We put eight home TV infomercials products to the test to see if they work as advertised. Products tested include:
- Groutinator: Abrasive pad for cleaning tile grout.
- Hurricane 360 Spin Mop: Unusual bucket and mop for cleaning floors.
- Ruggies: Tacky grip pads to keep rugs from slipping.
- Mighty Light: Motion activated, battery powered night light.
- EZ Moves: One person furniture moving system.
- Quicklawn: Fast sprouting grass seed for your yard.
- Pocket Hose: Garden hose that expand when water is turned on and contracts when off.
- Magic Mesh: Hands free screen, walk through screen door.
Read episode article to find out more.
- Testing Infomercial Home Products 2012 (article/video)
- Testing Infomercial Home Products 2011 (article/video)
- Testing Infomercial Home Products 2010 (article/video)
- Testing Infomercial Home Products 2009 (article/video)
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re putting some products to the test. You’ve seen the commercials. Just stick around to find out if they really work as seen on TV.
Obviously, it came to us completely wrong.
All of us are looking for ways to make improving and maintaining our homes a little easier. So it’s no surprise that TV commercials regularly offer us miraculous new products to do that very thing. The real question is, do they do what they say they will, and are they worth what they cost?
So instead of giving you just my opinion on all of these products, I’ve enlisted a number of homeowners that are going to try them out and give us their opinions. And our first homeowner is April Spencer, who’s dealing with a problem that a lot of people are facing.
April has some pretty serious cleaning challenges with the tile floors in her bathroom and kitchen.
April Spencer: So I want you to take a look at this grout.
Danny Lipford: All right.
I’ve been having a hard time getting it clean. And no matter what we do, some of it, it’s darker here and lighter over here.
Danny Lipford: Well, it’s a great test for this next one here. It’s the Groutinator.
Ceramic tiles resist stains really well. But the grout between tiles is almost always a challenge.
You know, it’s basically just sanding it down. Maybe that smaller one will work. It’s at a little bit of an angle.
After just a few minutes of scrubbing, the grout starts coming back to its original color. The bluish powder you see is actually some of the abrasive wearing off of the Groutinator. But, it seems to be very effective.
Well, we should give it the big test now. Because they claim that even nail polish will come up by using these things. So I noticed you had a nice little example over here.
All right. Well, it’s working on the grout joint itself. It’s gone.
April Spencer: How about that?
Danny Lipford: I guess, you know, when you think about it; it didn’t take us that long to do this. It’s still a fair amount of work. And, of course larger joints like this would really take, what, probably an hour to do this whole thing?
While the Groutinator doesn’t eliminate the bending, kneeling, and elbow grease required to clean grout; it certainly delivers results when it comes to removing grungy grout stains. And, for a specialized tool, the price isn’t too bad, either.
So April and I give it a five out of five stars.
Now, on to the kitchen for some for some mopping.
Danny Lipford: Okay, April, I’ve got an interesting one to show you here.
April Spencer: Okay.
Danny Lipford: This is called the Hurricane 360 Spin Mop. That’s a big name, huh?
April Spencer: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: Well, here’s the way it’s supposed to work. You push this pump, and it spins. So, you put it in there. And then, to dry it just a bit—oh, that’s heavy.
They say it holds up to like 10 times its weight in water. Then you spin it, and you hold onto this little spin thing up here. And you get a little exercise on your calf there, too, so.
April Spencer: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: Since April has the home field advantage in this kitchen, she’s giving the Hurricane Mop a test run to see how it handles the hard-to-reach spots.
The tilting swivel head is a little clunky, but it does allow pretty good access around obstacles. And the micro-fiber mop seems to be pretty effective at cleaning.
You see that thing that spins in the bottom down there?
April Spencer: Uh-huh.
Danny Lipford: It’s to allow you to spin it. So, again, holding onto that thing. And then it’ll clean it out, instead of dipping it up and down like you normally do. But, here’s the thing. It’s 40 dollars, plus 13 dollars postage and handling—it’s $53.
