When my mother-in-law still had a house full of kids, she kept a neat little handwritten note in the laundry room, gently reminding the denizens to clean the lint trap and put the caps back on the detergent and keep the area tidy. It was politely signed ``The Management.''
There is no polite little note in my home.
And no need.
Everyone else in my family knows better than to venture anywhere near the washer-dryer, lest they incur my wrath. I am a slob in nearly every aspect of my life, but for reasons that would probably require costly therapy to uncover, I am a laundry maniac.
I pre-treat. I run a double rinse cycle. I use liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets. I dry low. I fold clothes while warm to minimize wrinkles. I know the right way to iron a dress shirt.
It was, therefore, with great anticipation that I tested this month's crop of infomercial products: a variety of laundry and clothing-care items that promised to give me whiter whites and brighter brights and save me untold time and money on wash day. We'll see.
Here's what I bought:
A 3 1/2-pound tub of Oxi Clean, the ubiquitous granulated cleaner hawked by expert pitchman Billy Mays.
The FlipFold, a plastic contraption designed to help you fold clothes.
The Handy Stitch, a handheld battery-operated sewing machine.
And the Space Bag, a clothing-storage device that shrinks bulky sweaters, blankets and other items by using a vacuum cleaner to suck out the air.
Curing the wash-day blues is a perennial favorite for infomercials, hearkening back to the earliest boardwalk hawkers and door-to-door salesmen, who wowed crowds with miraculous demonstrations of cleaning prowess. Of course, these salesmen never met my children.
To test Oxi Clean, my kids spent the last six weeks smearing greasy fingers on their shirts, rubbing dirt into their sweat pants and spilling a variety of foods on themselves, from spaghetti sauce to milk to peanut butter.
Remarkably, they did this without my even asking.
I used the $10 tub of Oxi Clean as both a pre-treater and a laundry booster. But through several loads in different water temperatures, I found the clothes only about as clean as I would have expected them with detergent alone.
I also soaked a badly stained floor mat overnight, and although the Oxi Clean removed some of the mud, the cleaning power was no match for chlorine bleach, which got rid of all the stains.
Of course, not all colored fabrics will survive bleach, and that's the one place I found Oxi Clean useful. We have a light blue duvet cover that had begun to look dingy.
A single drop of bleach would have ruined it, but after soaking it in Oxi Clean and running it through the wash, the cover was not only cleaner, but noticeably brighter.
Bottom line: I wasn't overwhelmed by Oxi Clean's cleaning ability, but would recommend it as a brightener for fabrics that can't handle chlorine bleach and are not heavily soiled.
AS SEEN ON TV
Coming Clean On Laundry Aids
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