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If you've been blanketed by ads touting the ShamWow cloth and its ability to soak up copious spills, you're probably wondering how well this chamois-sponge-towel hybrid performs.
So we laid out $27.90 including handling and shipping for a set of four 19.5x23.5-inch and four 15x15-inch ShamWows. One of the key tests was to see how many times its weight in water the ShamWow can hold; pitchman Vince on the ShamWow Web site says the cloth can hold 12 times its weight in liquid, though we've also seen this product advertised with claims of 10 and 20 times its weight.
Bob Karpel, a program leader in our Technical department, put the figure at 10 times its weight. (Watch the video.) That's not bad, but it's comparable to the performance of the average kitchen sponge, which costs less than the ShamWow.
If you have fumble-fingered kids or are a gearhead, you'll be happy to know that the ShamWow did hold slightly more spilled milk and used motor oil than sponges and cloths. But a pass from a damp ShamWow left a trail of droplets on the surface being cleaned, which required a cleanup pass from another cloth or a sponge.
The ShamWow does shine in some situations, such as when you're drying your just bathed pet—a sponge just won't cut it then and you might not want to use a good towel.