April Spencer: It’s kind of expensive.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I mean, how much is a regular mop, six or seven dollars? So would it be worth that to you?
April Spencer: I don’t think so.
Danny Lipford: So, April isn’t impressed.
April Spencer: I think that the regular kind of, you just kind of pull and turn to squeeze it?
Danny Lipford: Right. Yeah, yeah.
April Spencer: And that works just as good.
Danny Lipford: And, neither am I. The mop itself does a pretty good job at picking up dirt, but the foot-powered spinning bucket seems to be more of a gimmick than an actual advantage.
And, at $53, we expected to be blown away, and we weren’t. We give it a two out of five stars.
Now, let’s check in with my buddy, Joe, for this week’s Simple Solution.
Joe Truini: The easiest way to prevent slips and falls on exterior stairs is with abrasive strips that you can buy at any hardware store or home center. And they come in various sizes and shapes. I prefer the kind that comes out on roll, because you can custom cut it to length.
All you need to do is stretch out the length of the abrasive tape, and then cut it with a pair of scissors. Then all you need to do is, if you look on the back, it’s got this wax paper backing.
So you just peel that off to expose the adhesive, turn it over and stick it down. You want to keep it about one-inch from the front edge—the nosing of the step. You can just eyeball it, as long as it’s close. There you go, right about one-inch—peel off the rest.
This is really sticky, so make sure you get it right where you want it, and just press it down. Now, of course, you want to put one of these on each step.
And on a wide step like this, you could put a second strip if you want. But it is really important to have it near the front edging because, of course, that’s where you step.
Danny Lipford: This week, we’re doing our annual review of those products for the home that you see pitched on TV. Do they offer hope or hype?
Misty Hensell is a busy mother of two.
Kayden Hensell: I don’t want to be on TV!
Danny Lipford: So her day is filled with a lot of different challenges.
Hey, Misty, thanks a lot for helping me check this out. It’s called Ruggies, and it’s supposed to solve the problem of all of these slippery rugs that people have. And with this much hardwood, I imagine you know all about slippery rugs.
Misty Hensell: Oh, yes, for sure. Especially, him running around, they go crazy.
Danny Lipford: I’ll bet. So now do you have one area that’s maybe more problematic than the others?
Misty Hensell: I do. In Harper’s room we have a rug that gives us a lot of problems.
Danny Lipford: All right, let’s see if we can take care of that. What a great looking room!
Misty Hensell: Thank you.
Danny Lipford: What a spoiled little baby, I’ll tell you.
Misty Hensell: Yes, she is.
Danny Lipford: All right.
Misty Hensell: And this rug, it won’t stay still. I slip on it. My son, he comes flying through here to check on her, and he wipes out.
Danny Lipford: man, yeah, that could be real dangerous. But, I mean, it looks great. It’s appropriate for the room.
Well, let’s see on these things. I mean, it says… Of course, they always say these are very, very simple things to install. So, we’ll start looking for directions a little here.
Misty Hensell: We did try something else, too, and it does not work at all.
Danny Lipford: Well, that’s not even sticky at all.
Misty Hensell: Nope.
Danny Lipford: I’ll let you peel one of these off. It’s kind of weird. If the way they stick to this plastic packaging is any indication, this rug may never move again.
After some serious peeling and rug positioning, we can move on to the other side. Or, even more peeling. You’ve already done it? Did you get? How did you do that so fast?
Misty Hensell: Because I did it fast.
Danny Lipford: It’s a mess.
Misty Hensell: I’m your model rug-holder-opener.
Danny Lipford: I guess so. See, you know, it seems odd that it would actually help it not skid when it won’t even stick to the rug.
Misty Hensell: Sticks to the hardwood.
Danny Lipford: Yeah. Okay, Misty, I think here comes the ultimate test.
