Don't bring the vacuum when a broom will do

Joan Fieldstone

June 18, 2014

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior Home Improvement

Every year we are introduced to the latest innovations in home appliances to make life easier. Some are actually very efficient. I can't do without my Shark Navigator vacuum, for example. It's great for cleaning carpets and stairs or removing pet hair from the duvet cover.

Shark vacuum

One day last week, however, after hauling the vacuum downstairs for about the 10th time that day, uncoiling the cord, bending to plug it in, and removing and hooking up the right attachment, I began cleaning the cat litter off the floor. As I struggled to get all the litter up even with the Navigator's great suction, I decided it might just be a lot easier to grab the broom and dust pan from the hall closet and sweep up the mess the next time. So I tried it.


It was so easy in fact that I proceeded to sweep the entire floor downstairs. For good measure, I went over it with a microfiber dust mop just to make sure I hadn't left any dust or pet hairs floating around. I hadn't, and the entire process took me only a fraction of the time it takes to use the vacuum, which involves moving furniture, unplugging and plugging it in and changing attachments. When I was done sweeping with the broom -- which gets under furniture and into corners quite handily -- I did not have to empty a cup full of dust into the trash and watch it float back up into my face as I was dumping it.

That got me thinking about how technology sometimes gets in our way, especially when some marketing guru who wants to make this year's quick buck gets hold of a clever innovation.

Do you really need the latest gizmo?

Every season I get promotional flyers and catalogs from home goods retailers for new appliances and home decor, especially when a holiday is coming up. I am as fascinated by an interesting gadget as the next person, and I love my technology. (You'll have to pry my Kindle from my cold, dead hands before I go back to buying paper books, which are no fun to dust or pack up and move.) This year, portable pizza ovens are the latest thing.

I get my love of gadgetry and technology from my parents, who would buy all sorts of gizmos, some more useful than others. There was the egg-cooker they stopped using because they said the eggs didn't turn out right. That one made me scratch my head. What's so difficult about hard-boiling eggs in a pan of water? And, while not exactly an appliance, who of my generation doesn't remember Jiffy Pop, when you didn't want to be left with an oily pot to clean after popping popcorn? The Jiffy Pop usually burst into flames before it finished popping because the oil leaked out the bottom and into the stove burner.

I'm happy I didn't rush out to buy the combination blender/soup cooker I saw advertised a couple of Christmases ago. A knife, cutting board, blender, and large pot work just fine for all of my soup-cooking needs, as they do for most other cooking chores. But I'd love to have something like an induction cook top or a dishwasher drawer.

Cuisinart food processor

My mini Cuisinart, on the other hand, sits idle most of the time. I find that in very little more time than it takes to cut the ingredients small enough to throw in the processor, I can chop them by hand. Sometimes you really have to think about whether the technology makes sense before you buy another device to add to the pile of clutter in your closet.

One day when I decide I need to downsize to a Tiny House -- another clever innovation -- I'll be glad I don't have to take so many "time-saving" appliances with me. The whole minimalist thing is really starting to appeal to me.


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