For todayís Does It Work?, we put our testing skills to work in the home and on the road.
In our roles as the Beacon Journalís consumer and home reporters, we tried out five products that are marketed heavily for use in houses and cars.
Here are our thoughts.
Hurricane Spin Mop
Our first experiences with this product, which cost us $39.99, had us a little doubtful at the outset. We struggled to screw the handle parts together securely. We thought the mop head looked small. We suspected the whole thing was a gimmick.
We were wrong.
The Hurricane Spin Mop, it turns out, is one terrific cleaning tool.
The benefit of the mop lies in the spinning basket thatís built into the bucket. The basket is operated by a foot pedal and works a little like a salad spinner. After youíve dipped the microfiber mop head into the cleaning solution, you place it into the basket and use centrifugal force to remove as much water as you want.
Youíre left with a mop thatís fairly lightweight, yet wet enough to clean your floor without lots of sloppy drips.
We both liked the way the mop head picked up dirt rather than just pushing it around, and we found it was plenty big for the job. Mary Beth would have preferred a two-part bucket ó one part for cleaning solution and one for clear rinse water ó but that was a minor drawback.
The mop head pops off for laundering. It took a little courage to remove it the first time, because we were convinced we were breaking the mop. Once we managed to do it, though, we found the mop head was easy to put back on. We air-dried the mop head after washing it, as the instruction specified.
Replacement mop heads sell for about $10.
Betty: Snap It Up
Mary Beth: Snap It Up
Magic Mesh is a mesh curtain thatís supposed to substitute for a screen door. It is comprised of two panels with magnetic closures, allowing you to walk through the curtain without having to use your hands to open it.
The magnets close the panels behind you automatically. Anyone with kids knows how beneficial that is.
The Magic Mesh, which we bought for $14.99, attaches to a door frame with adhesive-backed hook and loop tape. Itís one-size-fits-all, which in our experience might be described as one-size-fits-poorly. It was too large for the sliding doors in Mary Bethís sunroom, so we had to adhere it to the wall above and to one side of the door ó and that just wasnít very attractive. It wouldnít fit Bettyís sliding door, either.
The mesh panels were easy to mount, but the adhesive didnít stick well to the wallís unfinished cedar paneling. Before long, the Magic Mesh was falling down, which is probably why the product comes with optional tacks.
Neither of us cared much for the appearance of the mesh, which has vertical stripes that make it look like a brothel keeperís stocking. ďIt kind of messes up your view,Ē Betty observed.
The bigger problem, though, was the gaps that remained around the edges of the mesh. The curtain might keep out larger flying insects such as mosquitoes and moths, but crawling insects would get easy access.
We thought the self-closing magnets worked well, but the fact that Mary Bethís cats quickly figured out how to slip under the mesh left us wondering whether unwanted creatures like raccoons and skunks might do the same.
Several readers told us they liked this product, but many had to jury-rig it. It might be useful in some circumstances if you can make it work for you, but donít expect success right out of the box.
Betty: It Depends
Mary Beth: Skip It
This mat is marketed as a carpet for your shower.
Why a carpet in the shower?
We have yet to figure that out.
The Aqua Rug is covered with looped plastic strands that give it a loofah-like appearance. Mary Beth found it comfortable underfoot, but Betty didnít like the feeling.
One benefit is that the mat is perforated, so water can flow through it. It can be placed directly over a shower drain, which is often the spot where you stand. Thatís especially beneficial in tiny shower stalls.
We tried the shower mat size, which costs $17.99. It was so small that it was hard not to step off it while we showered.
Mary Beth discovered the suction cups didnít adhere well to the shower floor unless she stepped on them while the mat and floor were wet. The suction cups came loose while Betty was testing the mat, causing it to move around.
While water flowed well through the mat, shampoo suds pooled on top and hair got stuck in the fibers. Yuck.
The product claims to be stain resistant, but we suspect soap residue would collect on the mat if it werenít cleaned regularly, and mold might grow on the residue. Double yuck.
On the plus side, the mat dried quickly when it was removed from the shower and hung over the side of a tub.
Betty: It Depends
Mary Beth: It Depends
HD Vision Visor
This $14.99 device clips onto a car visor and has two flip-down, clear plastic panels that you look through when youíre driving. One is tinted brown for day use, and the other yellow for night.
Theyíre supposed to cut glare from sunlight and headlights and brighten your view.
We differed in our reaction to the daytime visor. While Mary Beth initially found it disconcerting to have the panel so close to her face, she eventually got used to it and thought it cut sun glare as well as sunglasses do.
Betty, however, couldnít stand it. ďWhy would I want to drive with an extra piece of plastic between me and my windshield, and so close to me?Ē she asked.
There were other drawbacks. Sunlight can come through the space between the top of the visor and the car roof if the upper part of the windshield isnít tinted. You canít use both the HD Vision Visor and your carís regular visor at the same time. And the HD Vision Visor works only when youíre looking straight ahead. If the sun is coming in from either side of the car, thereís nothing to block it.
Mary Beth was also annoyed that the visor sometimes reflected her image, so she couldnít avoid looking at herself while she drove. Narcissists might love that, but not 50-somethings with sagging necks.
Despite our differences on the daytime panel, we were united in our dislike of the nighttime visor. Mary Beth thought it made the view a little sharper at dusk, but otherwise, we didnít find it at all helpful in the dark.
Betty: Skip It
Mary Beth: It Depends
Night View Glasses
These glasses take the idea behind the HD Vision Visorís night-view panel and put it into eyeglass frames. Theyíre yellow-tinted glasses intended to cut glare during night driving.
We bought them for $9.88.
As with the night visor, neither of us thought they made any difference, with the possible exception of dusk. Betty felt very uncomfortable wearing tinted glasses while driving at night and quickly took them off for safetyís sake.
That was probably a good move. They look pretty dorky.
Betty: Skip It
Mary Beth: Skip It
Have you seen an advertised product and wondered if it really lives up to its claims? You can suggest items to be reviewed by Mary Beth Breckenridge and Betty Lin-Fisher by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3756, or email@example.com or 330-996-3724. Follow us on Twitter @MBBreckABJ and @blinfisherABJ, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MBBreckABJ and www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ.