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What hateful household chore do you wish there was a machine for?

It’s the weekend, which probably means you’re catching up on household chores. Surely this isn’t what your free time is for! Don’t you sometimes wish there was a gadget that would do it all for you?

According to a YouGov survey, ironing is the household chore most Brits dread, with half the country saying they disliked it and 30% saying they hate it.

I’m firmly in that 30%. Although I’m not quite in the 10% of people who say they never do it, I’ll definitely go out of my way to avoid it.

I’ll buy clothes that don’t need a lot of ironing and those that do often lay languishing in the bottom of my laundry basket. Here, they’ll remain until I can face getting out the now retro-looking ironing board and iron I’ve had since the late 1990s.

More often than not, I’ll have taken them, along with the rest of my laundry, to the launderette, where the industrial tumble dryers get it dry within 25 minutes and get rid of most of the creases anyway. In my mind, I don’t need to inflict the pain of ironing on myself.

Flat refusal

Until now, nothing would have persuaded me to change my ways. But then I read about Effie.

According to its inventors, this nifty machine can cut down ironing time by 95% by drying and ironing 12 different clothing items in one go.

All you have to do is grab your laundry from the washing machine, put individual garments on hangers and add them to a pull-out bar. Once you hit the start button, the machine pulls in the clothes one by one and uses steam to rid them of creases. In about three minutes, your clothes pop out the other side, all shipshape and Bristol fashion.

What’s more, it can handle all manner of items in numerous fabrics. With an early bird price tag of £700, if I had more room it’s definitely a gadget I’d consider getting. But if that was the case, then saving up for a dishwasher would take priority.

Chore busters

The advent of this time-saving machine got me thinking about other hateful household chores I wish someone would invent a gadget for.

I can’t imagine life without a washing machine (all that scrubbing and mangling looks like hard work when I see it being done in period dramas) and when the cold sets in all-too-soon.

So what would I plump for? A self-cleaning oven that could really tackle the grease on the door would be first, followed swiftly by a self-disinfecting loo…

What about you? What hateful household chore do you wish there was a machine for? What household gadgets make your life easier? Would you buy a robotic ironing machine or is it taking laziness to a whole new level?


Hateful household chores… Well, there’s getting changed for dinner, sorting out the servants’ pay, ensuring the carriage has been properly polished before going down the Mall – never stops, does it? 🙂

More seriously, the biggest issue I seem to face is keeping the study tidy. Loading the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen after dinner form part of my remit, and I enjoy them, as they’re essentially quite creative, in an odd sort of way. My better half enjoys ironing, and is happy to do it for ages in the Utility rooms, just so long as she has her iPod connected to the tiny but immensely powerful speaker/amp system.

Outside, our drive is 90m long, so we do that together and cleaning it takes the best part of a morning. I do the lawn care (we have three lawns…) and it takes an afternoon to cut them, then another afternoon to strim the edges. Last week we did the once-every-fifteen year drain clean out. That’s a job we both hate – every 15 years without fail. Seems like you’ve only just done it and you’re doing it again.

I suppose that cleaning the car is my least favourite chore. I do voluntary work and it sometimes gets rather muddy. The birds that I feed think it’s fun to leave their deposits, especially when the car is clean. One of my neighbours is out there each weekend, washing his car, his wife’s car and then his daughter’s car. Maybe he would like to do mine.

I iron straight out of the washing machine, so there is no need to use a steam iron.

Is there enough room in the washing machine? How d’you reach the ironing board? 🙂

I clean my car once a year – whether it needs it or not…

Ian – I should have explained that I climb up on pedants to reach the ironing board. 🙂

You should ask him. You may be able to do some sort of chore swap – or make a donation to charity.

It’s tempting. He does not stop. After washing and vacuuming three cars yesterday he tried to use the lawnmower to vacuum up fallen leaves. Today he is sweeping up leaves from the block-paving. He said he is going to get a machine to vacuum them up.

I hate cleaning my car as well – such a chore. I went pumpkin picking yesterday and naively didn’t put anything down on the back seat, so now I have little bits of dried mud on there. I’ll be vacuuming it tonight!

Just send me a robot to do all of the household chores, so that I can spend all day on Which? Convo! I would miss tending the garden though.

