How We Test Products

People testing out products around the home

The Spruce

At The Spruce, our goal is to make your life easier with practical, real-life advice to help you make the best buying decisions for your home and family. We’re here to take the guesswork out of finding products that live up to the promise of meeting a need or fulfilling a desire without breaking the bank.

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How We Test 100s of Products Every Single Month

The Spruce Approved Badge

When you see The Spruce Approved badge on a product, you can trust that it lives up to our high standards for quality, design, and value.

Over the last five years, we've built a reputation for delivering expert-driven design inspiration and plant care guidance, step-by-step DIY instructions, and tried-and-true "What to Buy" recommendations. In addition to living and working with products just like you would, we've also made substantial investments in our research and testing processes.

All Spruce Approved recommendations are based on rigorous, hands-on testing conducted in The Lab, our full-service testing facility in Des Moines, Iowa, and long-term lifestyle testing in our editors' own homes and offices. Our testing teams also collaborate with subject matter experts—including master craftsmen, artisans, professional plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians—and other trusted sources to ensure that every product review is complete and unbiased.

How Do We Test?

Every product we test is evaluated using comprehensive and repeatable testing methodologies established to pressure test a product’s functions and features. We grade products on how they measure up in essential qualities you care about, such as comfort, usability, value, and design, to help decide which one we believe will be a good fit for most households.

We also collect qualitative data on the experience while testing these products—what did we like about the product, was it easy to set up, did the instructions make sense, did the product work as expected, was it easy to clean? We editorialize our experience and infuse our insights with the testing data to provide you with easy-to-understand reasons why we think these products are great—and what flaws you could expect.

Kenmore 81414 400 Series Bagged Canister Vacuum

The Spruce / Sage McHugh

We are committed to ensuring that our content reflects the diversity of our audience. That means showcasing brands owned or founded by people who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and other minority groups. We are also committed to hiring more contributors and staff members on our team, which is outlined in Our Diversity and Inclusion Plan.

To give you the complete picture, we also include details of any flaws we found during the multiple test processes in The Lab and in the real world. We also regularly re-test products that have been awarded The Spruce Approved badge—because the best product today might not be the best one tomorrow. We spell out everything for you in plain and straightforward language and share detailed reasons why these products are The Spruce Approved. When a product stands up to our rigorous testing process, we'll recommend it to you with The Spruce Approved badge, a seal that we stand behind with confidence.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Cleaner

The Spruce / Sarah Vanbuskirk

Testing in The Lab

The Lab is our testing space in Des Moines, Iowa. With over 7,000 square feet and two test kitchens, we can test everything from vacuums to mattresses side by side to see how they stack up against each other. We capture photos, videos, and personal insights from our editors and testers during the testing process to provide our readers with a behind-the-scenes look at our tests and how the products perform.

testers assembling artificial christmas tree during lab testing

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

In The Lab, we get creative with testing. From hiding a kids' building block under a mattress pad to measure how much cushioning it provides, using chocolate pudding to see if a robotic vacuum will avoid pet messes, and leaving a bowling ball on a pillow overnight to assess its firmness. Our pressure tests evaluate how things perform in various situations to show you which products will work with your lifestyle. Whether you're a dog lover who needs a vacuum to handle tons of pet hair or a parent looking to vacuum up Cheerios from the floor in a flash, we'll help you find the right product based on your needs.

Testing at Home

As crucial as stress testing in The Lab is, we also need to test products in real-life situations. When it comes to real-world testing, we can vet how delivery, setup, and product features work in real-life and monitor how things like appliances, furniture, bedding, and more hold up over time. Home testers don’t just focus on how the products feel out of the box, but how they perform days, weeks, and months later—after 25 washes, 100 charges, and the occasional wine spill. We capture the whole lifecycle of a product. Like our team in The Lab, our home testers rate products according to a set methodology and focus on the traits we know readers will care about, like durability, ease of use, and long-term value.

Bissell Steam Shot Deluxe Hard-Surface Cleaner

The Spruce / Kaitlyn Wylde

Why Trust Us?

While we receive an affiliate commission on some of the products you purchase, we only recommend what our experts, writers, and test results show to be worth the money. Not every product will serve every consumer, but we hope to give you insights that go above and beyond what you will find on the product page of a brand or retailer. We will always tell you what we like and what we don’t love about the products we recommend. We want our tests to provide an unbiased layer of information you can trust so that you can shop with confidence.

We occasionally receive press samples for review, but we purchase most of the products we test—and we never agree to positively review something, even if we receive a sample.

Before testing products, we interview experts in the industry to find out the most important things to keep in mind when you're researching a purchase. We take those expert interviews seriously and use that feedback to guide our product selections. Once an article is ready to be published, we also have the content fact-checked for accuracy. Some articles get vetted by a member of our review boards, who follow a process for vetting our home improvement and gardening and plant care content.

mattress toppers stacked on bed

The Spruce

It's frustrating to do the research and make your final selection only to find that a product is out of stock. We try to mitigate this by having dedicated editors check availability daily to provide you with the best user experience possible. While our primary focus is on the products, we also evaluate customer service, warranty information, and the delivery experience for hundreds of online merchants to give you a complete picture of the buying experience. We regularly re-test products awarded The Spruce Approved seal and update our findings to ensure you have access to the most up-to-date offerings and information.

Please note that all products, including those we review and recommend, may from time to time be subject to recalls or revised use recommendations. We, therefore, urge you to monitor any official announcements on the CPSC website that may be related to the products you purchase.

Our goal is to help you make an informed buying decision, so you'll know what you're getting before you click the buy button. We spell everything out for you in an easy-to-understand way, sharing in-depth information about why we know these products deserve to carry The Spruce Approved seal.

