Household Magic
August 31, 2012 10:11 AM   Subscribe

What modern products and technologies work "like magic"?

After a recent bout of road rash, I had the joy of discovering Tegaderm, a clear dressing that makes the wound heal much faster and without pain or scarring. Last time I had road rash (10 years ago) the scabs took 4-5 months to fully heal, and hurt like hell the whole time because they kept cracking whenever I bent my knees. This time, there's no scabs, no pain, and the wounds look like they'll be fully healed in only 3 weeks! This stuff is like magic. I can't believe my own eyes at how well it works.

I also had a cool experience recently with OxiClean, which got a very persistent stain out of my pants that I thought would have been there permanently. I couldn't believe that it really did work that well. (I hadn't used stain lifters before because I thought they mostly didn't work, or left bleach marks.) Again, it was like magic.

What other modern products/technologies can do the seemingly impossible? What else has that "magic"?
posted by danceswithlight to Society & Culture (56 answers total) 151 users marked this as a favorite
Magic Eraser does a great job of cleaning up stuff that doesn't want to be cleaned up with traditional cleaners.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2012 [21 favorites]

Along the stain lifting line, Tide Pens are pretty freaking awesome. Easy to carry, takes a red wine stain out of a white shirt.

If you're a girl, B.B. creams are pretty great too. They're sun protectors, moisturizers, light foundation, light relectors and make your complection look amazing. Nearly everyone makes one, from drugstore brands to expensive department store brands.

Fabric glue, for quick hems and fixes.

WD40, oils everything, safe, non-toxic.

Brillo/SOS pads are great for putting a shine on your pots.


Ped Egg.

My mobile phone, Kindle Fire, iPad. Those are completely magical.

Starbucks Via will restore your faith in instant coffee.

ATMs that take pictures of your check so you don't have to fool with filling out a deposit slip.

That app that turns baby pictures into cats.

I'm easily amazed (and amused.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Kids 'n' Pets is miraculous if you have a puppy and carpet, and works well in laundry too.
posted by kindall at 10:25 AM on August 31, 2012

Rice cookers.
posted by crackingdes at 10:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm convinced my Garmin Nuvi GPS has the most intuitive interface I've ever used. It's one of those products you know how to use the second you touch it. When it guides me through a complex route to someplace I'd have had a lot of difficulty finding with a paper map I always feel like I'm living in the future. It does occasionally steer me wrong, but one must understand the limitations of GPS. Mostly it feels like magic.

And I still get giddy every time I pinch my iPhone screen to make something bigger.
posted by bondcliff at 10:28 AM on August 31, 2012

Kilrock-K is the ultimate supreme god of descalers. But you'll have to live in the UK to find it. Splash it on your skin and it stings like the fire of a thousand suns, so it must be good.
posted by pipeski at 10:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

ATMs that take pictures of your check so you don't have to fool with filling out a deposit slip.

Stone Age. I just deposited a check by TAKING A PICTURE OF IT WITH MY PHONE.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [21 favorites]

After years of watch battery failures and leaks, my solar-powered Citizen watch wows me. (Cue the Douglas Adams "still think digital watches are pretty neat" line.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:34 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe hard to recognize if you've grown up with one, but microwave ovens are magical. You put a plate of pasta in, a minute later it's hot. The plate isn't hot, just the food. Magic.
posted by skewed at 10:35 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

I just deposited a check by TAKING A PICTURE OF IT WITH MY PHONE.

This has been a big game changer for me.

