From Season 5: Family Favorites
Food-stained clothing is a sad reality in our test kitchen. We decided to get serious about laundry, so we purchased several stain removers from local supermarkets and put them to the test.
These products fell into four categories:
Pretreaters are applied to the stained garment, which is then thrown into the wash.
Laundry additives go right into the machine with the wash to boost the stain-removing power of the detergent used.
Spot removers are applied to clothes, which are then rubbed to remove stains and washed.
Oxygen-based powders are diluted with water to make a soaking solution for garments. Once the stains are gone, the clothes can be washed.
For our tests, we took plain 100 percent cotton T-shirts and dirtied them with the foods most infamous for leaving unrelenting stains: pureed blueberries, pureed beets, black coffee, red wine, ketchup and yellow mustard (to simulate a hot dog mishap), melted bittersweet chocolate, and chili (which included grease stains). Each cleaning product was applied according to the manufacturer's instructions for maximum stain removal.
All of the products removed the coffee, wine, ketchup, and beet stains, but only the spot removers and oxygen-based powders managed to completely remove the tougher stains left by chili, blueberries, chocolate, and mustard. T-shirts tested with the pretreaters and laundry additives came out of the wash with several distinct, if muted, stains.
Spot removers call for brushing or blotting the stain until it is gone, and though this method is the most labor-intensive (in some cases up to seven applications were necessary), even the toughest stains were gone before the garment went into the washing machine. If time is a luxury you can afford, and scrubbing and blotting are not your thing, then the oxygen-based powders are the way to go. T-shirts treated with these cleaners — used as concentrated soaking solutions, per the manufacturers' instructions — needed only a light rubbing to remove the toughest stains. Although the T-shirts did need to soak for up to three hours, the labor was mostly hands-off (sounds good to us).
Our conclusion: If you can't part with that favorite blouse or pair of pants and you don't mind an investment of time but little elbow grease, use an oxygen-based powder.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.