Meet Our Team

Bronwyn Barnes
Editorial Director of the Commerce Home Group
Bronwyn Barnes The Spruce

Bronwyn is the Editorial Director of the Commerce Home group at Dotdash Meredith, which includes The Spruce, The Spruce Pets, The Spruce Crafts, TreeHugger, and MyDomaine.

In 2021, Bronwyn joined Meredith to build a product reviews program for Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Southern Living, and Real Simple. Before that, she held editorial positions at National Geographic, InStyle, and People.

Bronwyn served 2 years in the United States Peace Corps as a health volunteer in Mali, West Africa.

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Katherine Louie
Senior Commerce Editor
Katherine Louie

Katherine is a Senior Commerce Editor for The Spruce, The Spruce Pets, The Spruce Crafts, and MyDomaine. She joined the company in August 2018. 

Before joining Dotdash Meredith, she worked at Men’s Health where she covered liquor, style, and gear. Katherine has also contributed to a variety of online publications including NBC Today, Reader’s Digest, Everyday Health, What to Expect, Brit + Co, and Women’s Health.

She received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Marist College.

 

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Marisa Casciano
Senior Editor for Appliances, Cleaning, and Organizing
Marisa Casciano

Marisa is a Senior Commerce Editor for The Spruce, covering appliances, cleaning, and organization. She joined the company in September 2020.

She has contributed 1,500+ articles across The Spruce, Elite Daily, InStyle, and Real Simple, and has tested and led the testing for 100+ products on The Spruce.

She has a Bachelor of Journalism and Fine Arts from Quinnipiac University, and has interviewed leaders in finance, sustainability, travel, food, organization, and wellness.

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Shanon Maglente
Senior Editor of Toys, Gifts, & Holiday at The Spruce
Shanon Maglente The Spruce

Shanon joined Dotdash Meredith as Senior Editor at The Spruce in September 2021.

She studied English and minored in Journalism at Seton Hall University.

Shanon has writing, editing, and video experience in product reviews, which are based on scientific testing, top-rated brands, consumer ratings, and heavy research.

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Ira Lacher
Senior Commerce Editor
Ira Lacher

Ira Lacher's articles have appeared in national and regional publications, including the Associated Press, Columbia Journalism Review, The Des Moines Register, The Sporting News, Web Publisher, and The Iowan magazine. He has interviewed luminaries in government, sports, and the arts, including presidential candidates.

Away from work, Ira sings professionally, leading musical Jewish worship as Cantorial Soloist for Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Des Moines, and as a vocalist for a Des Moines-based jazz band.


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Yoona Wagener
Commerce Editor
Yoona Wagener - The Spruce

Yoona Wagener is a commerce editor for smart home and home tech content at The Spruce.

Before joining Dotdash Meredith full-time in 2022, she contributed as a product reviews and evergreen writer for Lifewire from 2019 to 2022. She has over a decade of editorial and tech experience in areas including tech product reviews, end-user customer support, knowledge base technical writing, content writing, and academic publishing.

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Erin Johnson
Commerce Editor
Erin Johnson

Erin was previously the Senior Product Reviews Writer for Dotdash Meredith with published guides on Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living, Health, and Food and Wine.

She contributed 125+ articles about home projects and gardening on Apartment Therapy and MyDomaine.

Erin was a professional organizer in New York City for 2+ years.

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Lily Sperry
Associate Commerce Editor
Lily Sperry

Lily is an Associate Commerce Editor for The Spruce, The Spruce Pets, and The Spruce Crafts. She joined the company in November 2019. 

Before joining Dotdash Meredith, she worked at Modern Luxury where she pitched and wrote stories for their different lifestyle titles. Lily has also contributed to a variety of print and digital publications including BOMB Magazine, INDIE Magazine, Huffington Post, and more.

Lily received a B.A. in English Literature and American Studies from Wesleyan University.

 

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Jenica Currie
Associate Commerce Editor
Jenica Currie

Jenica joined The Spruce Home, Pets, and Crafts in October 2020.

Previously, she was a producer for Dotdash Meredith for four years on the Quality Team.

She received an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

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Julia Fields
Assistant Editor
Julia Fields The Spruce

Julia joined Dotdash Meredith as Assistant Editor at The Spruce in October 2021. 

She studied English and minored in Journalism and Gender and Sexuality Studies at New York University. 

Julia has writing and editing experience from various internships and school publications on topics including entertainment, lifestyle, toys and gifts, and more. 

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Sarah Toscano
Commerce Staff Writer
Sarah Toscano - The Spruce

Sarah has been an E-commerce writer since 2020, producing content for publications such as Entertainment Weekly, People, and Travel and Leisure, with a special focus on tech, gaming, pop culture, and streaming content.

She was previously a Story Production Fellow at Insider Inc., where she also wrote content for the Education and Travel vertical.

She held various internships in the media industry, specifically at Hearst, Bustle Digital Group, and SLAM.

She graduated cum laude from Barnard College.

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Emma Phelps
Updates Writer
Emma Phelps

Emma has spoken to experts in laundry care, home cleaning and organization, beauty, home maintenance, and gardening and agriculture.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Leadership Studies from University of Richmond.

She has five years of experience working on both sides of publishing from a public relations and journalistic perspective.

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Christine Colby
Editorial Project Manager
Christine Colby The Spruce

She has worked for a variety of print, digital, and audio publishers including Spotify, Discovery, Inc., Slickdeals, The Lifetime Value Company, and Allure magazine.

Christine has her M.A. in Media Studies from The New School.

She is also a Death Companioning Initiate, certified by the School of American Thanatology.

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Contact Us

If you have questions, comments, or opinions you’d like to share with our team of editors, please feel free to email us at commercefeedback@dotdash.com