MADISON (WKOW) -- It looks like a cross between a paper towel, a rag, a bath towel, and a sponge.
You've probably seen the infomercials on cable for the ShamWow, a $19.95 towel that claims it can clean and soak up any mess -- from juice spilled on your kitchen floor to a wet boat.
ShamWow says it can hold 12 times its weight in water.
27 News Consumer Reporter Dan Cassuto bought a box of eight ShamWows and put them to the test.
We took the ShamWow to MATC with the help of Kevin Mirus, a math professor who earned his Ph.D. in physics.
Mirus soaked three different cleaning products in water and measured how much water they held. We found the ShamWow held 11.25x its weight in water, a paper towel held 9.71x, and a sponge held 6x.
"Wow, this is quite surprising to me," said Mirus, who admitted he didn't expect the ShamWow and the paper towel to be nearly equal. He said you'd never notice a different at home between 11.25 and 9.71.
We thought the ShamWow lived up to its claim -- it holds approximately 12 times its weight in water. However, we also thought the claim wasn't anything so special. A paper towel holds almost as much.
Next, we moved on to the spill test.
We spilled some cranberry juice on the carpet and soaked it up with a ShamWow and paper towels. It took six paper towels to soak up the juice just as well as one ShamWow.
That's one point for the ShamWow.
Finally, we went to the MATC car shop. We used a ShamWow and paper towels to dry an SUV to once again count how many paper towels you needed to match just one ShamWow.
The answer? Ten paper towels matched just one ShamWow.
We thought the ShamWow did a fairly good job drying the car, but it left behind some wet streaks. It didn't bother the car's owner, because he said he'd try a ShamWow next time.
The ShamWow is supposed to last 10 years.
We can't test that just yet, but we're working on it.
All in all, we liked the ShamWow -- but we didn't think it was anything extraordinary. It soaked up liquids quickly, held a lot of water even when damp, is reusable, and felt sturdy to the touch.
If you want to buy a reuseable cleaning product that works about as well as a handful of paper towels -- the ShamWow might be for you.
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Email Dan Cassuto at firstname.lastname@example.org