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Money-wasting products

Smoothie makers, anti-wrinkle eye creams and photo printers are all things we don't need....

Published on July 30th 2010.

Money-wasting products

If you’re a sucker for infomercials items and new gadgets, the new findings by Which? may help curb your home shopping habits. According to the consumer magazine, many of us are being swayed by elaborate product claims which, when put to the test, just don’t live up to the hype.

Anti-Wrinkle eye creams are designed to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Our test of 12 creams showed that a £2.98 pot of Simple moisturiser had the same limited effect as the most expensive cream we tested.

Which? sent ten popular products under the categories of cleaning, beauty and gadgets, to their lab for testing. Here’s what they found...


One for all and all for one
‘Some kitchen and bathroom sprays claim to be great at cleaning specific areas in your home, but our tests show that you don’t need to buy these products to get a good result. In our May 2009 test of multi- surface cleaners, the best ones cleaned just as well as the separates we tried. While specific cleaners can help with limescale or mould, you can clean everyday stains just as well with a Best Buy multi-surface cleaner such as Cif.’

Balls to tumble dryer balls
‘Amazing Dryer Balls claim to cut laundry drying time by 25 per cent, soften fabrics and reduce creasing – but in our tests they didn’t work. With such great claims for £7.99, it’s tempting to try them out. But we found that the average drying time was slightly longer with the balls on a full load and there was no improvement in creasing or softness.’

The colour catcher catch
‘Colour catcher fabric sheets claim to prevent colour runs and allow mixed washing. But if you follow all the precautions on the box, you’ll never need to buy it. Small print says take ‘reasonable care’ with mixing laundry and to follow manufacturer’s instructions – if you do, you’re unlikely to have a problem anyway. And in our tests, unlike the advert, Colour Catcher didn’t stop whites going pink when fabrics bled.’


Grow old gracefully and economically
‘Anti-Wrinkle eye creams are designed to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Our test of 12 creams showed that a £2.98 pot of Simple moisturiser had the same limited effect as the most expensive cream we tested. The best-performing eye creams made only slightly more improvement than the poorest ones. We suggest you avoid wasting your money on these.


Smoothie maker? A blender will do...
‘These blend liquids, solids and ice and have a tap dispenser, which seems handy, but proved to be more hassle than it’s worth. Our lab tests show that even the best smoothie makers can be really tricky to clean thanks to their tap dispensers, and they’re often slow to pour. A good jug blender – without the tap – will make smoothies just as well and eliminates the hassle of trying to clean the tap.’

Small photo printers = a small fortune
‘These are designed to print photos alone, with most only printing 6x4 images, and they’re not cheap. Our tests show that a general printer can meet all your needs. A good one is the Best Buy Canon Pixma MP640 (£179), which prints excellent snaps quickly. It has a second paper tray, a memory card slot and PictBridge function for direct printing. It can scan and copy, too.’

And the rest...

Fuel additives: ‘None made a noticeable improvement in our tests. To maintain your car’s performance nothing can substitute regular and routine maintenance.’

Gas energy savers: ‘Gas energy savers sit on the hob and claim to burn gas more efficiently and so save time, money and energy. Our tests show that their claims just don’t add up.’

Peanut butter makers: ‘In tests it took 20 minutes to make 40g of peanut butter and it’s very noisy. The lid kept coming off and small chunks remained even in ‘smooth’ mode. It’s very difficult to clean, too.’

Wash balls: ‘The pellet-filled plastic shells are designed to clean through agitation without any detergent, but they can’t match detergent’s cleaning power.’

Saving on all these products can add up to £400:

- Giles & Posner Peanut Butter Maker (£30)
- smoothie makers (up to £80)
- gas energy saver (£8)
- small photo printers (up to £200)
- anti-wrinkle eye cream (up to £50)
- fuel additives (up to £18.50)
- tumble dryer balls (£8)
- Colour Catcher (typically £19 a year)
- separate kitchen and bathroom cleaners (about £3.60)
- wash balls (£12)

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Thomas LaneJuly 30th 2010.

How about tickling sticks?

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