Review of Tide to Go | Kids Out and About

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Review of Tide to Go


By Debra Ross, publisher,
And bona fide mom

When my friend's 5-year-old son was a baby, he would enthusiastically eat all kinds of fruit and vegetables: squash, carrots, peas, even black beans. However, when he was 4, Dario decided that this middle level of the food pyramid contains a single item: ketchup.


Given the constitution of most 5-year-old boys, you won't be surprised to hear that Dario's clothes have been more affected by this predilection than has his health. At home, stains aren't too much of a problem, because we parents can always yank off the clothing and save it by doing some immediate laundry. But eating out, of course, proves more difficult. My husband and I used to solve this dilemma for our daughters, who loathed bibs, with a "sacrificial t-shirt."

A Better Solution for Stains

But now, there's a better solution -- literally. It's called Tide to Go. Tide to Go is a small food stain removing stick that is small enough to fit unobtrusively in a purse or diaper bag, but powerful enough to remove some of childhood's toughest stains: Ketchup, chocolate, and fruit juice.

How Does it Work?

The key ingredient in Tide to Go is a color-safe bleaching agent. Bleaching agents work best on fresh food and drink stains like tea, coffee, grape juice, ketchup, etc. The process consists of a breakdown of the stain into smaller particles until they are no longer visible. Tide to Go does not work as well on certain fresh food stains including grease and mustard--Proctor & Gamble's marketing information reports that mustard is one of the toughest fresh food stains to remove--and the solution does not work on non-food stains such as blood, grass, and ink.

Does it work? Everyday science in Mom's kitchen

Tide to Go has been available since June, but I didn't come across it until last week (October 2005). My first thought was, as it always is when I see a new product that makes exciting claims, was skeptical: "Can this thing really work?" Madison, Ella, and I decided to find out.

As regular readers of this web site know, I try to incorporate education and cultural literacy into just about everything I do with my daughters, Madison (6) and Ella (4). So not only did I immediately grasp the potential for Tide to Go vis-à-vis my daughters' clothes, I also saw a science project.


So the three of us together gathered 10 common household/food liquids that have the potential to stain clothing:

  • Chocolate syrup
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Purple craft paint
  • Scope mouthwash
  • Grape Pedialyte
  • Cough medicine (cherry flavor)
  • V8 Splash (Berry Blend)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Spaghetti-O's

We put these each in a little plastic cup with a label. I gave each girl five stains, five squares of white fabric (cotton/polyester blend), and five paintbrushes. Staining fabric deliberately? You can bet they were excited! We discovered that the most vivid stains were of chocolate, ketchup, mustard, purple craft paint, and Spaghetti-O's, and the least vivid were oil, grape Pedialyte, and Scope (which you could barely see).


We blotted each stain with a paper towel to mimic what happens when a child gets a stain (we did this calmly and systematically, whereas in real life, I blurt out a startled, "Oh no!" and then leap for a napkin and rub frantically). Then out came our Tide to Go pens and the girls investigated how it worked on the various stains.

To their surprise and to my delight, Tide to Go seemed to work best and quickest on ketchup and Spaghetti-O's. Chocolate syrup also disappeared completely. I was very pleased to find it work on the cherry cough medicine, because I can't count how many times that stuff spilled on their pajamas in the middle of a feverish night. V8 Splash also disappeared, although it took a bit more rubbing. It worked on ketchup!As expected, Tide to Go worked only minimally on mustard, and it was too difficult to tell about the oil. Scope was erased completely, but I think it would have come out with just plain water anyway, and the coloring concentration is so low that it didn't really stain. Also as expected, Tide to Go only worked on purple craft paint to the same extent as water.

How about old stains?

Tide to Go is designed to work on fresh stains. However, I thought I'd test it on a dried stain that hadn't been washed yet. Ella had just brought my attention to some V8 Splash stains on her favorite blankie, and I didn't have any idea how long they'd been there. Would Tide to Go work on them?
I'm pleased to say that it did, although with considerably more elbow grease and attention than was needed for the fresh stains. (I tried taking some photos of this, but they didn't come out well enough to be illustrative.) I actually took out exactly half the stain, then squirted the other half with some Zout and ran it through the washing machine. I was fascinated to see the Zout (which I use religiously) didn't take out the other half of the stain! Then (without drying the blanket) I applied Tide to Go to the other half of the stain, and the stain disappeared! I ran it through the washer again to be sure, and Ella's blankie is now as good as new. I'm sold!

Would you pay 30 cents to save that favorite shirt?

So how much does Tide to Go cost? That's the operative question when you're deciding whether to buy a new product. Tide to Go is available in a single-pack, 3-pack and 5-pack (club stores only) with suggested retail prices of $2.99, $6.99 and $8.99 respectively. But that doesn't mean anything unless you know how many times you can use it. My pens didn't run out during our experiments, so I consulted the Proctor & Gamble marketing folks, who told me that each pen lasts between 10 and 20 stain applications. So if we take the most conservative number ($2.99 / 10), that's 30 cents or less for each stain. So if the choice is between tossing a no-longer-presentable shirt in the trash or paying 30 cents to save it on the spot, to me it's a no-brainer. A Tide to Go stick is resting comfortably at the bottom of my purse.

Where can you buy Tide to Go?

Tide to Go is available at most major grocery and drug store chains, including: Wegmans, Tops, Martins, K Mart, Target, Eckerd Drugs, and P & C Food Market.

Is it just for kids?

The packaging on Tide to Go did not make it clear, so I asked my contacts at Proctor & Gamble about whether Tide to Go works on dry-clean-only fabrics. They report this: "Tide to Go dries quickly without leaving watermarks and does not let stains set into the fabric. It is safe to use on most colorfast, machine washable and dry cleanable fabrics." So I have no more worries about my husband's silk ties!

In conclusion...

At dinner on the night we did our experiments, Madison was happily eating the Spaghetti-O's that had served as one of our test subjects, and describing to my husband the results of our tests. "So, you decided that it really works?" he asked her.

"Sure! Watch!" she replied. And before any of us could move, she took a mouthful of Spaghetti-O's, chewed, swallowed, and leaned over and planted a tomato-sauce kiss right on David's khaki pants. "See for yourself!"

I smiled, reached for my purse, and pulled out Tide to Go. However, I hoped this wouldn't become a trend.


© 2005, Debra Ross