The Most Useful Buys Of 2020 So Far — According To YOU

Our most prized purchases do not define our lives — but, they can serve as effective reminders of the times during which they were made. While living through a most unusual year, we wanted to cast a wider net outside of our usual monthly top-bought product roundups. So we posed a question to our readers, coworkers, friends, and family: What is the single most useful item you've bought in 2020?

From the most basic of utility buys (like butter) to bigger non-essential investments (like a foldable electric bike) and everything in between, we've lined up the shopping stars of quarantine. Scroll on for a glimpse into the goods that helped save someone's butt (literally) while WFH, changed another's coffee habit completely, and enabled one runner to comfortably (and safely) maintain their exercise regime.

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At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

Jewelry Cleaner To-Go Pen


"Over the last few months, I've been washing my hands about a million times a day. I usually take off my rings when washing my hands and while using hand sanitizer, but I needed to find a way to make sure my jewelry was just as clean as my hands. Germs can cling to jewelry and I didn't want to risk picking up germs, but I still wanted to wear my jewelry. I bought this on-the-go jewelry cleaner pen so that I can easily clean my rings whenever I am out of the house, and this one fits in my purse. Crystal Clear Carats is the one new purchase besides my mask that I use daily, making it my top purchase of the year. Also, as surprising as it may be, this jewelry cleaner pen actually brings me joy. Not only am I giving my rings a thorough cleaning, but my jewelry looks brand new after each use." – Kerry, 30
The Mine Company Mine On-The-Go Ring & Jewelry Cleaner Pen, $20.00 $18.00 Buy

Multi-Purpose Cookware Pan


"Once quarantine hit, I took it as an opportunity to starting cooking more — and to get started, I needed to invest in some new tools. I'd seen Our Place cookware all over Instagram accounts and gave in to the purchase. The full-on bundle was a little bit out of my price range, so I opted for the Always Pan instead. At a still steep $145, it's already paid itself off (and then some) with the takeout $$$ I've saved by whipping up my own spreads every week. The non-stick and non-toxic piece comes with a wooden spatula that clicks into a built-in spoon rest; it comes crafted with a smart modular lid that can lock steam in or let it out (depending on what you're cookin'); there's a nestled-in steamer basket for making everything from veggies to boiling easy mac; a built-in pour spout for easily drizzling sauce or dishing out soups. So, it's basically everything you need to be a quarantine Chef in one magical pot." – Kerry, 27
Our Place Always Pan, $145.00 Buy

Reusable Coffee Filter


"Without access to office coffees and coffee shops, I was going through a zillion coffee filters at home. I finally bought a reusable filter that's coated in copper, which helps keeps things sanitary, but also looks really pretty — plus, I swear my coffee tastes better now. Between that and my milk foamer, I'm pretty sure my homebrews taste way better than the $4 cups I used to buy every day. I use it every day, it's literally changed my habits, and is a small way to cut down waste and cost — that's a powerful product!" – Connie, 32
Ovalware Reusable Stainless Steel Pour-Over Coffee Filter, $21.99 Buy
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Collapsible Chair


"I was a month into my maternity leave when quarantine suddenly became a way of life. I bought two of these camping chairs, as I figured if we wanted to get any fresh air, we'd be spending a lot of time on our roof. Not only have we used these chairs on our rooftop to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset; we've also brought them to our local park while picnicking with friends, sat in them while eating lunch in my in-laws' driveway so that they can see their grand-daughter at a safe social distance, and even to enjoy a pizza in the parking lot of a restaurant that was open for takeout only. I think the colors are incredibly stylish, and the chairs are super light-weight, making them incredibly portable. They’re also really comfortable." – Emily, 36
Helinox Sunset Chair Multi Block, $149.95 Buy

True & Co. Body Scoop Neck Bra


"Needed a comfortable WFH bra :). This one is so incredibly comfortable and provides great support — I look forward to putting it on every day. (I ordered 3 more after the first!!)" – Amy, 42
True & Co. True Body Scoop Neck Bra, $44.00 Buy

Automatic Milk Frother


"Since quarantine and working from home, I've been making coffee for myself at least twice a day. I needed something to heat my oat milk so it wouldn't curdle every time I poured it into my hot coffee....it was making me really sad. It's super easy to use and can make hot or COLD foam! I feel like a real (fake) barista and it makes my mornings so much happier." – Kate, 30
Miroco Stainless Steel Milk Steamer, $41.99 Buy

Hammock


"Once I learned we were working from home all summer, I splurged on a hammock and I don’t regret it. I had been chopping down the jungle that is our backyard during lockdown and my reward was this space between two trees that was perfect for a hammock. Now I spend my mornings in it with my coffee, a quick swing-break during the day, evenings with a seltzer or drink, nap with a pillow, texting, Zooming, whatever — I’m in my hammock. I know it’s pricey but I figured I was saving by not going anywhere, and most of the higher quality hammocks were at this price-point. Maybe you’d prefer a camping hammock or a hammock swing, but nothing says relaxation like a hammock." – Kara, 39
Yellow Leaf Hammocks Signature Hammock, Mojave, $199.00 Buy

