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For over a century, the Good Housekeeping Institute has evaluated thousands of products, from the most comfortable bedding, to the best toys for all ages, to the top-tested cleaning products on the market. Since 1900, our engineers, scientists, and product analyst experts have tested items first-hand, recorded findings, and worked closely with real consumer testers to rate the best products in each category. To say that 2020 was a different kind of year might be a bit of understatement: Most of us spent more time at home than ever, but our Lab pros continued testing to find the best educational toys to keep kids entertained for hours between remote learning sessions; kitchen appliances to keep us creative in the kitchen when our favorite restaurants closed; home gym equipment to fill the void of our favorite studios and gyms; and all the best cozy everything to lounge and sleep in. We tested thousands of products this year, but looking back at 2020, our Good Housekeeping Institute Lab experts and editors whittled down the field to the very best products, including personal favorites and items that performed tops in testing. From clothing to home items and tech, these are the 55 best products of 2020 that our pros swear are worth getting now:
Buttery Soft Leggings
A winner of our best leggings test, these leggings are also the favorite of our Textiles pros. “These leggings are buttery smooth and fit like second skin,” says Textiles Director, Lexie Sachs. “They’re lightweight and not-too-compressive, making them versatile for low-impact workouts, loungewear and everyday use. Though they’re pricey, they’re well worth the splurge and you’ll get lots of use out of them. (I’ve worn a pair for the past three years through pregnancy, postpartum, regular life, and the pandemic),” says Sachs.
DIY Long John Pajamas
“This new style combines the two biggest trends of 2020: Comfy pajamas and tie dye,” says Sachs of the sleep set that nabbed a 2020 Good Housekeeping Parenting Award. “The soft organic cotton PJ sets are a blank canvas for you to create any design and cost less than the popular printed versions from the brand. Available in both long and short sleeve options, they come in sizes for every member of the family, from babies through adults.”
Best Walking Shoes
FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker
“These sneakers were best of the test in our walking sneaker test,” says Sachs. “They were popular for being super comfortable, which is perfect for 2020 as everyone is walking a lot more (sneaker sales have been crazy during the pandemic!). Plus, they’re affordable, available in a variety of stylish shades, and have over 20,000 rave Amazon reviews.”
Enbliss Wireless Bralette
This top tested bralette was popular for being super comfy and soft while also supportive. “For cup sizes A to G, many testers were surprised how supportive this wireless bra was,” says Emma Seymour, Product Testing Analyst at the Textiles Lab. The bralette is also available in an impressive 20 shades.
Best Winter Coat
Thickened Down Jacket
$149.99 (39% off)
This popular Amazon jacket is well-known for being stylish, warm and affordable. “In 2020, the brand released lots of new variations to keep it fresh, including a faux fur trim, pastel colorways, and teddy bear fleece,” says Sachs.
Sustainable Bike Shorts
High-Rise Pocket Bike Short
“The warm weather-friendly counterpart to my favorite leggings, these bike shorts are made sustainably, saving 17 water bottles from landfills,” says Jessica Teich, Deputy Editor at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “They’re high-rise, flattering, super comfy, durable, and they have pockets(!), which saved me during quarantine walks all summer long.” Sizing ranges from XXS-6XL.
A Face Mask That Always Fits
The House of Perna
The GH Institute textiles team worked with Amanda Perna, Project Runway alum and designer for The House of Perna, on DIY face mask videos since the start of the pandemic lockdown in March. “Not only do they come in lots of fun prints, they’re also protective with multiple layers of tightly woven cloth, a non-woven interface to filter particles, and a nose bridge for a secure fit,” says Sachs.
Slippers That are As Comfy As They Are Stylish
“If you’re spending more time at home this year, slippers are more important than ever since going barefoot on hardwood floors all day can cause lower body pain and even injuries,” says Sachs. She loves these Birdies slippers because they look just like dressy shoes but actually feel like comfortable slippers. “And if you invest in a pair now, you can get away with wearing them as regular shoes even after the pandemic,” Sachs adds.
A Bra That Feels Like Second Skin
Made of 85% nylon and 15% spandex, this bra feels soft against the skin, and the wider straps provide the support you need. “These are the most comfortable bras I own,” says Shanon Maglente, Product and Reviews Assistant Editor at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “I love that the brand accommodates diverse skin tones and sizes — plus it’s BIPOC-owned.”
