Good to Own: Useful Tools

Helpful tools every household should have:

1. Plunger. One time my neighbor borrowed my plunger. I must admit, it was weird when he returned it. Have your own. Don’t be that guy.

2. Screwdrivers. Don’t buy a cheap set of twenty screwdrivers. Pay more for the strong kind with tips that don’t wear down. Get two sizes with a Phillips head and one flat, and you should be set.

3. Hammer. So you can hammer things. (Marvelous, yes.)

4. Stud finder. So your walls don’t end up looking like this:

5. Razor blade. For scraping paint, stickers, and anything else from glass and surfaces.

6. Hand saw. Make it easy to cut through wood, drywall, and plastic. (Or you can make rain gutter bookshelves.)

7. Wrench. Faucets don’t stand a chance. (I don’t really fix faucets. I mostly use the wrenches to open tight bottle caps.)

8. Tape measure. Be sure the new couch will fit through your front door before you buy it.

9. Container for screws and nails. We use an organizer box to keep all the various hardware in one place.

10. Level. Check to see if your pictures are straight. If you don’t have one, you can do like my friend Angie and put Oreos on top of the picture frame, to see if they roll.

What’s your favorite household tool?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Lol! Sweetest drawings ever. :)

  2. With Se7en young kids – You cannot live without a hot glue gun… a certain amount of things get broken everyday… breathe through it… Hot glue gun it and remember: “People before things!”

    se7en´s last blog post..Fabulous Fish Cakes in Se7en Steps…

  3. Southern Gal says:

    We use the really small Phillips screwdriver a great deal to change batteries in small toys. I couldn’t do without that tool because nothing else will unscrew those teeny tiny screws!!

  4. We have tons of screwdrivers. It’s funny. My husband uses his Sears favorite and I use my favorite from Home Depot! Mine has the bits in the handle so I can find them when I want them~

  5. not really a tool but the Shop VAC.

  6. Adorable AND practical post.

    How about those screwdrivers that you don’t have to turn all the way around … ya know, they just *click, click, click* Anyway, it would have taken FOREVER to assemble/disassemble my daughter’s crib without that tool (that I can’t think of the name of!)

    Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post..Home-Making

  7. My father in law gave me a tool box filled with all the needed tools when I married his son.

    My favorite tool is that nify turn key when you have to shut your water off at the main source.

    SoBella Creations´s last blog post..MomDot ~ Where the Blogging Mom’s Go

  8. Great list and all are on my list of “Must Haves”. But topping my list (and yeah not really a tool) is my label maker. Love my label maker. It makes it easy for other members of the family to return items to their rightful place and keep some level of order.

  9. Maybe it’s not really a tool, at least not in the “hand tool” sense of the word, but we couldn’t get by without our carpet steam cleaner! We pull it out at least once a month and do spot cleaning around our condo.

  10. You are so right about which toilet plunger to buy!

    maryanne´s last blog post..Crafts With Dad

  11. Great post! I love tools and as the daughter of a DIY and who grew up in a perpetual construction site, I know what I like. In addition to your great suggestions I would add a small putty knife – great for filling in nail holes, scraping stuff and a multitude of other things; I love my grungy old screwdriver with different heads that fold up – not beautiful but I always have the basics at least; utility knife – great for creating those cardboard houses kids always seem to want to make and cutting all kinds of things. I keep my screwdriver, a tiny hammer, tape measure and a handful of finish nails in a small basket in a kitchen drawer.

  12. Nicki, those are ratchet screwdrivers – very handy.

    Kate, we use our carpet steam cleaner often too. It’s a must if you have carpet and pets or little kids!

  13. Oreos do work and if you catch them before they roll off onto the ground you can eat them:)

  14. Angie, you can still eat them if if they fall on the floor and only stay there for a few seconds! Or if you blow on them to get the dirt off.

  15. I have to second the suggestions for small screwdrivers. I use a set of glasses screwdrivers not only for glasses, which seem to need to be rescrewed periodically, but also for those tiny screws on toys for the batteries.

    I also suggest a battery case for all the different types of batteries you need in your house. My Mom bought us one, and I thought it would be junk, but it has been so useful to have all the batteries in one place and just to grab them when needed.

    Taylor at Household Management 101´s last blog post..Feb 18, Use An AR Reading List To Find Books At Your Child’s Reading Level

  16. Where can you find the “buy this” plunger!? I used to have one but it got lost in a move and I haven’t been able to find a replacement ANYWHERE — only the silly “don’t buy this” type.

    I would add a toilet snake for when the “buy this” plunger isn’t enough. Get the more expensive model, not the cheap one. It will pay for itself with the first use (for example, when somebody tries to flush 25 flushable wipes at one go….)

  17. My partner _had to_ have a nice drill, and I have to admit that since buying our condo last spring we have used it tons. Anything more substantial than a small picture frame has required drywall screws (those plastic deals that you hammer into the wall before you add the screw). We’d have totally bare walls without the drill. That said, you don’t need a drill all the time and likely someone has one you can borrow.

    I second the stud finder, too! We also got a laser level, and it’s been great for hanging long shelves. I think we like tools. :)

    Also, your drawings rock and you’re right about the plunger.

    liz (´s last blog post..managing crock pot dinners

  18. When we rented our first house, our tub got clogged up. The landlord sent out a plumber to snake the tub. It cost our landlord $89!!!

    When we bought our first home, we bought a snake for $10.99, and have already used it 3 times!! It’s a disgusting job, but so worth it to own your own tool.

  19. I love our electric screwdriver! I wasn’t convinced when we first bought it – thought it might be a nonessential. But it has come in handy and saved us much time!

    steadymom´s last blog post..learning: pondering the presidents

  20. Painters tape for painting and labeling any storage. I agree with the hot glue gun (especially for renting- you don’t want Duct Tape!).

