How to keep the house spick and span without housework?
It’s the challenge that’s kept inventors tinkering since the dawn of time – and it’s the holy grail of time pressed families everywhere. So just how close are we to achieving the unachievable?
How soon will it be before we can finally relax in the knowledge that dust and dirt have been conquered? Lets take a look at some of the latest ideas and technologies bringing the housework free home just that little bit closer.
Dirt repelling bathrooms
We all know that running a dehumidifier, together with adequate heating and good ventilation can help stop your bathroom turning into a mouldy mess. But now you can finally dispense with detergents, bleach and elbow grease – the self cleaning bathroom is here!
Nanotechnology is a modern day industrial revolution. Engineering at the microscopic level, it’s enabled scientists to create intelligent coatings that when applied to a bath, toilet or wash hand basin, allows it to clean itself. The microscopically thin layer of ‘liquid glass’ is super hydrophobic – it repels water and soiling in any form – no matter how long he’s been digging the garden!
Robot floor cleaners
You’ve bought the man in your life a pair of men’s slippers, but still he tramps a tide of filth into the house. If you’re fed up with cleaning up after him, fear not – get a robot to do for you!
Floor vacuuming robots have been around for a while, but now they’re super intelligent. Not only are they programmed to clean every inch of carpet or hard floor, they also have side brushes that dust along walls. Cliff sensors ensure your floor slave doesn’t drive itself down the stairs by mistake, and because of their low profile, they can even do under beds, chairs and tables. Oh and you can also program your robotic vacuum cleaner to clean when you’re out – and don’t worry, if they run out of power, they simply drive themselves back to the charging point.
Stain resistant walls
Cooking residue, nicotine stains, dirt and odours – just the things household detergents are designed to tackle. But what if you didn’t need them any more? What if you could simply wipe your walls with mild soapy water, leaving them perfectly clean?
New self cleaning ceramic tiles may be just what you’re looking for. Unlike standard ceramics, these high tech tiles have an ultra thin coating of a material that attracts water. Combined with sunlight, the humidity from the air condenses on the surface, preventing dirt from drying and staining. No more scrubbing!
Streak free windows
Are you tired of buckets and chamois and those annoying smears squeegees leave behind? Or perhaps you’re petrified when your partner climbs ladders to clean the windows? The solution used to be to pay a window cleaner to keep the glass sparkling. But now thanks to new technology, you can buy windows that literally clean themselves.
It all comes down to the active ingredient, titanium dioxide. It’s the ingredient that makes freshly applied white paint dazzle, but when applied to glass in an ultra thin layer, it’s invisible to the naked eye. The coating reacts to sunlight causing chemical reactions that break down dirt particles. And when it rains, because the titanium dioxide attracts water the raindrops spread evenly over the surface, washing all the dirt away without leaving unsightly streaks. Magic!
You don’t even have to cook…
Your bathroom, wall, floors and windows are squeaky clean, and all without you having to do anything. But surely there’s no way around some chores? Surely somebody has to cook the dinner? Not necessarily…
You’ve heard of 3D printing – the new technology that’s revolutionising industrial production processes? Well now, it’s coming to your kitchen where you’ll be able to print your meals!
The Foodini is due to be launched very soon. Connected to the internet, you tell it what you want for tea – it tells you which ingredients with which to fuel it. Simply press ‘go’ and let the machine do the rest. It’ll make anything from intricately detailed chocolate creations to printed pizzas. Precision engineering for food!
Imagine the scene. You’ve got a whole family of mouths to feed and a big sack of potatoes. All you have to do is peel the skin.
But horror of horror, your peeler doesn’t work. It’s blunt. And no matter how hard you try, that skin isn’t coming off!
So to avoid all that, let’s learn how to sharpen your peeler and see what to do with any other spuds that may be left over.
How to sharpen your potato peeler
If the aforementioned horror has happened, and your peeler is blunt, there are two main options.
1. Flip it over
As long as you haven’t been using both sides of the peeler, then this is the option for you. First remove the blade and find the blunt side, then simply flip the blade round, place back in the peeler and use the sharper edge.
2. Sharpen the blade
For an even simpler answer to blunt peelers, get a cheap pairing knife and run it across the top blade of the peeler; in both direction on both sides. The metal on metal action will have you peeling potatoes quickly in no time.
How to peel a potato without a peeler
What if you can’t find a peeler or you have broken yours? Well then there is another way to peel potatoes without any tools at all.
First, make a small incision around the circumference of the centre of the potato, then boil it till cooked right through. Remove the spud and place in ice water. Leave for 5 to 10 seconds.
Remove the potato from the ice water and with both hands, twist the skin ever so slightly then pull it. The skin will come off with ease.
