Although the CDC has literally warned us that we’re definitely not out of the woods yet, the country has gone ahead and reopened, with gyms and hair salons cautiously allowing people back into their establishments. But with an alarming increase in COVID-19 numbers (Los Angeles saw a record high in positive cases — even though the number of tests went down) in some places in the country, you’re not alone in feeling like you’re safer just staying the eff home.
If you’re in that camp, there are ways to make the prolonged quarantine life easier and more comfortable. After all, you might be privileged enough to work from home, so you’ll need to make sure your workspace is working for you. You’re probably cooking more at home, so it’s a great idea to get some life hack-worthy products in your kitchen. And you’re home all the time, so chances are, your place gets grosser faster (and there are products for that, too).
Here are some of my go-to’s that have made life better during quarantine and beyond.
Since I spent a LOT of time in bed during quarantine (either because I was sad or too lazy to go anywhere else), it helped to have super soft, luxurious sheets. California Design Sheets are made with 100% natural cotton, are super breathable, and are soft AF. Also, you can’t go wrong with Target’s Jersey blend sheet set.
I was driven to snack out of pure quarantine anxiety, and having good-quality bag clips (the silicone edges work so much better than the all-plastic ones, which seem to break on me all the time, anyway) was a life-saver. That way, I could continue snacking, and not worry about my chips going bad. Keeping food as fresh as possible was especially helpful, since I was only going grocery shopping every two weeks.
My place was built in the ‘20s so we have like, three outlets for our entire home. Okay, it’s more than that, but when you have your laptop, heating pad, lamp, phone charger, and Kindle charger plugged in, you need a good system. Especially if you’re working from home and don’t need the headache of digging through or tripping over wires.
I’m not sure if a Kindle counts as a “home product” per se, but I FINALLY caved and bought a Kindle after years of raging against the machine. Since libraries are closed and the list of new books I wanted to read kept piling up (and I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on brand new books online), I figured investing $90 in the Kindle was worth it, because I now have unlimited access to my local library’s digital selection, and the new books are half the price if I do decide to buy one. If you’re a big reader, the Kindle does pay for itself after a short while.
Since everyone is at home all the time, things get dirtier way faster. Microfiber cleaning cloths absorb the most grime and aren’t rough on your hands (which are probably dry from all the hand-washing, so let’s be nice to them).
I started to miss fancy coffee around Week 3, so I tried out Atlas’s coffee subscription service, which starts at $9 for a half bag (6 oz. which makes about 15 cups) It’s pricier than the coffee you’d get at the grocery store, but for a few dollars more, you feel like you’re at a coffee shop again. It’s also fun to get your box in the mail and be surprised with your coffee of the month (the subscription includes a little explainer about where your coffee comes from).
Not only was I cooking way more at home because I wanted to be as safe as possible, but I also just lost my job, so I really had to pull back on all the Thai food takeout. What makes the process so much more enjoyable (and faster) is a sharp, high-quality knife. This is the one my husband, who’s a chef, picked out for our kitchen. We have others, but they’re not as nice, and I always go back to this one (unless I need a serrated knife — Wusthof has those too!). Pretty much any professional will recommend Wusthof as the super nice but not crazy-crazy expensive option (knives can get stupid expensive if you go all out). If you can invest in a knife, I’d recommend this one. It lasts for at least 15 years if you keep it sharp and don’t throw it in the dishwasher.
8. Lots of baking soda, any grocery store
Aside from using baking soda for your quarantine pastry creations, you can use baking soda to clean pretty much anything — and it’s crazy effective. I made this discovery online one day when I realized I had used up all my cleaning supplies and didn’t want to venture into the outside world for more. You can use baking soda as an oven, counter, and counter cleaner, and if you mix it with vinegar, you can use the mixture to clean your drain. It’s a natural deodorizer, so it’ll help with your gross sink smell, too. I’ve even used baking soda in a pinch if I was out of shampoo.
Its multi-surfaces make Scrub Daddy (LOL) the best sponge I’ve used. And I used it all the time during quarantine since I was cooking so much more.
This genius little screaming lady-shaped product will effectively steam the inside of your microwave so that all you need to do is just wipe it down (with your handy-dandy microfiber cloths). You just fill it with water and vinegar, microwave for 7 minutes, and wait for Angry Mama to clean your microwave. Because if you’re like me, it’s been needing a thorough scrub for about four months now.
If you don’t already own a Crockpot, it really is worth the purchase if you’re into making meals in bulk or don’t know what to do with all your cans of beans you bought in quarantine panic mode (it’s OK, it happened to the best of us — I have six cans of leftover Southern-style butter beans I’m not sure what to do with). It’s also great for budget-friendly meals, like my go-to dinner I made throughout my 20s, salsa chicken, or this vegetarian-friendly curry lentil dish I always go back to. Even though I technically had more time to cook during quarantine, it was still nice to just throw a bunch of ingredients in the pot and set it to cook for six hours while I worked.
It might be too hot now for a blanket, but back in March when it was non-stop raining in Los Angeles, it was just what I needed for the extra comfort.
I got one of these candles for Hanukkah and I was glad I didn’t use it yet. Lighting a candle and letting it set the mood while I worked, cried, or watched Ozark was a mental health lifesaver. P.F. Candle scents are soooo good, too (definitely worth the price tag — they also last forever).
My Crockpot and steamer go hand-in-hand. Usually, I’ll make some kind of curry, saucy chicken, or chili that goes well with some steamed rice and veggies. Having a steamer makes cleanup easier, AND steaming your produce is supposedly better for you (it doesn’t drain all the nutrients out into boiling water and it’s not coated in oil).
Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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