Acne-Clearing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo


"Towards the start of lockdown, I broke out with small, stubborn pimples all over my forehead that just wouldn't go away. I read that this particular anti-dandruff shampoo was effective in clearing up fungal acne, so I gave it a try (I figured that in the worst-case scenario where it made the breakout worse, it's not like anyone was seeing much of me anyway!). Luckily, it was a best-case situation: I couldn’t believe how quickly it cleared my skin up." – Amanda, 28
nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, 7 Fl. Oz, $17.17 $14.84 Buy
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Self-Watering Garden Kit


"It was the beginning of quarantine and I couldn't find basil in the grocery store, so I decided to grow my own! I didn't trust my gardening skills so much so I went for an easy kit in the beginning (plus it looks pretty on my window sill). It's totally life-changing! Now I have fresh mint leaves I make tea with every morning, little pansies that look so pretty and I also use to decorate baked goods, basils to make pesto and sandwiches with, and even chamomile to brighten up my bathroom. It's a nice part of my morning routine to check how much they've grown and also to enjoy the literal fruit of my non-labor (these are self-watering so I never have to do much)" – Evelyn, 25
Modern Sprout Hydroponic Garden Tumbler Kit, $30.00 Buy

Adidas Breathable Face Mask


"I'm an avid runner and have been struggling to find a face mask that's suitable to wear while exercising outdoors this summer. (I live in a densely populated city, so socially distant runs outside without a mask is not a safe bet.) I figured a sportswear brand would know what they're doing, so I went decided to try this Adidas style. Running is helps keep me sane and feeling productive — especially since I haven't been able to hit the gym over the past few months — and this mask has totally helped me maintain a sense of normalcy. It's soft, stretchy, and light on my face while still staying on securely when it's jostled around. Plus, it's pretty sweat-wicking, super easy to clean, and I can actually BREATHE while I'm wearing it!" – Sara, 33

Adidas FACE COVERS M/L 3-PACK, $16.00 Buy

Plants


"Bought it because they make people happy — it was my Wilson." – Jessica, 36
Bloomscape Philodendron Heartleaf, $35.00 Buy

Swivel Desk Chair


"I missed my in-office setup and wanted to buy a piece that wasn't going to stick out like a sore ergonomic thumb inside my space. This expensive-looking chair was on sale for $128 when I bought it and it's seriously saved my butt: both literally support wise and figuratively in terms of enhancing my workflow and focus while at home. It blends in so nicely with the rest of my decor that my husband didn't even realize it was a swivel desk chair." – Lane, 31
Corrigan Studio Brister Swivel Side Chair, $151.99 Buy

Laptop Desk Tray


"This is by far the ugliest thing I have ever bought for my home but I was working between my bed and my couch and I needed it. Also, trust me, I can't believe I paid $60 dollars for this hideous piece of utilitarian plastic wood but I did an excruciating hour of research and this was the cheapest of the sturdy-rated styles I could find. Anyway, it gets the job done, it doesn't wobble, and I use it all day, five days a week. Best part is, I can fold it up, store it under my couch, and not have to look at it on nights and weekends." – Marissa, 40
TaoTronics Laptop Desk Tray, $59.99 Buy
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Tie-Dye Kit


"OK, so this might not be the most useful item but it makes me happy. My family had a tie-dye party outside for my mom’s birthday. I also bought a pack of Hanes socks, and my (ten!) new pairs of tie-dyed socks bring me major joy every morning when I put them on." Amy, 33
Vanstek Tie-Dye DIY Kit, 20 Colors, $69.99 Buy

Electric Wine Opener


"Makes drinking all the wine I've been buying while home easier." – Anita, N/A
Ozeri Nouveaux Electric Wine Opener, $28.50 $24.90 Buy

Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker


"Needed a portable speaker that was easy to pack for day trips to the beach, camping weekends, or just for hanging in the back for outdoor happy hours. This waterproof JBL one is so easy to carry anywhere, it clips onto my bag, the sound quality is great, and it can hold a solid charge for up to 8 hours. Plus the colors are cute." – Tina, 31