“As part of my job, I get the opportunity to try out lots of different comforters at home, but I always look forward to switching back to my Buffy,” says Textile Director, Lexie Sachs. She says that unlike most down or down alternative comforters that use clusters in their fill, this one has a web of fibers to help keep it fluffy and clump-free.
High Humidity 50 Pint
This sleek dehumidifier is loved by Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist and Director of Engineering at the Good Housekeeping Institute for a few reasons. “It’s easy to use and has clever built-in features,” she says, “like a window to see when the bucket is full and hooks for convenient cord wrapping.”
At-Home Lead Test Kit
DIY Lead Test Kit
Lead is a harmful contaminant that can negatively impact our health, especially in children and pets. GH Beauty Lab Director, Birnur Aral, personally loves this quick lead test you can perform yourself. “It will provide you with almost-instant results, letting you know whether your water supply has any dissolved lead above the US EPA’s lead action levels,” she says.
Best Sustainable Mattress
Avocado Green Mattress was a 2020 winner of Good Housekeeping’s Sustainable Innovation Awards. “The textiles industry is a big source of greenhouse gases, but Avocado Green Mattress is making strides to offset more carbon emissions than it creates,” Aral says. The mattress features organic certified latex, wool, and cotton and is hand-tufted, not glued. It is also the first bed maker to be Climate Neutral Certified.
Coop Home Goods
A best-seller almost every month among our readers and the winner of our latest pillow test, the Coop pillow comes with extra fill so you can add and remove to your liking. “It uses a mix of cut foam and microfiber clusters so there’s an ideal balance of softness and support,” says Sachs. “Our testers all said it improved their sleep quality and gave it high scores for comfort.”
A Fun Indoor Activity for Kids
Puffy Sticker Activity Book
Melissa & Doug
Kids can learn about and explore various careers with this puffy sticker play set. It features one activity book and reusable stickers for endless, screen-free play. “Since I began working from home, I’ve stocked up on these kits and give them to my young kids when I need uninterrupted time to work or do chores around the house,” says Textile Director, Lexie Sachs.
Best Educational Toy
Little Genius Starter Kit
The Little Genius Starter kit comes equipped with four games that help your child learn their ABC’s, practice drawing, identify social-emotional cues, and more. When hooked up to your iPad (not included), kids can follow along with their game pieces to form letters and shapes. “It’s a game-changer when it comes to hybrid digital-physical toys,” says Chief Technologist, Rachel Rothman. “Osmo creates an interactive experience kids enjoy so much they forget they’re learning!”
Best Ride-On Toy for Kids
Unicorn Up & Down Roller Coaster
$119.99 (14% off)
Bring the amusement park to your home with this adorable unicorn coaster car and riding track set. The car itself features motion-activated light and sounds, easy-grip handles, and foot rests. The track itself is bright and colorful and measures a little over nine feet of up and down fun. “It’s easy to assemble, and keeps kids endlessly occupied and moving around (a double win!),” says Rothman.
Best Sensory Toy
Whether you’re a child or an adult, “this four-pack includes a tube for all sensory profiles,” says Rothman. The brand claims that it can help relieve anxiety and reinforce sensory play instead. The set includes a calming glitter tube, a magical hourglass, a gravity spinner and a fidget tube for hours of entertainment.
RELATED: 12 Best Toys for Children With Autism, According to Toy Experts and Social Workers
A Versatile Indoor Exercise Mat
The Infinity Mat
Yoga Design Lab
In our Lab tests, our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and personal trainer Stefani Sassos found that this workout mat had great cushion even on hardwood floors. “It stayed put during high-intensity exercises like burpees, even when we used it on carpet,” she says. Sassos and our staffer testers also found that the pretty printed mat grips well and can be used for anything from yoga to heavy duty exercises.
Comfortable Indoor Cycling Shoes
Slipstream Indoor Cycling Shoes
In our Labs, testers gave these shoes top scores in categories ranging from functionality, to aesthetics, and innovation. “The hidden clips in the sole of the shoe make it easy for the consumer to walk around in,” says Sassos. The shoes are also currently the number one best-seller for women’s cycling shoes on Amazon.
RELATED: 9 Best Indoor Cycling Shoes, According to Fitness Experts
Best At-Home Fitness Solution
It’s a little pricey, but the Mirror is a great way to bring the entire gym experience right to your home. Included with the price is access to top trainers and thousands of workout classes you can access at anytime. “It’s sleek and slim and offers a ton of different workout options,” says Laurie Jennings, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute. “And when you’re not using it for exercising, it looks and works like a regular mirror — totally genius!” Right now, you can save $350 when you enter code “NEWYEARS21” at checkout.
