Tips and tricks for finding household items that are back in stock

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Although we’ve adjusted to a “new normal” of social distancing, online grocery shopping, and finding new ways to fill our time, it can still be challenging to order the household items we need like hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and toilet paper. While we were once able to easily add these items to our Amazon cart or pick them up during a Target run, these items now seem to sell out as soon as they come in stock. It’s frustrating, I know.

I’ve spent the past couple of months looking for all the hard-to-find products—from cleaning products to flour for baking to Nintendo Switches—that will actually arrive in a reasonable time and not in weeks. Some days I can spot something like hand sanitizer right away, but other times I’m digging for hours to find a reliable one. Hot items like this tend to sell out as soon as it’s restocked, so it’s important to act fast and diligently to make sure it makes it into your virtual cart.

To help you actually find the household items you need, I’m breaking down the tips and tricks that I use every single day to find these items in-stock.  

1. Check early and frequently

From my constant refreshing of various sites that sell household items, I’ve found that these retailers typically restock early in the morning or late at night. I recommend setting an alarm for 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to remind you to take a look for your essentials. Sometimes I’ve been able to find bulk orders of cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer and when I do, I feel like I’ve struck gold. 

2. Get in-stock alerts

Desperately searching for cleaning wipes but literally can’t find them anywhere? Believe me, I’ve been there. Simply subscribe to an in-stock alert, so you’ll get emailed immediately when the product is in-stock, which retailers like Walmart and Office Depot will offer. The only caveat is that you’re going to want to check your email frequently for these hot ticket items and I recommend subscribing to several different versions of the same items to maximize your likelihood of getting it. 

3. Try office supply stores

When’s the last time you went into a Staples or Office Depot for the specific purpose of buying toilet paper? Probably never. But in this new world, it’s become my go-to for finding everything from hand sanitizer to cleaning spray to the coveted TP. These office supply stores often sell items in bulk, which is more expensive up front but also means you won’t have to go hunting for them again for a while. Plus, I’ve found that these stores—as well as home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s—tend to have more household items in stock compared to big box stores like Target, Walmart, and Amazon.

4. Look at the entire product selection

When searching for a particular product, like, say, disinfectant spray on a retailer’s site, you might find that the entire first page of products will say “Out of Stock” in big bold letters. But don’t let that deter you. I find that after looking through every single product page, you’ll be able to find at least one product for what you’re looking for. It may not be your preferred brand, but it’s better than nothing.

5. Avoid third-party sellers

Unfortunately, there are third-party sellers selling fraudulent products on sites you trust that may never reach your door. This is especially the case on Amazon and Walmart, and I would heed these items with caution. Many of these products are overpriced anyway and often times aren’t worth the risk, so trust your gut on this one. 

You can tell if an item comes from a third-party by checking the product page to see if it’s shipped from elsewhere. If you’re desperate, read through the reviews for these products throughly before purchasing, but I would steer clear of these items if you can.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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