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Quantity versus quality: household items


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One of the best purchases I ever made was a box of many hundreds of pens that I got for around $15. They were rejects that didn't pass quality control because the custom printing on them was blurred or smudged or misspelled or whatever. They're all different colors and shapes and sizes of ball-point pens, and they write just fine. It's just that the "Joe's Hardware, Inc." (etc.) isn't perfectly clear.

I got them about 10 years ago. I haven't purchased any other pens since then. And I still have about half the box left. It's perfect because I had always lost pens very quickly. I don't know where they went. They just disappeared and had to be replaced constantly. Now I don't care. No matter how many pens I lose, I have a box of them on my shelf that is effectively a limitless supply.

I highly recommend looking for the cheapest pens you can find and buying a thousand of them. (I think I got mine on eBay.)

In that spirit, here are a few household items that I recommend buying in bulk because the cheap versions work nearly as well as the more expensive brands, and it's nice to have them in every room in the house so you're not constantly trying to remember where you left them ... followed by the opposite, where I'd take quality over quantity, followed by a few items that I could go either way on.

Quantity over quality

1. Pens. I don't know where to find a thousand of them for $15, but here's 240 of them for $22 (and they're not even QC rejects).

2. Box cutters. Here's a box of 12 for $9. Great for opening any Amazon packages (and breaking down boxes for the recycling bin). Have some in every room.

3. Reading glasses. Here's six of them for $9. Find six places in your home where you sometimes read and keep a pair in each place so that they'll always be within reach.

4. Soap. No link, but as with the pens, I once got a large bag of plain soap (lard and lye) that failed quality control because they weren't molded exactly right so they were slightly misshapen. (I think this was also on eBay.) I don't know how easy it is to find deals like this, but I should look for another one. I don't really care about the exact shape of a bar of soap. In any case, I think basic soap is superior to fancy soap as a general rule.

5. Razor cartridges. If you use a double-edge safety razor, quality matters more. But with cartridges, I think Solimo and Dorco are both so much cheaper than Gillette or the other major brands that any difference in quality is comparatively negligible.

Quality over quantity

1. Garlic press. There's such a big difference between the solid, heavy, well-manufactured ones and the rest. The one in the link is easy to use, easy to clean, and will last forever.

2. Tooth brush. Even the expensive ones are super cheap on a per-use basis. Why not splurge? A good one makes a difference, IMO.

Could go either way

1. Combs. When I was in high school, combs were like pens: constantly getting lost. (I don't know where they went. I blame it on sharing a bathroom with two brothers.) The only antidote was buying them in bulk so that replacements would be available. Now that I don't have a problem with losing them, I find that a single high-quality comb is nice to have.

2. Fans. I don't like air-conditioning, but I'm a big fan of fans. You can get a perfectly functional one for around $20. There's a decent argument for getting a $20 fan and then replacing it every year or two. (The cheap ones get dusty and aren't easy to clean, so do need to be replaced.) But there's also an argument for getting a high-quality, solidly-built fan that will last a lifetime. The higher-end fans not only look prettier: they tend to be quieter and more powerful as well. I consider this Vornado to be one of the better purchases I've made.

That's all I can think of for now.

What do you agree or disagree with? What would you add to each list?

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Outside of toilet paper, I usually go cheap on paper stuff like napkins and paper towels. Plates are iffy, depends on whether you need a real plate or just something to put something on.

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I dig all of this, but in lieu of the box cutters, I prefer a pocket knife. I have to break down a lot of boxes for the business, so it's worth always carrying one on my person. 

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1 hour ago, Leroy Hoard said:

Outside of toilet paper, I usually go cheap on paper stuff like napkins and paper towels. Plates are iffy, depends on whether you need a real plate or just something to put something on.

I typically roll with Sam's brand paper towels, but during the shortages over the last year or so, sometimes all they had was Bounty. I had never used  Bounty before, but I must say that's a very weird, irritating paper towel. It's too nice to be a paper towel. They are so thick they are hard to break off, and it's just weird to throw away such a thick disposable.

And I've always loved cheap TP. The cheap stuff has a nice little grit to it that I find handy at times. I can barely get a grip on that that super soft stuff. On both ends. 

