Fresh from napping through a four hour train ride and taking a 20 minute walk through a torrential downpour in 85 degree heat, I arrived at my meeting wearing a rumpled sportcoat that looked and smelled of every trial and travail I'd just put it through.
Luckily, I was meeting with executives from Procter & Gamble, who were going to show me the Swash clothing care system. The company designed it in partnership with Whirlpool, and it promises to make once-worn clothes wrinkle-free, smell-free, and ready-to-wear in just ten minutes.
I was ready to put it to the test.
I tried to convince the nice folks that had invited me to see the Swash in New York that I'd purposefully worn a rumpled, old sportcoat to give the product a real challenge. I don't think I fooled any of them for a second, but they played along. Needless to say, they all looked like they'd been professionally styled from head to toe.
The stakes were high: If the Swash failed, I'd have to sit through a presentation wearing an outfit I'd apparently discovered in Penn Station's lost and found. I suddenly felt like I'd skipped some key step on the way to becoming a functional adult. What kind of a guy naps on the train while dressed for an important meeting? My mother raised me better than that!
With some trepidation, I hung my sportcoat in the Swash, attached some clips to keep the fabric taut, and inserted a cleaning pod marked "Unwind" into an indentation on the top of the door. I closed the Swash, then pressed a button to activate the device for ten minutes. (P&G reps were quick to tell me that "Swash" was not to be used as a verb.)
There was a quiet whirr for about five seconds as the Swash sprayed the contents of the pod—wetting agent, water, and pH neutralizer—on my sportcoat. It then heated up to 190ºF, and a countdown timer showed how much longer I'd have to wait.
When the process was finished, my coat was, indeed, wearable once more. Some of the tougher wrinkles remained, but they'd been smoothed out. Any smells were gone, and the rumpled sleeves looked fresh. Consider me impressed, no pun intended.
Later, I got to clean a shirt that had been stored in a smoke chamber. It stunk like a 1980s nightclub, but after 10 minutes the Swash it was fresh enough to wear to work.
Swash is expected to retail for $500, so it's meant as a luxury good. It's clearly targeted at those folks who frequently wear clothes that require extra care. If you travel for work and always have to look good, or if you have an affinity for bedazzled sweaters, it'll do the trick.
As for me, I felt more confident riding the train back to Boston. Everyone else wore suits and dresses that bore the brunt of a busy day, but my old sportcoat was as good as new.