    And we really like our reversible double edged screwdriver with magnetic tip (Orange Handle- $5 at Home Depot). Best tool ever.

  21. Peony, I think I got that plunger at a hardware store — maybe Lowe’s or Home Depot?

  22. I love the drawings too!

    Don’t forget computer tools! A girl has to be able to upgrade her memory! A useful pack can be picked up for under $10 at an office supply store all its own zippered case!

    Mary´s last blog post..A different idea for using your emergency fund …

  23. Cute drawings. We’ve never actually owned a plunger. (Maybe German toilets are different in that department?) My favorite tools are scrapers and utility knives.
    For my husband, it’s the drill, screw gun, and soldering iron.

  24. My favorite household tool is my husband. He comes in very handy. :-)

    KaseyQ´s last blog post..The Sprit of Elijah: The Greatest Story of All is Life Itself

  25. Denise Collins says:

    Needle-Nose Pliers, and Wire-Snips. They thing work on everything!

  26. I have a long, flat piece of plastic with barbs on it. Occasionally I take the stoppers out of the bathroom sinks and get all the grime and hair out of it. I think I bought it at Lowe’s several years ago. It’s amazing how good the sink drains after you do this!! It is really gross, though!
    I have all the tools you suggested, and most of the ones others suggested. It’s so much easier to do something when you have the right tool. (Same with your with your kitchen tools).
    I’ve never heard of the battery case…I’ll have to look into that!

  27. awesome.
    the bit about the toilet plunger guy was my first good laugh of the day.

    jill´s last blog post..Dangerous in the kitchen.

  28. Is a hand vac a tool? so necessary with little ones.

    We have the worthless type of plunger and I NEVER remember to replace it until we need to use it. UGH.

    Love the drawings. More, please? :)

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog post..It’s a small favor that we ask

  29. Love the toilet plunger story-laugh out loud funny.

    I couldn’t live without my darling husband-he is my go-to tool for home improvement.

  30. Today we used my husband’s laser temperature guage to check the temperature in the fish tank (our Betta fish doesn’t seem to be doing well). We’ve used this thing a surprising number of times to check all sorts of stuff. Plus it’s a great cat toy and our lab loves it too! You shine the light on the ground and they chase it everywhere. Very multi-purpose.
    And I have to second or third the hand vac – we blow one out about once a year it gets so much use.

  31. I second the small screwdriver for toys that need batteries! I keep one in the playroom and the kitchen for battery emergencies.

  32. I’m a big fan of keeping rope and string around. Not a lot, because that can get messy, but enough to tie the trunk of the car shut if I’m hauling something big. String is also useful for garden projects like tying your tomatoes up. It’s certainly not something I use everyday, or even as often as a screwdriver, but often enough for me to want some in the house at all times.

    Also: twist ties — useful for cleaning and organizing.

  33. Being new homeowners I made a list of all the things we should have handy and it included most of these. Being in an apartment you probably wouldn’t much use for these, but we also picked up a 6′ ladder, sandpaper, a 5-in-1 tool, a tube of caulk, a staple gun, and a fire extinguisher. Not sure if you would consider that a ‘tool’, but certainly something you shouldn’t be without.

    Jessica´s last blog post..The Casa: Before Shots Volume II- The Living Room

  34. I tried the plastic thingy that Lynette described, and it wasn’t very helpful. I’m just writing to say that I love your charming drawings, and the plunger story made me laugh.

  35. I loved this post!

    My favourite tool, is my cordless drill. I don’t use it a lot, but when I do it is a joy.

  36. It’s not really a tool but I love my toolbelt. It’s so handy for holding screws, brackets, etc. everything I need when I’m on a ladder trying to hang curtain rods or install a new light fixture.

    Condo Blues´s last blog post..Keep Heat and Utility Bills from Going Up the Chimney

  37. I adore the fabulous picture hanger tool called the hang and level ( that is the best thing ever for hanging pictures exactly where you want them. Best $20 I ever spent, especially because as a military family we’ll be moving every few years!

    Jen´s last blog post..Fix, Freeze, Feast and Toddler Firsts

  38. My kitchen shears. Yes, it’s a tool. And, yes, I have two pairs, one for kitchen/food stuff and one for well… any other job in the house. :)

    Kelli´s last blog post..Ten Reasons I’ve Cut the Workout Short

  39. Your neighbor… ah, I’d say just keep it.

    And the oreos are just too cute!

    Shanna´s last blog post..Thank You Thank You Thank You

  40. What’s my favorite household tool? My rubber jar lid gripper. I use it in conjunction with rapping the edge of the jar lid on the counter to break the seal.

    Jen in KS´s last blog post..Eat your heart out

  41. Thank you for posting this! What a great list….. now I must go shopping :)

    Janet´s last blog post..My Finer Things….

  42. MrsNehemiah says:

    my favorite tool is a can of pink spray enamel. now I don’t have to replace my good household tools anymore!

    Mrs N

  43. I couldn’t live without wire cutters and needle-nosed pliers. The wire cutters save my scissors!

    Jedda´s last blog post..Dr. Seuss Day

  44. Hi there! I have never understood the need for that short, orange rubber plunger. The “DH” (dear husband) has one in our garage and we have the other more robust plunger in one of our bathrooms just incase…But and however — in the book, Do It Herself by JoAnne Liebeler, she writes that the short ineffectual plunger there (The one that is “useless”)–it helps with plunging clogs in a plugged up SINK………..I was like, “Ohhhhhhhhhhh…..Igetit!”