Is this the worst cleaning job in your house?

sink-hair-source Reddit
Source Reddit

As a regular viewer of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! (the perfect ‘lock-down’ viewing), I realise there are worse jobs than cleaning drains blocked with hair.  In my house anyway, there aren’t usually any snakes or naked rats involved. But as disgusting tasks go, I think it runs the ‘trials’ pretty close. Especially if the hair in question has had time to congeal and putrefy in the drain U-bend.

So, of course you are asking, is there a gadget which can solve this repulsive task? And the answer is a resounding YES!

Let me first take you on a brief tour of my previous so called solutions to this household challenge. Something I have had to deal with most of my adult life, due to wives and children who seem to shed hair at an alarming rate.

According to Sienna Fantozzi I shouldn’t be surprised, as it normal to lose up to 100 strands of hair a day. That sounds a lot until you consider the average human head has over 100,000 strands. So, plenty more where that came from. (How Much Hair Loss Is Normal When You Shower?)

For many years I relied on a range of powerful chemicals such as these below, with mixed success. But always the blockage came back with a vengeance.

liquid drain unblockers

caustic sodaThen I graduated to the ‘hard stuff’, Caustic Soda.  Which I had used with great effect to clean out the gummed up insides of my motorbike exhaust pipes. I loved hearing the fizzing sound coming out of the blocked pipes as the soda got to work. I wasn’t so keen on the noxious chemical smell. And wearing rubber gloves to avoid burns was de rigour. I wasn’t too happy about what the chemical was doing to the water in the drains either. And of course it was still only a temporary solution to the problem.

Next I switched to a non-chemical approach by buying a drum auger. As you can see in this video, it is not an easy process. Many times I had to wind out the full length of the wire before the blockage was cleared. And in my experience, you pull most of the decomposing hair ball back up into the sink, and spend the next 15 minutes trying to remove it from the device. Whilst trying to hold your breath to avoid the stench of rotting hair.

So finally we come to the solution to the problem of hairs blocking my drains. Catch them before they go down the plug hole with a TubShroom or a SinkShroom.


hairy sinkIt looks deceptively simple, and like all great inventions, it is. The only snag for me was that I have old sinks with built in drain holes. However, half-an hours work with my trusty drill and file, had that impediment removed. And the the SinkShroom could be inserted. Since then I have to clean it out every few weeks as the water flow starts to slow down. But taking out a few relatively fresh strands of hair every few weeks is absolute bliss compared to any of the previous so-called solutions. If you don’t believe me, there are plenty of reviews to be found on YouTube like this one.

Velvetised hot chocolate – the perfect comfort food for the Corona pandemic

Hot chocolateSome of us have been using the Coranavirus lockdown to increase our exercise and eat healthily. But there are many who have been resorting to comfort food to help get through through these strange and troubling times.

I have been doing a bit of both, with regular walks with my dog on the local South Downs, some fresh vegetables from the the garden, and frequent cups of hot chocolate drinks.

Perhaps the ultimate comfort food, hot chocolate is also claimed to be good for you, 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Hot Chocolate. And there is an ongoing debate if it actually helps you sleep at night, although I am convinced it does.

For the first time in my life I have been having real trouble sleeping at night, along with many others across the country. For several weeks I was regularly waking at 4am, and not properly getting back to sleep afterwards.

If you have read this blog in the past you will know I am fan of gadgets. And the latest one in our household is a Velvetiser from Hotel Chocolat. In this case it was my wife who discovered and lobbied for its purchase.

The Velvetiser is the opposite of a Swiss Army knife gadget, in the sense that it has just one purpose, to create beautifully creamy hot chocolate. To add to my interest it has an ingenious design separating the motor from the mixer. And it is based on a patented invention from Dualit, the company who actually builds the machine.


Is it any good?

So you are asking, is it any good? And the answer is resounding yes. Using either the supplied Hotel Chocolate range of pouches including Caramel, Chilli, Dark, Fruity, Ginger, Milk, Mint, Supermilk, and White. Or alternative suppliers of flavours. After two minutes of whirling and heating, a ‘velvety’ smooth delicious drink appears.

You can be adventurous and use your own chocolate bars, grating them into flakes to make your own favourite drinks. So far I have experimented with Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Green & Blacks Mint bar and several others. All have proved delicious, with one notable exception. The 100% Dark Honduras was just too strong and bitter for my taste.

Velvetiser kit

The Velvetiser has even triggered it’s own version of the legendary Will it Blend YouTube series. The Will it Velvetise videos from Charlie Fleming are a little less polished, but no less fun to watch.

And although the Velvetiser was designed for just one purpose, I have discovered it also makes perfect frothy milk to go with my daily cappuccino. So now it is a two in one!

The best thing since sliced bread is the turbo brush for my henry vacuum cleaner

I have to confess to being rather late in discovering the BBC Radio 4 show The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread. Now into its second series where, “Greg Foot and his guests look for the facts behind the fads and search for the scientific evidence behind a product’s bold claims”. I haven’t listened to them all yet, but greatly enjoyed the episode on Noise Cancelling Headphones.

I was looking forward to a future episode on vacuum cleaners that can cope with pet hair. Why – because I have spent far too much time researching the best one to buy to deal with the masses of hair our border collie Misty sheds.

As you can see from this review of specialist cleaners, the recommended models were the Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog PowerLine at £250, the Shark Corded Stick at £269, and the Dyson Ball Animal 2 at £300. The one thing they have in common is that they are pretty expensive.

I was reluctant to spend that much money, and actually am still quite attached to my old Henry hoover. I’ve had a Henry for around 20 years and found it pretty much indestructible. As well as standard house cleaning duties over the years, he has cleared out several lofts. And on one occasion was pressed into service by our local tennis club to hoover up dead moss from the courts.

So imagine my delight when I discovered by chance the Airo (or in full, the Universal Airo Turbo Brush Floor Tool for Numatic Henry Vacuum Cleaners). At just £11.99 including free delivery it seemed to good to be true. But it had 4.3 stars from over one thousand reviewers with many raving about how great it was at removing pet hair.

A few days later it  arrived, and has certainly lived up to its billing. Not only does it pick up Misty’s hair from the carpet, it has sped up my house cleaning significantly as well as taking a lot of the effort out of it. As you can imagine I am now a big fan of the Airo. I love the fact that it just uses the sucking power of the Henry to drive the brushes. So there aren’t any cables or electrics involved to add unwanted complications.

The turbo part of the name reminded me of the time in the early 1980’s when the big four Japanese motorbike manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki), briefly jumped onto the turbo bandwagon (Factory Turbocharged Motorcycles). All four bikes were something of a disaster. They were too complicated making them unreliable. More significantly they didn’t add any benefits that just having a bigger engine would offer. So they weren’t at all popular with the bikers of the day, and disappeared after a couple of years.

The companies were lured in by the idea that they could magically boost the power of the bikes by the ‘simple’ step of just bolting on a turbocharger. As they discovered things are rarely that straightforward. Perhaps they would have been better off going down the Nitrous Oxide injection route instead.