Best Fitness App
Sassos is a fan of the Peloton App, which features thousands of live and on-demand classes ranging from barre, to resistance bands training, to outdoor guided runs. “The app is an immersive experience that keeps track of metrics and awards you with badges the more consistent you are,” she says. Plus, you don’t have to own a Peleton bike to use it.
More than Just a Smartwatch
Watch Series 6
Besides acting as a second alternate to your phone to receive and send messages, the Series 6 is loved by our Lab experts and online reviewers for its enhanced wellness package. “We love that it comes with a built-in oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels, sleep monitoring, and an FDA-certified heart rate tracker to head off cardiac concerns,” says Chief Technologist, Rachel Rothman.
Our Lab experts and online reviewers rave about this TV set because of its vibrant and vivid color volume and ultra-clear picture. “I recommend the TCL 6 Series because it strikes the perfect balance between good performance and not being too expensive,” says Rothman. The 4k Roku TV supports Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube.
Best Fitness Tracker for Men and Women
The Charge 4 is a solid option for anyone looking to track their fitness and activity. It’s sleek, stylish, and swim-proof and performs basic smartwatch features while giving you detailed fitness information. “The built-in GPS means you can accurately track runs without carrying your phone with you,” says Rothman.
Best Sewing Machine
CS5055PRW Sewing Machine
The Brother Project Runway sewing machine is excellent for at-home use, featuring a drop-in bobbin, one-step buttonhole capabilities, and an automatic threader. “I use this machine personally and love how reliable it is for a variety of projects,” says Product Analyst, Emma Seymour.
Best Wireless Headphones
AirPods with Wireless Charging Case
Wireless headphones have been a hit this year, probably since a lot of us have been looking to upgrade our at-home work or schooling stations. Consumers also love the fact that they fit perfectly in your ears and will typically stay put during a workout. “I love how seamlessly they pair with Apple devices and that you can now lay the charging case on a compatible Qi charging mat for wireless charging,” says Rothman.
Water-Resistant Portable Speaker
You can take this portable Sonos Move into the bathroom while you shower or set it up by the pool, thanks to its water-resistant capabilities. Use your voice or the Sonos app to operate the speaker, and stream via Bluetooth when WiFi isn’t available. “It’s a well-designed system with a super easy setup and great functionality” raves Chief Technologist Rothman.
A Classic Flat Iron That Gets the Job Done
Lava Ceramic Hairstyling Iron
This one-inch Chi flat iron impressed our Lab experts so much that it won our 2020 flat iron study. “The Lava flat iron got a rare perfect score with our expert evaluators for overall satisfaction,” says Danusia Wnek, Chemist at the Beauty Lab. “It heats up quickly, effectively straightens hair and keeps hair sleek and frizz free all day.” Plus, it includes a salon-length cord so you don’t have to work near an outlet.
RELATED: 14 Best Hair Straighteners and Flat Irons for Every Hair Type and Budget
Hair Dryer That Works Quickly
Nano Titanium Hair Dryer
“Not only that this was the fastest hairdryer in drying standardized pre-washed hair swatches,” says Sabina Wizemann, Senior Chemist at the Beauty Lab, “but the Nano also had a strong airflow, and it was quiet.” It received high marks by evaluators for easy-to-use controls, and the attachments are easy to put on and take off.
RELATED: 17 Best Hair Dryers for Quick, Easy Blowouts at Home
Innovative Curling Wand
Lava Curl Shot
Consumer testers and our Lab experts gave this unique curling wand overall high scores, making it the highest-ranked curling tool in our 2020 study. “The wand’s angular design makes it almost effortless to curl and wave hair, especially at the back of the head,” says Wizemann. Plus, this one has a cool shot button, unlike any other curling tool we’ve seen, to make your style stay in place.
Best Curling Iron
Golden Titanium Curling Iron
The winner in our tested curling iron roundup, this Ion iron features a 1¼-inch barrel and a swiveling bottom to keep the cord out of the way as you curl. It also includes a comfortable thumb grip and safety stand. “Most importantly, it creates beautiful, long-lasting curls on both long and short hair alike,” says Wizemann. She advises that the iron is a little on the heavy side and takes a bit longer to heat up, but it feels steady and safe in hand.
