Buyers Guide To Home & Kitchen Products

Contents

‘Home & Kitchen Products’ may sound like a big topic for a buyers guide, but this way you have everything you’ll ever need to know in one place and you may just discover something new in the process. Maybe you’ve recently moved house and you need to buy some new furniture, perhaps you’re re-doing your kitchen or bed-room and you’re looking for some new ideas or maybe you have a very specific product in mind and you just want to know what features you should be looking for. No matter why you’re reading this you’re sure to find what you’re looking for so sit back, relax and enjoy our buyers guide to home & kitchen products!

Kitchen Products

Many people say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and if that’s true for you you’ll want to fill it with useful and exciting products! Whether you enjoy making delicious treats for your household or you would rather spend as little time cooking as possible it’s important to equip your kitchen with some handy appliances, which can make your life a whole lot easier and give you a range of different meal options.

Cookers

Cookers are a really important part of your kitchen because without them you’d be limited to raw food! There are loads of different types of cookers to choose from and before you choose it’s important to think about what you’re looking for. Do you want to save time or money? Do you want to be able to leave your food unattended? Do you want something easy or something that will let you show off your culinary skills? There is no size fits all when it comes to kitchen products and so you need to choose what’s right for your household rather than just buying what is popular at the time.

Note: The word ‘cooker’ can cover anything from ovens, hobs and microwaves to rice makers, slow cookers and multi cookers so to clear up any confusion this guide is going to focus on smaller appliances like slow cookers.

Slow Cookers

If you have a busy life style and you don’t want to spend all your free time cooking or if you work full time and you’re always too tired to cook from scratch in the evenings than a slow cooker could be just what you need.

Time Saving

Slow cookers are a great addition to any kitchen but they are especially important if time saving is a big concern for you. When you buy a slow cooker you can simply prep your food, chuck it in the pot and leave it to cook whilst you go to work or do other things. Many slow cookers will also have built-in timers which will cook the food to the desired temperature and then switch off after the required amount of time to prevent over or under cooking.

One-Pot Recipes

Slow cookers can be used to create one pot meals which will save you having to use extra pots and pans. This is useful because not only will it save you loads of washing up but it also reduces the amount of water you will use and will help you be more environmentally friendly. Slow cookers also tend to be easier to clean than regular pots and pans because the glazed surface and low temperature is far less likely to make food stick.

Save Money

Not only will your slow cooker save you time but it can also save you money. One of the best things about slow cookers is that you can use cheap meat cuts and still create tasty, high quality meals. This is because the slow cooking process softens the tissue without hardening or tightening the muscle so you could actually make a tastier meal with cheap meat than you would with more expensive cuts.

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of slow cookers let’s talk about what you should look out for if you decide to buy one.

Cost

When we shop we tend to assume that the more expensive something is the better quality it must be, but that’s not always true when it comes to slow cookers. A lot of the time the slow cooker itself will do the same job regardless of the price range and what you are actually paying for is the special features and extra options.

Some of these options can be really useful because you’ll get extra timer settings and maybe a better quality pot, but other features such as auto-stir probably aren’t as essential. Slow cookers can be very reasonably priced and still do a great job so it’s important to ask yourself if you actually need all the extra features and if you’re actually going to use them.

Size

It’s important to keep in mind that the stated capacity of a slow cooker and the actual amount of food you’re going to get aren’t necessarily the same thing and most cookers will actually make about two thirds of their full capacity. Therefore if you’re not sure if you should buy a larger or smaller size it’s often better to buy the larger size just in case.

The amount of people a slow cooker can feed will depend on the individual model but strictly speaking a slow cooker which is around 1.5-3 litres will feed one or two people, a slow cooker which is between 3-5 litres will feed 3 or 4 people and larger cookers which are 5 – 6.5 litres in size can feed 5 or more people. If you have a large family or several hungry flat mates who you’ll have to feed on a regular basis it’s worth buying a slow cooker, which is 6 litres, or above.

Settings

Higher-end slow cookers are more likely to come with digital displays and a more extensive list of whereas cheaper models will probably just have a few settings. It’s important to remember that the cheaper slow cookers are still going to do the same job and you might not really need all the settings, but there are still a few things you should look out for.

  • Timer: This is a really useful feature because if you set your slow cooker to a certain time it will cook your food and then after the time is up it will stop. This is especially handy if you’re going to work or leaving the house because you won’t have to worry about over cooking or burning the house down and if you’re cooking for friends or family you can spend time with them without having to worry that your food is getting all soggy and nasty.
  • ‘On’ light: This is a pretty common feature on most electrical items and you would expect your slow cooker to have an indicator light which will show you if the machine is actually working, but it’s still important to double check and make sure or you could leave food in your slow cooker all day only to find it never actually cooked!
  • Keep warm’ setting: This is an important feature if you’re planning on leaving your slow cooker for long periods of time because once your food is cooked this setting will ensure that your food keeps warm until you’re ready to eat it. You don’t want to come home from a long day at work and find that your food is freezing, so this is quite a handy feature to have and something you should look out for.

Shape and Lid

Most slow cookers are either round or oval sized. Both of these shapes are perfectly good, but if you want to cook a whole chicken or some ribs you may be better off with an oval shaped slow cooker whereas if you’re mainly going to use it for stew or vegetarian dishes size won’t be the biggest concern.

