In an earlier post, we covered how certain products on Taobao are not only affordable, but are of good quality too. Of late, The Travelling Squid discovered that there are many useful and durable household items which can be bought on Taobao. That said, the international shipping cost of Taobao items has increased as well, so do the calculations before making a purchase. Here are 11 useful household items to buy from Taobao – hope they will be of some help especially during Taobao’s upcoming 11.11 sale.
11 useful household items to buy from Taobao
1. LED lights
One of our fluorescent room lights started flickering recently. We decided to make the change to LED lighting due to its durability and energy efficiency. Unfortunately, a super bright LED light cost about SGD40 at our neighbourhood store, which was overpriced. I ended up ordering a LED light from Opple (欧普), a lighting brand I found to be of good quality while in China.
I paid about CNY37.40/ SGD8 for a 22W LED light which is bright enough to be used in the bedroom. I also bought larger 36W LED lights at CNY82.90 per piece, which can be used in the dining and living rooms. While the price may seem affordable, do note that it cost about SGD15-20 for the shipment fee for a total of 14 LED lights, so it makes sense to buy in bulk. When I bought the 22W LED light to test out for the first time, I paid CNY25 for shipping. It also took about 3 weeks to come, so it’s definitely advisable to keep a few LED lights on hand.
Installation was pretty straightforward. Simply connect the earth and live wires from the LED light with the wire extension on the ceiling and you should be good. Do note that the Opple LED light does not come with a neutral wire, but it will still work fine. All you need to do is to tape the extra wire up.
Recommended website: Opple official webstore on Tmall
2. Mahjong set
Now I know this doesn’t really fall under typical household items, but due to COVID-19, what better way to spend time at home than to master your mahjong skills? A study has shown that mahjong positively impacts memory and acts as a viable treatment option for dementia. Furthermore, it serves as good bonding time. My friends and I had such a great time in Beijing playing mahjong – it is my biggest regret that I left China without purchasing a mahjong set.
Friend E had purchased hers for CNY298, which is really more affordable compared to buying a set in Singapore as some sets amount to more than CNY500. Do note that before making a purchase, do verify with the Taobao seller that the set is for Singapore/Malaysia mahjong. Reason for this is that there are many types of mahjong in China and only the Singapore/ Malaysia one contains flowers (花).
Recommended website: This is the Taobao seller which Friend E purchased the mahjong set from. The tiles had a gold-coloured backing, were of good quality and came in a durable wooden box. Highly recommended!
3. Bean bags
One of the highlights of my Taobao shopping spree in China was buying a bean bag （豆袋）for Friend J as a secret Santa gift. I recalled looking for a Muji-style bean bag , but unfortunately the original was beyond my budget. I eventually bought a bean bag from another Chinese manufacturer during Taobao’s 11.11 sale. It arrived in good shape (literally) and was pretty comfortable and of good quality too. Just take note that the international shipment cost might be pretty high, so do your calculations before making the purchase! The prices fall quite drastically during the 11.11 sale, so keep watch.
4. Table lamps
If you’re keen on purchasing table lamps, I’ll recommend purchasing them from Opple too. The lamps use LED and seem to be a good buy at ~CNY90 per piece, depending on the size and design. Some models allow you to change the light to a warmer tone as well. Do take note that if you’re buying the lamp from a Chinese store on Taobao, you will have to use an adapter suited for your country.
5. Notebooks, pens and stationery
If your job or studies require you to write a lot, I recommend ordering some pens and notebooks from Deli 得力, a stationery store on Tmall. The pens are affordable and work well. I would say it doesn’t write as smoothly as Uniball, but it’s still good to use. At 30% the price of a Uniball pen, the Deli pen is of good value.
I also purchased some notebooks from the Deli Tmall store. Similar to the pens, it doesn’t feel as smooth to write on them, as compared to a premium Muji notebook for instance. But if you’re using these notebooks for rough calculation and note-taking, they should suffice. I would say that as a notebook nerd, I was somewhat disappointed with the quality of the thicker notebooks. I’ve decided to keep a separate collection of nice notebooks vs ones that I use on a daily basis.
Recommended website: Deli 得力 for pens and for notebooks. They have smaller travel edition notebooks which are simple and stylish. I also bought thicker notebooks with about 100 pages each. Those came with plastic covers which did not feel as good to touch.
6. Home wear
With working/studying from home being the norm now, you’ll want something light and airy to wear at home. Taobao has a wide variety of home wear that is both comfortable and affordable as well. Cotton shorts for both girls and guys cost about CNY25-35, and there is a wide selection online. Check the reviews and store ratings before making a purchase!
7. Dustbins/ wastepaper baskets
A good dustbin cannot be underestimated, especially if you’re spending more time at home and in the kitchen. For the kitchen, you should consider a bin with a lid that opens easy and shuts well, and does not rust as easily. A walk around Tangs in Singapore puts the price of an average bin with a lid at ~SGD50, which is definitely more expensive than what I expected. Taobao has a few sleek-looking and anti-rust bin options – do check them out. It cost about CNY46 for a 5l bin.
8. Salad spinner
I didn’t think I needed a salad spinner until I bought one. It made a world of difference to my salad leaves. With a few turns, the salad leaves dried pretty quickly. The result – you get a salad which is crunchier and more flavourful as the vinegar and oil are not diluted from the water from the salad leaves. I bought the above salad spinner for CNY48.80. I thought it was a good deal but the additional shipment cost came up to CNY30. On balance, I was satisfied with the product quality when it arrived.
9. Bread baskets
In an earlier post, I wrote about baking sourdough in Singapore. It turns out, bread baskets are actually quite pivotal in making a nicely shaped sourdough. Taobao offers bread baskets in a few shapes and sizes – we purchased a rattan one which came with a cloth. It’s really useful because once you add flour to the cloth, it stays there and as a result, the dough doesn’t stick. You can also find bread baskets on Shopee, but they’re more expensive and there are fewer options in terms of size.
10. Wooden hangers
I enjoy using wood hangers but they can be fairly costly. Not too long ago I discovered a wooden hanger shop on Taobao. A set of 10 hangers cost about CNY36, which is pretty affordable. Ratings for this shop are high too.
11. Robotic vacuum cleaner
If you’re planning to purchase a robot vacuum cleaner, I recommend the one from Xiaomi. My family has been using one for more than 3 years and it has been working well. It turns out, the latest version comes with a vacuum and mop function. You can get it off Taobao at CNY1,799 from the official Xiaomi store. The official Xiaomi store on Shopee also sells one at a similar price. I’ll encourage you to check out your local Xiaomi store before making a purchase.
The Travelling Squid’s Take – 11 useful household items to buy from Taobao
Of the list, I would say that a mahjong set is a bit of a stretch especially if it is to be considered a household item. But with remote working and learning these days, mahjong can be a fun social activity which challenges you intellectually as well. That’s how I got to know my friends from business school a lot better.
While there is a wide selection of products on Taobao, I’d strongly encourage you to check out the international shipping costs before making the purchase. It typically costs less per item if you consolidate a big shipment of items, but do factor in the shipping cost when making a purchase decision. With the 11.11 sale coming up, hope you get what you wish for!
Purchased anything useful from Taobao recently? Do drop a comment in the box below with your recommendation.