It was a typical late afternoon: I was bringing Sasha home, and Sasha was resisting being brought home. The subway was crowded, and the air inside was stifling. I was dressed for the outdoor chill, but now, as I wrangled Sasha off the F-train floor, I was beginning to sweat. A lot.
By the time I got home, I had that thin, disgusting layer of perspiration coating my upper body. Not normally a problem—who but my wife and daughter would be smelling me that evening?
Well, this wasn’t a totally typical day. I had somewhere to be. Soon Jean would be coming home, and I’d be going out, and I definitely didn’t want to stink. But—no time for a shower! So, I whipped out a QwikShower Wipe™, which is basically a large moist towelette marketed to teens for use after gym class. (The company that makes them sent me a few for review. This is that review.) I wiped myself down, got dressed, and when I finally went out that night, none of my friends told me I stank. Maybe these wipes (tag line: Stop the Stink!) had worked! Or maybe my friends were just too polite.
Look, these things aren’t exactly easy to test, since I don’t have easy access to teenagers in gym class. (Particularly not since that unfortunate “incident” in Fort Lauderdale.) Also: These really are just big moist towelettes, with a not-unpleasant scent. What can we say about them?
Desperate for insight and lacking access to the damp, sweaty body of an actual teen, I turned to my officemate, Edith Zimmerman, editor of The Hairpin, who had recently experimented with a series of natural deodorants. (“Winners were determined not by actually winning but by being the side that smelled less terrible at the end of the day — I smelled bad 100% of the time.”) I handed her a QwikShower Wipe™ and eventually got this repsonse back:
OK, I’ve officially tried them, and they’re pretty good! Not amazing, but definitely better than nothing!!! They don’t leave a weird clinical/antiseptic afterscent either, which is nice. Just sort of a natural slight-to-significant improvement. But definitely not as strong as an actual shower.
“Definitely better than nothing!!!” A ringing endorsement, eh? Well, I figured I had to put them through a truly rigorous test. Could they handle the odor I produce after intensive exercise? (It’s reminiscent of an elderly person who hasn’t bathed in weeks.) If so, then surely QwikShower Wipes could cleanse the gently perspiring body of a nubile teen, fresh from a light fourth-period workout, her cheeks red with exertion…
Anyway, after many delays (the weather was terrible), I went for a nice long run in the desert of Palm Springs, California. Afterward, I wiped myself down with a Wipe and presented myself to Jean for inspection. She balked at sniffing my armpits, but admitted that I no longer stank. In fact, she said, “You smell really good.”
I may have smelled okay, but I felt disgusting. The thin layer of cleanser coated my still sweaty, dirty body like a used condom, and I rushed to the shower to get it all off me.
The verdict: If your teenage child perspires but mildly, these Wipes will probably work pretty well. Better than any other moist towelette? No idea. But if your kid sweats like me, a nearly middle-aged Semitic gentleman, then you’re better off investing in a CDC-level decontamination facility.