DIY Hair Color Mask
Color Depositing Mask
What it is: A hair mask that deposits temporary color while deep-conditioning your hair. “When I realized I wouldn’t be making it to my salon (or the office) for quite some time, I reached for this Beauty Award-winning hair mask to experiment with some DIY hair color, taking my blonde ends rose gold, bright pink, and deep violet,” says Teich. It’s an easy way to play with color or enhance understated hues.
Top-Performing Drugstore Hair Gloss
Elvive 8 Second Wonder Water Hair Treatment
Beauty Director April Franzino says this liquid hair treatment is a game-changer: “It makes even damaged hair feel silky and look shiny in seconds, as promised,” she says. And unlike traditional hair masks and deep treatments, it won’t weigh hair down (88% of GH Beauty Lab testers agreed).
Best Natural Hair Color
Plant-Based Hair Color
While most hair dyes are unnatural, this one from Matrix Biolage uses plant-based pigments. “It comes in a wide range of 20 shades and each uses a maximum of 10 ingredients, so it’s gentle enough for damaged hair,” says Franzino. GH Beauty Lab testing on hair samples found that it applied evenly and had more of an earthy, rather than chemical, scent.
Lightweight Body Sunscreen
AntiOxidant+ Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
It’s just under $10, but this sunscreen won our 2020 body SPF test with flying colors. “It was the best at leaving skin moisturized, absorbing, rinsing off, and not being tacky or greasy,” says Beauty Lab Senior Chemist, Sabina Wizemann. It also received the highest consumer satisfaction score and performed on top for not irritating the skin. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the product leaving white residue or staining your clothes.
Anti-Aging Night Cream
Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer
When testing for night creams, we used the VISIA Complexion Analysis to review which night creams best reduced the appearance of wrinkles, and the Regenerist was given the highest scores in this category. “It increased skin hydration by 20% over six hours in Lab testing,” says Beauty Lab Chemist, Danusia Wnek. Apply to your skin at night to make your skin look brighter and feel more moisturized.
Best Whitening Toothpaste
Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
Beauty Director April Franzino says that this GH Beauty Award-winning toothpaste is the easiest possible way to whiten your teeth at home. “Unlike other whitening toothpastes that don’t contain active ingredients, this toothpaste delivers noticeable teeth whitening with no extra steps in your routine, thanks to high levels of the active lightening ingredient hydrogen peroxide (3%).
Mascara That Delivers a Ton of Volume
Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara
At first glance, this mascara might look like a curling iron, and that’s because it’s actually the result of an IT Cosmetics and Drybar collaboration. “It’s a way to bring the technology behind Drybar’s volumizing round brush blowouts to mascara,” Franzino says. Eighty percent of GH Beauty Lab testers said this mascara volumized, lengthened, and separated lashes.
A Foolproof Self-Tanner
Ultra Dark Express Tan Mousse
Infused with caffeine for skin firming benefits, this self-tanner can be applied to your skin just one hour before swimming or showering. In Lab testing, it earned the highest consumer satisfaction score while being the most affordable by ounce. “This easy-to-apply tinted mousse was the best for achieving an even tan that faded evenly,” says Wnek.
Reusable Food Storage
Stand-Up Mega Bag
These uniquely designed food bags are loved by Nicole Papantoniou, the Deputy Director of the Kitchen and Appliances Lab. “I love that they stand up,” she says, “so they’re easy to fill and then store in your fridge. “The bags are made of thick but flexible silicone that seals shut and won’t leak, and because they’re transparent, there’s no guessing what’s inside.”
Decorative and Functional Dutch Oven
Cast Iron Pumpkin Cocotte
$199.99 (52% off)
We found that this dutch oven delivered more than just style in our Lab analysis: “I made a beef soup in it by first browning the meat which developed a very nice color and crust,” says Papantoniou. “It simmered very well and was flavorful.” She warns that the handle was a little tricky to handle with mitts, but mitts are needed because it got very hot.
A Knife Every Cook Would Appreciate
Shun made our top knives roundup, and Papantoniou finds herself reaching for this one a lot. “It has a wider handle that fits more comfortably in the hand and is ideal for beginners and experienced cooks,” she says. The hammered design makes it strong, and the blade itself is sharp, sturdy, and beautiful.
