Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Product Worth the Price: Oxiclean Powder

image from OxiClean
When I was a teenager, I visited North-Holland over the summer. At home in The States, I was already driving, but was not old enough to drink. In the Netherlands, I was old enough to drink, but not old enough to drive. It was a very strange experience to have the two privileges flipped.

We stayed about 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam, and biked everywhere. I remember how clear blue the sky was, and how normal it was for everyone to bike -- we stayed with a family who had a daughter about my age, and we even biked to meet her friends at a barn party one night.

A barn party, if you are like I was and have never heard the term, is exactly what it sounds like: A big ol' raucous party in a big barn. A band was set up at one end, a bar was set up at the other, and Christmas lights were strung up overhead. Beer was purchased mostly by the dozen, in plastic cups that fit into holes in a piece of wood, and passed out to both strangers and friends, alike. The holes allowed the trays to be held up high over the purchaser's head easily, so trays of beer floated by all night as everyone danced in big groups and laughed over the music. It was a very cordial atmosphere, and a really fun night. I remember meeting someone who told me he didn't know many Americans, and all he knew about America was Baywatch and that "you can sue anyone for anything there." Even so, not one person there was anything but well-mannered and welcoming to us Americans, and the entire party almost had the feel of a wholesome all-American 1950's party in a movie... Except that every one of the teenagers was of legal drinking age, and knew how to be responsible about it.

However, it had rained the day before, and the dirt floor of the barn was still saturated. With all the dancing kicking up the dirt and some beer sloshing to the ground, the floor eventually became very muddy. By the end of the night, my white jeans were soaked through with mud right up to the knees.

They happened to be a favorite pair of pants, so I was obviously disappointed. But the next morning, the woman we were staying with took them from me telling me she would make no promises, but while we were out with her daughter, she would see what she could do. I knew it was a tough task -- not only were the jeans white, but they had thin blue pinstripes similar to seersucker, ruling out bleach as an option -- so I did not expect her to be able to save them.

But when we returned home later that day, there they were hanging on the clothes line -- just as pristine as when I bought them!

I was so grateful and surprised at the end result, that it never even occurred to me to ask how she had done it. While I suspect it required an awful lot of elbow-grease and multiple washes, I know the path I would take today, if faced with such a task: Soaking with OxiClean.

I first tried OxiClean several years ago at the recommendation of a colleague. She was clear to instruct me to buy the powder version, not the spray, and as I recently tried the spray and was disappointed, I can say that her instructions are still true.

Sometimes it take a few long soaks, but OxiClean has really gotten out stains on 99% of the things I've tried it on. Most remarkably, it was able to remove the blue ink from a pen which had exploded on a pale yellow cotton cardigan. The only thing to keep in mind is that it's a very, very strong chemical, so using it on anything delicate will destroy the fabric. I made that mistake once, and the OxiClean ate away at the fabric of a vintage handkerchief, so use it sparingly, if at all, on valued pieces. I only just discovered OxiClean Baby, so I haven't tried it out, but it might fix this trouble.

The cost is over $10 for a container here in the city, but it does last a very long time (I think ours lasts about a year), and it can also be used to clean household items. Really, a container is less than taking an item or two to the dry-cleaner, so the cost is still very economical. (For a printable coupon for $2 off, click here.)

I wore those white jeans for years to come after the mud was removed. Making a stained item look like new is a talent we can certainly all benefit from possessing.

(I test a lot of products. In order for it to be a Products Worth the Price, it must be an item I've lived with for a while and absolutely will purchase again.)

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"There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut