About the Real Simple Selects Testing Seal of Approval
Only the best for you to shop, buy, love.
Life can be hectic — but we don't have to tell you that. You feel it every day as you try to balance work, keep your home maintained, and enjoy time with family and friends (and yourself!) We know you're a rockstar and you can tackle it all — but isn't it nice when you find a product that just makes life feel even a little bit easier? We're talking about the robot vacuum that's on a timer to clean while everyone is away, the sheets that make you go "ahh" when you climb into bed, or the air fryer that makes getting dinner ready so quick and so easy—so you can spend more time enjoying your family's company.
But when you're shopping, how do you know if those products will really live up to their promises? That's where we come in!
For years, Real Simple has been a resource to help you knock out everything on your to-do list with ease—and now, you can look to us for the trustworthy product recommendations that'll make a difference in your life. We are committed to recommending the best products in every category, based on hands-on testing. Every product that earns a Real Simple Selects badge has been put through our meticulous testing process and has passed our high standards before it makes it onto our list.
So, what does testing look like?
First, we figure out what products to test.
To start, our team researches the category to see what's available on the market—we look at picks from well-loved brands, up-and-coming companies, and even popular products from social media to see what's out there. We dig into manufacturer data, ask the experts to share recommendations, stalk online reviews, and riffle through current search trends to determine what products make the list for testing.
Most of the time, we buy these products ourselves, but occasionally we'll ask a company to send us a sample to try out instead. If we do ask for a sample, we always explain to the company that sending us a free sample doesn't mean they'll make it on our final list—every product we test gets judged the same way, whether or not we've paid for it.
Also, as part of our commitment to diversity , it is very important to us to include BIPOC-owned brands in our testing groups whenever possible (as well as make sure our testers represent a diverse scope of people).
Then, we're ready to test.
Once we finish our research, we send the products to one of our testing labs in Des Moines, Birmingham, or New York City. Our labs are truly equipped to test it all. Our three testing locations span over 100,000 square feet and include more than 50 test kitchens. Every month we test thousands of various products across various categories, side-by-side.
In the labs, testers put the products through their paces. Our team plans tests that are specific to the kind of product we're testing, based on what we think is most important for shoppers to know before they buy. For some tests, we vacuum up everything from wig hair to popcorn kernels , for another, we might toast hundreds of slices of bread to try out every available setting.
We do unique and interesting tests but it's also important to us that we do many tests. We know that each customer is going to be different and what might work best for someone may not work best for everyone. That's why our lab may favor an ex pensive iron that can get wrinkles out of any fabric in seconds , but we might also give high marks to a compact model that's a better fit for shoppers who want a reliable iron they'll only use every now and then.
What do our testing standards look like?
We start by asking ourselves what the key features are from each product category. So for example, if we're testing sheets, we might ask – how do they hold up to washing? … How do they fit on a mattress?.. How do we feel about the price after using them? We always base our questions on the qualities we care most about like comfort, usability, value, and design — then we set up a scoring guideline for each category to be judged on.
How does the home-testing portion work?
Once products have passed the lab test, sometimes we'll also send the top performers out for testing in our team's homes. At this point, products might not be tested the exact same way, but we can get a better idea of how they work over weeks, months, and even years. It also gives us a chance to get more people's impressions—sometimes what works for one person doesn't for another, and we aim to get as many perspectives as possible.
Sometimes we also test entire categories at home. Certain items, like doorbells and showerheads, need to be tested in a real-world environment over weeks or months to make the right recommendation. In cases like this, we ask lots of specific questions to make sure we get a sense of what the strengths and weaknesses of each product are and ask the tester to keep the product and let us know if their impression changes over time.
What happens after testing is complete?
Then we get to share the exciting things we learned with you — which is really our favorite part! After a product has made it through all our testing stages, we compile all the results and scores to determine which ones deserve the Real Simple Selects stamp of approval. You'll usually find we'll award a "best overall" to a product category, but you'll also find the winners we deemed for individual circumstances (such as budget-friendly winners, best for small spaces, etc.).
You can count on every product review to provide details on how we think the products performed—both the good and the bad. We don't believe in hiding anything, and we know even the best products aren't completely flawless.
Publishing our findings doesn't mean the work is over. We go back and update our recommendations whenever we learn something we think is worth sharing. Whether we've tested a new product we think has earned its place on the list or we've learned something from long-term testing we think you need to know, we're always checking to make sure our recommendations truly are the best.
Why should our reviews be trusted?
Our #1 goal is to make online shopping an easy and positive experience for you. We aim to do all the hard work so none of your time or money is wasted. That's why we will never sugar-coat anything and we will always make it a high priority to show our work through every step of the testing process with photos and insightful notes from our testers. You can also count on us to continually relook at our recommendations because we know things change and there's always the possibility a better product will come out later.
And although we primarily focus on products, we will also include customer service insights and delivery experience, too. We believe that stuff is equally important and we want you to enjoy every aspect of your shopping experience!
Affiliate & Safety Disclosure
We may receive a commission on some of the products you purchase through links included in our reviews. However, we do not take any input from product manufacturers and only recommend the products we truly stand by and view as the best of the best. Through unbiased recommendations, we hope to share the tools that'll help make life easier for you.
All products, including those we recommend and review, may occasionally be subject to recalls. If that's the case, we will revise our recommendations as soon as we've been made aware of such changes. While we try and stay on top of this, we strongly encourage you to monitor any official announcements from the
Consumer Product Safety Commission
that may be related to the products you purchase.