How to peel without your hands
Some people have problems with dexterity and find peeling spuds a difficult task. But thankfully, there is help at hand.
Place a small amount of water into the bowl of the automatic potato peeler and then throw in the potatoes. The blade will then remove any skin, leaving you with naked spuds prepped and raring to go.
How to power a clock with a potato
If you have one potato left after peeling and cooking, then you may want to take a look at this trick. Because believe it or not, a potato can power a small clock.
You’ll need two potatoes, with a galvanized nail inserted into each one. Then put a short piece of copper wire into each potato, as far away from the nail as possible.
With an alligator clip, connect the positive terminal of the battery compartment to the copper wire in potato one. Then connect the negative terminal to the nail in potato two. To finish the circuit get a third alligator clip and connect the nail in potato one, to the copper wire in potato two.
As if by magic, you’ll have a functioning clock, powered only by a potato.
Whether you’ve peeled your potatoes, with a nice sharp blade, a little water based trick or a clever gadget, you are ready to cook. But just keep an eye on your potato clock to make sure they don’t burn!
A halogen oven drains away fat when cooking, but if you do want to catch it for a gravy (see below) then place silver foil at the bottom of the bowl.
Place the onion, carrots, parsnips and garlic gloves on the bottom rack.
Pre-heat the halogen oven to 200°C (400f) – which should take around 3 minutes.
Glaze the chicken in oil and season to taste.
Place the chicken on top or around the veg, also sitting on the rack.
Place lid on halogen oven and set timer for 35 minutes.
When timer goes, remove chicken and check if it is cooked. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. If not, then return to the oven.
If making a gravy, leave the chicken to rest and transfer the juices to a pan, with a small drop of flour. Put the pan on a low heat and mix the flour into a paste like consistency. Then add a some chicken stock, a bit at a time, until you have the right thickness. If needed, add gravy browning and seasoning.
Serve and enjoy!
So there you have it, a low cost, simple way to cook a chicken. And with the hectic Christmas calendar upon us, this clever gadget can take some of the hassle out of cooking, so you can worry about something else.
These days there is a gadget for everything, but some are more useful than others. The laptop desk that attaches to your steering wheel is a certainly rather stupid idea, and the less said about the iPotty the better.
But there are plenty of gadgets that make life easier, and in the cold winter months that’s just what we want.
So to make the festive season go smoothly this year, here are our top winter gadgets. Enjoy!
In the months that end with ‘R’ the air is moist due to low temperatures. This can cause damp, which in turn can cause mould spores and dust mites, both are bad news for your health.
With a dehumidifier however that risk is diminished. It works by collecting moisture either via a fan, electric current on crystal and turning it into water. Simply dispose of the water, and job done.
Chopping wood is always a hard task, but especially in the depths of winter. No one wants to stand in the cold swinging a rather dangerous axe around! That is where a log splitter comes in handy.
Simply put, log splitters make better fires. This is because wood that has been split into smaller pieces burns better. The oxygen needed to keep a fire going has more access to the wood as there is a larger surface area, and this in turn means a brighter, warmer fire.
Instead of a sharp point being swung at speed, a hydraulic or foot operated log splitter works with a splitting wedge, meaning you don’t have to strain your back and you can split more wood than you could by hand.
With winter bills rising, we’re all looking for ways to save money, and a halogen oven will slash bills. Based on a 1300w 12 litre halogen oven cooking a chicken in 40 minutes, you’ll only have to spend 9p on electricity!
You may be wondering how a chicken can cook in 40 minutes? Well, because of hi tech halogen bulb technology and a fan to ensure all of the bowl gets heat, a halogen oven is able to cook tasty food fast.
Stews, roast dinners and soups are the epitome of winter warming food – and potatoes are often an important part of the meal.
When shivering and in need of a winter warmer, like the traditional Welsh dish of cawl, peeling potatoes can be a time consuming task. And for those with joint problems, it can be painful too.
But an automatic potato peeler uses a rotating blade to quickly take the skin off your spuds. Meaning those with poor dexterity needn’t be in pain, those that get cold hands needn’t get numb fingers and those who have a huge Christmas dinner to make, can get on basting the turkey!
For hands that don’t ache, a fire that burns well and fully functioning lungs our gadgets will see you right. And if you do want to research halogen oven recipes online, avoid the steering wheel lap desk, the M1 is for driving after all.
The cold snap is here, summoning months of runny noses, numb body parts and frosted car windows. Whilst some will shiver at the thought of being chilly, for many it’s simple an excuse to get the fire going.
Fire needs three things; oxygen, heat and fuel and by using wood with a larger surface area, the oxygen and heat have access to more fuel.
So how do you get this larger surface area? With a log splitter, and here is how to use them.
