Tide Washing Machine Cleaner Review

You mean you have to wash your washing machine?!  Apparently with HE washing machines, you do.  Or at least that’s what Tide wants you to think as you put another $18 worth of Tide Washing Machine cleaner into your cart.  But does it work?  Read on for my Tide Washing Machine Cleaner review.

Our Stinky Washing Machine

We have a top-loading Maytag Bravos HE washing machine (bought new in ‘09).  We do about 5 loads a week in it, all in the same day, and then we don’t use it again for 6 days.  Over the last year it developed a stink that got progressively worse – like, to the point where I could smell it outside the laundry closet. Gross.

I poked around the machine’s nooks and crannies hoping to at least get a handful of mold to explain the problem, but no source was found. When I realized I was washing my pillowcases in a giant metal armpit, it was time for the funk to go.

When I saw Tide Washing Machine Cleaner I figured I’d give it a try and report back.

Tide Washing Machine Cleaner review Tide on shelves at Target

How to Use Tide Washing Machine Cleaner

Tide Washing Machine Cleaner is like a nuclear scrub for your tub.

Open the packet, dump it into your tub, and run a cycle using hot water.  Your machine proceeds to bathe itself.


These are pricey at $8.39 for a box of 3 packets, which works out to about $3 after taxes for a single cleaning. At this price, it’s no wonder Tide tells you to use it monthly (uh thanks, but no).  I’ll wait until it starts to stink again before using another packet.


The Tide bombing was a complete success.  At first, I feared the Tide cleaner just masked the smell with its abundant THIS IS WHAT CLEAN SMELLS LIKE!!!! odor, but’s been 3 weeks and 15+ loads since the cleansing and the stench has stayed gone. The product’s own smell was still going strong a week later, but disappeared as soon as we did a load of laundry and now the machine just smells like nothing.  (Which is great – the best smell is NO SMELL!)

It seems that our situation was one that was treatable by the Tide product, so hooray!

So What Causes an HE Washing Machine to stink, anyway?

In researching our stinky washer problem, I learned that washing machine stink is often from the leftover detergent being allowed to get mildewy.  (There are other sources, so if a Tide bombing doesn’t work for you, consider further investigation).

But since we live in the PNW where anything that sits idle for more than a few hours starts to accumulate mildew, it seemed likely that we were dealing with a run of the mill mildew accumulation.

Two other things I learned:

1) Closing the lid exacerbates washing machine stinkiness (we leave it open now)

2) Bleach apparently does the same thing for a lot cheaper

We don’t keep bleach around but I imagine I could run a lot of bleach loads before I approached the cost of these Tide packets, so once I use up all my packets I’ll try the bleach technique and report back.  I also read that these packets seriously gum up front loaders, so please keep that in mind as you decide if Tide Washing Machine Cleaner is right for your smelly machine!

Hesitation Marks: The Upward Spiral! :)

We’re taking a break from home improvement in honor of the recent holy event: Nine Inch Nails has released a new album.

I was 14 when Nine Inch Nails first graced my eardrums.  Since I’m now almost 30, this means I’ve been a Nine Inch Nails fan for over half my life.  I have all the albums, saw Trent perform live from the sweaty floor of the various venues I saw him at (St. Louis LIGHTS IN THE SKY OMG), and I own enough t-shirts to dress as a NIN fan for several weeks without repeating anything.

Trent Reznor could shit in a box and I would buy it. Hard. TWICE.

So of COURSE I WAS THRILLED when Trent came out of nowhere this year to announce a new album AND a new tour, five years after announcing NIN would “Go away for a little while”.  Five years is the usual amount of time between Nine Inch Nails albums, so Hesitation Marks is right on schedule!


Mah big, flat baby. Now all I need is a record player.

First Impressions

My first trip through Hesitation Marks was like coming home but all the furniture’s been rearranged or replaced.  It’s a weird mix of familiar and new, and everything I heard drew an instant comparison to older songs.  All new albums are born into the shadow of their predecessors, after all.

But, as usual, once I got comfy in the album and began to view it as its own work independent of previous NIN, I started to really enjoy it.  No, there’s no “Reptile” or “Last” in here.  It’s definitely “new NIN”, “old NIN’ being everything made before and including 1999’s The Fragile.