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29 minutes ago, pollardsvision said:

I typically roll with Sam's brand paper towels, but during the shortages over the last year or so, sometimes all they had was Bounty. I had never used  Bounty before, but I must say that's a very weird, irritating paper towel. It's too nice to be a paper towel. They are so thick they are hard to break off, and it's just weird to throw away such a thick disposable.

And I've always loved cheap TP. The cheap stuff has a nice little grit to it that I find handy at times. I can barely get a grip on that that super soft stuff. On both ends. 

I've only ever used Bounty so it's always been disposable to me, although I agree about how irritating it can be to break one off the roll.  It's like you have to figure out the best way for each roll.

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1 minute ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

Yeah, that's like six times as expensive as Colgate or Oral-B or whatever.

For years I had electric Oral-B toothbrushes and my dentist and hygienist would always say get a SonicCare.  So finally this last time when it was time for a replacement I bought one - definitely seems worth it.

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37 minutes ago, RC94 said:

TP and paper towels are definitely quality over quantity for me.  Quilted Northern and Bounty.

Bounty is our preferred, Brawny is our backup (bounty out of stock, good sale, etc).  Will go store brand occasionally.  Viva is the worst, has a weird smell

TP I prefer the charmin sensitive (green package) with Quilted Northern purple as a backup.  Hate Cottonele

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Maybe it is just me, but I destroy can openers. It just doesn't matter the brand. They last a few months and then boom, they stop working. I got tired of paying $15 for a POS that dies inside 90 days. The kicker is my family doesn't eat a ton of canned food. So thanks to the Covid thread, we had started prepping in January of last year and part of my prep was to go to the dollar store and buy like eight $1 can openers. The last one just died recently. I call it a good investment. 

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23 minutes ago, Courtjester said:

Maybe it is just me, but I destroy can openers. It just doesn't matter the brand. They last a few months and then boom, they stop working. I got tired of paying $15 for a POS that dies inside 90 days. The kicker is my family doesn't eat a ton of canned food. So thanks to the Covid thread, we had started prepping in January of last year and part of my prep was to go to the dollar store and buy like eight $1 can openers. The last one just died recently. I call it a good investment. 

I've had one Oxo can opener for the past 15-20 years.  I always wipe it down with a clean towel every single time I use it.

Speaking of, the 24-pack of bar mops at Sam's Club are fantastic.

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1 hour ago, AAABatteries said:

For years I had electric Oral-B toothbrushes and my dentist and hygienist would always say get a SonicCare.  So finally this last time when it was time for a replacement I bought one - definitely seems worth it.

I think most of these dentist recommendations come from whatever brand (SonicCare vs. Oral-B) there offices have side promotions for. I've visited various offices over the years that have one or the other brand displayed on a stand  and I'm pretty sure they some kind of get commission on any sale. FWIW I've used the Oral-B brand for years and I've had great checkups. So why change?

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1 hour ago, AAABatteries said:

For years I had electric Oral-B toothbrushes and my dentist and hygienist would always say get a SonicCare.  So finally this last time when it was time for a replacement I bought one - definitely seems worth it.

my dad was a dentist... swore by soniccare. also just swore a lot, because nobody likes dentists.

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running shoes. 

I'll try to get them on sale and wear them until their smashed to bits... but when I buy new ones, I'm not looking for cheap.

and while expensive socks are nice, I'm happy enough with my no-brand (maybe even walmart or kmart) athletic socks for running.

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Frequently used spices.  Why pay a ridiculous price for a tiny jar at the grocery?  Buy in bulk on amazon and vac-seal in individual refill packages.

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I use single blade Bic disposable razors. I think the last batch I bought was about $.35 per razor. Part of this is that I'm cheap and part is that I refuse to buy 2-3-4 bladed razors just because some marketing guy had a stupid idea.

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Quantity: Reading glasses, scissors, measuring tapes, screwdrivers.

We have this game in our house.  Whenever I go to our kitchen junk drawer for either a measuring tape or pair of scissors and don't find one, I go to the dollar store and buy 3 or 4 more and put them in there.  Has happened multiple times.  But my wife will still find a way to remove these items and leave them elsewhere in the house.  We probably have 20 measuring tapes in this house.  

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10 minutes ago, brun said:

I use single blade Bic disposable razors. I think the last batch I bought was about $.35 per razor. Part of this is that I'm cheap and part is that I refuse to buy 2-3-4 bladed razors just because some marketing guy had a stupid idea.

