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Flash... ultimate?

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 19:31 UK time, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

We've all seen and heard the claims that cleaning products make but, are they always as good as they seem?

Gwyn and Laurie Spooner built their home in Aberbargoed five years ago. It's said that the heart of every home is the kitchen and that's certainly true for the Spooners.

When they had their kitchen fitted Gwyn wanted only the best appliances to complement it. Her pride and joy are her Aga and stainless steel American fridge freezer.

Understandably, Gwyn likes to keep her kitchen sparkling clean and uses an array of products.

A few months ago she found what she thought what was the perfect cleaning solution, 'Flash Ultimate Tough Cleaning' spray. On the label in bold letters it stated "Amazing tough cleaning - everywhere".

As Gwyn explains, she used the product "everywhere" in her kitchen including on the surface of her fridge freezer:

"When we put it on that day it looked OK. As it said it got rid of the grease and it cleaned it really well, but as the days progressed it came like a cloud all over it and it seems to have taken the surface off it.

"It's spoiled my kitchen rather than enhancing my kitchen; it's an eyesore."

In fact, despite the Flash Ultimate Tough Cleaning spray stating in large letters on the front that you can use it "everywhere"; the small print on the back lists a number of surfaces on which it shouldn't be used.

These include enamel, aluminium surfaces, wooden or painted surfaces, marble and electric appliances - and stainless steel, as the Spooners discovered.

If you feel a company is making misleading comments on their packaging then you should complain to Trading Standards.

We asked Dave Holland , who heads up the TS team in Cardiff what he thought of the packaging: "My thoughts on this are Flash Ultimate, tough cleaning - everywhere.

"It's only when I started to read the back that I realised it doesn't quite go everywhere and if you did use it everywhere you would get tough cleaning, and it would ruin a lot of your household products so that's clearly not acceptable.

"The law says that the manufacturers must not mislead consumers as to what they're going to buy and this is where the law perhaps lets consumers down a bit. The law says that an average consumer will take his time, read the back label, make an informed decision.

"It doesn't happen, and come on, look at the size of that print, it's incredibly small. You're not going to be able to read that in a supermarket."

So, are Flash misleading their customers?

"From my opinion that has the potential to mislead customers. Whether I'd get it through a court of law is another aspect because the court and the manufacturers would point to the second side of the label and tell you it's all there."

X-Ray contacted Proctor & Gamble, the company that makes Flash. They said that because of customer feedback they'd received about Flash Ultimate they'd already changed their packaging back in April 2008, removing the word 'everywhere' from the front of their packaging.

However, in February 2009 the older version which Gwyn bought was still on sale in some shops. So it's worth double-checking the label and the small print if you're shopping for cleaning products.

The good news for the Spooners is that Proctor & Gamble are taking away their fridge for testing and paying for a brand new model. So hopefully that one will stay nice and shiny!

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