I use a Slingbox to watch a friend's cable TV over the internet when I'm someplace without TV and even though it's a super basic type of thing, the amount of time it is working as opposed to confusing me is really amazing for a computer/tv/internet device.
posted by jessamyn at 10:36 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

X2 on Magic Erasers. From gas burner residue on ceramic pots, to thought-it-would-be-there-forever stains on Formica and Corian countertops, to scum on a fiberglass tub enclosure and miscellaneous marks inside an often used cooler, these things do everything.
posted by peakcomm at 10:37 AM on August 31, 2012

My smartphone maps app has corrected my utter, utter lack of a sense of direction -- how utter? Before leaving the house to anywhere new, I would sketch a map from the train station to the location in a notepad I always made sure to carry around -- to the extent that leaving home without it may as well be leaving home without my glasses.
posted by griphus at 10:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

wenestvedt: "After years of watch battery failures and leaks, my solar-powered Citizen watch wows me. (Cue the Douglas Adams "still think digital watches are pretty neat" line."

Hah! You'll be sorry when the nuclear winter arrives and there's no more sun for to power your watches. I will be laughing in the corner with my movement powered automatic wristwatch!
posted by Grither at 10:38 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, yeah, microwaves. My family moved here from the Soviet Union in '91, and that thing was like nothing I had ever seen before.
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on August 31, 2012

If you're a vagina-haver, the DivaCup. Total life changer.
posted by phunniemee at 10:42 AM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]

My child will actually consume vegetables now, thanks to a Vitamix. It really is like magic.
posted by okay-quiet-time at 10:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know this is a super yuppie answer, but man. Our Apple TV, combined with the "Stream to Me" app that we've all installed on our iOS devices and desktop machines.

Like, if a video will play on my computer, I can press a button and it's magically on our TV. If I'm watching a live NASA stream on my iPad, I can send it to the TV. The reduced stress and hassle of being able to just sit down on the couch and instantly watch a stupid anime or ISS EVA or youtube video or whatever on the TV has literally CHANGED OUR LIVES. The stress level of our household has noticeably decreased.

Also, the Netflix interface on the Apple TV is WAY BETTER than the Xbox one, JFC.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:50 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Goo Gone
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:52 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

If we are including microwaves, I should mention that I've been marveling a bit this summer about the magic that is air conditioning. I have a machine in my backyard, connected to my house though a series of tubes and ducts that ensures that the entirety of my house is 74 degrees all the time.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:53 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am always raving to anyone who will listen about Reynold's slow-cooker liners. No more soaking/scrubbing/chiseling/jackhammering nasty carbonized rock-hard burnt crust out of the crockpot.

Alden Odor Solutions is a magical enzymatic cleaner for pet owners that works better than Nature's Miracle (which changed its formula for the worse some years back) ever did.

Seconding Starbucks Via. It's expensive but amazing for instant coffee.
posted by usonian at 10:56 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

My Electrolux ergorapidio ultra. It's super strong suction, long life batter powered. Best hand helf vac I've tried, which is many, so my long hairs all over the bathroom are easily vacuumed every day in seconds--makes vacuuming a joy.

Steam washing machine takes the worry out of wearing my Salvation army acquired wardrobe (save here spend there).
posted by waving at 10:56 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not "modern," but indoor plumbing is pretty amazing.

I never appreciated it until I moved aboard a sailboat, where all of my water comes from tanks that have to be filled, and waste goes to tanks that have to be emptied, and everything happens with hand and foot pumps.

Plumbing in houses, where you just turn a handle and water comes out and you almost never have to think about where it came from or where it went? Magic.
posted by zjacreman at 11:00 AM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]

If you're a Blackberry owner (still!), then the Blackberry traffic app is fantastic. I got rid of my Garmin, because Blackberry Traffic is better. The thing where it tells you what time to leave to avoid traffic based on historical traffic patterns - love it.

BTW, speaking as the wife of a cycling coach, Tegaderm is amazing. When Mr. 26.2 stopped his bike with his helmet and face, Tegaderm prevented disfiguring scars on his handsome mug. His helmet prevented all types of head trauma. I'll add a shout out for the amazingness of helmets - that something so light and small can do the job is wonderful.
posted by 26.2 at 11:04 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

in addition to the slow-cooker liners:

Non-stick aluminum foil is AWESOME.
posted by royalsong at 11:05 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

OK, I will fess up to being another microwave lover.