Our less than scientific testing revealed that like so many as seen on TV products, the Ruggies work sometimes.
That’s the extreme test. Oh!
And, sometimes they don’t. At about $18, with a combined sales price and shipping charges, the Ruggies might work well in some situations. But in this one, they’re clearly no match for a five-year-old.
We gave them two-and-a-half stars out of five.
Hey, I know, with the kids running around and such, you probably have a use for another little product. We want to look at it. It’s called the Mighty Light.
I know it’s important to have, you know, night lights and that kind of thing. Is there any place that you need, maybe just a little bit of light with Kayden running around?
Misty Hensell: Yes, this would be perfect for the playroom upstairs, because Kayden comes running through here, runs up the stairs with no light.
Danny Lipford: Is that right?
Misty Hensell: So this would be perfect for him.
Danny Lipford: Well, maybe we can mount it on the stairway over here.
Misty Hensell: OK. Let’s try it.
Danny Lipford: Perfect. Maybe right here at the corner, here.
Misty Hensell: Right there?
Danny Lipford: Yeah. And that way, you know, if the activation, the motion activation works well; then it should catch him coming both ways. And because it uses LED lights, it says that it’ll last 10 years.
Misty Hensell: Really?
Danny Lipford: At eight hours use, per day. Hmm.
Misty Hensell: I’ll call you back in 10 years.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I was going to say, hmm. Okay, there. Now, we need to turn some lights off.
Misty Hensell: Try it out.
Danny Lipford: Bring Kayden around to try it out. What do you say?
The Mighty Light was easy to install, as effective as promised, and pretty darn bright. Misty and I give it a four out of five stars. But the real question is what does Kayden think?
Kayden Hensell: I think that’ll be perfect in my playhouse.
Danny Lipford: You got to love, kids. Speaking of which, my daughter, Chelsea, lives alone. So I thought she would be a perfect candidate to test out another product called EZ Moves.
Chelsea Lipford: Well, that seems pretty sturdy. I still wouldn’t want to get my fingers underneath there.
Danny Lipford: It worked, but it does seem to take a lot of effort.
Chelsea Lipford: The slides didn’t slide terribly well. I still need a lot of strength to actually push it, but I definitely couldn’t have lifted the dresser without this little jack.
Danny Lipford: So Chelsea decides to try it on a carpeted floor.
Chelsea Lipford: All right, so I can remove this for the carpet. Make it easier to get underneath there.
Danny Lipford: Then the hard plastic covers go back on the pads before they slide under the shelf.
Chelsea Lipford: Oh! Well, this slides really easily. I mean, it’s still heavy, but it’s really smooth. There, it looks good.
Danny Lipford: So, what’s the verdict?
Chelsea Lipford: These pads work on the carpet much better than the hardwood.
Danny Lipford: So, it won’t win any awards for use on hardwood. But on carpet, it gets high marks. And that handy curve lever helps justify the price tag.
All in all, a pretty cool product. We give it a four out of five stars.
Now, let’s check in with Jodi at the Home Center for another cool product.
Jodi Marks: Well, over here in the lighting department, you can see there’s no shortage of choices when you’re trying to find a motion security light for your home. And there are many different features, just depending upon what you’re looking for; but I want to highlight this one in particular, because I think it’s really good.
This is by Defiant. And this particular light is set apart from the other ones. Because look right here, you can already see it has three lights on it.
Another thing that sets it apart is that it’s got the LED technology. What does that mean for you? It’s going to last longer, it’s going to save you money, and it’s a lot more of an intense light when it comes on.
Now, this has a full range of 270 degrees of light and motion detection. And, speaking of motion detection, this can detect up to 70 feet away.
So, all of these features, combined in this one little package, is perfect for your home security.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re testing products for the home to see if they perform as seen on TV, and if they’re worth the price you pay for. So far we’ve had some winners and some losers. Would it be worth that to you?
April Spencer: I don’t think so.
