Smarter: Most Popular Stories in 2022

Smarter: Most Popular Stories in 2022

By Pang-Chieh Ho

It’s the last week of December, so I’m going to close things off with a bang. And by a bang, I mean I’m bringing you Smarter’s greatest hits, the issues that got the most views this year. 

Do you have any articles that were your favorite? Let me know which stories really resonated with you.


‘Top Hits of 2022’

In celebration of 2022 coming to an end, I put together a look back at the Smarter issues, videos, and social polls that you were the most engaged with this year. Let’s start with the top 3 issues that you read the most.

Top 3 Most-Read Issues

🦶 You Could Be Cutting Your Toenails the Wrong Way

It was only after I developed an ingrown toenail this year that I realized I had been cutting my toenails improperly for almost all my life.

One of the things that was brought up by podiatrists was that you should try to cut your toenails straight across, with no curvature. To do so, Ebonie Vincent, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon based in Orange, Calif., recommends cutting the middle of your nail straight as possible, and then filing the edges.

💊 Is Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen Better for Headaches?

Which do you choose when you have a headache? Research points to ibuprofen as more effective, but there are other factors to consider, such as the different safety concerns of the two medications.

And if you’re hesitant about handling your headache with medication, here are healthier treatment options.

🍳 Things You Should Never Put in a Dishwasher

Can you put a nonstick pan in a dishwasher? What about knives? If you’ve ever been unsure about what exactly is dishwasher-safe, consult this list I made.

Separately, some TikTok users brought up using white vinegar in the dishwasher because it makes things squeaky clean. Rich Handel, CR’s tester of dish detergents, doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Here’s why.

What You Asked About the Most

👚 You’re Probably Using Way Too Much Detergent

A friendly reminder from our experts generated a lot of other laundry questions from readers, such as how to get stains out of shirt collars and why clothes sometimes smell bad after a wash. We answered some of them here.

One of the most recurring laundry questions we get asked on TikTok is what we think about laundry detergent sheets. The truth is we tested them and found them to be pretty ineffective. There are also other laundry products we think you can skip, such as fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

Hottest Debates

🚘 Things People Wished They’d Known Before Buying an EV

I asked Smarter readers and CR’s Facebook followers what they had to get used to the most after purchasing an electric vehicle. Many mentioned the need to plan for road trips, and how cold temperatures affect an EV’s range, though a vast majority of EV owners were satisfied with their cars. 

On Facebook, there were non-EV drivers who brought up their concerns about owning an EV, specifically about the cost of replacing the vehicle’s batteries. 

This is what our expert had to say: “Batteries are warranted for 8 to 10 years. It’s rare to have to replace an entire battery,” said Gabe Shenhar, associate director of CR’s auto testing program, who has tested just about every EV on the market for the past 10 years.

And after 10 years, a gas car would require expensive repairs as well, Gabe said. The cost of a transmission replacement in a gas car, for example, can cost a few thousand dollars, which can be seen as the equivalent of a battery replacement in an EV.

Most Popular Experts’ Picks

🥬 Kitchen Tools That Changed CR Experts’ Lives

The Ninja Express Chop, which can chop fruit and vegetables in seconds, really resonated with Smarter readers. So did the Chemex pour-over glass coffeemaker

My own personal favorite from this list is something that I ended up buying for my partner: a mortar and pestle made from solid granite. He loves grinding spices with it, and the kitchen always smells amazing after he does.

Most Commented Social Poll

We did a lot of polls this year related to Smarter content, and the one with the most engagement by far was when we asked people on Facebook about the subscription platform they’re least likely to unsubscribe from.

Amazon Prime was the most mentioned, though not so much for Prime Video but more for the other benefits of membership. 

And if you’re worried about juggling rising subscription costs, you can just check out our roundup of the best free streaming services out there

Most Viewed Video

Did it surprise me that the most-viewed video across all Smarter issues was our TikTok video on how to protect your car from rodents? I mean, no. Rats?? In cars?? These are two things I never want to see together so, yes, any info about this is much appreciated.

We also shot a follow-up video that answered a TikTok viewer’s question about whether soy-based ingredients attract rodents.

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In a previous Smarter issue, I talked about whether you can wash your cast-iron pan with soap. The answer is yes, a little soap and water are acceptable, and it won’t remove your pan’s seasoning.

David Hurwitz, a Smarter reader, wrote in offering another tip for cleaning your cast-iron pan: Try scrubbing it with coarse salt. 

CR experts agree. If soap and water don’t work, scrub your pan with coarse salt and a splash of water, then wipe it dry and swipe with oil. Also, in general, whenever you wash your pan, make sure you dry it completely so that it doesn’t rust.


This is how we test the self-cleaning feature of ovens.

If you’re worried about your oven’s self-cleaning feature and whether it’s safe, we say don’t let the horror stories scare you.


🛏️ Top Picks in Bed, Bath, and Laundry for 2022

Here are the home products that stood out the most in our evaluations. And if you want more recommendations, we also have top picks for cooking and cleanup as well as tech products.

🚗 Popular Cars to Avoid and What to Buy Instead

Skip the 2023 Ford Escape. It’s for your own good.

Best Hot Chocolate

A cup of hot chocolate is one of the few things that makes winter more palatable, my stomach says aloud.

🎁 Can You Get a Deal on a Gift Card?

Discounts are possible if you look at the right places, like wholesale clubs and coupon or gift card resale sites.


I started this newsletter in February by asking a simple question that had been on my mind for a while: Exactly how gross can things get if I never ever cleaned my dishwasher filter? 

And that sums up a lot of what Smarter is for me. Most of the time, it’s me asking a basic, sometimes silly, question and then looking for answers from our experts because I genuinely want to know.

The process has been fun and rewarding. I’ve gotten a lot of kind feedback from you guys saying how much you enjoy Smarter. “Every time I receive a new email, I learn new information while I’m being entertained!” a reader said. Mom, if you’re the one who wrote that, thank you. I knew you always believed in me.

Anyway, thank you all for reading Smarter this year! We have cooked up something new for you: a page full of Smarter issues so you can read up on past newsletters and bask in more Smarter. And lastly, if you’ve enjoyed the newsletter, please sign up for it or share it with your friends and family. Share with your enemies as well. They might appreciate the little extra knowledge.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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