"Real question: does anyone I know clean their underwear in a kettle when travelling?"
That was a Twitter post back in 2017, followed by a chorus of "Yucks" and "Eeeewws" on the Twitterverse and behold, a meme was born. Laundering your underwear by boiling them in your hotel room kettle was now a thing.
The Twitterati claimed to know someone who knew someone who boiled their underwear using hotel room kettles. Confirming evidence was reportedly spotted on China's Weibo microblogging website, an expert biologist was consulted and predictably tut-tutted, there was a report that "cabin crew are known to boil their underwear in kettles" and one who did and was caught was fired.
A respected British newspaper came up with the lead "Experts are warning people not to boil their underwear in hotel kettles in case it spreads potentially deadly toxins."
Really? Who'd have thought? Frankly, the whole story smells worse than, well, boiled underwear. I'm not buying it. You could say I'm pooh-poohing the idea – but that's not to say some hotel guests don't get up to mischief, with the heating devices in particular.
What do you think an iron might be useful for? Beside the bleeding obvious of course. For creative and frugal types among us, an iron does not bring to mind a crisp shirt, their gastro-intestinal juices start to flow.
Head for the nearest convenience store, load up with bread and butter and plum jam and marmalade, or perhaps thinly sliced ham and Swiss cheese if you're feeling continental. Vegemite if you're in a patriotic mood. Get the iron hot and you've got an in-room toaster. Hint: turn off the steam and up the temperature. Not forgetting the handy bench space in the form of the ironing board. The more hygienically inclined will do this with foil between the iron and bread but that's not a given.
In a how-to video a YouTuber who goes by the name of the Edgy Veg makes a sandwich with orange-coloured processed cheese straight on the ironing board, dribbling fat and crumbs onto the fabric, and it's not pretty viewing.
Aside from the hygiene concerns, pity the next person who actually has to use the iron and ironing board as they were intended and wonders how that greasy stain just appeared on their pants.
You can also cook bacon using the iron as a hotplate. Make a foil envelope, pop the bacon inside – maybe even crack in a whisked egg – allow to sit under a hot iron and egg and bacon sarni coming right up.
"Don't forget the smoke detector," cautions a front-of-house staff member at one Sydney hotel. "Smoke or steam can set it off, and hotel management won't take kindly to that hot bacon smell."
The electric kettle
Instant oats for in-room porridge? Kwik-and-easy quinoa? Couscous? Noodles? Too easy with the aid of your electric kettle. Better still, if your room comes with one of those American style drip coffee makers you've struck gourmet gold.
Here's a good one: line a water glass with a shower cap, add a teaspoon of olive oil, crack an egg into the shower cap. Allow clean water to pass through the coffee maker into the jug below. Suspend the shower cap in the hot water in the jug and in about five minutes, voila, a nicely poached egg.
Got another shower cap? Punch small holes in it, suspend the cap over steamy hot water and you've got a vegetable steamer. Works just as well for rice.
What about chicken sous vide? The water that drips through the coffee percolator should remain at about 65-70C thanks to the heating element, which is fine for poaching. All you need is some chicken breasts, salt and a little butter or olive oil, insert into bag and squeeze the air out and you're in business. Toss some frozen vegies into another bag and you've got a healthy and satisfying meal. Fish is even quicker, and add lemon juice and lemon zest.
The hair dryer
It might deliver a solid blast of hot air but it's not going to cook that frozen ham and pineapple pizza that says "take me home" in the convenience store. On the other hand, it does make a handy cheese melting device, delicious on freshly warmed crumpets.
A hair dryer can also melt chocolate. Get the biscuits of your choice, put a chunk of chocolate on top, turn up the heat and voila – movie time. Put a marshmallow on top of the chocolate before you begin the melt and you've got a s'more, a popular North American campfire treat.
You need to hold the biscuit, it tends to skid around under the air blast.
Popcorn, alas, is well outside a hair dryer's temperature range.