Yes, Beryl! I wouldn’t mind a robot as well 🙂

I have outstanding currently two earlybird innovations where I am awaiting delivery so I am not afraid to be a buyer of innovation.

Iron sheets are one of my wife’s favourite things and we have now a Miele Rotary press that really is designed for the job. Whilst it may be a luxury they apparently are designed for decades of use and if, like us, you intend having a lot of visitors, a godsend.

It also does shirts. and pants to a degree. For normal ironing we now have the Miele Fashion Master to replace a rather nice ironing board and an average iron.

Given we have the room we are testing out various gadgets for our dotage and hopefully will be able to comment on them knowledgeably.

We have the iRomba 980 and a Neato Connect for the different floors and have been evaluating their strengths and weaknesses and the robot vacuum concept.

At the moment, after a couple on months use we are in favour of them as they are doing good work on our entirely hard service floors. Choice in Australia does not rate vacuum robots for carpets. Neither Choice nor Which? mention running costs and replacement filter costs which may be a significant decider for many.

As for the Effie I think the term “vaporware” is very apt given it’s steam use : )

” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_vaporware
Vaporware is a product which is announced and/or being developed, but never released, nor ever cancelled. The term “vaporware” can also refer to products that are released far behind schedule, or heavily promoted products that do not exist.”

It may be wonderful and if Melanie Train is correct about the current price then it may be very attractive. There are caveats because dealing with the two Miele steam using devices has educated us to how steam ironing works.
1. Whilst I can seem steam dropping creases out of washing the drying aspect I find surprisingly quick.
2. It does not mention where the steam goes.
3. Bedding is immense and heavy and I cannot visualise how that is dealt with.
4. The pressing system seems to accommodate all materials equally which is very clever – and with all patent-pending claims – one feels that more needs to be told.

When I moved away from home I did iron my sheets but soon noticed they were wrinkled by the following morning. Friends know they are coming to a home rather than an hotel, and if they have wrinkled sheet anxiety, they can get busy with the iron.

Just iron the pillow cases, then they won’t notice the sheets. 🙈

🙂 That’s what I always do, though one of the reasons is to dispose of any bugs. I don’t provide guests with bits of soap wrapped in paper or fold the toilet roll to a point.

We have a washer/dryer with a variable spin speed. For trousers and anything that can’t be tumble dried I take them out early/put them on a slower spin and hang them up immediately. I’ll then put everything else on the fastest spin. Then I put things in to tumble for the shortest amount of time and hang up. This takes out the creases and I don’t then need to iron most of it. The remaining long sleeved shirts are then a doddle to iron – those are the items I spend most time doing. I enjoy a bit of thinking time doing that small amount.

I’m pleased that I chose an oven that self-cleans 25+ years ago. I’ve just spent some time replacing rubber gaskets and changing the lightbulb recently – something I should have done years ago but life got in the way. This was an absolute doddle to actually do – only the sorting out of where to get the bits from, getting the right bits, and how to do it took more time. The model sticker had long since been destroyed by heat and grease. I wish it was easier to find these things.

I would like the washing machine to have bits that could be replaced easier. I would like the drawer to not cause damage to my hands when I try and get it out and the pump not to get covered in papier mache type wet lint. I would like that to be more accessible and better at straining the fibres/lint out of the water and access not to be somewhere the builders keep trying to cover with the skirting board and where it is difficult to put a tray to collect any trapped water. One of the machines I use has a little pipe to let water out of first before opening the pump access drain. That isn’t accessible enough as the clip holding it in place isn’t working properly and there is a leak and the machine is too heavy to tip up and get to it.

We need more information about how often 90 degree remedial washes need to be done to keep machines clean and the limescale to a minimum and not blocking the pipes. The machine I cleaned last weekend said once per month. It seems that 30 degree washes cause a problem.

The de-linting of machines is a particular worry since so many of the elderly will not be able to crouch down on the floor to do this, have carers who are unlikely to do this or have the time as they already don’t spend the time they should with them, and have no family living anywhere near them if they have any.

Who does the sort of housework that used to happen in the past? “More people in employment than ever before” when they may not actually earn enough to support themselves or their families means that only the bare necessities now happen.

