A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What's up with vacuum cleaner wounds to the penis?

February 2, 1990

Dear Cecil:

What can you tell us about vacuum cleaner wounds to the penis? This malady apparently afflicts an informational underclass who think that a vacuum cleaner can simulate fellatio.

Cecil replies:

Got those midwinter blues, kids? Cecil has just the thing to brighten up your dull lives. Several cases of "penile injuries from vacuum cleaners" were reported about ten years ago in the British Medical Journal. The injury reports are classic:

"Case 1 A 60-year-old man said that he was changing the plug of his Hoover Dustette vacuum cleaner in the nude while his wife was out shopping. It 'turned itself on' and caught his penis, causing tears around the external meatus. … Multiple lacerations of the glans [were] repaired with catgut.

"Case 2 A 65-year-old railway signalman was in his signal box when he bent down to pick up his tools and 'caught his penis in a Hoover Dustette, which happened to be switched on.' He suffered extensive lacerations to the glans.

"Case 3 A 49-year-old man was vacuuming his friend's staircase in a loose-fitting dressing gown, when, intending to switch the machine off, he leaned across to reach the plug; 'at that moment his dressing gown became undone and his penis was sucked into the vacuum cleaner.'"

I think it is very unfair of you to suggest that these tragic victims were involved in unnatural acts. Here they were, just trying to keep things tidy, when they were attacked by a treacherous appliance. The real fault lies with the Hoover company for manufacturing such a dangerous product. But even the doctors are snickering, the cads. The report quoted above concludes, "the Hoover Dustette [has] fan blades about 15 cm from the inlet. The present patients may well have thought that the penis would be clear of the fan but were driven to new lengths by the novelty of the experience and came to grief." New lengths, indeed. Just wait till it happens to you.

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