Danny Lipford: Several months ago, we helped my friend, Mike Herndon, with a paver patio in his backyard; and we asked to him to try out Quicklawn. It’s a grass seed that’s supposed to create a lush carpet of four-season grass. Let’s see what Mike thinks.
Mike Herndon: Well, it came up real nice, to start off with. And I guess it was four or five days, we started getting a lot of green growth. It looked really nice. And then, as the weeks went by, and the sun was beating down on it, the areas that were bare before, it hadn’t really done very well.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, well, they say it’s a four-season grass. And of course, this is some pretty extreme, you know, temperatures we have now, and over the last, say, a week or so. But, also, I remember you had some water settling here and there. But I really don’t know if that’s affected it or not.
Mike Herndon: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to say. It does seem like the areas where it’s out in direct sunlight and the areas where the ground was bare before are the areas where it’s had problems. Because you come over here, and where you had some St. Augustine, and it’s really coming back now. And you can see it’s kind of filled in nicely, and it’s still thriving there. Of course, we got a little shade over here, too.
Danny Lipford: Right. Right, yeah. Well, at least it looked good for a little while.
So the Quicklawn is something of a mixed bag. It came up quickly and filled in nicely, but it wilted under the heat of the Southern sun.
You may have better luck if you live in a slightly cooler climate, but we’re giving it a three out of five stars.
Danny Lipford: Now, let’s get Mike’s opinion on another lawn and garden product, the Pocket Hose.
This is called the Pocket Hose, and what they basically say is that you, you know, hook it up to the hose bib, put your sprayer on it, and turning it on. And this little thing is supposed to expand to 25 feet long.
Mike Herndon: Okay.
Danny Lipford: And so give it a try and see what you think.
Mike Herndon: All right.
Danny Lipford: The first thing we notice is that the plastic fittings are a little difficult to work with. When it is finally connected, pressurizing it is a pretty cool show. And after that, it’s like using any other garden hose.
Mike turns it on and off a few times to see if it will really keep shrinking, or maybe just to watch the show. But what’s his take on it?
Mike Herndon: It seemed like the more times we used it, it shrunk a little bit less each time. But still definitely shrinks enough to, you know, save you some steps from going out there and getting a traditional hose.
It seems to be fairly sturdy fabric. With a garden hose and the value, a lot of it, I think, is determined by how long it’s going to last, So that will remain to be seen, I suppose.
Danny Lipford: The Pocket Hose does expand and contract as promised. But the plastic fittings and leaks right out of the box, means don’t count on it for a long life cycle.
We gave it a two-and-a-half out of five stars.
Danny Lipford: The next product is called the Magic Mesh. And this is one that’s basically a hands-free screen door. Chelsea’s going to help me check this one out. And if it does what it says it’s going to do, it’d be perfect for a door like this. Have you seen this on TV?
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah, I have. I’m interested to see if it works. It looks kind of cool that you can walk through it without using your hands.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, great for pets. It’s supposed to be fairly easy to install. We’ll find that out.
Chelsea Lipford: All right, we need to find and mark the center of the top of the door frames. See how’s that. We have to lay it all out on the floor. “Check each magnet to ensure they attract to each other.” I like you, magnet.
Danny Lipford: Well, I hope they attract to each other.
Chelsea Lipford: “The top panel will have a larger gap between the magnets and the trim, versus the bottom panel.”
Danny Lipford: Okay. Well, now we got something out of whack here. Look.
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: Is that one the same distance?
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah, they’re pretty… Uh, well, there’s still a little difference. It’s not as much as down there.
Danny Lipford: Well, let me see, if I can adjust this. Maybe it’s just not…
Chelsea Lipford: No, there isn’t physically not enough matching fabric. So it doesn’t match. There’s like a whole two inches down there. It’s not even.
Danny Lipford: Well, they definitely attract, so that would mean that it’s the right place.
