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Wednesday
May022012

Who Gives a Shit: Do You Use Natural Cleaning Products?

It's time to do some spring cleaning, so I've been wondering: Is it really better to use natural cleaning products?  Let's think about that for a minute or two.

I started researching this blog post by opening the cabinet under my sink and looking at some of my cleaning products.  It didn't take long for me to realize that I have been completely duped by cleaning product packaging.  For example, the twee packaging of my Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Aromatherapeutic Liquid Dish Soap had me thinking that it was likely an all-natural product, probably made with 100% geranium juice.  Then I read the back of the bottle.  After water, the next two ingredients were Lauramine Oxide (which would be a hilarious name for a drag queen, btw...) and Laurel Glucoside (also a great drag queen name).  And it got less natural-sounding from there.

The next ingredients on the list were Cocamidopropyl Betaine (we'll call her "Coco" for short), and then a shit ton of chemicals that I can't pronounce. Then I got to the middle of the list and found the most non-descript ingredient, "fragrance."  That's it.  Just, "fragrance."  They didn't want to be more specific, I guess.

Contrast that with Nature's Miracle, a cleaning product that (and ask any pet owner if you don't believe me) lives up to its name.  On the not particularly engaging red-and-white label they state, in a simple declarative sentence fragment, that their product "removes all organic stains and odors including food, blood, vomit, feces, grease, dirt, grass, smoke and perspiration."  I'm pretty sure that we've used Nature's Miracle for all of that, and it's worked like a ... well ... like a natural miracle, if you must know.  So, what are the ingredients in Nature's Miracle?  Water, natural enzymes, isopropryl (rubbing) alcohol and natural citrus scent.  That's all.  It's literally nothing more than water, spit, vodka and lemon juice, and it gets vomit and blood out of your rug. That's a goddamned fucking natural miracle, indeed.  

But does it really get your shit clean?

As much as I might like the idea of washing my dishes with oh, let's-say, parsley, I question whether you can really get shit clean without harsh and abrasive chemicals. I figure, if the chemicals are toxic to humans, they're even MORE toxic to germs, am I right?  And since humans are way larger than germs, the risk to you or me is probably minimal.  I really feel like there's an added measure of security that comes from using a cleaning product that is labeled with warnings in bold, black capital letters.  If you have to warn me to immediately flush my eyes with water, or you've been thoughtful enough to include the poison control hotline number on your packaging, that doesn't scare me.  It makes me trust you.

See, I'm one of those people who can't cook chicken without scrubbing down the entire kitchen afterward with bleach wipes and then washing my hands and forearms with methylparaben-filled soap and scalding hot water. My motto is: 'it's not clean unless it's first-degree-burn-clean.'  Fuck you, salmonella!

I will, however, draw the line at anti-biotic soap. I don't mind having chemicals in my soap, but I don't want drugs in my soap.  There've been studies out that claim using anti-biotic soap actually can make you and your family sick.  They keep kids from developing a natural resistance to harmless everyday microbes, and they create new strains of disease that are resistant to antibiotics.  So, if you get a drug resistant strain of flesh-eating bacteria, and your face rots and falls off, it's probably because you've been using Softsoap.  

Of course, if you're super hard-core about using natural cleaning products, you could always just make your own.   According to the internet, it's better to wash your windows with old newspapers and vinegar, anyway. Supposedly it gets them cleaner than Windex and paper towels.  I didn't believe that was actually true, when I read that.  If newspapers make your hands dirty, how can they make your windows clean, right?  So, I asked a friend with high-functioning OCD, and she said you can actually buy blank sheets of newspaper with no ink, but that it's better to use unbleached coffee filters.  If you ask me, that sounds kind of expensive.  But the crazies swear by it.

So what's more sanitary to you?  Nature, or science?  Do you even give a shit? 

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