Miracle cleaning products sold on TV shopping channels
December 2, 2007 12:27 PM   Subscribe

I often watch the shopping channels on TV and regularly see demonstrations of "miracle" cleaning products. Now my curiosity has got the better of me. Does anyone have experience of these cleaning products? Are they as fantastic as they appear?

Typically there's a demonstrator in the studio throwing all kinds of filth on a carpet and then nonchalently wiping away the stains. Sometimes it's in a bathroom or kitchen setting, but it's basically the same routine.

The products themselves seem relatively expensive compared to the ones I'd buy in a supermarket but apart from that I wonder why if they're so good they aren't sold in normal retail outlets?

Just to be clear I'm not asking for recommendations on any particular named product. I'm interested in a comparison to how much better any of these products are than ones that can be bought in a supermarket.
posted by selton to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My mother has spent a fortune on these things, and in my experience, the stuff that actually works tends to end up in the supermarket after a while for example, off the top of my head, Orange Clean and OxyClean.

The commercials are tilted to look effective- for example, you can wipe a fresh stain off with nearly any kind of soap, but people rarely get grass stains and immediately go wash them off.

Or there are the degreasing tablets that magically clean your silverware- yeah, it magically cleans it by soaking it in soap, which you could do at home anyway... The magic of time elapse and artful situations makes them seem way more effective than they are.
posted by headspace at 12:40 PM on December 2, 2007

In some cases they work but are not quite what they seem. There were ads I remember seeing for a clear solution which could be used to remove tarnish from metals, and it was shown to work literally in seconds.

And apparently it did work, too, but I'm told that it really reeked to high heaven. They never mentioned that part on the TV ads, and of course you couldn't tell because you weren't watching Smellovision.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:49 PM on December 2, 2007

Infomercial Ratings might be helpful. There are reader-submitted reviews, but its value may be more entertaining than trustworty. They do have a "buy now" button for every product reviewed, so...
posted by The Deej at 12:57 PM on December 2, 2007

I remember that silver polishing stuff. I think it's still around. It's called Tarn-X and it really does work that fast. And it really does smell that bad, but you don't have to smell it for long unless you have an awful lot of silver to polish.
posted by bink at 3:16 PM on December 2, 2007

So Tarn-X smells that bad and eats goop off of silver, and then you're sposed to put it in your mouth (via your recently cleaned silverware) with no questions asked? I'd just stick with baking soda and salt. Or get stainless.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:39 PM on December 2, 2007

I could be completely wrong here, so take this with a massive pinch of salt.

But I believe that the recent rash of miracle-clean products are all based on sodium percarbonate; it's been known for a long time that it's a great cleaner, but it's only been in the past few years that it's been possible to make it in commercial quantities.
posted by Leon at 4:52 PM on December 2, 2007

I wonder why if they're so good they aren't sold in normal retail outlets?

Well, if you've got a new cleaning product and you're not Proctor & Gamble or Lever Bros. or Colgate Palmolive, etc., then you're probably better off finding a niche market where you're not going head-to-head with those companies, even if your product is better.
posted by winston at 5:40 PM on December 2, 2007

To help yourself not get caught up in these claims, while you're watching the infomercial, specifically look for unlikely claims, or just make fun of the people in it (I LOVE the Magic Bullet infomercial - there's a lady who comes out in her robe with messy hair and a cigarette hanging out of her mouth!) Another one was a vacuum cleaner that sucked all the dust into water - well, they never showed what you do with the dirty water. (Probably not a good idea to send it down the sink drain). They showed several times pouring out the dirty water, but never showed what it was pouring into.

Anyways, if you like Good Housekeeping, they often do reviews of infomercial products. I think Reader's Digest has done it too.

You can always Google the product name and the word review after it.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:53 PM on December 2, 2007

You could check Liz Crenshaw's "Does It Really Do That?"

It's not stricly cleaning products, but you'll find a few there
posted by poppo at 2:54 AM on December 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Rule of thumb: If an infomercial includes a cheesy, black and white exaggeration clip of the "old" way, it’s fake.
posted by enobeet at 10:51 AM on December 3, 2007

Oh, poppo, thank you for that link. I wondered about those potato peeling gloves. Ha, you have to boil the potatoes first. The skins would slide right off with ANY pair of gloves if you boiled them first!
posted by headspace at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2007

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