Oh BLEEP no, I get the $40 big pack of Gillette Fusion at Sam's. I get a great shave, and I can make a blade last 5-6 weeks. Napkin math says that's two year's worth.

To be fair, I have not used a Bic razor in the past 25 years.  Once, they were as if you bred a rabid dog with a cheap steak knife

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Over the years my son has used and misplaced so many tools I can't imagine.

My dad had almost zero tools, but what he did have was welcomed to be used ...but goddamed it ...it better well be put back in it's place.

 

I can't remember the last time I found the tool I was looking for.  

 

Parenthood ...these days.  I would have had my ### whooped and known I deserved it.  

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3 minutes ago, Mister CIA said:

Oh BLEEP no, I get the $40 big pack of Gillette Fusion at Sam's. I get a great shave, and I can make a blade last 5-6 weeks. Napkin math says that's two year's worth.

To be fair, I have not used a Bic razor in the past 25 years.  Once, they were as if you bred a rabid dog with a cheap steak knife

I finally went there about 3 years ago ...one of those things that I can tell a difference. :hifive:

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15 hours ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

 

5. Razor cartridges. If you use a double-edge safety razor, quality matters more. But with cartridges, I think Solimo and Dorco are both so much cheaper than Gillette or the other major brands that any difference in quality is comparatively negligible.

 

Used Dorco for years but recently switched to Solimo, the Amazon house brand.  The Dorco's were fine but the Solimo's are awesome.  I shave my entire orb, head and beard, and I use shaving oil.  Works great but tends to clog razors so frequent rinsing and tapping required.  The blades on the Solimo are just a bit wider so the tapping effort and frequency is reduced by roughly 80%. Wonderful.

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14 hours ago, AAABatteries said:

Confused on the toothbrush - you say quality and then link a $6 toothbrush?  I have a SonicCare - like a jet engine in my mouth. :oldunsure: 

I miss sigs.

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I totally disagree with using cheap pens. There’s basically one type of pen I use. It’s not expensive but not one of those bic things either. I can’t use a bic. Hate the way it feels when you write and too thin. They hurt my hand. 

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13 hours ago, El Floppo said:

my dad was a dentist... swore by soniccare. also just swore a lot, because nobody likes dentists.

wife lost a crown last night. thinks she has an abcess.

called around to every dentist in town last night. all closed until Monday.

is this a dental conspiracy? are 4 day work weeks common and if so how can i become a dentist with the least possible effort?

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11 hours ago, shuke said:

Quantity: Reading glasses, scissors, measuring tapes, screwdrivers.

We have this game in our house.  Whenever I go to our kitchen junk drawer for either a measuring tape or pair of scissors and don't find one, I go to the dollar store and buy 3 or 4 more and put them in there.  Has happened multiple times.  But my wife will still find a way to remove these items and leave them elsewhere in the house.  We probably have 20 measuring tapes in this house.  

we have 6 brooms. i do all the cleaning. with wood floors i sweep a lot.

i can never find them. ever.

they show up in random places all over the house even though i always put them in the same place when i'm done.

this weekend my wife went looking for a broom for the first time in .... years? .... they were all in the garage. why? i have no idea. i didn't put them there.

starting to think she's not just having night terrors, but also sleepwalking a lot more than i realize.

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12 minutes ago, mr. furley said:

wife lost a crown last night. thinks she has an abcess.

called around to every dentist in town last night. all closed until Monday.

is this a dental conspiracy? are 4 day work weeks common and if so how can i become a dentist with the least possible effort?

My dad semi-retired down to 3 day weeks at some point in his late 40s, early 50s. My age, fml.

My older brother was in college at the time, and whenever people would ask him what he wanted to be when he graduated, he'd say "retired dentist".

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1 hour ago, whoknew said:

I totally disagree with using cheap pens. There’s basically one type of pen I use. It’s not expensive but not one of those bic things either. I can’t use a bic. Hate the way it feels when you write and too thin. They hurt my hand. 

This. I'm a pen snob. I've only been buying and writing with the uni ball™ VISION ELITE

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18 hours ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

One of the best purchases I ever made was a box of many hundreds of pens that I got for around $15. They were rejects that didn't pass quality control because the custom printing on them was blurred or smudged or misspelled or whatever. They're all different colors and shapes and sizes of ball-point pens, and they write just fine. It's just that the "Joe's Hardware, Inc." (etc.) isn't perfectly clear.