It’s also important to take a look at what kind of lid you’re going to get with your slow cooker. Glass lids are always a good shout because you can see the food without having to take the lid off and so you can avoid a load of hot steam hitting you in the face.

Multi Cookers

Multi cookers are amazing devices, which can be used to make anything from fondue to cake. Whilst the idea of one machine that could essentially replace all other cooking appliances and can double as anything from a rice maker to a baking tray may sound like something out of a science fiction book they are actually a real thing that you could buy today! Different multi cookers are going to have different features and generally speaking the more high-end a multi cooker is the more features you’re going to get, but even the lower range products can be pretty impressive. Here are some of the advantages of multi cookers.

Save on Space

No one is suggesting that you throw away all your pots and pans and rely on the multi cooker for everything, but why buy several different products when you could get them all in one compact package? You can use some multi cookers to steam, fry, sauté, bake and boil so whilst you are going to need to keep some of your old kitchen equipment you won’t need to worry about overcrowded kitchen cupboards and investing in loads of expensive woks, trays and frying pans any more.

Options

Your multi cooker can make regular cooking tasks much easier and will definitely save you extra washing up, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The functions of an individual multi-cooker will vary depending on the brand but here is a list of just some of the things you could do with a multi cooker.

  • Make yourself a hearty stew on a cold night.
  • Bake cakes, biscuits, pastries and casseroles.
  • Cook rice, peas, beans, buckwheat and other types of grains.
  • Make soups and drinks.
  • Make a delicious rice pilaf.
  • Create your own home made yoghurt.
  • No need to use your microwave ever again because many multi cookers can reheat cold meals.
  • If you’re not quite ready for dinner many multi cookers will give you the option of keeping your food warm for several hours after it’s finished cooking.
  • Make hundreds of dishes from all around the world right from your very own kitchen!

Now that you’re aware of how a multi cooker could benefit you and what kind of features they offer let’s take a look at some of the things you should keep in mind before making a purchase.

Capacity

It’s important to check the capacity of any multi cooker before you buy it and consider how many people you’ll regularly have to feed. Many multi cookers have a large capacity and will on average hold around 6 litres which is more than enough for a medium to large family, but others may hold between 2-5 litres of food which is fine for one or two people but isn’t really capable of making a feast.

Price

There are different types of multi cookers out there and the amount of extra perks that are offered will often depend on the price range. Whilst even the cheapest multi cooker will let you steam, boil, grill, roast, steam, bake and even slow cook they won’t normally have the more advanced options. Higher-end multi-cookers will often come with programmes that you can simply select and then leave the machine to do its work, but cheaper machines will often require you to select the temperature and control the temperature, keep an eye on the food and turn the machine off when the food is done rather than relying on the multi cooker to do it for you.

This may not sound like a big deal but one of the biggest perks of a multi-cooker is that it does most of the cooking itself and frees up your time so you can do other things. If your multi cooker doesn’t have those options it may not be so different from manually cooking a basic meal yourself.

On the other hand if you only want your multi cooker for specific functions and you’re not really going to use the extra stuff then it’s probably not worth paying more for a bunch of features you’ll probably never use.

Cooking Programmes

More expensive multi cookers will have a range of inbuilt cooking times so you can have perfectly cooked food every day. Some machines will even have specific programmes for rice, cakes, baking, frying etc. so you can literally just pop the ingredients into the multi-cooker and let it do everything else.

Easy to clean

You’ll have to clean your multi-cooker after every meal you make so it’s important that it’s not too complicated or time consuming to maintain. Many multi-cleaners have dishwasher safe components but not all of them will so it’s important to check the specific specs of each product you look at, and keep in mind that cooking lids and stainless steel may take a little longer to clean.

Fryers

Although you don’t technically need a fryer in order to make fried food, fryers are a safer and often easier alternative to pan frying as fryers are purpose built and often contain extra safety features. Fryers also tend to produce better results and you’re far less likely to end up with food, which is half undercooked and half burned. There are a few different types of fryers which you can buy and they all have their own set of advantages so let’s take a look at some of your options.

Deep Fat Fryers

If you love fried food but you’re spending too much money at your local chip shop then you may want to think about buying your very own deep fat fryer. Although they may cost a bit of money initially if you start making your own fried food at home and stop eating out as much the fryer will start paying for itself sooner than you’d think. They are also much more convenient and you’ll be able to have deep fried food whenever you want without having to venture outside.

Home made fried food is cheaper, it tastes fresher and if you use the right oil it can even be healthier so it really is a win win situation. There are several different types of deep fat fryers to choose from and the model that is best for you will depend on what you’re hoping to get out of your fryer, so let’s take a quick look at the options to give you a general idea of what’s available.

