1. Automatic Daily shower cleaner
First, came daily shower cleaners in the mid-1990s. Just spritz the shower surfaces after you shower and walk away without scrubbing. But, let's face it, all that spray-trigger pulling gets tiresome. You could even get carpal tunnel syndrome. So SC Johnson has come to the rescue, launching into test market recently a $24.99 device that automatically sprays the shower cleaner with the push of a button.
2. Dawn Power Dish Brush
While we're on the easy-cleaning tip, let's give mention to the scrubbing brush that vibrates on its own. This wondrous invention comes from the same people who brought dish pads that have detergent inside-eliminating the laborious process of putting detergent on the sponge. Dishwashers, people, dishwashers.
3. Big toilet-paper rolls
Paper technologists have addressed virtually every issue with toilet paper-making it softer, stronger, even rippled (don't ask). But you've still got to change the roll once in a while. That can't be prevented, but it can be further delayed, thanks to Charmin MegaRoll and Scott Extra Soft-extra-honkin'-big rolls. Charmin's entry, the industry's first "quadruple roll," is so big it needs an extender to fit on the spool. Next: Easy-to-use colostomy kits.
4. Kandoo toddler wipes
Coming early next year to the U.S., these have been billed in Europe as giving newly potty-trained tykes the pride of cleaning up after themselves. But the folks at Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pampers brand aren't really talking self-esteem here. What's really behind this idea of wet wipes for tots is stifling those three little words all parents of toddlers dread: "I need wipe."
5. Roomba robotic vacuum
Why vacuum when you can simply turn on a robo-vac, leave the room, and let it suck all day long? All this now for well under $200, no more than many human-operated vacuums. Sure, you may have this nagging question about how much dirt this oversized hockey puck can really hold. But the important thing is that you have vacuumed and are absolved of all guilt.
But what about those hard surfaces? Not to worry. First, we had Swiffer. But even without a dustpan, that gets tiring. So, here comes the RoboMaid. For only $10, you get one of those little erratic-moving, battery-operated plastic balls that amuse children and agitate dogs, placed into a metal disk with a Swiffer-like sheet underneath, to create a robotic Swiffer-like cleaner. Procter & Gamble Co. won't be outdone. In fact, it's been developing a robot that picks up dog droppings in the yard. Seriously.
7. Air fresheners
Of course, the fastest-growing category in household cleaning doesn't really involve cleaning at all. Room air fresheners, with scented oils and fans to spread the freshness around and keep the stench at bay, are growing at a brisk pace for folks too lazy to even turn on the Roomba and RoboMaid. For a mere $30 or so, sit back on the couch and try Febreze Scentstories, which plays scent CDs that cycle through stories played out in scent.
8. Absentee balloting From home
Old conventional wisdom: Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others. New conventional wisdom: It really is the worst, because it's too much work. Fortunately, you can now participate in many states without ever leaving home, regardless of whether you're absent or infirm on Election Day. Next up, voting machines from Diebold that entirely automate the process, with no voter input required at all.
9. Energizer Quick Switch Flashlight
Just like toilet paper rolls, flashlights have that replacement problem. The batteries, that is. Though Energizer couldn't (and certainly wouldn't) do away with the battery change, they did make it much easier. Rather than search for those "D" batteries or, worse still, have to drive to the store and walk in to buy them, you can just use almost any battery lying around the house, including "C" or "AA" sizes.
10. Tiny Love's remote control mobile
A mobile for parents who don't want to get out of bed, but do want their baby to be smart. Armed with research that found listening to classical music boosts baby brain power, this mobile plays either Bach, Beethoven or Mozart for a full 15 minutes, so it's better than a snooze button. And unlike old-fashioned mobiles, this one needs no winding ... and as we all know, winding is the most exhausting thing about having a baby.