I got them about 10 years ago. I haven't purchased any other pens since then. And I still have about half the box left. It's perfect because I had always lost pens very quickly. I don't know where they went. They just disappeared and had to be replaced constantly. Now I don't care. No matter how many pens I lose, I have a box of them on my shelf that is effectively a limitless supply.

I highly recommend looking for the cheapest pens you can find and buying a thousand of them. (I think I got mine on eBay.)

In that spirit, here are a few household items that I recommend buying in bulk because the cheap versions work nearly as well as the more expensive brands, and it's nice to have them in every room in the house so you're not constantly trying to remember where you left them ... followed by the opposite, where I'd take quality over quantity, followed by a few items that I could go either way on.

Quantity over quality

1. Pens. I don't know where to find a thousand of them for $15, but here's 240 of them for $22 (and they're not even QC rejects).

2. Box cutters. Here's a box of 12 for $9. Great for opening any Amazon packages (and breaking down boxes for the recycling bin). Have some in every room.

3. Reading glasses. Here's six of them for $9. Find six places in your home where you sometimes read and keep a pair in each place so that they'll always be within reach.

4. Soap. No link, but as with the pens, I once got a large bag of plain soap (lard and lye) that failed quality control because they weren't molded exactly right so they were slightly misshapen. (I think this was also on eBay.) I don't know how easy it is to find deals like this, but I should look for another one. I don't really care about the exact shape of a bar of soap. In any case, I think basic soap is superior to fancy soap as a general rule.

5. Razor cartridges. If you use a double-edge safety razor, quality matters more. But with cartridges, I think Solimo and Dorco are both so much cheaper than Gillette or the other major brands that any difference in quality is comparatively negligible.

Quality over quantity

1. Garlic press. There's such a big difference between the solid, heavy, well-manufactured ones and the rest. The one in the link is easy to use, easy to clean, and will last forever.

2. Tooth brush. Even the expensive ones are super cheap on a per-use basis. Why not splurge? A good one makes a difference, IMO.

Could go either way

1. Combs. When I was in high school, combs were like pens: constantly getting lost. (I don't know where they went. I blame it on sharing a bathroom with two brothers.) The only antidote was buying them in bulk so that replacements would be available. Now that I don't have a problem with losing them, I find that a single high-quality comb is nice to have.

2. Fans. I don't like air-conditioning, but I'm a big fan of fans. You can get a perfectly functional one for around $20. There's a decent argument for getting a $20 fan and then replacing it every year or two. (The cheap ones get dusty and aren't easy to clean, so do need to be replaced.) But there's also an argument for getting a high-quality, solidly-built fan that will last a lifetime. The higher-end fans not only look prettier: they tend to be quieter and more powerful as well. I consider this Vornado to be one of the better purchases I've made.

That's all I can think of for now.

What do you agree or disagree with? What would you add to each list?

I need a fan to sleep but I don`t want a quiet one.  The fan in our bedroom logs over 3000 hours a year. 

Have had the same brand "Lasko" last 3 years, or burn out after 1 year.  Cost around 25.00. So cheap is good on this one.

Blender:   I make protein shakes almost every day.  Went though a cheap blender every year.   Did not want to spend 400 on a Vita-mix but bought a Ninja at Costco for 149.00 instead of a 40 dollar one from Kohls..  Well worth it.  Have had it over 5 years now and does pretty much the same as a Vita-mix.

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4 minutes ago, urbanhack said:

This. I'm a pen snob. I've only been buying and writing with the uni ball™ VISION ELITE

Interesting. I use the uni ball roller micro point. I've never tried the vision elite. Maybe I'll give them a try.

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4 minutes ago, whoknew said:

Interesting. I use the uni ball roller micro point. I've never tried the vision elite. Maybe I'll give them a try.

This pen also has a great color selection.

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I'm quantity guy for box cutters, sunglasses, thermometers, tape measure, power cords and bandaids.  They don't go bad, take up little space, and I get salty if I can't find one. 

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13 hours ago, Binky The Doormat said:

Over the years my son has used and misplaced so many tools I can't imagine.

My dad had almost zero tools, but what he did have was welcomed to be used ...but goddamed it ...it better well be put back in it's place.

 

I can't remember the last time I found the tool I was looking for.  

 

Parenthood ...these days.  I would have had my ### whooped and known I deserved it.  

Just need a mirror gb

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