Simplicity be thy foot powered log splitter. They are simple work with, make quick work of logs and require very little labour.
First, get a level working area and place your logs near the log splitter. Then get a wheelbarrow or garden cart ready for easy transportation.
To start splitting, simply place a piece next to the splitting wedge and pump the lever. The hydraulic force – over a tonne – will cut through the wood with ease.
Just like the foot powered option, a hydraulic log splitter needs a level area to work. But unlike a foot powered one, you don’t need to do anything other than load and unload logs.
Many hydraulic log splitters have handles, and if yours does then make sure you use them. It will make the machine more stable and stop you from endangering your hands!
To get chopping, place the wood next to the wedge, hold the handle and watch as wood is driven into two bits. Wearing goggles is also a good idea, as when the wedge hits a knot in the wood, splinters may fly.
Despite the invention of the log splitter, many still prefer the backbreaking work of preparing wood by hand. So if you are a glutton for punishment, here is some advice on how to chop your wood the old fashioned way.
First, get a maul – which looks like an axe, but has a wider head – this forces the wood apart instead of cutting through it. Make sure you have plenty of space, then find a large piece of wood to use a big chopping board.
Then comes the fun and/or hard part, depending your fitness levels! Rest the piece of wood you want to split on the chopping surface and drive the maul down into it. Look for grains of wood and aim for these lines, it will be easier to split this way.
There are many ways to save on rising energy bills and a warming fire is one of the best. And unless you like the manliness of hand splitting wood, save yourself the hassle and use a log splitter instead. After all, if you’ve already got a runny nose, a sore back is the last thing you need.
Rising energy bills are a hot topic right now in the UK — if only the same could be said for much of the shivering population struggling to pay them.
Winters seem to be getting colder — nice one global warming — so it’s time to get savvy to lower your energy costs. Here are your top ten tips!
1. Change providers
There is an ongoing price war happening between the energy providers, which is good news as it means they will be offering reduced prices to attract new customers. Keep an eye on any deals you could benefit from if you switch to another company (and read the small print). And don’t be afraid to keep on switching and chasing the discounts.
2. Wear more clothes indoors
An easy one really, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t wear enough clothes when indoors. If you’re relaxing on the sofa and not moving, then you’re not generating heat, so wrap up a little.
You don’t need to wear a fur coat, but bring out the woolies and make sure that you’re preventing your body heat from escaping.
3. Improve insulation
Would you keep pouring water in a jug if it had a leak? No. So why throw away money heating a house with bad insulation? It’s madness. Locate and destroy any draughts by insulating them in whatever way you can afford.
Windows and doors are the chief suspects so if you can’t afford to buy new ones, then insulate them better. Any cracks can be fixed with draught excluder sealant, invest in a good pair of thick thermal curtains which can improve energy efficiency by as much as 25% and use draft excluders for the bottoms of doors.
4. Move and keep active
Movement equals energy and energy equals heat. Move and your body will generate it’s own heat and also get everything firing up and flowing — a bit like starting up the boiler.
Buy a fitness video and take up home aerobics, get into a bit of festive DIY or increase your quota of rumpy pumpy sessions — guaranteed to provide enough heat for two.
5. Wood fuelled heating
Plan ahead and take into account the savings over a few winters. With that in mind, invest in a wood burner or get your fireplace and chimney back in working order.
And avoid all the axe work on Christmas morning with your very own hydraulic log splitter, which will get through the big stuff quicker than it takes the youngsters to open their presents.
6. Meal preparation
Eat. Your body needs food to generate heat, so don’t skimp on meals and make sure you’re well fed. Stuff like jacket potatoes, soups and comforting dishes like cottage pie are reasonably cheap and will warm you up too.
And save money by preparing stuff in the microwave (which is far more energy efficient than a gas cooker). Or how about throwing a foil-wrapped potato in your new wood burner?
7. Choose your room
When the freeze kicks in and the heating needs to be on — then it’s time to get tactical. Ideally you want to be using a south-facing room as your winter hideout as it will trap some of the heat from the sun, which can go a long way to keeping the room warm all day if it’s insulated well.
If you don’t have a south-facing room, then choose the smallest room, as it will be much easier to insulate and keep warm and put some foil behind the radiators to reflect the heat back into the room. And you don’t need the heating on in all the rooms — just your living space and sleeping abode will do the trick, so turn some of those radiators off and save money.
8. Invest in a super quilt
Ask a granny to knit you a toasty blanket or invest in a super winter-spec quilt, which can be picked up cheap enough. And use it! Have it with you on the sofa and then snuggle up in bed. It may be frosty in your room, but under that quilt it’s summertime.
9. Energy efficient products
Using energy-saving light bulbs will save you money in the long term as will opting for the more economical white goods like washing machines and freezers.