  • Mini Fryer: These are great for those of you who have a small kitchen or are concerned about space. They also don’t require much oil so they tend to be cheaper to use and they can be very easily stored out of the way when not in use. Mini fryers are great for small groups but they aren’t going to feed a hungry crowd.
  • Double Fryer: Double dryers can be used to fry two separate things at the same time so they are great if you need to make a vegetarian option and don’t want to contaminate it with meat or if you want to keep different tastes from mixing with each other.
  • Cheap Fryer: You can get really cheap deep fat fryers if you don’t mind missing out on the extra frills and features. These fryers still do the job but may not have the perks you would expect from a more high-end product, so if you have a tight budget and you just really want to be able to make your own chips then this is the type of deep fat fryer for you.

Now we’ve covered the different types of deep fat fryers let’s look at what you should be thinking about if you decide to buy one.

Size

We’ve already seen that deep fat fryers come in different sizes and the size that is right for you will depend on how many people you need to feed. Most deep fat fryers will hold around 1 – 2 kilos of food and will need 2 – 3 litres of oil per batch. Smaller deep fat fryers will require less oil and will be able to hold around 350 grams. Larger deep fat fryers are ideal for families or people who love to cook for large groups of friends whereas smaller fryers are best suited for one or two people.

 

Temperature

The same rules that apply to regular fryers also apply to deep fat fryers and its important to check that either product comes with adjustable temperature options rather than just an on\off switch or limited dial options because different foods need to be fried at various temperatures to ensure they are cooked properly and don’t end up over or under cooked.

 

Safety features

Deep fat fryers are full of very hot oil and can be dangerous to handle if they don’t come with adequate safety measures. Its important that the exterior walls are heat proof or at least insulated so you don’t burn your fingers. It’s also a good idea to buy a deep fat fryer which has a secure lockable lid to protect against accidental spillage.

Not all fryers come with lids and lidless versions can be a lot cheaper and easier to clean, but on the other hand hot oil can be really dangerous if it comes into contact with your skin so it’s advisable you either purchase a fryer that comes with a lid or keep a safe distance every time you use it.

If you are looking to buy a fryer with a lid it’s worth checking if the lid is see through or includes a viewing window because you’ll be able to keep an eye on the food without taking any risks. Other fryers may have a window located on the side of the appliance.

 

Cleaning options

It’s important to keep your deep fat fryer clean so your food tastes fresh and you don’t accidently end up with old bits of food on your plate, but unfortunately some models are really hard to clean. Some fryers come with a non-stick exterior which is easier to clean and tends to be easier to use, and its also important to keep in mind that the more components your deep fat fryer has the more you’ll need to clean. Some fryers have dish washer safe components which can help make your life a lot easier and many dish washers come with drain tubes which will collect excess oil and will speed up the cleaning process.

 

Air Fryers

If you love fried foods but hate what they do to your waist line then you may want to think about buying an air fryer. These futuristic devices can make all the traditional fried foods you would expect from a deep fat fryer but rather than cooking the food in loads of oil air fryers use rapid air technology to give you great tasting food with little or no grease. Some air fryers don’t require any oil at all but even the ones that do will user on average 80% less oil than a regular oil which means you will be consuming less fat whilst still enjoying the taste of fast food.

Rapid air technology circulates super hot air around the appliance to quickly and thoroughly heat the food. You only need to use a tiny bit of oil when cooking with an air fryer so it is a much healthier cooking method but you can still use it to make all your favourite fried foods. Air fryers even have in-built cooling technology so unlike traditional deep fat fryers and ovens your air fryer won’t overheat your kitchen even in hot weather.

Air fryers create far less grease than regular fryers and the absence of oil means they are normally far less messy and a lot easier to clean. Air fryers also emit far less odour and won’t stink out your house in the way some other fryers do and the majority of air fryers are dishwasher safe to make your life even easier.

There are several different types of air fryers which have different components and will cook your food in slightly different ways.

Paddle Fryers

Paddle fryers are equip with a rotating paddle which will stir and flip your food as it cooks to ensure all your food is thoroughly cooked and doesn’t end up uneven. As this paddle essentially does most of the cooking for you it frees up your time so you can don’t have to be stuck in the kitchen and leaves you free to spend time on your hobbies or relax after a long day.

Paddle fryers tend to double as multi cookers and you can use them for much more than just and they can also be used for curries, stir and rice etc. This means you’ll get a lot of use out of your paddle fryer and it will make your culinary life a lot easier, but bear in mind that multi functional fryers tend to be more expensive.

Paddle fryers also tend to be smaller than their counterparts and are a great space saving solution especially as they have so many functions. They aren’t ideal for battered food as they tend to scrape some of the batter off and so if that’s what you’re mostly hoping to cook you’d probably be better off with a basket air fryer, but if you’re looking for a fryer which can make loads if extra dishes and can be easily stored after use then a paddle fryer may be just what you need.

Basket Air Fryers

Basket air fryers come with a detachable basket that you can pop your ingredients into and then all you’ll need to do is occasionally toss the food as it cooks to make sure all sides are crispy and delicious. The basket is also very convenient because once your food is cooked you can just empty the contents if the basket onto a plate in seconds without having to worry about burns or kitchen tongs.

Basket Fryers are ideal for cooking battered food like onion rings because the basket will make sure the batter doesn’t fall apart when it’s cooking. Basket fryers also tend to be quite compact and are a great choice for small and\or crowded kitchens. Most basket fryers will have a non-stick interior and so are fairly easy to clean and many models will let you bake, roast and fry food with the same appliance so whatever you like to eat your bound to get a lot if use out of your basket fryer.

