20 Household Items That Sold Out in 2020

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was essentials like hand sanitizer and toilet paper that sold out. But as the year progressed, unlikely items began flying off the shelves.

By Alexa Erickson | Published Dec 30, 2020 06:33 PM

Panic Buying and Beyond

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Panic Buying and Beyond

What was the first thing you did when you found out your town or city was put under a mandated stay-at-home-order? For many people around the country, quarantines caused panic buying. People rushed to their local stores for supplies that would last them weeks if not months. Others sought refuge on Amazon for items they could get in bulk. Things we never thought we’d stock up on (who needs that much hand sanitizer?!) became impossible to find. And items we never considered purchasing before (who knew you loved exercising so much?)
immediately rose in popularity.

Looking back on 2020, the household became the hub of our entire lives: working, exercising, learning, dining, and of course, the basics we always consider when we think of home life. Spending so much time at home, we found ourselves filling it with products to keep us safe, sane, and then some.

Did you buy any of these 20 household items that sold out in 2020?

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Toilet Paper

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Toilet Paper

Let’s kick off the list with one of the most well-known items that sold out in 2020. Toilet paper is a basic necessity, and yet most of us probably never thought about what would happen if we couldn’t find it anywhere! Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened this year. People stood in long early-morning lines only to find their local stores had been picked clean of toilet paper. Even online it was impossible to find some. Stores combatted the issue by limiting customers to one or two packages.

Related: 10 Grocery Items With the Biggest Pandemic Price Increase—and What to Buy Instead

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Bidets

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Bidets

Though not nearly as popular as in other parts of the world, America quickly caught on to the bidet trend when 2020 took away their ample supply of toilet paper. Bidet brands reported unbelievable spikes in sales that diminished their supply like never before.

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Hand Sanitizer

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Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is often an afterthought. It’s what you typically use in a bus bathroom when there’s no sink. It’s what you reach for if your hands feel really grimy but you’re nowhere near soap and water. The pandemic changed everything we knew about hand sanitizer. As soon as the pandemic hit, it flew off shelves so fast that alcohol companies were forced to repurpose their alcohol supply as a disinfectant for the masses.

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Antibacterial Household Cleaning Products

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Antibacterial Household Cleaning Products

Along with disinfecting our hands, people panicked about how to sanitize their homes—specifically high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and light switches. Finding cleaning sprays and wipes with disinfectant in them became a major priority, and yet they were impossible to come by online or in stores.

Related: 10 Tips for Effectively Cleaning Your Home During a Pandemic

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Board Games

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Board Games

Families found themselves in close quarters like never before during 2020. Roommates became built-in best friends. One way to enjoy each other’s company was a little healthy competition in the form of board games. But if you didn’t purchase yours soon enough, you might have been out of luck! Board games became so popular this year that you often had to wait weeks or months until the one you wanted was back in stock.

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Sourdough Ingredients

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Sourdough Ingredients

This was the year for making sourdough. For some reason, quarantine caused a major uptick in this specific bread variety, and so ingredients like wild yeast and all-purpose flour became impossible to come by.

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Hair Dye

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Hair Dye

When salons first closed, people panicked. Sure, they could let their hair grow a little longer than they’d like, but what about preserving their precious color? Though at-home hair dye kits are often considered risky, people got desperate and tried their hand at becoming their own color stylist. Subsequently, boxed dye sales went through the roof, and often many highly sought after colors were sold out.

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Home Office Furniture

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Home Office Furniture

Non-essential workers quickly learned what it’s like to work from home in 2020 when their offices were shut down due to the pandemic. While the couch seemed like a fine place to work for a short time, distractions like roommates and family members quickly caused us to turn the garage or guest room into a home office. Desks and chairs soon became hard to come by in stores and online.

Related: This is the Most Popular Home Office Setup During the Pandemic

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Exercise Equipment

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Exercise Equipment

The closure of gyms and boutique fitness studios left people in dire need of creating their own home gym. Bowflex’s nesting dumbbells were one of the first pieces of equipment to sell out, coveted for their ability to take up minimal space while providing an array of weights. Knockoffs soon became advertised like crazy on social media, but for double the price of the real deal.

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Bakeware and Cooking Supplies

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Bakeware and Cooking Supplies

Restaurant closures caused many Americans to pick up a new hobby: cooking and baking. Everyone quickly became master chefs and bakers with their delicious homemade pasta and gooey chocolate chip cookies. Sales for items like cookie sheets, pasta makers, pizza pans, dutch ovens, food processors and more were at record highs.

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Loungewear

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Loungewear

People who often spend the majority of their days in an office, classroom, out on sales calls, on a plane, etc., found their professional clothing collecting dust as they quarantined and worked from home. Even leisure time spent with friends and family outside the confines of the home became slim to none. Many people quickly realized they needed more loungewear, especially items that combined comfort with style. Despite retailers’ best efforts, the increase in sales delayed shipping significantly.

Related: 10 Design Trends We Didn't See Coming Before the Pandemic

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Hand Soap

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Hand Soap

Did you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds? When the pandemic hit, we were all reminded that we’ve probably been washing our hands all wrong. We also quickly realized how unsettling it can be when hand soap is so in demand we can’t get our hands on it. Hand soap sold out so quickly this year, wellness and beauty brands quickly made their own versions to help combat the supply issue.

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Air Fryers

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Air Fryers

With everyone trying their hand at home cooking in 2020, healthier comfort food proved a big hit. A bestseller through the pandemic has been the air fryer—capable of frying food with no fuss, no mess, and in record time.

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Vacuums

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Vacuums

People prioritized cleaning like never before in 2020. Robotic and cordless vacuums were in high demand due to the pandemic causing full households and a lot of extra dirt. Plus, we all felt the need to be tidier than ever to keep harmful pathogens out of our homes.

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Nail Kits

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Nail Kits

The closure of nail salons forced people to become their own nail technicians in 2020. First, products like nail polish remover sold out to remove what people couldn’t get fixed. As quarantine periods extended, people realized they needed to stock up on gel nail kits and nail grooming products, which flew off the shelves.

Related: 20 Home Questions Everyone Has Been Googling in 2020

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Sewing Machines

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Sewing Machines

One popular hobby many people have picked up during the pandemic is sewing. From finally going through that pile of torn clothing to trying your hand at making your own patterned pillows (and of course, homemade face masks), sewing machines became extremely popular and hard to come by this year.

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Pet Supplies

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Pet Supplies

Animal shelters were emptied in 2020 as many people who were hunkered down in their homes during quarantine adopted a new furry family member for some extra companionship. Pet supply sales skyrocketed as a result, with food, toys, litter, leashes, and more selling out everywhere.

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Freezers

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Freezers

When people panic purchased everything in sight at the grocery store, they realized how little room they had to store it. The solution? Buy a freezer. People were on edge not knowing how long they would remain at home, while also being deterred by long lines outside of stores, so they stocked up and purchased extra freezers for their garage or basement, which quickly sold out.

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Entertainment Systems

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Entertainment Systems

An extra TV to retreat from the rest of the family was one of the most popular entertainment items in 2020. Then, sound systems like Sonos became a big hit. Before we knew it, entire entertainment systems were selling out to give our eyes and ears some much-needed enjoyment with all our time spent at home.

Related: 10 Tips for How to (Safely) Arrange for Home Repairs During a Pandemic

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Workshop Equipment

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Workshop Equipment

Home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot saw record sales this year. People were ready to renovate. Handyman equipment like tool boxes, paint, ladders, step stools, and more soon sold out.

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