6

I just received some “Laundry Mashers” as a gift. They are plastic devices that purportedly contain "nano silver infused ceramic beads" and are intended to replace the use of detergent in a washing machine for 200 washes (according to the FAQ).

Question: Do I need to add detergent or softener for the Laundry Masher to work?

No. Your Laundry Masher is 100% detergent-free. The plastic core contains lightly scented, anti-bacterial Nano Silver Infused Ceramic Beads that work with the mechanical action of the Laundry Masher casing to produce a cleaner, softer load of wash.

I can’t find any independent reviews showing whether or not they’re effective. (Many of the reviews seem to be written in a style that leads me to believe they were written as promo pieces for the manufacturer.)

This Reviewopedia article talks about the science positively, but highlights that there’s not a lot of evidence available that is better than detergents.

While the science behind the HyperWash beads is legitimate, there is limited information available on whether it is more effective than conventional laundry detergent, pods, and powder.

The use of antibacterial Nano Silver Infused Ceramic Beads has been studied for years, and it has been used as a source of medication in the 19th century. Because of its antibacterial, antifungal, and microbial qualities, it can perform various tasks and be incorporated into other materials for added value.

I can find multiple legitimate sources that indicate that nano silver particles can kill bacteria, but I’m wondering if there’s any evidence that merely having nano silver beads swirling around in your washing machine would be able to:

  1. kill bacteria.
  2. clean your clothes of oil, dirt or other grime.
  3. remove odours

all of which would be required to be able to effectively replace detergent.

11
  • 1
    Welcome to Skeptics! I am having trouble finding an actual claim. When you say "do they work?" we need to find someone saying what it is they are alleged to do.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 18 at 2:29
  • 2
    I kinda hope you find something more tangible because this got me curious.
    – pipe
    Jan 18 at 2:29
  • 3
    The keyword stuffing in that quoted text is hilarious. Copy-writer: "The use of antibacterial silver has been studied for years, and it has been used as a source of medication in the 19th century." Client: "Make sure you mention 'Nano Silver Infused Ceramic Beads', not just silver." Copy-writer: Find-and-replace ... "there you go".
    – IMSoP
    Jan 18 at 9:13
  • 1
    Seems like an update of the third-world practice of washing clothes in the river by beating them against rocks. Jan 18 at 19:39
  • 3
    @Oddthinking OK, but cleaner than what? Cleaner than washing with conventional detergent? Cleaner than washing with plain water? Cleaner than not washing at all? There isn't much of a claim there if this isn't specified. Jan 19 at 20:05

1 Answer 1

12

It's a Laundry Ball. This is a very popular fake product, well-documented in the linked wikipedia article. The central question to ask for any laundry ball is, "Is this product better than plain water at cleaning my clothing in a laundry machine?" The answer is no. Different companies come up with different shapes, technologies, and pseudo-scientific explanations, but none of them actually measurably work.

The FTC intermittently attacks companies who make this sort of product, though the more careful companies usually try to keep their claims vague/implied to fend off the FTC:

Two Florida companies and three individuals who marketed and sold laundry detergent substitutes have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and unsubstantiated advertising claims for their two products -- "The Laundry Solution" and "The SuperGlobe." According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants falsely touted the products as effective substitutes for laundry detergents that not only clean laundry but do so without polluting the earth's waterways by emitting a negative charge or by means of "structured water" or "IE crystals."

2
  • 2
    One reason these products seem to work for a while is that your clothes often contain detergent residue. When you wash "without detergent" you may even get suds, and the clothes may be cleaned. The other reason is that in a lot of cases just rinsing gets your clothes quite clean anyway. Jan 20 at 16:21
  • The spousal unit got some of these. I agreed to give it a try (though my skepsis meter was showing 100%). As you say, the first few times it comes out alright because of the residual detergent. After that the things are not clean, they smell funny, and some delicate items got torn by the mechanical action. It was suggested to the spousal unit that there is a perfectly good river with stones to beat washing on in our village, but I wash my stuff in the machine with detergent.
    – RedSonja
    Jan 23 at 11:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .