Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner 

I kept seeing the commercials on TV for this shower-cleaning gadget that promised to transform the tile in my shower in 14 days flat. I thought, Um, have you seen my shower? We'll put that sucker to the test.

So I shelled out my $26 and bought the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner, installed it in my little tomb of doom, and sat back for the next two weeks to see the results. As instructed, I pushed the button on the contraption once a day, after the last shower of the day when the surface is still wet. I love things that beep in a countdown kind of way, so the cleaner won that early battle with me. After a time delay, the 360-degree power sprayer squirts the cleaning solution to hit all four walls and the floor of the shower.

But does it pass the test? Consider the following to determine if it would be right for you:

What's your shower feng shui?

If you already have a shower organizer hanging from your showerhead, you'll have to do some rearranging before using the cleaner. The Scrubbing Bubbles folks did consider this, and there is an optional caddy that you can hang with the cleaner. It holds a few bath products and has storage for razors and sponges. However, if space is limited in your shower, you might feel a bit

click to enlarge user_friendly_1.jpg
cramped. My shower has a hand-held showerhead, and the cleaner gets in the way of the hose, causing the showerhead to spray off to the right.

What's in your wallet?

The cleaner comes with the necessary four AA batteries and two bottles of cleaner to get you started. The batteries should last "up to four months" -- if you keep the battery compartment clean and dry, a slight difficulty considering it hangs in your shower. Since the cleaner does not work with rechargeable batteries, you'll need to purchase replacements about three times a year and a new bottle of cleaner (about $4 a pop) every 21 days.

Pros and Cons.

The shower cleaner is better than not cleaning at all. I started with a fairly clean shower. The cast-iron tub and white tile in my 1950s house is prone to mildew buildup, and, since using the cleaner, I've noticed a marked improvement here -- though around day 15, I did begin to see some mildew creep up behind a shampoo bottle in the corner of the tub. While the cleaner solution has not left a residue on the tile or tub, it has made the vinyl shower-curtain liner a little cloudy. The cleaner's instructions warn that this is likely to happen when the solution is sprayed onto dry surfaces, but the residue does wipe off with a damp cloth.

What's the bottom line?

If you're someone who demands an impeccably clean bathroom, you'll probably be frustrated by what the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner is incapable of. The reach of the sprayer is impressive, and the solution smells pretty good. If you're devoted to daily shower cleaning, the automatic cleaner is a good option, as you're just pushing a button instead of doing the spraying yourself. If you prefer managing the upkeep of the cleaner for the ease of not having to spray daily or scrub weekly, then this is also probably a good choice for you.

If you're a perfectionist, stick to the elbow grease. It's the only way you'll sleep at night. ■ -- GA

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