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According to the Magnetic Laundry site, magnets can be used instead of detergent to clean laundry!

Those laundry cleaning magnets

For a "scientific" explanation, their video states:

These magnets work at an atomic level to lower the surface tension of the water doing naturally what a detergent does chemically.

To me this seems complete nonsense. And yet they get very positive reviews on Amazon!

Do these magnets work?

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    chem1.com/CQ/magscams.html#MLA – DavePhD Apr 15 '16 at 10:42
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    The truth is that you can leave out the detergent many times when washing clothes and still have them come out clean. There's always some detergent left over in the machine, and it really doesn't take much for clothes worn and washed as most people do - wear it today in the office, chuck it in the wash. If you've got truly dirty clothes (the pants you wore while mucking out a cow barn, for example) then you will need detergent, and the magnets won't help at all. Not that the magnets help anyway, its just the left over detergent and the clothes not really needing much washing. – JRE Apr 15 '16 at 14:36
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    Yeah, I myself am a bit surprised at the number and proportion of five-stars it's got on Amazon. – iamnotmaynard Apr 15 '16 at 21:34
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    Re: five-star reviews on Amazon aren't a good basis to judge any product, it's well known that they're gamed. When you see products with lots of five-star reviews, scroll down to the search reviews textbox and search for "discount" "review" and "unbiased" I've seen products with 400+ ratings and 372 of them were from people who got the thing for free/steep discount. Basic psychology/massive bias. – Dan Haynes Apr 21 '16 at 21:10
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    FYI the main claim of the article seems questionable at best. A quick google for "surface tension of water magnetic field" (or something like that) gave me several articles which discussed how magnetic fields affected surface tension of water. The results where basically A) Hard to measure/very small. and B) Seem to actually increase the surface tension of water, acting exactly the opposite of detergent, and thus the effect of the magnet may be detrimental. – JMac Aug 19 at 19:48
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"To me this seems complete nonsense."

As it does to anyone that looks any further than the company's own advertising.

McGill University's Office for Science and Society ("Separating Sense from Nonsense") has a report on the magnetic laundry device.

The two key points are that the patent has nothing to do with whether the device actually does anything useful:

It is important to understand that the only requirement for obtaining a patent is novelty. In this case, since nobody before had the idea of putting magnets into a washing machine, the patent was not hard to get. When it comes to the patent, there is no need to show that the magnets actually do anything, just that their use in this context is novel.

and that except for marketing, the scientific tests were pointless:

How about the study carried out by a testing lab that examined the cleaning efficacy? Technicians actually took bundles of clothes, washed them in a magnet equipped washing machine and demonstrated they came out cleaner than they went in. Surprise, surprise! Water is an excellent solvent and cleans remarkably well even without any detergent. The “study” had no control. That is, there was no comparison between laundering with just water and laundering with the magnetized water.

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