JBL CLIP 3 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Teal, $69.95 Buy

Butter


"For no particular reason, I rarely, if ever, used butter when cooking prior to quarantine and working from home. Oils, yes. Ghee, for sure. Like a lot of folks, my relationship to food changed (fewer restaurants and more meals at my own kitchen table). So I bought radishes on a whim back in March, then realized I didn't know what to do with them. I Googled 'what to do with radishes' and saw French dipping them raw in butter and salt as a suggestion — and I thought: I'll have a French picnic for lunch at home with a glass of wine; the summer holiday I'll never have! So, I bought butter. I learned I don't really like butter-dipped raw radishes, but I sure as hell love butter on everything else. It's brought me so much joy and good butter feels so luxe. 10/10 highly recommend this purchase." – Lisa, 30
Kerrygold Salted Pure Irish Butter, $4.69 Buy

Portable Tri-Folding Memory Foam Gel Mattress Topper


"The couch I've had for over a decade recently sunk in on one side. Since my mother-in-law stays with us for about a month every year, we settled on buying a sleeper sofa as a replacement. And then the air conditioner in our bedroom broke so we decided to camp out in the living room on our new sleeper which...has a damn bar that you can feel on your back. But wait! It's not all doom and gloom — I found this affordable foam and gel mattress topper that folds up and is easy to store away and it happens to be SO comfortable. I sort of prefer it to my old mattress which I shall NOT be replacing anytime soon because I'd prefer to save up for something decent when I can spend more money again. Anyway, this mattress topper is a total lifesaver for guests or sweaty nights when you need to crash on your pullout couch." – Melissa, 37
Best Choice Products Portable Tri-Folding Memory Foam Gel Mattress Topper, $100.99 Buy
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Solar-Powered Portable Charger


"I've always been an outdoor enthusiast, but have really taken to amping up my nature adventures this summer — and this gadget has kept me connected. I had no idea solar chargers were even a thing until a friend of mine whipped one out on a camping trip (I soon ordered the exact same model off Amazon). This thing is no joke. It's slim, lightweight, easy to pack inside essentially any bag, and is able to power up everything from a phone to tablet and even a laptop. All you have to do it let it soak up the sun (it comes with carabiners so you can clip it to your pack while hiking to get it juiced up.) Plus, it's slightly water-resistant too!" – Tracy, 36
BigBlue Foldable Portable Solar Charger, $72.96 Buy

Watercolor Set


"When lockdown started I found myself staring at screens for hours. I wanted a way to be creative without a huge commitment. These watercolors are GORGEOUS. Highly pigmented and so easy to clean up. Although it was a splurge (especially for watercolors) they have a fantastic color palette that I haven't see before and store easily." – Rissa, 27
Kuretake Watercolor Set, 36 Colors With 4 Water Brush Pens, $45.99 Buy

iPad Mini


"I had a second-generation mini, but the screen was cracked and it was responding slowly — and my other computer is a laptop still running Windows7 (it’s worse than slow and erratic). My new mini has saved my sanity. It’s portable, user-friendly, reliable, and considering our lives are now so virtual, it’s been a godsend. Now if only my daughter who works at Refinery29 will show me how to upload photos." – Sabina, 69
Apple iPad mini 4 Wi-Fi 128GB Silver, $399.99 Buy

Rafi Nova Face Masks


"I needed a lightweight option for the summer — these felt safe for social distancing and are a bit more breathable than others." – Mel, 38
Rafi Nova Everyday Elevated, $27.00 Buy

Sonos Speakers


"A friend recommended them. The ability to put them in the same room as a stereo pair was especially interesting considering my downstairs neighbor likes to sing karaoke at obnoxious volumes at all times of the day. This was my chance to drown out his horrendous voice while enjoying a full, rich sound in my music. Now, when my neighbor starts up his karaoke hour, I put the speakers on full blast and he stops pretending that he's on X-Factor. The sound is unmatched and it supports Google Assistant and Alexa. If you're looking for a speaker set for the entire household, Sonos is the way to go." – Marcos, 33
Sonos Two Room Set, $398.00 $379.00 Buy
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Cooling Sheets


"I am a sweaty sweaty sleeper and needed a new set of sheets while quarantined away from home for the summer. These sheets from Riley Home came top-rated, are crisp, cool, and luxe. And for a queen size set, they were only $129 which IMO is a steal for premium bedding that will actually keep you sweat-free these days." – Kaitlin, 29
Riley Home Percale Sheet Set, Queen, $129.00 Buy

Cat Harness & Leash


"Now that I home with my cat all the time, I noticed he's a lot more active and interactive than I realized. I decided to get him a harness to try taking him outside with me. It took a few test runs of him sort of standing on the sidewalk frozen but once we got the hang of it he started trotting along just like a dog for parts of the walk. He still does weirdo cat sh*t like just stop and wander or climb on my shoulder if there's a loud motorcycle but he and I both love it." – Harris, 38
Red Dingo Classic Cat Harness & Lead Combo, $18.99 $15.90 Buy

E-Bike


"I refuse to ride the subway until a vaccine is made viable, so I bought an e-bike. I forgot how much fun riding around the city is — there's always a pocket of something going on." – Isaiah, 34
RAD POWER Bikes RadMini Step-Thru 2, $1499.00 Buy