 

Turkey Fryers

These types of fryers are especially designed for cooking turkey because they require far less oil and are therefore much less likely to result in a fire or a failed Christmas. Although they are primarily meant to be used for turkey they are also great at cooking whole chickens and many models may come with a rotisserie. Most turkey Fryers can also roast and steam vegetables so in theory you could make an entire roast dinner or Christmas lunch with this one fryer. Turkey fryers also tend to be portable so you can use it as part of a barbeque or take it camping.

Now that you know what type of air fryers you can buy let’s look at some common features you should keep an eye out for.

Capacity

Most air fryers can hold between 1.5 – 2.5 pounds of food in one go. This is normally enough for a small to medium sized family but there are larger and smaller options available if that’s not enough space or if it’s in fact too much space.

 

Oil Free?

Air fryers typically require 80% less oil than traditional fryers and are therefore a healthier and cheaper alternative even if a small amount of oil is required, but if you want to eliminate oil entirely there are loads of totally oil free air fryers available on the market.

 

Multiple Functions

As we’ve already seen some air fryers are actually multi cookers which can be used for curry’s, sauces, stir fries etc. on top of frying whereas other models concentrate more exclusively on fried food. Having all these extra options is great and can be a real time saver but you need to consider whether you actually need all these extra features and whether you’re actually going to use them. Air fryers that come with loads of other features are likely to be more expensive than the fryer on its own so there’s no point paying extra if its not actually necessary.

 

Settings

Some air fryers come with inbuilt programmable settings that allows you to select the appropriate temperature and cooking time for a range of different dishes so you’re guaranteed well cooked food every time. Most air fryers can go up to 360 degrees but if you want extra high temperatures some models will have a larger range. Some more advanced air fryers also come with automated cooking settings so you don’t have to worry about selecting the right temperature and you can trust the fryer to do most of the cooking for you.

Food Steamers

Steaming your meat, fish and vegetables is one of the healthiest cooking methods because steaming your food won’t remove natural nutrients in the same way that boiling it will. Steaming is a fairly easy cooking method and it works by heating water and using the steam from the hot water to cook your food. As steamers use water steam to cook they don’t require oil or fat and so steamed meals will be less fattening than fried, sautéed or even baked foods. Steamers have multiple layers which you can use to cook different foods at the same time which will help you free up space and save yourself a big post – meal clean up. Whilst you probably associate steamers with steamed vegetables they are actually quite versatile machines which can also be used to cook rice, pasta, chicken, fish and fruit so you’ll be able to use your steamer a lot more than you may have thought.

When you’re looking to buy a steamer there are several things you should be checking for so let’s take a look at the common and useful features.

Baskets

Decent steamers will come with a few food baskets which you can stack on top of each other to steam different foods at the same time. These baskets will have holes in the base to help the steam circulate so it can heat the food. Some steamers will have equally sized baskets which can be stacked and rearranged in any order you want whereas others will be different sizes and can therefore be stacked inside each other to save space when in storage.

Price

Steamers tend to be quite a lot cheaper than other cooking machines and you will definitely be able to get a decent steamer for a reasonable price. More expensive steamers may come with special features like multiple compartments and digital timers so its important to think about which features you need and what your budget is before buying.

Rice bowl

Some steamers will come with a rice bowl which can be placed within one of the baskets and can be used to make perfect ricer. Steaming rice tends to take a bit longer than boiling it but its far less likely to end up soggy or undercooked.

Timers

Most steamers will come with a timer which you can set to make sure your food is cooked for the correct amount of time without you having to constantly check on it. Some steamers will have regular clockwork timers and more advanced models are likely to have a digital timer. You may find that the clockwork timers are less accurate and may stop before your food is ready so it’s worth spending a little more on a more accurate digital timer.

‘Keep Warm’ Feature

Some steamers will keep your cooked food warm for several hours so you can eat it later on without having to re-heat. This is great if you have to go out for a while and you want a hot meal waiting for you at home, but remember to add some extra water or it won’t work.

Meat Slicers

If you’re a deli lover you may be spending rather a lot of money just for someone else to slice your meat. Food from the deli tastes great but it tends to be quite overpriced for what it is especially when you realise that most of it is quite easy to make at home. If sliced meat is a regular part of your diet and you’re interested in a time saving appliance which could also save you money in the long run then a meat slicer may be just what you need.

Do you eat a lot of sandwiches? If so a meat slicer could be a great addition to your kitchen because and you could have deli quality sandwiches every day without ever having to leave your house! Uncut meat tends to be cheaper than ready sliced so you’ll save money in the long run, and you’ll also end up getting more out of your food and producing less food waste because it’ll be easier to turn your left overs into tasty meals. Meat slicers are more efficient than mandolins and as well as meat you’ll find that a good quality slicer will also work with vegetables, bread and cheese. Lastly meat slicers are great at slicing Parma ham with no extra cost.

If you’re interested in buying a meat slicer you need to know what to look for to ensure you get the most out of your money, so read on for all you’ll ever need to know about meat slicers!