Really the awesomeest things I have owned lately are a new minivan (replacing a decade-old one: man, there is SO MUCH ROOM now!), and a wallpaper steamer that kept my wife up late for a week until she'd gotten the very last wallpaper out of our house. This necessitated painting four or five rooms, but at least we don't have wallpaper now. Oh, and also: pre-finished hardwood floors are sweet.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Starbucks Via is the best instant coffee for making ice cream at home. In my electric ice cream maker...which is another total MIRACLE.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:07 AM on August 31, 2012

Those thermometers you can point at things.

The cloud. As I kid I would fantasize about heaven being this place where you could watch any movie or listen to any song ever made. Now it's pretty much real.

Sinus medicine. Sometimes I punch myself for not taking it sooner, thinking I'm sick, but I'll get over it.

Coffee. It wasn't that long ago people had to wake up naturally.

Juicers. Why muck about with chewing?

Liquid bait ant traps.

tineye reverse image lookup

ask metafilter
posted by hypersloth at 11:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

My Dad bought me my first Sony Walkman almost immediately when it came on the market. He'd grown up using huge a reel-to-reel recorder that used wire instead of magnetic tape, so he always commented when I went out for my bike ride with my Walkman on my belt how it was "amazing" that you could carry pre-recorded music with you like that. Fast forward a few decades and Dad's in the hospital for a heart problem; my wonderful husband, knowing of Dad's love of the Neil Diamond discography, loaded a bunch of tunes onto a tiny MP3 player he'd bought at CostCo and gave it to my Dad along with some ear buds. Dad was absolutely gobsmacked and kept calling Mr. Adams a "magician" - kept raving to everyone how Mr. Adams had somehow managed to put songs into this tiny little thing.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]

My latest joke is that it took me all these years to realize that oven cleaner works on almost all kitchen surfaces.
posted by rhizome at 11:11 AM on August 31, 2012

Micro fibre mops and clothes, pay more for a good one and there is very little it won't clean up off my counters and floors without chemicals.

Clinique Dark spot protector and seconding BB creams and Diva cups for those of us that use them.

My Nexus 7 blows me away everyday weeks after I got it. I guess if you are used to smartphones it's not such a big thrill, but it's a whole new world for me. I looked up a local business in Google on my PC the other day go back to my Nexus a little later and it's showing me directions and estimated travel time. My songs are now available everywhere ever from some magical cloud land. I know logically how it all works but deep down inside I am sure it's fairies and unicorn dust. Also it's one of the few computer things I've had that just works, no tweaking or hacking or altering setting needed it worked straight out the box and even after sitting on the roof of my car and falling off on a busy road 500 yards down the road.

Rice cooker. Water and Rice goes in perfectly cooked rice comes out, every time. How does it know when to stop cooking? Magic.

My LG HE toploader washing machine. It washes clothes great with hardly any water and sings me a merry song when done. I am actually in love with it but don't tell my husband.
posted by wwax at 11:11 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tibet Almond Stick. My husband was on the verge of getting rid of an old wooden dresser that was covered in hideous scratches. The Tibet stick made it look almost brand new.

I don't understand how it works so well, but it is amazing, and a must-have!

(Thanks also to the mefite who alerted me to this wonder a few years ago.)
posted by soleilMia at 11:19 AM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]

Btw for anyone using magic eraser.. its melamine foam. Search on ebay you can get 60 for like $7 rather $4 for 2 for the branded one
posted by radsqd at 11:22 AM on August 31, 2012 [52 favorites]

PaperPro staplers, Solarcaine for itching, LG front loading washing machine, some desktop apps (Dropbox cloud storage, Jing screenshots, Sizester photo resizing), and of course a bunch of iOS apps.
posted by Dansaman at 11:24 AM on August 31, 2012

Press 'n' seal wrap. You can wrap up half an avocado in it, and the half will stay good in the fridge for days.