And upgrading an uneconomical boiler is also an excellent investment that could save up to £300 per year. The initial outlay for more efficient products is likely to be costly, but if you were to work out the total costs over a few years, then savings would be made.
10. Spend more time around friend’s houses
Bit of a cheeky one, but hey, what are friends for? Pop around their houses and hang out in their sub tropical lounges (for as long as you can manage without appearing to be unofficially couch-surfing).
Many things are taken for granted today. We drink water without thinking about where it comes from, surf the internet without knowing how it works and wear cotton without knowing how it’s grown.
But there is one thing we don’t even know we take for granted – the humble shoelace.
For many, laces are an annoying inconvenience that flap around willy nilly and cause embarrassing tripping incidents. But with proper lacing and tying, the humble shoe lace needn’t be such an irritation. Here’s how.
Why is it important to lace them correctly?
Shoes that aren’t properly laced will move when you walk. This in turn will lead to rubbing, which could cause horrible blisters and soreness.
Aside from blister nastiness, you also need to consider style. By not lacing your shoes correctly, the style of the shoe is compromised and can result in a scruffy look. Not good.
Incorrectly tied laces are one thing, but laces that come undone are another. Tying your shoes incorrectly will cause your laces to come undone, which impacts both style and comfort.
What shoes need lacing
Strictly speaking, any shoe that has laces needs to be done up properly. But for some shoes, correct lacing is more important than others.
For instance, an unlaced pair of mens leather shoes in an Oxford style will look sillier than a pair of casual trainers not being laced.
How to lace your shoes
Mens shoes are often displayed in the “gentleman’s” style, and won’t tighten as much as the criss cross or over under methods, which will bring the two leather tabs together.
Start by putting the two lace ends, or aglets, into the bottom two eyelets. Then pull the laces so that they are level on each side, and weave them in and out of the rest of the eyelets.
Once you have laced your shoes, you need to tie them. If the first knot is with left under right, then next one must be left over right – making an interlocking combination.
You’ll know if you have laced them properly as the tabs will be pulled together and straight. To check if they are tied correctly, make sure the laces sit horizontally across the shoe. If they sit in any other way, they’ll come undone.
Many people struggle with laces because of joint problems, bad backs or a fundamental lack of patience. Others avoid laces as they simply don’t like them!
Chelsea boots and slip on loafers are a stylish alternative to laced shoes. Both styles can be worn with many items, making them a versatile addition to your wardrobe.
Velcro shoes are the easiest option for those with joint problems as the shoe can be loosened when putting them on, and tightened easily afterwards.
So how to tie up all this information? Well make sure you interlock your knots, check for criss cross weaving and don’t take laces for granted! And if you fancy getting creative, then why not try some other lacing styles?
Bad weather, last minute Christmas shopping and escalating heating bills are some of winter’s main annoyances.
But whilst we can’t control gas prices, we can give advice on what to wear when it’s chucking it down and freezing cold.
So swot up on which mens trousers to wear this winter, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
Staying warm is a certainty with thermal trousers. Some options even have a windproof fleece lining, while others feature a lining designed to capture warm air.
Staying warm needn’t mean your trouser choice has to change either. Mens thermal trousers are available in many styles including jeans, suit trousers and chinos.
For some, thermal trousers can be too warm. But for lovers of the outdoors, particularly walkers, they are a winter staple.
Green fingered folk know that a garden still needs attention in the winter. Waterproof trousers allow you to tend to your garden in the colder months, so preparing for the spring can be done without soggy legs.
Any type of trouser can be worn underneath waterproofs, but ideally wear a pair that have a high cotton or wool content. Trousers made with man made fabrics won’t breathe as well, making you hot and sweaty.
Corduroy is made with a high concentration of cotton yarn stitched onto a backer. Due to this extra fabric, cord trousers are a hardwearing option that can cope with the winter.
The dullness of winter can often get people down, in fact some poor folk get SAD. But with mens cord trousers, there are bright myriad shades available. Plum, claret or vibrant emerald will stop the dark days from being dull.
As well as being colourful and hard wearing, cord trousers are highly breathable because of their high cotton content.
Just like cord, moleskin trousers are hard-wearing, breathable and come in an array of colours.
Unlike cord however, they do not have the signature ridges, but instead a brush like texture akin to suede. And don’t worry, moleskin fabric is made without harming any cute soil dwelling critters.
Moleskin is so durable and hard-wearing, that the West German Army used it for their uniforms for over thirty years. And if it was good enough for marching through the Cold War then it is good enough for winter.
Whatever trousers you choose for the winter, just remember that cotton is breathable and waterproof trousers let you wear almost anything! But if you’re still worried about the heating bill, then add thermal trousers to your last minute shopping list.