Are We Prepared for Green Cleaning?
A few minutes of attacking the bottom of the tub with a green cleaning product led to my contemplation of three key differences between this earth-conscious spray and the more traditional chemicals.
I found myself hunkered down, scrubbing away at my bathtub after the routine bonding experience I share with my 13-year-old dog. This bimonthly tradition is one in which I force my beagle, Leo, into the bathtub for a thorough washing. The typical process starts with me hoisting Leo from one of his many napping spots around the apartment and sticking him in the bathtub so I can repeatedly shampoo the hound stink from his coat. He, in turn, stares at me blankly, deciding the best way to exact his revenge. After the final rinsing, the canine senior citizen transforms into a rampant, soaking wet beagle missile that uses any armchair, bedspread or open square of carpet to soak up extra dog water. Needless to say, this process culminates with me drying and cleaning anything in Leo’s sopping wake. Ultimately, the bathtub requires the most attention with a scouring brush and a bottle of spray cleaner following a beagle bath. Coming from Seattle, I have been trained to have a few eco-friendly products around the house, and the cleaning process results in unearthing a green cleaner or two. The particular bottle I have to help cleanse the bathroom is one from a green line of the popular Scrubbing Bubbles brand called Nature’s Source Natural Bathroom Cleaner. A few minutes of attacking the bottom of the tub with this product led to my contemplation of three key differences between this earth-conscious spray and the more traditional chemicals. First, as to be expected, there is a price discrepancy between regular cleaning supplies and their green counterparts. The usual cost difference ranges from 20 cents to upwards of a couple dollars. Companies that produce such “natural” substances bank on the fact that a boost to the social conscious will override a hit to the pocketbook. After being processed by the cashier, one usually forgets the painful twinge brought about by comparing price tags. Second — and perhaps this only applies to cleaning products — there is a highly noticeable difference in smell between traditional cleaners and their green alternatives. Growing up in a time when chlorine, bleaches and powerful chemicals were frequently used to nuke a bathtub or toilet, an encounter with a product that exhibits a remarkably less powerful scent struck me as peculiar. Sure the “clean” smell was present with its lemony fragrance, but it was a far cry from the stuff that constricts your lungs and make your eyes water after soaking a poorly ventilated bathroom in it. Any college kid who has prepared to have a parent or landlord come over will appreciate this fact. Lastly, there is the question of a green cleaner’s effectiveness. To me, scrubbing a bathtub always results in little more than sweating, panting and the need for a beer afterward, regardless of which product I utilize. But, to the more discerning folk, there appears to be a noticeable difference. “It’s weaker,” explained my girlfriend. With her amazing attention to detail and critical mind, she commented that the potent traditional cleaners can be splashed on and later rinsed off, whereas this new age, environmentally conscious stuff requires a more pronounced effort of scrubbing. In short, there will always be positives and negatives to any given product; it just depends on who you are and what you feel is the most important factor (cost, eco-friendliness, likelihood of inhaling dizzying fumes, etc.) that should dictate which product you purchase. Companies are starting to offer both traditional and green options in almost anything, and while the green options do promote healthier living and a better environment, there will be inherent differences we all must expect.