Home Pizza Oven
Smart Oven Pizzaiolo Pizza Oven
Missing your favorite pizza joint? A top performer in our pizza oven tests, you can make a good restaurant-style pizza right in your kitchen with this Breville. It reaches up to 700º F and can be used in manual mode or with custom settings like “wood-fire,” “thin and crispy,” and “New York.” In one test, we used the same exact dough, sauce and cheese to make a “wood-fire” pizza and a “New York” pizza. Papantoniou said the pizzas required little monitoring and were saucy, charred, and crispy in all the right places.
Best Air Fryer
Foodi 2-Basket Air Fryer
Ranked as our top-tested air fryer, the Ninja Foodi cooked foods the quickest and crispiest and had the most straight-forward control panel. “The basket is coated in ceramic which makes it very slick and nonstick,” says Papantoniou. The dual component allows you to air fry two foods at once, or make larger batches of one food. It also fits in the dishwasher easily. Testers and readers loved this pick in 2020!
Stainless Steel Cookware That’s Easy to Clean
NanoBond Stainless Steel 5-Piece Cookware Set
It’s a bit of an investment set, but online reviewers and our Lab experts say this stainless steel cookware is worth the hype: “The skillet is an all-around workhorse,” Papantoniou says. “It heats super evenly and retains heat well.” She adds that the skillet produces a nice sear on proteins and veggies, and yet, is the easiest stainless skillet to clean.
A Form-Fitting Apron
All Day Crossback Apron
Hedley & Bennett
“Traditional aprons bulge out on top, but this one adjusts to your body,” says Papantoniou. It comes in several canvas and denim color and styles, and the material is made of 100% cotton brushed bull denim fabric. To clean, machine-wash cold, then hang dry or tumble dry low.
Multi-Purpose Kitchen Gadgets
This set was made for all-around kitchen use, including mashing, scooping, basting, and spreading. Papantoniou especially loves the Spoonula included — “the flexible, but sturdy edge can get into corners well, and the other end doubles as a jar scraper,” she says. All pieces can be used on nonstick or stainless steel.
A Cordless Vacuum that Reaches Every Corner
Power Share Portable Vacuum Cleaner
Judged best overall in our recent handheld vacuum study, this portable cleaner with has a four-foot hose for extra reach, and its crevice tool and soft brush fit on the vacuum so they’re always where you need them. “Since it’s cordless, it can clean the car interior or the stairs, or anywhere in between,” explains Lynn Redmile, Testing and Product Review Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Best Dryer Sheets
WrinkleGuard Mega Sheet Dryer Sheets
Doing more laundry these days? These dryer sheets can cut down time on ironing, as they work to reduce static and help fabrics feel softer. “Afterwards, your clothing ends up needing little to no ironing,” Redmile says. The extra large size is great for large loads, too.
Reusable Cleaning Cloths
Infuse Cleaning Cloths
Casabella’s cloths help keep glass and windows streak-free, and they can be washed and reused as to reduce waste. “I love how the textured side of the bathroom cloth gets into little crevices before wiping clean with the other side,” says Nicole Papantoniou, Deputy Director of the Kitchen and Appliances Lab, and “the all-purpose ones are good for sticky, grease methods in the kitchen.”
Effective Drain Cleaner for Clogged Sinks
Max Gel Clog Remover
Clogs and slow drains happen, and Redmile recommends this gel remover for a quick solution. “The thick gel sinks through any standing water and eases down the drain to get to the source of the problem,” she says. “It dissolves hair, melts soap scum, grease and other gunky clogs in less than 15 minutes. It’s safe for piping and septic systems too!”
Powerful Dish Soap
Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray
A winner in the 2020 Cleaning Awards, Lab analysis found that a grimy grill nor charred frying pan was a match for this cleaning spray. “You no longer have to rely on overnight soaking on even your dirtiest pots,” says Redmile. “Simply spray on, and by the time you’ve finished your meal, the grease and gunk is ready for a rinse or light scrub, and you’re done.”
Gentle Hand Sanitizer
Hand Sanitizer Spray (6-Pack)
“Unlike other aerosol products, this lightweight hand sanitizer relies on nitrogen gas, which is safer for people and the planet,” says Beauty Lab Director, Birnur Aral. It’s fragrance-free, and the continuous spray nozzle covers large areas quickly. The sturdy packaging prevents the product from leaking or evaporating.
Product and Reviews Assistant Editor
As the Products & Reviews Assistant at GoodHousekeeping.com, Shanon covers the best deals and products across home, appliances, health, beauty and parenting.
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