"Ching wan hung" burn ointment. Remarkably effective.
posted by adamrice at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

3m "Super 77" spray adhesive.
posted by dmd at 11:48 AM on August 31, 2012 and a smartphone. What amazes me (still! I've been doing this for years and I'm still flabbergasted.) is that I can be out on the town, realize that I'm out of [product], purchase it from my phone while I'm crossing a bridge or stuck in an elevator or wherever, and it'll be on my doorstep the next day. Or later that day if I want to pay a couple bucks more.

I can scan a barcode with my phone and it will tell me ten places where I can buy it and how much it costs at each one.

I can talk in to my phone and it will speak it back to me in German. Or Japanese.

I can buy a book from the passenger seat of a car and start reading it immediately.

Basically what I'm saying is, between my smartphone and now the iPad, I'm living in the Star Trek universe. Seriously, go watch some of TNG when you get a chance and see how many of their "futuristic" gadgets you now have in your pocket. Amazing!

I only have a couple of gray hairs, I swear.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

The pharmacy app on my smartphone where I can scan the barcode on a prescription and it automatically sends the refill info to the pharmacy! IT IS LIKE LIVING IN THE FUTURE.

I have a Nest thermostat. It is DEFINITELY magic.

My mom thinks the rotavirus vaccine is magical, after four children and many bouts of childhood rotavirus -- easily treatable most of the time, but unpleasant for everyone involved. The vaccine isn't even a shot, it's an oral solution. Every time it comes up she just shakes her head in wonder that her grandchildren don't have to go through having rotavirus. A small miracle compared to how HER mother must have felt about the polio vaccine, but a miracle nonetheless.

On preview, microfiber cleaning cloths are definitely magical!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:07 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

I always say to my friends, when I call them from my car using the built-in blue tooth feature, that I am calling from the FUTURE! Seriously, my mom was born in Nebraska in a sod house and took a horse and buggy to school.
posted by jvilter at 12:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

2nd the non-stick aluminum foil, that stuff goes on my toaster over tray for just about everything (and if it's not too dirty, i just wipe it down and use it over and over), no sticking ever.

Guardsman One-Wipe - these are magic for a non-disposable, no dusting spray, just wipe and wash dustcloth (beware shipping cost, there are a few amazon vendors). If I were a little more paranoid I would think that the reason I haven't been able to find these in stores lately is that the Swifter/Glade/Pledge evil conglomerate has squashed all knowledge of these amazing rags.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:25 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Baby Soft Dusting Cloths are amazing. They dust and get grime off at the same time. I actually look forward to cleaning day now (but don't tell my husband).

Invisible Glass is also a great product. So much better than Windex.
posted by DrGail at 1:42 PM on August 31, 2012

I like AC for the fact you don't need to be hit by uneven and rough wind of a bladed fan.

Our house doesn't have an AC system and every time I go to BestBuy I stare longingly at theDyson bladeless fan which provides a straight uninterrupted stream. I have no idea how it works, but I want one.
posted by Bodrik at 4:06 PM on August 31, 2012

Band-Aid Advanced Healing Blister Cushions I believe there's a more generic name for this kind of thing. They are awesome.

Also voting for Magic Erasers and Diva Cups
posted by Fig at 4:14 PM on August 31, 2012

Band-Aid Advanced Healing Blister Cushions I believe there's a more generic name for this kind of thing. They are awesome.

Also voting for Magic Erasers and Diva Cups
posted by Fig at 4:14 PM on August 31 [+] [!]