Washing machine manufacturers usually recommend a maintenance wash at the highest temperature setting (90 or 95°C) once a month, though if you are washing routinely at low temperature that might not be enough to prevent the insides of the machine becoming coated with a ‘biofilm’ of bacteria and moulds. Powders and tablets generally contain bleach, which helps prevent this growth of biofilm but it’s best to use liquids or gels (these contain no bleach) when washing dark colours.

I have read that washing at 30°C can cause problems with powder residues on fabrics and build-up of material in pipes, but have no experience of washing below 40°C. It’s probably best to look for problems and increasing the frequency of maintenance washes if needed.

I used to do at least one wash a week at 60°C and despite having very hard water my machine continued to work for 34 years without limescale treatment or maintenance washes. Modern washing machines don’t generally reach 60°C on the 60 setting (that was in the Which? magazine), but the typical longer washing times are effective at cleaning at lower temperatures. I would avoid using a quick wash at low temperature and I expect that we will be warned about these in future.

I could not find a suitable oven bulb in the shops and just fitted an ordinary one as a temporary measure. It’s still working fine.

It might be better to get a slave ! but do you already have one ?Partner ,mother or child who does everything for you ! Lucky you !

I quite like ironing and especially the results of it. I now have a powerful steam generator iron which I highly recommend. Housework and and gardening, washing cars and windows etc are very good forms of exercise. They benefit you both physically and mentally by switching off the over stimulated brain for a while. I wonder if people who avoid theses activities then end up in the gym to keep fit?

Good points LB regarding the therapeutic side of physical work.

Which steam iron do you recommend?

Cutting the grass is a bit of a chore and I’m glad that I have downsized my garden. The lawnmower now has to be pushed because the mower needs a new drive belt but it has been good exercise to push the mower round this season.

Weeding is another chore but that’s good exercise too.

Tidying up. Particularly the garage. When I’ve got stuff out to do and, from neglect of my duties, it accumulates, there comes a point when the bookshelves and desk top are full, the workbench tops hold bits of wood, tools, odd fixings and fastenings, that after long and tiring evenings of work (or fun) were bottom of the list of jobs and present a daunting prospect.

Then, grasping the nettle when you can find no more excuses, there is a sense of pride and achievement when order is restored and you can get back to the pleasure of making more….untidyness.

Those who live in a virtual world don’t have this initial problem as everything gets tucked back in the electronic store. Their problem, unless they practice virtual tidyness, is then finding it again.

I can relate to that, having spent an hour organising things in the garage this morning. Some of the contents are carefully organised on shelves, labelled tin and drawers for smaller items, but there are cardboard boxes and plastic crates that still contain miscellaneous plastic tube, surplus chargers and power supplies, lengths of wire. Now that the eleven cans of de-icer (some new and some partly used) are in one place I might manage to buying more in preparation for winter. The biggest nuisance is the four large crates of offcuts of wood that clutter the floor. I may be more organised than I have been for many years but before the organisation I usually knew where to find things.

Those wood off-cuts are always useful, though! I had some wooden slatted blinds that we replaced, so I kept then (of course) in the garage. The slates are 3mm thick x 25mm wide and quite tough. They make excellent packing strips and spacers, paint stirrers, Evostick spreaders…… And I still have around 60 of them, after 20 years of storage.

Maybe I could have an online competition to find the best use for them (no rude ones please) and I’ll offer a pack of 10 for the best suggestion (collect only, I’m afraid. 🙂

My father had a similar number of wooden slats from blinds, back in the 60s. I’m not sure where they came from. They were about 4mm thick x 80mm wide. We both used them for similar purposes to what you have described, Malcolm, but now they are all gone. 🙁

The previous occupants of my house left ten spare roof tiles in the garage. I thought they were wasting space until my builder pointed out a tile with a chipped corner. The nine remaining tiles have been reclassified as definitely worth keeping.


Not a replacement for work but an evolution which may be attractive in the UK. However given the 80sq metres of the average UK home its double width format may be a problem.

Just browsing house sizes brought this iron related snippet from an LV survey quoted by the DM ” Another ‘widespread’ complaint was that they have nowhere to dry or iron clothes, which was described as something which ‘had not been given much consideration’ before moving home.

Read more: dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2535136/Average-British-family-home-size-shrinks-two-square-metres-decade-increasing-numbers-forced-live-flats.html#ixzz4v0FGo3qx

Perhaps Which? should do a project on maximising space usage for people in smaller properties. I know my stacking Christel pots and pans saves a bundle of space. The Quooker gets rid of the kettle and doubles as a normal sink tap saving another square foot.

