After seeing the infomercial and watching a video posted by our sister organisation ConsumerReports about the ShamWow, I was given the task of having a play around with this "wonder" cloth to see if it wowed me or not.
I got a special offer for $59.90 - buy one set, get one free - and received four small ShamWows (390mm x 400mm) and four large ones (690mm x 510mm). That's around $7.50 a cloth, reasonable for a product that claims to last 10 years. However, I wanted to see if the ShamWow would really save me time and cover a range of cleaning purposes. Can my cheap sponges, long-lasting microfibre cloths and car chamois do the job just as well, if not better?
I started off with wine stains on a carpet to see if the ShamWow could effortlessly remove it, like on the infomercial. I admit I was wowed. I poured half a cup of wine onto a small patch of carpet and left it for 30 seconds. I placed the large ShamWow over the stain, applied a little pressure and was surprised to see the stain had almost disappeared. I tried the same experiment with a normal sponge and five minutes later was still scrubbing away. A tick for the ShamWow.
But that seemed the only bright side to this story.
The infomercial raves about how good the ShamWow is for the car and boat, so I decided to try it on my car - a black car. Owners of black cars will appreciate that every little droplet, scratch or mark is clearly visible. I wanted to see if the ShamWow could soak up all the water without leaving streaks. I wasn't impressed. The large ShamWow left streaks and the cloth was too large and awkward to use. I felt I was dragging the cloth along the car without soaking up the water. I switched to my normal chamois to finish the job.
Now, for the almighty claim that seems to keep changing. When the ShamWow was first released it claimed to hold 20 times its weight in liquid. This soon changed to 12 times, then 10, and is now back to 12. As ConsumerReports says, "make up your mind ShamWow". ConsumerReports found that the ShamWow soaked up only 10 times its weight in water or soda, but normally held 12 times its weight in milk. Just to confirm their findings, I had a go with water and got the same results. By comparison, I found a normal sponge held only six times its weight, however it's not even a quarter the size of a small ShamWow.
Next, I wanted to see how well the small ShamWow would clean surfaces. I followed the instructions and used the small ShamWow damp and found it was a convenient size and was good for cleaning areas like kitchen benchtops and bathroom sinks (unlike its large counterpart which can be used as a towel to dry pets). However, the ShamWow left behind tiny droplets and I needed to go over the area again with a dry cloth to leave the surface dry. So really, the ShamWow hasn't saved me any time so far. I also made a spill and found that the small ShamWow didn't pick it all up in one go, but rather moved the liquid around. I needed to wring it out before I could pick up the remaining liquid.
Overall, I wasn't wowed enough. When it comes to drying surfaces you can't use a damp ShamWow and a dry one doesn't work any better than a thick towel or cloth. To clean surfaces it doesn't perform any better than a sponge, and if you use a microfibre cloth you'll get a more thorough clean. And when cleaning your car or boat a chamois is definitely the go. On the slightly bright side, the small ShamWow is a convenient size for everyday cleaning and I did see the benefits when picking up stains with the large ShamWow.