The generic term is hydrocolloid bandage, and yes, they're magic. As far as bandaids go, Nexcare has waterproof bandaids that adhere with this super-duper-ultra thin, amazingly flexible plastic, and they won't come off. Like, really. I've got one on a split thumb nail right now, and I plan on leaving that sucker on for the next 2 weeks while my nail grows out.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:30 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This stuff is amazing! You can remove stickers, let them dry and reuse them! It removed tape and stickers from walls without destroying the wall.

un-du®, the original adhesive, sticker, tape and label remover. Also known as Scrapper's Solution, un-du® has been touted "Favorite New Product" by dozens of industries authorities.
The NEW un-du® VOC formula has also brought rave reviews from California enthusiasts and many other users. Remember, un-du® has dozens of uses beyond scrapbooking some of which include: Photo removal and preservation, Chap Stick removal from Cloth, Gum removal, a Gun Cleaner, many Home uses, Office, Automotive, Book/Library, etc.!

posted by wandering_not_lost at 10:21 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Spotify. As a music lover it's honestly improved my quality of life, no exaggeration.
posted by katyggls at 10:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

My roomba. I mean, a robot does my vacuuming while I sit on the couch. How futuristic is that?
posted by hazyjane at 2:32 AM on September 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

Love iPad. Hate flimsy, expensive Apple cords. Saw mefite griffey's comment in recent AskMe. Ordered Sugru. Have received Sugru. Will be implementing Sugru. Am fascinated by myriad other possible uses of Sugru. Will shut up now about Sugru.
posted by likeso at 4:51 AM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Not an new product at all, but the best way to get blood out of fabric is by pouring hydrogen peroxide on it , then washing like normal. Amazingly effective, even for dried blood.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:51 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I might have to look into that Sugru stuff. Fascinating!

And I just wanted to also recommend the Magic Eraser. I didn't realize until recently that it's safe to use on glass. It takes that soap scum off glass shower doors in minutes. Amazing!
posted by Groovymomma at 5:45 PM on September 1, 2012

EyeFi card.
The SD-card that uploads pictures through WiFi. And makes a backup of your pictures to a USB network disk on a USB-enabled router, one folder per day. And uploads a lower resolution version to flickr, G+, facebook etc..., ready for sharing. And sends you an email with an overview of new pictures. It can even create a WiFi network for your smartphone to connect to, so it can upload pictures when you're away from home. It also empties the SDcard when it's 50% full (after succesfully uploading its pictures).
It just works, I did not expect it to work with an old, "unsupported" DSLR (K10D), but apparently it works if it has some power after the pictures being taken, just put the auto-off function on 10 minutes and don't use the on/off switch. It realy give a new life to decent cameras now that many start using their crappiest phone-camera as main picture device.
Also, adding an (automatically generated) G+ Eye-Fi album to an active G+ Event gives you a live stream. Magic in itself; awesomely magic once you can add non-crappy looking pictures.

Oscilitaing multitool (the cheapest are only €25). Suddenly you do not need a saw to modify wood/stone or any other hard material, just point where you want to cut. Safe too; when the blade touches soft flesh, it just oscilates. This is one of those tools where I would not even believe an infomercial.
posted by Akeem at 8:54 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

For ladies, the Mirena IUD.
posted by amicamentis at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

The voice recognition on the XBox Kinect. Never gets old and I've had it for 2 years. XBox Pause! XBox Play! Every time I do it I get a little bit of "The future is now."
posted by slenderloris at 10:30 PM on September 3, 2012

I sound like an old fuddyduddy saying this but I'm a techknowledgeable 30 years old and wireless printing is still UH-MAZING to me.

Also wireless hifi systems like Sonos

As a Chinese language learner: electronic dictionaries/ apps that use handwriting input recognition. Because using a paper dictionary for a non-alphabet based language is really not fun.
posted by kitkatcathy at 1:20 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Coke! I put coke in the toilet when it starts getting grimy at the bottom and let it sit there for a while and it cleans it up well!
posted by cusack01 at 6:23 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not quite "like magic," but a good electric kettle will boil water WAY faster than you'd otherwise be able to with a stove. This shocks most Americans.
posted by schmod at 11:03 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Scrubbing scuff marks (on a white/light colored wall) with baking soda was a revelation for me!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 1:49 PM on September 26, 2012

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