The bathroom is the place where we crap, but unfortunately, it can also be full of crappy products. When it comes to all the marvelous activities we do in private, manufacturers have made a valiant effort to create all sorts of consumer goods that will, ostensibly, enhance your lavatory experience. Unfortunately, some bathroom products don’t live up to their promises, and buying them is like throwing your money in the trash. Or the toilet.
Remember the hand sanitizer craze a few years ago? Everyone was buying little bottles of the stuff and hooking them onto their bags with weird rubber things. Its popularity isn’t quite as massive now, but it’s still easy to find in the average workplace; just move over that pile of unfinished work and sure enough, there’ll be hand sanitizer lurking somewhere.
Now, it’s not that hand sanitizer doesn’t work. It does… when your hands are already clean. In clinical trials for hand sanitizer, the test subjects’ hands are cleaned in advance before testing for antibacterial activity, which is what allows them to make those claims of 99% effectiveness. In normal situations (when your hands are actually dirty), washing with soap and water is more effective, and also offers residual benefits, which sanitizers cannot.
A good rule of thumb is to always favor washing with soap and water when they are available, and only rely on hand sanitizer when your hands already seem mostly clean but you just want a little extra insurance. And yes, cheap store-brand sanitizer works just as well as the fluorescent pink kind with cartoon princesses.
We’ve all had the rather unpleasant experience of wiping with toilet paper and not feeling fully clean. Gross to the max. You could use baby wipes, but those can’t be flushed down the toilet, and most people probably don’t want used wipes sitting around in the wastebasket. If only there were some variety of personal wipe that you could safely flush.
Well, to this day, there still isn’t. Yes, there are wipes labeled “flushable” on store shelves, but they’re not actually safe to flush. Instead, they cause severe blockages in sewer systems, which can cost a city hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you like the effect of wipes, you can try wetting toilet paper before you use it, or perhaps have a bidet installed (fun DIY project, anyone?!).
I had the exhilarating experience of learning this firsthand a few years ago when my toilet stopped working properly. When the plumber came to take a look, he saw flushable wipes sitting nearby and knew exactly what the problem was. That plumber probably still thinks I’m an idiot, but I can save you from a similar fate. Don’t flush wipes, my friends.
Air Freshening Sprays
As we all know, the bathroom is the number one place in the house prone to odors, and there are lots of sprays that say they’ll eliminate those nasty smells and replace them with the fresh scent of lavender, linen, cedarwood, or various other benign things.
A lot of us have these in our homes, and they can also be found in public bathrooms. Have you noticed, though, that they don’t usually make a room smell good? At best, they offer some marginal improvement for a short while, but quite often, the stank lingers. These sprays are formulated with a chemical called beta-cyclodextrin, a donut-shaped molecule that can trap the particles that cause foul smells – to a degree.
In a trial by Consumer Reports, experimenters filled a room with stinky stuff and then released a liberal spray of air freshener. The outcome? Test subjects compared the resulting odor to dirty diapers, garbage, and urine, along with experiencing nausea and a desire not to inhale.
Instead of the drugstore, look for a solution in the hardware store. Activated charcoal has been used as an odor reducer for years and is an ingredient in many kinds of kitty litter. And if you don’t feel like spending any cash, there are things you probably already have in your home (like baking soda, coffee grounds, and lemons) that will do as good of a job, if not better, than room sprays.
Open up the shower, and what do you find? Well, at one point in time, you would’ve found moisturizer in mine. I’ve mentioned my little dry skin problem before, and I’ve always been open to trying new stuff to treat it. Considering how much moisture the skin loses in hot water, the idea of scamming that shower by using it to actually increase your skin’s hydration levels sounds like a fab idea… in theory.
In practice, however, in-shower moisturizers are considerably less fab. Beautypedia.com evaluated five different varieties on the market today, and their analysis found… “few beneficial ingredients,” “your skin definitely deserves more relief,” “leaves a tacky feel on skin,” “doesn't live up to its claim,” and “a superfluous step.” Not to mention the fact that these products can actually make your shower less safe. The oils and other moisturizing ingredients they contain make for slick, smooth surfaces, creating a risk for slipping and falling.
Instead of using these, you can do what you’re probably already doing, which is to apply ordinary lotion shortly after getting out of the shower. It will work better and also not endanger your life, so that’s a plus.
So, there you have it. Four of the crappiest bathroom products that could be sitting in your very own home right this minute. You don’t need any of this stuff, but if you just can’t fight the urge to spend money on the bathroom, why not have a jacuzzi put in? That would certainly make your experience better, unlike these items. That’s why they’re Filed Under Crap.