But LevelUpHouse is about celebrating the good stuff, so I don’t want to dwell on what’s not here or what Trent is or isn’t doing artistically.  (YouTube commentators have that well handled anyway.)  Let’s talk about what’s great in Hesitation Marks!


“Eater of Dreams” I love you, please show up in concert and, someone, please remix it to be at least four times longer. :)

“Copy of A”, “Find My Way”, and “Satellite” were my insta-favorites.  Modern NIN through and through, these songs fit right in with just about everything Trent’s made since The Fragile.  “Came Back Haunted” didn’t blow me away as a single, but I’m liking it more after repeated listens.

“All Time Low” was weird and uncomfortable when I first heard it.  And then suddenly… I LOVED IT.  Listen to it outside during sunset, or on an airplane while gazing out a window.  It’ll blow your mind.

“Everything” made the fanbase explode when it was released in advance of the album, but it grew on me (in a good way).  Play it LOUD, the chorus is FANTASTIC.  Almost feels like old NIN when the chorus is going.

“Various Methods of Escape” feels like a hybrid of The Fragile (right) and Year Zero, so naturally it’s a winner with me.

“Running” is one of my least favorites. It gets repetitive by its mid-point, but Jim and I enjoy the multiple layers of singing Trents.  Is he running out of Trents for his chorus? :D

“I Would For You”, “In Two”, “While I’m Still Here” sort of blend together for me in Trent’s signature “end of album slowdown”, all good and listenable but sort of lacking the distinct character of the earlier songs.  “In Two” is probably my favorite of the end of album group.

Overall, in a stack rank of Nine Inch Nails albums I’d put Hesitation Marks above The Slip and With Teeth.  It’s about on par with Year Zero, so if you enjoyed Year Zero you should give Hesitation Marks a listen.  If you’re looking for another Broken or The Downward Spiral, sorry, this isn’t it.  (If you have found another Broken or The Downward Spiral, tell me what band/album in the comments. :D)

Lyrical Analysis

But there’s one more thing.  This album, it’s so… not as melancholy as usual!

I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard the word “fun” in a Nine Inch Nails song before.  (Oops, nevermind, he says it in “Big Man With a Gun”.  How could I forget one of my favorite NIN songs?!)  

While I love “Everything”, this mid-album mashup of Jimmy Eat World and Metro Station is definitely new territory. I like it, and I wonder (hope!) it’s a reflection of Trent genuinely enjoying his new Real Life role as husband and father.

I like charts n stuff, so to finish off this new album celebration I picked a sampling of Trent-ish words and counted their occurrences in various albums.  These charts and “analysis” are completely subjective labor of love, just the idle musings of one long-time fan.

Belief/Trust words

God, lies, promises – I always liked the undertones of betrayal and broken promises in Trent’s early works.  Trent wrote the darkest, saddest songs I have in my collection.  When I feel like shit, the only artist who goes dark enough to truly wallow in it with me is Nine Inch Nails.

Lies/Lying is one of my favorite NIN motifs.  References to lies peaked with The Downward Spiral, fell for nearly a decade and then started making a comeback in Hesitation Marks.

God had a strong showing in NIN’s first major album release then cratered circa With Teeth, only to return in the very next release, Year Zero.  But God poofed again in Hesitation Marks with just 1 mention.

God is dead, indeed, but does anyone care? :D


Introspective words

References to “me” peaked during The Downward Spiral before crashing down during the With Teeth and Year Zero eras, but self-referencing was on the up again in Hesitation Marks.  “Inside” correlates somewhat with uses of “I’m / “I am”.

Side note: I’ve always suspected, but never confirmed, that Trent begins more songs with “I” than any other word.

This data suggests that The Downward Spiral, With Teeth, and Hesitation Marks are more personal, or at least use the first person perspective more liberally, in comparison to other Nine Inch Nails works.


Aggressive words

No surprises here, aggression peaked in The Downward Spiral and quickly petered out.  I consider With Teeth an aggressive-sounding album, but the aggression is accomplished more through sound and lyrical imagery than straight-up word choice.


Sidenote: Haha, I never before noticed the word “hate” isn’t used in any of Pretty Hate Machine’s songs.  Come to think of it, “pretty” and “machine” aren’t, either.


Happy/Loving/Kind words

While Hesitation Marks sure sounds happier than previous works, it’s not exactly fun in the sun.  Hope bottoms out and all the love in the world went to With Teeth.




