The Best Household Buys

Dec. 1, 2005 — -- Each year, Good Housekeeping names one individual "Entrepreneur of the Year," and presents eight Good Buy Awards to new household products that solve common problems and are excellent values.

This year's entrepreneur is Helen Greiner, inventor of the Roomba -- a disc-shaped vacuum that uses sensors to navigate around a room on its own. In three years, 1.2 million units have been sold.

Greiner, 38, is the co-founder and chairwoman of iRobot, maker of the Roomba. She is an MIT grad who said one of her proudest accomplishments was helping to create a device that finds and destroys bombs and has been credited with saving soldiers' lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

She recently took iRobot public and is launching the company's newest creation -- the iRobot Scooba, an automatic floor washing machine.

The 2005 Good Buy Award winners are listed below:

The Lite Cylinder Co. Propane Cylinder ($75): The cylinder is transparent -- making it easy to check the fuel level -- and comes in a variety of natural colors to blend in with grills and decks. It is not subject to rust or corrosion.

In the Good Housekeeping Institute tests, the tank was easy to fill at a propane fill station, easy to attach to a grill and easy to handle due to its light weight.

The GE Profile Dishwasher with SmartDispense ($1,399): This dishwasher holds an entire 45-ounce bottle of dishwashing detergent and then doles out the appropriate amount of detergent based on how hard the water is, how dirty the dishes are, the size of the load, the water temperature and the cycle selected. The result is good cleaning without spotting or film from too much detergent.

The top rack is specially designed to prevent water from remaining in the bottom of upside down cups, and there is an upper-rack only cycle to wash five place settings quickly and with less water. The large three-piece basket easily contains 50 pieces of flatware.

This is the first time a dishwasher has won the Good Housekeeping Buy Award.

The Bissell SpotBot ($130): To clean a carpet stain, just place the SpotBot over the mess, push a button and walk away. The device sprays cleaning solution, scrubs the stain and sucks up the spill without leaving any residue. The Good Housekeeping Institute says the SpotBot is better than spray carpet stain removers because it sucks the stain and cleaner out of the carpet, keeps the carpet looking good and does it all by itself in a three-minute cycle for fresh stains and a six-minute cycle for set-in stains. The cleaning formula continues to work for an additional six to eight hours.

The Good Housekeeping Institute tested the SpotBot using wine, cola, juice, coffee, chocolate syrup and tomato sauce.

The Whirlpool Fabric Freshener ($249): This is the answer for people who love the fresh-pressed look, but hate to iron. Just fill the water cup, hang your crumpled clothes inside, zip the cover and push a button. In about 30 minutes, the wrinkle (and odors) steam away. The machine also quickly dries wet items, and folds down to the size of a duffel bag for easy storage.

AOSafety Select glasses for women ($10 to $14): These glasses are sized for small faces, so they won't slip off when a woman is working. They come in clear or tinted.

Target Pharmacies ClearRx bottle: On this user-friendly bottle, the drug and dosage information is printed in large letters and colored rings just under the cap help identify medications.

Simmons Beautyrest with HealthSmart Bed ($799 and up): The mattress top helps to prevent dust mites, sweat and other undesirables from seeping into your mattress by trapping moisture and dirt. It's easy to zip on, even after many washes.

Procter & Gamble's Tide to Go ($3): This instant stain-remover pen safely erases most fresh, non-oily drink and food spots. It even works on silk.