Bad hair days

Engsiong Tan
4 min readNov 14, 2023

The never-ending war with home grown enemies

If you told me that I will be in a war on hair a few years ago, I would assume that I would suddenly become more hirsute. That is a nice way of saying that I have a gorilla fur gene in my DNA. When I got older, I would assume the war with hair growing where the sun does not shine.

Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Then I moved to a house with white floor. Suddenly, I realized that I was staying with an invisible hair shedding pet. The floor was always littered with hair even after I had swept and mopped the floor. New brooms only swept my money away. To be fair, they eliminated dust bunnies. Graduates from the school of hard knocks recommended using a wet rag to clean up all the hair. That turn out to be a mistake because while I could push the hairs to a spot, I still had to pick up the hair by hand. Microfiber cloths turn out to be equally useless in the mopping up operations. Perhaps the enemy was too hairy even for modern inventions.

Modern home cleaning experts would recommend disposable wipes with their electrostatic ability. I have nothing against spending money for the war on hair, but the disposable feature was an issue. Part of me hurts to see more things thrown after single use.

The vacuum cleaner did the task but whipping it out just to suck up hair was an overkill. Moreover, I could not use it at night as it would bother the neighbours. More accurately, bother one neighbour who was not above voicing his or her displeasure. Fortunately for the neighbour, I have a soft spot for newborn babies. For curious readers wanting to know why the vacuum cleaner was not an issue in the day, the nearby construction sites masked all the noise.

On the topic of vacuum cleaners, I do not have a Roomba or any of its competitors. The main reason is that until we have self-driving cars, I have low expectations of a self-driving vacuum cleaner. If you are wondering why obstacle avoidance is a big issue, read the stories about Roomba and pet waste. My home is not a Roomba friendly environment until Roomba are built like snakes.

Like my house except things are on the floor. Photo by Blake Carpenter on Unsplash


There is science on sweeping. Unfortunately, the science is mainly about sweeping in the sport of curling. If you have no idea what curling is, you have missed absolutely nothing important especially if you stay in the tropics. For those people who have a little too much time on their hands, curling is a winter team sports which involves brooms and a heavy stone. The sweeping is solely for the smooth progress of the heavy and expensive stone.

Looking for what kills hair. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I also wanted to know if there was a mild chemical the dissolved like hair without damaging my skin. It turned out that some caustic chemical dissolved hair but it took time. Hair decomposes naturally over several years. You can use bleach to speed it up but that stink. You can use lye but that is going into disposable of human body territory. It is also an exothermic reaction which I prefer to avoid. For those readers who need a refresher on chemistry, exothermic reactions are the majority of lab or chemical accidents that are heat releasing. Common side effects of exothermic reactions include burns, hearing loss and instant hair removal.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I purchased a USB powered vacuum cleaner. It required to be connected to a USB port. I got around this by connecting the device to a battery pack. The was the end of the fallen hair. Just don’t ask how to replace the filter on the vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum filters are made of these. Photo by Nazym Jumadilova on Unsplash