Anyway – THANK YOU, TRENT :)

Disneyland 2013 Quotes



Here’s some of the ridiculous stuff we said along the way. 

“That was ANOTHER Mater.” – Jim discovering a bit of Disney magic

“I FEEL FINE!!!!!!!!” – Jim’s pure delight after riding the Tower with no ill effects

“Today was great because I saw Genie twerking Jafar” – Jim after the Aladdin stage show

“Are you ready? ARE YOU READY??” – Me on the very first Splash Mountain hill climb
“Yes.” – Jim, bracing for a big drop

“WHAT!” – Jim, realizing the first climb is a fake-out and there is no drop there

“I like eating park food.  My parents wouldn’t let us, it was just ‘Here’s a peanut butter jelly sandwich that’s been in my purse all day'”.  – Jim, on the luxuries of eating in the park

“I’m gonna need a breakfast soon.” – Me
“I’m sure there’s an ice cream place open somewhere” – Jim

“No one told me we were doing Flash Mountain!!” – Me, upon realizing I was the only person in the boat who didn’t pull their shirt up or off

“HOW DO YOU DO?! FINE, HOW ARE YOU?”  – Us singing along on Splash Mountain, and on the walk back to our hotel, and in our hotel, and at the airport, and at home…

Shaw Brazilian Vue Review – 1 Year Later

Sixteen months ago we had Shaw Brazilian Vue laminate flooring professionally installed in our home.  It replaced a messy patchwork of old vinyl and hardwood floors in our downstairs.

Our installation area included our kitchen, dining room, front entrance, front hallway, and downstairs half bath.  All told, we covered about 478 square feet with Brazilian Vue at a cost of $4,124 for materials and installation (before tax – the final price was $4,515).

Brazilian Vue Review – The Short Version

I’m not thrilled with the floor and I would not buy Shaw’s Brazilian Vue again.  Shaw’s Brazilian Vue attracted us with its low price and now we’re paying for it in other ways.

  • It’s been scratched despite light usage
  • We have a poorly installed floor-board in a high traffic area that shifts when walked on
  • Every footprint shows. EVERY FOOTPRINT. EVER.

Choosing a Floor

brazilian vue sample comparisonAfter a month of show-room stalking, taking home samples, reading online reviews, looking at them at different times of day, photographing samples and asking our parents for their opinion, we settled on Shaw Brazilian Vue in Rain Forest.

I wanted dark floors. (I now recognize what a sin that was.) Dark wood floors are so beautiful in magazines and homeowner blogs, but they are high maintenance. I was imagining rich chocolatey floors against striking white trim and pale mint green walls.  Like in a magazine! (Hahaha)

What I actually have is a dust-covered footprint mosaic that stays that way despite weekly cleaning, a shifting board with a large crumb-filled seam, and a few scratches despite light usage.

So let’s talk about Shaw Brazilian Vue itself.

brazilian vue review rain forest sample


I’m disappointed by Brazilian Vue’s durability. After sixteen months there are two noticeable scratches (that I’m aware of) and some more subtle wear throughout.

Two scratches may not seem like a big deal but let me tell you how little we have used this floor.

  • We have no pets or children.

  • We both work full time, and when we are home, we’re typically upstairs at our computers.

  • We take our shoes off as soon as we come inside.

  • Our shoes are soft-soled sneakers, and I put on high heels maybe once a year and I don’t walk around the house in them.  95% of the traffic on this floor is either barefoot or in socks.

  • We installed the floor after finishing the rest of our downstairs projects, specifically to limit how much activity the floors would be exposed to.

  • I padded the feet of our dining table and chairs as soon as the floor was installed.

I cannot imagine what a wreck the floor would be if we actually, you know, used it the way a lot of people use their floors.

We were super careful, so I’m sad that we managed to scratch it in the first year of its life. I would not recommend installing this floor to a home with children, clawed pets, or anyone using feet or wheels to get around.

Dirt Visibility

My floor always looks dirty (which is frustrating for a clean freak like me).  Dirt visibility is a function of two factors:

  1. the floor’s dark color

  2. the floor’s smooth surface texture

brazilian vue review footprint smudges everywhereI don’t know if this is because it’s a dark floor, or because it’s a laminate, or if it’s because of something Shaw coats its floors with, but it’s ugly and I’ve never had this problem with the half-dozen other laminate floors I’ve lived over so I’m blaming it on the Brazilian Vue itself.

