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Top 10 pointless products to avoid

Cleaning products

From ‘energy savers’ that increased energy usage to a Colour Catcher that turned whites pink, we’ve found plenty of pointless products. Are any lurking at the back of your cupboard?

The popularity of Lakeland demonstrates our national love of plastic paraphernalia for the kitchen. But at least when you’re buying an avocado slicer, you know perfectly well you don’t really need it.

I’ve taken the decision many times to buy stuff which turns out to do nothing but fill space at the back of my kitchen cupboards. That’s why I’ve got five different-shaped graters, and a squeezy clip for a tube of tomato paste that saves you from having to roll it up to get out the last bits.

Don’t waste your money

But there are some products out there that look like they do quite an important job, when, according to our tests, in fact, they’re not worth the money. It could be that they just didn’t work, or that something else you probably own already does the job better.

We’ve been scrutinising, investigating and testing those we thought might fall into this category, and today we’ve published our list of 10 products you don’t need.

And the prizes go to…

First there are smoothie makers. These are more hassle than they’re worth because the tap is incredibly hard to clean – and why would you even get one when a good jug blender will do the job just as well? Not to mention the fact that high-end ones will set you back £80.

Then there’s Colour Catcher, which claims to prevent colours running in your wash and turning everything pink. Except it didn’t when we tried it. Whites went pink in our tests, and by the time you’ve followed all the small print caveats on the box about taking care with mixing laundry, you wouldn’t need it anyway. And you’d be paying £19 a year for the privilege of adding it to your wash.

Moving swiftly on, there’s the fabulous ‘gas energy saver’ – a metal disk that sits on your hob and claims to save energy by making gas burn more efficiently. I think this is my favourite useless gadget because it actually did the opposite of what it’s designed for. In our tests we found it took longer to boil a pan of water with it than without it. So that’s £8 well spent.

Want to know what else reached our useless top ten? We’ve put together a rogues’ gallery of 10 products you don’t need where you can see them all in full glory. And if you’ve bought any pointless products and later regretted it, here’s your chance to reveal all.


I love my eco friendly wash balls! They live in the washing machine, so you just need to chuck your clothes in on top of them – so much easier than fiddling with measuring, and much less wasteful than individually packaged tablets or gel blobs!

Sure, there have been a couple of occasions in the last year when something is totally filthy and I’ve turned to a traditional powder – but only because that way you can use a larger amount than you normally would, where with the eco-balls you have a set quantity. For a normal wash the eco-balls wash the clothes great, and leave them smelling much less detergenty than powder or liquid. And that means they’re saving me absolutely masses vs. constantly replacing powder or liquid! …and MUCH better for the environment (at the very least in terms of packaging alone) than the alternative.

…the only problem is, when you wash your duvet cover somehow they ALWAYS manage to find their way right to the bottom and have to be fished out!


Perhaps as Which Jan 2009 says it makes no difference whether you wash with water alone or with the balls. In my experience it barely removes even the mildest stains.

Andy Standing says:
29 July 2010

Talking of pointless products, there are two dishwasher products that seem to me to be a complete con. One is Finish dishwasher cleaner and the other is Finish dishwasher air freshener. The former claims to clean your dishwasher and remove limescale. Well, as dishwashers all have their own water softeners incorporated, there is no limescale, so no need for that then. Secondly if your dishwasher smells, because it is full of dirty dishes, do you put an air freshener in it, or do you perhaps press the ‘wash’ button?? Or am I missing something?

sandra jennings says:
2 August 2010

I agree my dishwasher never smells as I wipe off any really messy items before putting in dishwasher and this avoids having to clean out waste trap too. I do use finish other products as I find they are very good

Dave P says:
29 July 2010

I have a small photo printer, (I did get it at half price with an extra ink cartridge thrown in). I found it great to take to rural India, to be able to take and print a photo out in the sticks was really appriciated by the locals. The alturnative would be two trips into town and a weeks wait.
So it works if you need portability, and do not have a computer.


I’ve found that whenever a new gadget comes along, it’s worth re-examining old gadgets for functions you may have overlooked. When my kids wanted a smoothie maker, they discovered the blender attachment for my Kenwood, and developed a taste for home made cakes.

We now never buy cakes and biscuits, we make them!



I read the article, went out and stopped the tumble dryer, took out the loud and annoying tumble dryer balls and threw one to the dog and put the other in the bin.

Ahh silence at last – I hated the things, thanks for proving they were a waste of money – they noise they make banging around in the drum too!

Gerard Phelan says:
2 August 2010

I have used colour catcher papers for years but despite segregating my washing as best I can, they still go dark with loose dye. I have many dark towels which shed dye even after 20+ washes and I cannot wash each towel separately, so the bright red, orange and dark brown go in together to make a load. My question is what would have happened to that dye if the catcher paper had not been there? Their cost seems a small price to pay to ensure my towels do not merge into a shared muddy hue.

Alison null Johnston says:
4 August 2010

1. never buy a pasta maker. You can buy fresh pasta in most supermarkets these days. Although home made is delicious it needs 2 people to make it -believe me it does! – and will entail your kitchen being full of drying pasta hanging on all manner of sticks and rods that you have to improvise

2.tofu maker. Takes all day to make 200grams of tofu! get real……

3. bread making machine. I know many people who have them and never use them. I know 2 people who use them daily and neither of them go out to work…..