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah. I’m saying that’s fine, but they miscut it in the factory.
Danny Lipford: I tell you what it says… What is that, 83 inches?
Chelsea Lipford: 83 inches by 19 and a half. Two, it’s supposed to have two 83-inch mesh panels.
Danny Lipford: That’s 78 and three-eighths.
Chelsea Lipford: What? So that’s five inches off of what the box says.
Danny Lipford: But surely it wouldn’t stretch that much? So, this one here, that’s 79.
Chelsea Lipford: That’s sad. Is that 19, 19 and a half?
Danny Lipford: Okay, does it say 19, 19 and a half. Okay, that’s right.
Chelsea Lipford: Okay, so that’s right, at least.
Danny Lipford: Okay, so, it’s 70, that would be 79 and a half, and the lowest we could attach it is right there.
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: Well, that’s going to be consistent, yeah this isn’t going to work. Okay, it’s 79. We want it to be inch and a half, two inches off the…
Chelsea Lipford: Well, that won’t keep the bugs out, will it?
Danny Lipford: Nope. We’re not even going to be able to test this thing.
Chelsea Lipford: Can’t even hang it?
Danny Lipford: No, we won’t even be able to…
Chelsea Lipford: Bummer.
Danny Lipford: Hey, this is one we’re not even going to be able to test. Obviously, it came to us completely wrong by all of the directions. And so it looks like we’re going to be returning this one.
This is a first for us. Since we couldn’t even hang the Magic Mesh to give it a test, we can’t really give it a rating, either. But maybe that’s exactly the point after all.
Danny Lipford: Joanna writes to us: “How can I clean the soot and smoke off the face of my fireplace?”
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fireplace surround that didn’t have at least a little bit of smoke and soot somewhere on the face of the fireplace. Now, basically, it’s just grease, so you need a good degreaser in order to clean this up. And one of the best degreasers I’ve ever found is TSP or trisodium phosphate.
Now, to apply this powder onto a vertical surface would be really hard. And if you try to spray any kind of cleaner on it, it will run right down. So what I’m going to do is make this simple paste by adding just a little bit of water to the TSP.
And using the same sponge, we’ll just apply this like that and come back with a more abrasive side of the sponge, and you can see it does a great job in cleaning all of that off.
And you’ll want a good, clean sponge to make sure you’re getting rid of all of the residue. Of course, cleaning ceramic tiles like this is fairly easy, because it has a glaze.
But if you have brick on your fireplace surround, then you’ll need to be a little more aggressive. The paste will work well, but you may need one of these.
Danny Lipford: Whether you’re shopping in the store or you buy something from a TV infomercial, value is the most important thing when you’re shopping for your home.
Does it do what it says it will? Is it worth the price, and will it last? As you see, some of these products met that standard and some didn’t.
You know every year, when we review different home products, I’m always amazed at the great ideas and innovations that people have for different problems that you have around the house. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the manufacturing and just the basic quality of the product just doesn’t live up to the hype.
Now, if you buy something that you’re not satisfied with, send it back and tell the manufacturer why you’re not satisfied. It’ll help everybody in the long run.
Hey, I’m Danny Lipford. Thanks for being with us this week on Today’s Homeowner. Hope you’ll be back next week.
Kayden Hensell: Well, that’s awesome. That’ll be perfect for my playhouse.
Misty Hensell: Slow down a little bit. Say it slowly.
Kayden Hensell: Well, that’s awesome. That’ll be perfect in my…
Danny Lipford: Hey, Kayden…
Kayden Hensell: You said this was the last time! Hello?
Danny Lipford: Yeah, just don’t touch it.
Kayden Hensell: Hello?
Danny Lipford: Wake up.
Kayden Hensell: That’ll be perfect in my playhouse.
Danny Lipford: Okay, then, I’m going to ask… Okay. Hey, hey, Kayden, what do you think about the new light?
Kayden Hensell: Oh, don’t ask me.