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6 Home Products That Can Make Life Easier

Our sampling of interesting new gizmos might help solve some problems

Reusable Bags Smart Water Bottle and Indoor Garden
W & P / LARQ / Adam Illingworth/Click and Grow

Whatever your opinion on the future of humankind, there’s one hopeful fact you can always rely on: There are inventors coming up with gizmos to make your life easier (and themselves a little richer). We asked three journalists to sample new products that could offer legitimate benefits to a 50-something consumer. They personally tried the products and offer their impressions. (Please note that AARP does not endorse products or companies, so you should consider this a sampler, filled with ideas to get you started.)

Water Bottle Reusable Bags and Planter
Jeff Elkins / Lettuce Grow

1. A cleaner water bottle ​​

There are two concerns about refillable water bottles: how to ensure the water stays free of bacteria, and how to keep the bottle itself from getting musty — those small openings can be a pain to clean.

With a new breed of bottle, you can purify water or disinfect the vessel using a battery-powered UV-C cleaning system in the cap. Two options are the Waatr CrazyCap Pro and the Larq Bottle PureVis (each $99). I used them at the gym, and the water tasted fresh. —Edward C. Baig

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2. Avoid plastic bags​​

Disposable plastic bags are costly and bad for the environment. I have tried washing out flimsy sandwich and storage bags for reuse, but it’s never long before I have to trash them. Then a friend introduced me to silicone bags, and I quickly learned to appreciate their durability. Silicone bags can withstand heat and cold, meaning they will hold up in the freezer or the microwave; they can even be used for steaming or sous vide cooking. They’re also dishwasher-safe. Sure, at $13, a single reusable sandwich bag from a company such as Stasher or W&P is pricey, but buying multipacks will lower the individual cost. —Lexi Pandell

3. Gardening without the garden​​

Don’t have much outdoor space? Indoor gardens and hydroponic towers make growing fresh food and flowers easy. One example is the Click and Grow Smart Garden ($100–$730), which fits on a table or countertop. Depending on the model, you can grow three to 25 plants. With an arc of energy-efficient LED grow lights, there’s no need to place it in a sunny spot. ​​Another option, the Lettuce Grow hydroponic farm stand tower ($400–$700), needs just a couple of feet of space and an electrical outlet. I grew lettuce, zucchini, herbs and more — and all were more plentiful and grew faster than when I tried my hand at soil gardening. Plus, when the water circulates, it sounds like a waterfall. —L.P.

Wrist Wrap Sheets and Speakers
Nufabrx / Buffy / Jeff Elkins

4. Pill-free pain relief​​

A new type of technology called HealthWear has infused medicines such as capsaicin and nonivamide into compression sleeves. These products promise pain relief similar to what you could get applying an ointment, but without the mess and odor. They also cover a larger area than a pain-relief patch. Nufabrx HealthWear (up to $17 for each) is a line of compression sleeves that can be worn on your ankle, knee, wrist or arm. It turns the process of wearing a tension bandage and applying analgesic creams into one simple, effective step. —Risha Gotlieb

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5. Sleep sounds​​

Soft headphones built into a sleep mask allow you to doze off while listening to music or relaxing audio. Two examples are Musicozy and LC-dolida (each about $20), which work with your phone or other Bluetooth device. The Musicozy surprised me with the quality of its speakers — better than some of my earbuds. But at times, the speakers didn’t stay aligned with my ears, so they’re better for naps than overnight slumber. —L.P.​​​​ 

6. Keeping cool in bed​​

warm, cozy bed holds much appeal during these winter months, but it turns out that cool temperatures make for better sleep. One way to potentially improve your rest is to use cooling sheets.

The first thing I noticed was that the satin-like texture was cool to the touch. And the sheets remained at a comfortable temperature — they didn’t heat up, even on warm nights. The key: special fabric blends, such as those used with Celliant sheet sets from Sleepletics (from $115), which are 60 percent cotton and 40 percent Celliant polyester, a breathable fabric meant to regulate body temperature and promote blood flow. Celliant is also an FDA-determined wellness product. Another option is the Buffy Breeze Comforter ($200), which is made of a temperature-regulating plant-based material that absorbs moisture better than cotton. —L.P.

Edward C. Baig is a contributing writer who covers technology and other consumer topics. He previously worked for USA Today, BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report and Fortune, and is author of Macs for Dummies and coauthor of iPhone for Dummies and iPad for Dummies.​

Lexi Pandell is a contributing writer who covers technology. Her work also appears in WiredThe New York TimesThe Atlantic and other publications.​​

Risha Gotlieb is a contributing writer who covers technology. Her work also has appeared on MarketWatch and PBS’ Next Avenue as well as in the Toronto Star and Reader’s Digest.

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