Easy To Use

Meat slicers can be a massive help in the kitchen if you suffer from arthritis, you have weak wrists or you just find strenuous chopping difficult. Some meat slicers are electric and will slice the meat with no extra effort on your part but even manual slicers require a lot less effort then doing it by hand. They also take far less time to slice meat and other foods than you could hope to achieve with your hands you’ll waste less time in the kitchen. 

Perfect Slices Every Time

It can be really hard to cut even one slice to the precise shape and thickness that you want when you’re doing it by hand and trying to cut multiple identical slices can be a nightmare, but a meat slicer does all the hard work for you so you’re free to enjoy you deli quality food slices stress free. It can be especially hard to cut cheese into the right cut and luckily a quality meat slicers can do that for you as well.

Electric vs Manual

Electric meat slicers do most if the work for you and are very easy to use. These slicers will come with a motor operated carriage and the blade will slice automatically so all you need to do is put the food on the carriage, turn it on and leave it to do its thing. Electric slicers can also be switched to manual as required so you can have more control over specific foods.

Manual slicers require more work as you will have to move the carriage yourself and they tend to be slower as well, but some people prefer them because they give you more control over your cuts and some people think manually sliced meat is better quality.

Blade Size

The average size of a meat slicers blade is 7 inches but higher-end models may contain a blade as long as 11 inches. Its important that you keep the blade size in mind before you buy because a 7 inch blade can only slice products which are 7 inches or smaller and it won’t be much good for anything larger. If you think 7 inches is going to be too small its better to go bigger to avoid disappointment.

Power

Electric meat slicers with more powerful motors are going to be faster and more efficient than a lower quality machine which needs to take regular breaks in order to function. If you’re not planning on using your meat slicer that often and you are mostly going to use it for easy things like sandwiches then the motor power isn’t that important, but if you’re planning on using the slicer a lot and you’re hoping to go through large amounts of food then it’s worth investing in something more powerful.

Versatility

This is a guide to meat slicers and presumably you’re planning to use it for meat, but just because it’s called a meat slicer doesn’t mean it can’t be used for other food. You’ll be able to use most meat slicers for vegetables and bread but unfortunately not all slicers work with cheese so if that’s something you’d like to use it for then its worth checking the specs for each individual slicer to see which ones are compatible with your needs.

Material

The material that your slicer is made out of will affect how long it lasts and as a general rule slicers which are made up of metal parts will last longer than flimsier material like plastic. If you’re not sure what to look for stainless steel is always s good bet, but keep in mind that metal slicers are likely to be heavier.

Size

If space is an issue you won’t want a massive meat slicer that takes up extra counter space, but on the other hand if you’re planning to slice larger items like loaves of bread you won’t want anything too small or you won’t be able to use it. There is no perfect size and a lot depends on what you’re hoping to get out of it so its important to think about how much space you have and what you actually want to slice before buying anything.

Cleaning

You will have to clean your meat slicer regularly to avoid getting sick so it will help if the cleaning process is fairly quick and straight forward. You will have to take most slicers apart each time you clean them and although it may seem that slicers with less components would be easier to clean they actually tend to take longer as you’ll have to scrub all around the nooks and crannies. Some meat slicer components are dishwasher safe which would certainly make things easier.

 

Electric Knife

Electric knives were all the rage in the ’70 but some of the earlier models were a little ineffective and as a result they lost a lot of their mainstream popularity. It’s a shame because they are much better quality then they used to be and they are really useful for cutting softer and more moist meat. Meat slicers are an excellent addition to any meat lovers kitchen but they aren’t great when it comes to soft meat because it can get stuck in the blades and break the machine, whereas electric knives are great for softer meat but can’t handle the tough stuff. Its especially suited for roast chicken, turkey and ham and it can also be used for bread and vegetables.

If you eat a lot of meat or bread an electric knife could be a great addition to your kitchen. They are really easy to use and don’t require much effort, they are quick and can save you a lot of time especially when it comes to turkey, and they are very precise and will make the perfect cut every time.

If you are interested in buying an electric knife there are a few things you should think about.

Cords

Electric knives can either be cordless or come attached to a cord which you plug in when you want to use the knife. Most people tend to prefer cordless options in general but the problem with cordless electric knives is that they run on battery power and are likely to run out just when you need them most.

Blades

Many electric knives come with removable blades which you can dismantle for easy cleaning and storing when not in use. To make things even easier a lot of blades are dishwasher safe and so you won’t have to risk your fingers when cleaning them. Its a good idea to try and get a good quality blade which is going to last longer so when looking at models look out for stainless steel blades as they are more durable and far less likely to rust.

Electric knives are great for cutting bread but some models may not come with a free bread blade. If you want to use your knife for bread as well as meat make sure you check if the bread blade is included or if you will have to buy it separately.

Handle

It’s important to have a handle you feel comfortable with or the whole experience is going to be rather unpleasant. Some cheaper handles may dig into your hand and may not be particularly comfortable for long term use, but luckily many models these days come with ergonomic handles that fit nicely into your hand and are especially designed for comfort.

Storage

Some electric knives come with a special storage unit for the blade and the electrical top. Electric knives aren’t going to take up too much space but it’s important to remember that you probably won’t be using your electric knife every day and so having a storage space to keep it from gathering dust and to stop you losing it can be really helpful.