If I am not mistaken installing a Quooker would mean sacrificing valuable storage space under the sink. 🙂

Rather than spending money on an expensive boiling water tap and expensive stacking pans, would it not be a better investment to go for a bigger house, which is likely to appreciate in value?

I love my stacking chubby pyrex type glasses. I bought them in France many years ago. I’ve never seen them here but they are used all the time in France.

Pinterest is brilliant for ideas on how to stack, store and organise your home or office.

Most people can’t do that nowadays. With such a shortage of accommodation new ways are needed of sharing your home. Homes seem to be more flexibly shared with other family members in other countries in Europe.

Are you advocating hot bedding, as practised, I believe, by some? 🙁 ( I don’t mean electric blankets).

This comment was removed at the request of the user

The base of a Quooker is slightly larger than a kettle and it is taller but I suggest that space on a worktop is more valuable than under it. It also incidentally filters the water to a degree so saving on other means. And of course time and the re-heating of kettled water.

Not everyone has the option to buy a larger house Wc. I think there is a definite trade-off in spending seriously on much used objects with a very long durability. I could spend less money and buy goods that do not last as well or are just average in performance but that I cannot do as I believe in value not cheapness.

Apropos buying a larger house. You seem to forget that larger houses have higher running and heating costs which are continuing expenses whereas my purchases mostly will see me out in around two to three decades.

As it happens in the pursuit of land for gardening and a better climate I do have a larger house this year. We are insulating and heating an area of around 80 sq metres for the cold months. The insulation varies from 205mm to 155mm and is a honeycomb of aluminium and foam which has rigidity but is very light to handle.

The new water tank/heater, when installed, has a heat pump to maximise the value of each unit of electricity and I am currently looking at air-exchange units so that up to 94% of the heat value of the expelled air is used to heat incoming fresh air. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in practice.

If I’m not mistaken, you have had to buy another Quooker when you moved home. I took my kettle with me. It will take a lot to convince me that a kettle does not offer better value for money.

I certainly do not forget that larger houses have higher heating costs, but my approach is to heat the rooms I am using. Having lived most of my life in bungalows I’m encouraged that heat lost through the ceiling of the downstairs rooms helps to keep the bedrooms warm. I agree that there are good opportunities for insulation. Heat-exchangers and heat pumps are reliable and efficient but obviously require significant power to run the latter.

Descaling the kettle is a bit of a chore and something I have to do once a month because I live in a hard water area. The most important thing is to remember to empty the descaler and rinse the kettle well afterwards.

Chose not to take the Quooker. I daresay if you take into account the time you spend filling and refilling, and waiting for the kettle to boil or re-boil then it adds up to a significant amount each week. And if there is more than one of you then that tends to make it more costly unless you always drink together.

Furthermore the ability to start cooking almost immediately with true boiling water for pasta, potato, and peas I suspect reduces the steam into in the house. There are other brands and one offering different options – they are not the only option but with an EU installed base of say 0.5m they may be the largest.

The economics are interesting in themselves as I would maintain over the 8 years we had it we saved both on water charges and replacement kettles and though not approaching break-even we have not included an economic value for our personal time saved.

Like most kettle owners, I don’t stand around waiting until the kettle has boiled. There’s always something to do in the kitchen. I’m sure that descaling a Quooker would soon become a chore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc7bpswqHqY

I did look at the possibility of an electric water heater because there is a long pipe run from my hot water tank to the kitchen tap and it takes time for hot water to reach the tap. It would be costly to run a suitable electric cable and I would need a larger distribution unit. A better alternative would be to fit a combi boiler, which would give a short pipe run to the kitchen and utility room.

I first saw this delightful advert for a labour-saving device when I was on holiday about twelve years ago:


Not just “a” labour-saving device, but “the” labour saving device. And powered by renewables. (Just joking 🙂 )

I’d seen that ‘joke’, but never the original advert. It’s almost a microcosm of society in the ’30s and ’40s. Wonderful 🙂

This may be an earlier version: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/428897564490083039/

Deliberate ambiguity has been well used in marketing, presumably to make the ads more memorable.