Before seeing the ShamWow infomercial, I had no idea just what a piece of garbage my regular dishrag was. It didn’t hold twelve times it’s weight in liquid, it didn’t continue to be absorbent after it was already wet, it wasn’t available in an exciting shade of orange, and unless I sucked down five to seven cups of extra-bold coffee, it didn’t come with a cockeyed, hyper-active Italian guy either. I had to try one and see for myself.
Despite what Vince Schlomi, the commercial pitchman would have you believe, these things are available in stores and so when I saw a box selling for about the same price advertised on TV, I grabbed it immediately to give it the ‘ol Testing 1-2-3.
Before even giving the ShamWow its first test run, I found myself simultaneously wanting the product to both fail and succeed. Succeed because I own lots of carpets and rugs and am often clumsy while carrying beverages. If these shammies could help me get those stains out a little more easily, more power to them. Fail because Vince Schlomi irritates me on a fundamental level for reasons I’m unable to pinpoint.
Plus, if the product didn’t work, I already had a list of names to mock it with ready to go, some of which were: ShameWow, ScamNow and ShamMeh…But guess what? The thing actually worked in the end, and pretty damn well too.
Now, obviously it’s the job of an infomercial to make their product seem like God’s gift to human kind even if it’s nowhere near as versatile or impressive as they make it out to be. In this regard, the ShamWow is no different than any other product you’ve ever seen advertised on TV.
On the sheet of instructions – yes, this square of fabric comes with instructions – the manufacturer enlightens us as to the many uses of the ShamWow – Household uses! Automotive uses! Carpet Stains! Polishing! Windows! This all amounts to about a page of print that could be better summed up with, “Wipe stuff that’s wet and it will soon become dry.”
If there’s one thing I can say about the ShamWow, it’s that it sucks…up liquid really efficiently. We figured the best way to conduct our research would be to run the same basic testing that Vince shows off in the commercial to see if any TV trickery was involved. I filled a glass bowl with water until satisfied that it represented about twelve times the weight of the ShamWow segment I was about to use, and then dunked it in. Within about three seconds, the water was completely absorbed. I may or may not have said, “Wow.”
At this point in the infomercial Vince lifts up the soaked ShamWow to demonstrate how it won’t drip even when containing all that liquid. I did the same and it dripped in a steady stream. Not quite the same as advertised, but not that big of a deal. If you just make sure you don’t get so caught up in having a ShamWow moment that you grab the soaked shammie and start spinning it over your head in wild celebration, you’ll be fine. I’m looking at you, Greeks.
The main thing I hoped to accomplish with this review was to find one usage for the ShamWow that a normal rag, or several normal rags could never hope to handle, and when it comes to removing stains from a carpet, the ShamWow is worth the money. The carpet demonstration was really the most impressive part of the product pitch, and so for this portion of the test, I decided not to mess around and dumped a bunch of my coffee on the office rug and waited for it to soak in. Once satisfied that the carpet was sufficiently discolored, I put the ShamWow to work.
Just like in the commercial, I covered the stain with a folded ShamWow, applying virtually no pressure at all. It didn’t seem to have worked, but when I picked up the shammie and rung it out – presto! – full of coffee. Applying a lot of pressure for the second and third rounds brought the stain out entirely, and even more impressive, when I touched the carpet afterwards, it was dry.
Again, they advertise this product as being really versatile, but after you get past the main selling point of it being a great stain remover for carpets, you realize that in the end it’s really just a better-than-average cloth. It’s not going to change the world you live in, or revolutionize your everyday life, but if you’re someone who, for whatever reason, finds themselves frustrated by the sub-par absorbency rate of normal towels, then you might get some good use out of it.
At just over $20 for a box of several multi-sized ShamWows, it’s not going to break your bank, but take my word for it and buy it in stores. You can get it at most major home-living or hardware retailers, and during my research I discovered that many customers had been overcharged in a number of ways when ordering by phone. Despite their best efforts, they never got their money back, but hey, at least they had a ShamWow to soak up their tears.
Photographs By: Kristin Johnston