 

Home Products

The home is where the heart is and its important to have a home that is filled with comfortable and useful products to make your life easier and help you relax after a long day. Home products can cover anything from wardrobes to irons and beds to foot spas and it would be impossible to include every home product in this guide without turning it into a full blown book, so we’ve decided to focus on practical, relaxing and comfortable items which you may not even know you need yet.

 

Ottoman Beds

If you need extra storage space but you don’t have any room for more shelves or cupboards then an ottoman bed could be just what you need. Ottoman beds are especially designed to give you optimum storage because they have hinged mechanisms under the mattress that allows you to easily lift the mattress up to reveal a hollow storage unit at the base which is perfect for storing bedding, extra clothes and books etc. Many ottoman beds will also come with inbuilt draws.

How Do They Work?

Ottoman beds have hinged mechanisms under the mattress which allows you to lift it and access as the storage space underneath. The two types of Ottoman beds you are likely to see either have a spring hinged mattress or a hydraulic/gas hinged mattress. Both of these are easy to use but Ottoman beds which come with spring hinges may require a bit more effort to lift.

Ottoman beds are made up if a solid single bed frame (unlike divans which have two bed frames pushes together), a comfortable padded headboard and the mattress. If you have a specific mattress in mind it is also possible to buy the frame on its own.

Now that you have a good idea of what an Ottoman bed is let’s talk about what you need to know before buying one.

Size

Before you buy any bed it’s important to measure the area where the bed will be and choose a bed that matches your rooms measurements otherwise your bed won’t fit in your bedroom! Ottoman beds are available in a range of sizes from a small single to a large king sized bed and various models will have different measurements so you’re almost guaranteed to find something that fits into your room. It is also a good idea to think about how much storage space you need as this will vary from bed to bed.

Design

The base of an Ottoman bed is its largest and most noticeable feature and you’ll want something that is attractive and matches the rest of your room. The material that this base is made out of will also vary from bed to bed and so it’s a good idea to choose a strong material that you like the look of. If you’re stuck for ideas wood, regular leather or faux leather are all popular choices and black, white or brown are very popular colours which will give your bedroom a classy and sophisticated look.

Easy Access

Some Ottoman beds will lock into place once lifted so it will remain upright as long as you want with no extra effort on your part. This is a great feature because it’ll free up your hands and save time.

 

Clothes Steamers

No one wants wrinkly clothes and if your outfit is all creased and wrinkly it’ll make you look sloppy and isn’t likely to impress anyone. Most people own an iron and use it regularly but despite your best efforts an iron isn’t always going to be that effective; it won’t work with certain materials, it might not smooth all creases and it’s quite easy to iron creases into your clothes and actually make them look worse.

Clothes Steamers are a great alternative to traditional irons because they are quicker, more effective and work with a larger range of materials including delicate fabrics. Whilst an iron just flattens your clothes a steamer actually relaxes the fibres within the material which not only means that a steamer can smooth even the toughest creases but it’d also more effective for delicate and crease-prone material. Garment steamers come in tons of different sizes and are great for domestic as well as commercial use so if you’re tired of stubborn wrinkles and you want to help your clothes look their best read on for all you’ll ever need to know.

Large Steamers

The most common type of garment steamer will have a motor heated base/ tank which you fill with water, a nozzle at the end of a long tube so you can reach the full length of the garment, and a separate garment hanger which you can use to hang the garment upright. This design is popular with clothes shops and fashion companies because it is very effective and easy to use but they are also becoming increasingly popular for every day use.

Travel Steamers

It can be hard to look presentable when you travel because no matter how well you’ve ironed your clothes the second you fold and pack them they get all wrinkly again. This can be a big problem if you’re travelling for work or for formal event like a wedding but even if you’re not you’ll still want to look your best. Luckily the garment steamer inventors have thought ahead and you can now buy a small clothes steamer to take with you on holiday!

These types of steamers have their nozzle directly attached to the water supply to make them more compact. These types of steamers have been designed to be as small as possible and so you’ll normally have to hold the entire machine up to the clothes so the nozzle can reach. The water won’t last as long in these models as the body has less capacity and it may take a bit longer but these steamers are still a practical and effective alternative to travel irons.

Handheld Steamers

Handheld steamers are a cross between a travel steamer and a larger steamer because they have a compact and functional design but they also tend to have a larger capacity and are on average more powerful then travel steamers. If space is an issue and you can’t really fit a larger steamer in your house then this is a good compromise which offers high quality results at half the size. These compact models also tend to be cheaper than their larger counter parts so they are better for those of you who are on a budget.

Warranty

When buying a new electrical item it’s always a good idea to check for a warrantee that can protect you from accidental damages. This is most important for larger, high-end models as you don’t want to be stuck with a large and expensive machine which you can’t even use, but the warranty can offer peace of mind for the smaller models too.

‘On’ Button

It may sound obvious but the on/off button is really important for garment steamers precisely because it will indicate whether the steamer switched on or not. If a steamer doesn’t have this function it’s going to be more confusing to use and you may end up wasting a lot of time, and its also important to know that your steamer us securely switched off after use to for safety and conservation issues. It’s also a good idea to check if the steamer will automatically switch off after use.

