Common Household Items That Were Way Better Back in the Day

Have you ever wondered why your current-day waffle maker doesn’t compare to the one your mother had? Or why your refrigerator broke after only a few years, while your grandmother’s lasted 40? Well, you’re not alone. Turns out, there are plenty of common household items that were way better back in the day. And there’s a reason.

Why things don’t last as long as they used to

Past and future gears

Times have changed, and so have common household items. | EtiAmmos/iStock/Getty Images

Reality is, they just don’t make things like they used to. Decades ago, products were made with the highest quality in mind. But that’s no longer the case. Nowadays, it seems like “pretty much everything [is] made for our throwaway culture,” Kathy Bernier writes. And too often, that’s the truth.

So, are you curious to see which items we miss the most? If so, read on to discover 11 products that aren’t what they used to be, and three that have only gotten better with time (pages 13-15).

Next: Do you remember your mother using one of these frequently?

Sewing machines

old style Sewing Machine

They were much more solid back in the day. | ArisSu/iStock/Getty Images

Generally speaking, people aren’t doing as much sewing these days. Are high-end machines still available for those who are avid sewers? Sure, but machines for the average, at-home sewer don’t perform like they used to.

Furthermore, not only did sewing products work better, they looked better, too. Just take a look at this Singer machine from the subreddit, Buy It For Life.

Next: These items are pricey.

Refrigerators and dishwashers


Appliances nowadays aren’t made to last. | AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

You’d expect big-ticket items, like kitchen appliances, to last forever. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Nowadays, it seems our most-used appliances can’t actually handle everything we throw at them. And they bite the dust far too soon.

What’s even worse is that they’re not actually made to stand the test of time, unlike the products made for previous generations. “Appliances built prior to 1960 were designed to be serviced and maintained,” John Jowers, appliance restoration expert, tells “Parts for these appliances could be rebuilt and reused rather than a replacement part being needed.”

Next: More to come in the way of large appliances. 

Washers and dryers

washer and dryer

They’re more appliances that easily break. | Starush/iStock/Getty Images

Once again, it’s worth noting that major home appliances are pricey. And in theory, they should work perfectly. But that’s not always the case. Nothing’s more aggravating than a washer with a malfunctioning spin cycle or a dryer that ruins every delicate garment you own.

Next: Every home used to have one of these.

Electric can openers

Electric can opener

They easily break today. | Images

While can openers may not be used as much as they were in the 1950s, they’re still around. And they’ve changed since they first debuted, but not necessarily for the better.

During the canned-food heyday, can openers were key. And when the first electric ones came out? Well, there was no comparison. The ones today, on the other hand, are often made with cheap, plastic handles that can break easily.

Next: Another small but simple kitchen staple



The old, basic toasters were better. | BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images

Simple, efficient, and essential, the toaster is one of the greatest inventions of all time. Or so we believe. But they’re no longer made like they once were. These days, the toaster is riddled with unnecessary bells and whistles. There is one toaster, though, that has stood the test of time. According to, “Back in the day, the Toastmaster was the chrome-plated king of browning bread.”

If only today’s toaster manufacturers would take a trip in their time machine, we’d be set.

Next: Cleaning the carpets never felt so good.


Vacuum cleaner

Back in the day, they rarely broke down. | Pioneer111/iStock/Getty Images

Vacuums: Every home needs one, but not every home has one. Or, at least not every home has one that works well, that is. And there’s a reason for that.

Decades ago, vacuums were made to last. They got the job done, and rarely broke down. Why the industry ever tried to improve upon the once-burly, long-lasting vacuum is beyond us.

Next: There’s just no comparison  

Waffle makers

Waffles maker

The old ones are the best. | Bonchan/iStock/Getty Images

They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

When it comes to the mighty waffle iron, truer words have never been spoken. Seriously. Today’s Teflon-clad products just don’t cut it. They rob waffle-lovers of the golden-brown crispness they deserve.

The waffle irons made back in the day, though? Well, there’s no question they’re superior. Even professionals prefer the old-school version to the new-school product.

Next: How’s your oven holding up?



One old oven in particular really should make a comeback. | Piovesempre/iStock/Getty Images

You’re probably thinking your oven works just fine. And you’re probably right. But there was one oven, in particular, that gained a cult following back in the day.

Manufactured by Chambers, the company’s oven range used an innovative insulation method. The Chambers range used insulation so thick, the oven would shut off after it preheated. It stayed hot enough to cook food thanks to the concept of retained heat. Unfortunately, this product is a thing of the past.

Next: Coffee time



Coffee should be a simple process. | Dziggyfoto/iStock/Getty Images

Thankfully, you can still buy a percolator today. And in our humble opinion, it’s far superior to the modern coffeemaker. Why? Because it brings the coffee-making process back to basics.

If you’ve never used one before, here’s how it works: Fill the pot with coffee grounds and water, and put it on the stove. When it’s ready, the water will bubble at the top. When the pot starts percolating, it’s coffee time. Simple as that.

Next: It’s not like it used to be.


Old wooden furniture

Old furniture is typically much higher quality. | BarrySheene/iStock/Getty Images

Can you still find well-made, hand-crafted furniture if you search hard enough? Yes. Will it cost you an arm and a leg? Also yes.

Without a doubt, the furniture industry just isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, it’s more about cheap goods you have to put together yourself rather than quality manufacturing made to last. And while we love cost-efficient home goods, there’s no denying most of them are seriously lacking in quality.

Next: Calling the milkman …

Milk containers

Fresh milk

Glass was easily the better option. | Ronstik/iStock/Getty Images

OK, so this isn’t exactly a household item in the same sense as most other things on this list, but still, we’re counting it. More importantly, we’re confident in saying milk containers were definitely better back in the day. And there’s one reason. Decades ago, milk came in glass bottle exclusively. But then, that all changed to plastic.

With a newfound-acceptance — by most — of imminent environmental issues, perhaps the milk industry will find a better way to bottle the drink. Or at least, we can hope.

That said, not all household items were better back in the day. In fact, we’re moving on to three products, in particular, that have only gotten better with time.

Next: These are better than ever.

Better now: TVs

Smart Curved TV

TVs have come a long way. | Scanrai/iStock/Getty Images

Tube TVs are a thing of the past, and we couldn’t be happier. And we’re willing to bet no one longs for those bulky sets with fuzzy pictures, either. Nowadays, we’re lucky enough to have a plethora of smart TV options, complete with every app, streaming service, and fitness platform we could ever want.

Next: These have come a long, long way.

Better now: Telephones

Smart Phone

Phones are much more useful now. | Blackzheep/iStock/Getty Images

Smartphones may have their down sides (social media obsession, anyone?), but there’s no denying they’re better now than they’ve ever been. Do most of us have a love-hate relationship with our iPhones? Absolutely, but that doesn’t meant the scales are even. After all, when you think about all the capabilities your smartphone has, it’s a pretty impressive evolution from the stuck-to-the-wall version we remember from childhood.

Next: Do you remember using a typewriter as a kid?

Better now: Keyboards


We wouldn’t want to go back to the hassles of typewriters. | Bluebeat76/iStock/Getty Images

If you remember pounding away on your parents’ typewriter, then you know the invention of the keyboard has been a welcome one. And boy, what a relief. Gone are the days of using White-out to correct a typo and not being able to save your work. Gone are the days of the typewriter. And we couldn’t be happier.

Read more: 7 Household Products You Don’t Need to Buy Anymore

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