Brazilian Vue’s dark color and smooth texture looked nice in the showroom and as a sample in the corner of our kitchen, but it does not look nice in our dining room covered with crumbs and footprints.

We sweep a couple times a week but it’s not enough to keep the floors looking nice because the real villains here are the footprints.

Every barefoot step leaves smudges on the floor, and these accumulate until the floor is basically a dappled mosaic of footprints. The footprints don’t wipe off with a quick swiff of the Swiffer, either. I have to gently scrub the floor with a wet rag (and then they come right back).


As I’ve said above, Brazilian Vue is sleek and smooth. Brazilian Vue was one of the only laminate floors we found that didn’t have a crazy fake-looking texture.  Most competitors had a noisy, jagged-line surface texture that looked fake and often went against the grain of the wood image printed onto the laminate.

The lack of this textural “fake grain” was our main reason for choosing Brazilian Vue, but the lack of any grain at all creates a fake look of its own.  (We chose the lesser of two evils.)  The subtleties of real wood are nonexistent, and sometimes I think this floor looks just a bit too “perfect”, a little too machine-made.


This ugly gap is another complaint I have about my Shaw floors.  I think the pale brown is the “tongue” that normally connects the boards (rather than the underlayment, which is a white padding material).

This is probably a defect of the installation that could have happened with any brand of laminate, but it’s eye-catchingly ugly, it’s located in the center of a high traffic doorway (kitchen to dining room), and it’s hard not to feel disappointed about my choice of product every time I extract another meal’s worth of crumbs from this crack.  It also shifts noticeably when stepped on.  Hooray.

brazilian vue review gap in floor board


The rest of the seams are tighter and don’t attract so much dirt, but they all have this weird fake looking edge (you can see it in the above photo).


The “feel” of the floor is somewhat difficult to describe, but the Brazilian Vue does feel nice to walk on.

It’s got enough cushioning – not as much as our apartment or previous home’s laminate had, but enough.  Aside from our noticeably shifting board in the kitchen/dining room doorway, the floor’s pops and shifts are within what I would consider the normal range.

Brazilian Vue was the thickest laminate floor we considered.  Here’s a photo I took in a floor vent to show you just how thick this floor is.


The thin white layer under the Brazilian Vue itself is the underlayment.  The Brazilian Vue probably doesn’t feel as padded to us since it’s so thick and far away from its underlayment (our first home’s laminate felt very padded, and that floor was much thinner).


brazilian vue review clashes with dining tableBe careful about selecting a floor color.  We thought we were careful: we obsessed for a month over samples and looked at them constantly, and we still managed to screw it up.

Brazilian Vue “Rain Forest” is way redder than we expected, even though we took home a fairly large sample (one of those jumbo ones, it was probably 16” square) and looked at it for days before making a purchase.

The red clashes with our dining table, which now looks orange next to the red floor. It never looked orange to us until this floor was under it, and we didn’t spot this in our sample comparisons.

There’s no room in our budget for replacing our dining table just because it clashes with the floor, so we will just deal with it.

Brazilian Vue also has a certain “flatness” to its color that’s hard to describe. While it’s definitely dark and red-tinted, it still has a hard-to-describe quality that makes it appear shallow and more fake-looking than I expected it to.

Final Bits of Floor Buying Advice

Don’t get dark floors.  You’ll never achieve that beautiful dark floor / bright walls look.  It’s hopeless. Dark floors are all footprints and dust. Cry it all out, it’s okay…then go buy something mid-toned.


Do the demolition yourself and you can cut your install cost by half.

Just keep in mind that it is hard, time-consuming work.  Doing the demolition of the existing floors (the kitchen had five layers of vinyl and plywood) saved us almost $1000, but it was brutal labor. The old floor tear-out consumed four weeks of our free time, wrecked us physically, made the kitchen impossible to walk through, and turned our home into a construction zone for almost two months.  Oh, and the debris pile we generated was massive (the installers handled the removal). 

Still, tearing up your own floor will cut your new floor costs nearly in half so it’s hard to argue with the savings.

Save up for hardwood, if you can stomach it. I’m too cheap to spend that kind of money on a floor, which is why I bought a laminate floor.  For comparison, my Brazilian Vue was about half the cost of the cheapest hardwoods that we priced out.

If I had to do it over, I’d choose laminate again but I would select a lighter-colored design with a bit more texture to it.