Weight

This is important if you’re thinking about buying a larger garment steamer because you need to know that you can actually transport the machine around your house. Some steamers have fully integrated water tanks which means you’ll have to carry the entire machine every time you want to fill it up and so if the machine is too heavy you won’t be able to use it at all.

Cable and Hose

The length of your cord will determine how far the steamer can reach. Most professional quality clothes steamers will have a cord that is over 9ft long but more compact models which have been designed for home use may have a cord which is around 6ft. Thus may sound quite long but remember that not only does the cord have to reach clothes but it has to reach the full length of your garments including the very top and something that is 6ft or smaller may not be able to do that.

Some products will come with an adjustable hose which is great for those hard to reach areas and can be used by people of all heights.

 

Steam Irons

Almost everyone has owned a steam iron at one point or another but far less people actually know a lot about them. Why are some irons so expensive? How can you make sure your iron us durable and long lasting? And what the hell is a sole plate? If you need to buy a new iron or you’re just curious you are in luck because we’ve included a handy buyers guide which is all about steam Irons.

Cordless?

Cordless models are popular because when you have a cordless iron you don’t have to worry about positioning yourself near a power socket every time you do some ironing. Unfortunately cordless irons don’t tend to perform as well on tests, don’t heat up as quickly and are normally less efficient then their corded counter parts.

Price

The price of a steam iron can range from under £5 to over £300. Price alone isn’t the best indication of a steam irons quality and some £30 irons will out perform those which cost over £100, but those in the £30+ region generally speaking do better than cheaper models. This is because slightly pricier irons are more likely (although not always) to have greater and more even heat distribution, a higher quality soleplate and generate more steam. Higher quality irons are also more likely to work with a wider range of fabrics and they should do a better job in less time.

Long Lasting

It’s a sad but true fact that your steam iron isn’t going to last forever. Steam irons require water to function and so over time even the best irons will build up residue and watery deposits which will eventually cause the iron to malfunction. This isn’t to say some irons won’t last significantly longer than others and it doesn’t mean you can’t do things to make it last longer but ultimately you can’t expect an iron to last as long as some other products.

Limescale Filter

Limescale can build up quite quickly in your iron and it will have a really negative effect on how much steam the iron can produce, but luckily many irons come with inbuilt limescale filter to help combat the build up and help your iron last longer. Not all irons will come with a limescale Filter however so it’s worth checking the individual specs to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Soleplate

A sole plate is just a fancy word for the base of the iron which you press down on the materials. It’s A good idea to look for a thinner soleplate which narrows towards the front as this design is more likely to get under buttons and into those hard to reach places. It’s also a good idea to look for a scratch resistant sole plate to make sure it keeps running smoothly and won’t be damaged by a zip or button.

Output and Extra Frills

Cheaper steam Irons are likely to have a basic design and unlikely to offer tons of extra perks, but for a bit more money you could buy an iron which can clean itself or has a higher steam output to help you straighten even the toughest creases. If you have a large family and you’re going to be ironing a lot it’s worth buying an iron that generates more steam and is self cleaning to save you time, but if you live alone or with one or two other people it may not be worth the extra money. It will also depend on what kind of fabrics you use as some materials require a more powerful iron than others.

 

Rotary Air Dryers

Some people swear by tumble dryers and believe that the outdoor clotheshorse is an archaic remnant of our non electrical past, but outdoor dryers actually have a lot of advantages. You save on electricity and so not only will your utilities bill be smaller but you will also have done your bit for the environment, your clothes will smell fresher and outdoor dryers are naturally cheaper to

Rotary washing lines are a great choice for several reasons. Unlike more traditional clothes horses rotary lines open in an umbrella shape which makes them easier to open and close, when the rotary is closed it tends to be very compact and easy to store, and the rotary design means that all your washing dries at the same level so your washing won’t drag on the floor or drape over other items.

If you are interested in buying a rotary dryer here are a few things to think about before you get started.

Easy To Install

Your rotary dryer should come with the following component: a zipped cover, the upper pole which is where the rotary arms will be located, a lower section which will be attached to the upper body, and a metal spike which you can use to secure your washing line into the ground. The rotary dryer should be fairly easy to put together and once it is installed in your garden it can stay there, but it’s a good idea to check video instructions to make sure the dryer is assembled correctly.

Metal Pole

The average height of the central pole is around 30-40 mm but larger options are also available. When buying a rotary washing line it’s always advisable to check what material the poke is made out of; it will normally be steel or metal but you can’t always guarantee that. You should also check if the rotary dryer cones with a free metal spike as some models will require you to buy that separately.

Intended Weight Load

Rotary dryers should be able to hold more washing loads than other models but this can vary between brands. Your dryer should specify how many loads it can hold in one go (typically 2-3) so you’ll need to consider how much washing you usually do and what kind of capacity you need.

Adjustable

Some rotaries will have adjustable arms so you can stagger the heights and make sure all your items dry at the same time. Rotary dryers will also be able to rotate in a circle in order to dry your items quicker but the amount of rotation will depend on the brand.