Thrive Market Membership


"Hands down the most valuable purchase I made back in March was a membership to Thrive Market. I am now absolutely evangelical about my Thrive Market. I LOVE all the cool and organic, non-GMO products they make and stock and as a member, I get discounts on nearly everything. The yearly membership was $65 and besides discounts, I get free shipping on orders over $49. It's like Amazon Prime (but not awful in every way) meets Trader Joes. And my favorite product I've bought over the past few months is their almond flour. Thrive Market carries every kind of flour under the sun. I make killer banana-nut pancakes with a mix of almond flour and buckwheat flour. It's truly the best treat on a Sunday." – Kelly, 27
Thrive Market Almond Flour 16 oz bag, $7.99 Buy

Gaming Chair


"I used to just use a basic plastic bucket chair for my PC Desk at home. When quarantine hit and we started to work from home, that old bucket chair did a number on my back. I would be stiff and sore and it made me into a grumpier person. I decided to use some of my savings to buy this chair because I knew we were going to be in quarantine for the long haul and really needed proper lumbar support for longer stints at my desk. It's cliche but I totally took the office chairs for granted until I was forced to use my own for 8ish hours a day. Not having back pain and being super comfy while working is life-changing with quarantine. I regret NOTHING." – Brendan, 33
CORSAIR T2 Road Warrior Gaming Chair, $319.99 Buy
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Kemi Telford's Modupe Garden Dress


"New mom here, ready to endlessly sing the praises of this extremely chic and supremely comfortable dress. The cotton fabrication is very easy to clean and very lightweight, so I can wrangle a sweaty, spit-up covered baby while still maintaining a shred of dignity. I throw it on in the morning when I have less than five seconds to get ready and it provides a LOOK. It looks great with every pair of shoes I own — ESPECIALLY sneakers. It's roomy enough (and long enough) that I can wear denim shorts underneath it, so I just pull it up like a top when it's time to breastfeed. I wore it out last week to run some (contactless) errands, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that every. Single. Person. That I interacted with complimented me on the dress, from the college student who gave me my Barnes & Noble order, to the two baristas at my local coffee shop. It's legitimately MAGIC. RUN DON'T WALK! I've worn it a minimum three times per week since it arrived in the mail one month ago." – Ashleigh, 29
Kemi Telford Modupe Garden Dress, $126.00 Buy

Apple Watch


"I'd been mulling over it forever — a few years now — and as a full-on Apple groupie (my brand loyalty is #strong and I heavily rely on my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone), it was the last frontier for me. I saw it on sale on Walmart and decided it finally give it a go. I held off on buying one since I didn't think I needed all the bells and whistles – I just needed a cute watch to tell time, not like a gadget LOL! — but now, I can't imagine my day-to-day without it. As someone who works out regularly, I love the fitness tracking features, but it also does handy things like syncs with my calendar for all-important Zoom meeting reminders (and just as importantly, pings me when to take a break or stretch), sends and receives texts (which is super helpful when I'm away from my phone), and even unlocks my computer. It's totally upgraded my productivity and life in general, and was truly worth the investment." – Karina, 26
Apple Apple Watch Series 5 GPS, $397.00 Buy

Glass Water-Infuser Pitcher


"It is so convenient! It filters out mint leaves and lemon seeds from being poured into my glass. It is also a big pitcher, so I can constantly refill my glass without having to cut up more lemon, lime, and mint." – Michelle, 22
BOQO Glass Water Pitcher, 50 Oz, $29.88 $26.88 Buy

Vibrator


"I had heard a lot of buzz (no pun intended) about this vibrator since COVID kicked into high gear back in March and us single ladies were forced to go DIY in the bedroom. My favorite vibe had recently fizzed out, so I pulled the trigger and finally bought this one — and the buzz (pun intended) did not disappoint. On top of just being a very solid vibrator (powerful and whisper-quiet with no bells and whistles), I also was able to snag it on discount during one of Ella Paradis's many ongoing sales." – Margot, 30
Better Love Ella's Battery Operated Boyfriend, $59.00 $26.55 Buy

Cast Iron Cocotte


"My husband and I have been looking for a Dutch oven for some time now and have discovered in our opinion the best of the best. It’s definitely an investment but well worth every dollar. It uses only the food juices to cook due to an amazing lid which self baste everything in the pot. It’s something like a pressure cooker and definitely reduces your cook times. All of the dishes we have cooked in our Staub pot have come out so delicious. You would be surprised to see how tasty everything can turn out with minimal ingredients when cooked in these amazing pots. They are also beautifully made. They come in an assortment of colors and sizes and are quite sturdy. I could go on and on about the joys of owning a Staub." – Susie, 54
Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte(2.75-qt), $329.00 $229.99 Buy
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