Cyber Clean

Published On: Apr 27 2010 12:00:00 PM CDT
WichitaKS -

It looks like that toy gel from the past, Gak. And it's fun to play with.

But this week's Does It Work product says it's more than that. Cyber Clean says it's a way to clean hard-to-reach areas---like the spaces in your computer keyboard and your TV remote.  Just press on the "elastic gel" and it's supposed to pull away all that dirt. 

Our first tester, Tammy, tries it out on both her lamp and the remote next to her. But when she presses it on and pulls it off, she still sees dust left behind.  Cyber Clean does remove some particles, but she says she still has dust on her finger when she runs it across the areas she cleaned.

Her fiance, Jerry, tries it out on their computer keyboard. Again, the $7 gel does remove some dust, but it doesn't get rid of it all.

The company, though, has a bigger claim, too. On its website it says it will clean the "harmful stuff" you can't see on the surface.

We ask Wichita State University Microbiologist Fawn Beckman to test that. She swabs four surfaces:  a phone handset, a phone key pad, a computer keyboard and a radio in a vehicle.  Those samples are put in Petri dishes.

Next she cleans those same areas with Cyber Clean and repeats the process. The germs and bacteria are allowed to grow for 24 hours, before we see the results.

The first thing we test, the handset, actually shows more colonies of growth after we used the Cyber Clean on it. In fact, in each of the samples Fawn took, she sees just as many colonies growing after we used Cyber Clean, if not more.

Fawn says that tells her Cyber Clean didn't do a whole lot to kill germs.

We contacted the company to get it's response to our results.  Here's the e-mail they sent us from their head of legal affairs, Rolf Zurcher:

"Our chemist replied to the email from this US journalist and he got the 2 following comments:

a) Comment to the "a rag does a better job at removing the dirt and dust": one cannot clean the dirt & dust in cavities such as PC-keyboards! With a rag you can take away dirt & dust as long as it's not sticky (because of fat in the dirt) but still the rag would not absorb it into it and the dust is very likely to fly around as it's not absorbed as in CC! Also germs can stick to this dirt & dust so with a rag they will just get wiped (into other areas of the room) but definitely not killed.

b) Comment on their test: the journalist doesn't mention how long they pressed CC on the surface/germs! In our test we applied 1 & 5 minutes as these are the European test standards for such germ killing tests. If they just "rolled over" the surface for some seconds then it may be the reason why there was little to no germ-killing effect!

We are 100% confident that they would observe the same cleaning results if doing such test correctly and same as we did (after well defined standards such as EN). The proof for this is attached again as this test shows clearly the great germ killing effect of CC!

Therefore a possible explanation for this bad cleaning result from them may have been the too short residence time of CC on the germs. Additionally there's a chance that they didn't apply CC correctly and just wiped over the germ-plate but not really pressed the mass into it. Already the pressing of the mass would physically remove almost all the germs so I really think they didn't use CC correctly and also applied wrong residence time."

While the company says it tested Cyber Clean by leaving it on the surface between one and five minutes, there is nothing on the label or directions that mentions that.  Plus, it would significantly increase your cleaning time.

While Fawn found it didn't clean as well as she had hoped, she did discover one thing.

"It's a fun thing to play with!"

We bought our Cyber Clean at Walgreens.