 

Foot Spas

Tired, sore feet are a very common ailment because our feet have to carry our body weight every day and yet most if us don’t do enough to soothe our feet at the end of a long day. If you regularly suffer from sore feet a foot spa could be just the ticket. Not only will these spas cleanse, massage and relax your feet but many will also come with exfoliating and beautifying extras which will give you spa treatment without your ever having to leave the house.

Different brands are likely to have various features so here is our handy list of what to look out for.

Heat

Most foot spas will use heated water to soothe your foot muscle’s but some will offer more temperature controls than others. Having a control over the water temperature can give you more options and helps you get more use out if your foot spa, but keep in mind that it may make the foot spa more expensive.

Massage

Your foot spa may use a combination of bubbles, jets and vibrations to massage your feet and help you relax after a long day. Most foot spas will offer some kind of massage but various brands will come with different options and intensity levels so it’s a good idea to look at individual specs and see what appeals to you.

Controls

Some models will come with water proof foot controls which will let you adjust your settings or choose a massage programme with a simple tap of your foot or toes. This is a great feature because it let’s you controls the foot spa whilst you use it.

Splash and Clean

Many foot spas come with a splash guard which will stop water spilling over and making your floor wet and slippery. Some splash guards may be detachable and others may be built into the spa but either way they are a good thing to have. You will also have to clean your foot spa sometimes so a model with detachable parts will make things easier for you.

Extra Features

Some foot spas may come with detachable exfoliators, massage rollers and even aromatherapy dispensers which can all add a different dimension to your foot spa experience. Various models will have different extras so shop around a bit and see what your options are.

 

Electric Fireplace

Electrical fireplaces are a great modern alternative to traditional wood fires because they are much safer, cheaper and environmentally friendly. Electrical fireplaces are basically heaters with added visuals and this means you’ll have more control of the temperature so you can snuggle up to a warm and cosy fireplace in January and enjoy the cosy visuals without turning on the heat in July.

Electric fireplaces don’t contain actual fire and so although they do get hot they aren’t anywhere near as dangerous and are suitable for homes with children or pets. You also won’t need to worry about chimneys, ash or the environmental impact so they tend to be a more practical choice in general.

Types of Electrical Fireplaces

Inserts

If your home already contains a fireplace that you don’t use then you can buy an electrical insert instead of having to light a real fire. Within this category you can get electrical log sets which you simply insert into an exiting fire place and switch on at will, larger fully enclosed box inserts which are still fairly easy to install yourself, and built in units which will have to be installed into the exiting fire place.

Wall Mounts

As the name suggests these are electrical fire places that you can attach to your wall in much the same way you would hang a widescreen TV. These are a great option if you don’t have much space.

Stand Alone Models

These are three dimensional all in one electric fireplaces which can be moved from room to room. These models will give your home a traditional and cosy feel without any need to install a fireplace.

How Do They Work?

Electrical heaters are powered by volts and can create two different types of heat: Infrared quartz which sends out invisible Infrared heat waves, and forced fan which generates heat through a fan blowing air over hit coils. Generally speaking infrared generated fireplaces are more effective in larger spaces (around 1,000 square feet) whereas forced fan fire places are most effective in smaller areas.

 

Garden Hose

If you’re an avid gardener or you want a quick and easy way to clean up after your pets then you may want to invest in a garden hose. When you’re looking to buy a hose it’s tempting to buy the cheapest one and be done with it, but although you may not be able to see many physical differences between garden hoses there are subtle differences that can have a bug effect on durability and general usefulness.

Material

Garden hoses will normally be made out of vinyl or rubber. Vinyl hoses tend to be cheaper and lighter but they are also less durable and more likely to break whereas rubber hoses are more durable and tend to last longer but they are also heavier and more expensive. The hose that is right for you will depend on how much you are planning to use it and if you are hoping to make a long term investment or a cheaper but more disposable purchase.

You can also buy hoses that are made out if a mixture of rubber and vinyl which may offer the best of both worlds.

Length

The length of a garden hose will normally range between 25 and 100 feet. The average garden will only need a 50 foot hose at the most whereas a small space can deal with a 25 foot hose. It can be tempting to buy the longest hose possible but they will tend to be heavier, harder to store when not in use and may deliver lower water pressure so in this case bigger us not always better unless you own a massive garden or your own grounds. 

Diameter

A hoses inner diameter will determine how much water it can hold in one go. These diameters will normally range between half an inch, five-eighths of an inch and three quarter inches. You’ll ideally want a hose that can hold a sufficient amount of water without becoming too heavy do five-eighths is normally a good size but if your worried about the hose being too heavy you may want a smaller diameter.

Safe Water Hoses

If you have pets you may want to give them hose water to drink but unfortunately a lot of hoses contain dangerous chemicals like lead. Although this is fine for your plants a human or animal could get really sick if they consume contaminated water so if you that is what you’re planning to do its very important to look for ‘safe stickers. If you are using your hose to water fruit and vegetables it’s a good idea to only hose them with cold water as the chemicals spread more easily in hot weather.

Cost

Garden hoses can sell for as little as £10 or as much as £100+. If you aren’t planning using your hose that regularly and you’re okay with vinyl material than a budget buy should be fine whereas dedicated gardeners will need something a bit more heavy duty with a higher price tag.