.

      • barbara baird


  • laurie bowen bowen

    Don’t forget that any kitchen aid mixer will take any accessory from the year it was first made, 1899 I think

    • Emjay

      I didn’t know that! I’ve been a Kitchen Aid mixer fan for a long time after receiving one as a wedding gift almost 50 years ago. I’d still have that mixer except that it was a smaller one, and with a growing family, we needed a 6 quart. I’ve had the 6 quart for 46 years, and I’ve gifted one to our kids as they married. None of them would go without them now. I don’t care how wonderful other brands are. Until Kitchen Aid designs a dog of a mixer and I end up with it, I’m stickin’ to my own.

  • Carole Harmon

    Mary, I want to ask a question on an unrelated topic. How do I do that? –Carole