8 Nov 2009

Domesticity without the Nasties (Part 1)

Advertising has the power to create need and influence consumer decision. Household product advertising, in particular, will never fall short of a miracle, featuring a formula that has passed the test of time (decades of it, to be precise!): problem vs. solution (evil vs. good), transposed into a scarily dirty household situation quickly remedied by a miracle cure resulting in gleaming surfaces and a happy and grateful housewife. A few simple yet powerful words (clean, fresh, brilliant, dazzling, sparkling, amazing, fantastic, quick, easy, trust, love) convey a message of hope and reassurance against a background of promises.

It is far too tempting to fall under the spell of advertising and purchase all the products available on the market: a gel to remove stubborn stains, a cleaner specifically designed for mouldy grout, another for the kitchen oven, an air purifier, a stain-removal spray, a loo disinfectant… It is easy to get carried away with problem-specific products, and soon enough turn the shelves of one’s utility room into a personal hardware shop… However there is no mention of the chemical ingredients that help achieve those results. Because, of course, in case we had forgotten, those kinds of miracles are far from being holy manifestations!

Yet the chance (the irony!) is you will end up using the same 3 or 4 core products (your tried, trusted and tested ones!), actually a bit like your capsule clothing wardrobe (those favourite garments: that comfy jumper, that beloved dress, that no-fuss jacket…).

I am not ashamed to admit that in the past I have fallen for some of those ‘high-tech’ household products, TV-advertised or not, succumbed to their convincing spiel and before-and-after photos, but never actually used them once purchased... In parallel to this, I have to admit that I have never been a fan of ‘hardcore’ cleaners that deliver the clean at a hefty cost to the environment and your health! In my quest for less chemicals, I have used alternative cleaning agents and methods. First though I will reveal my core (chemical) products. Who said I was perfect?

Over the years I have experienced with a variety of washing-up liquid brands, but my one favourite remains Ecover. Its ecological stance over the minimal impact of its chemical ingredients on aquatic life has probably played a major role in my mind, while the power of natural ingredients (ex: chamomile) has been harnessed to conjure up a ‘chemistry’ with the chemicals. Furthermore the washing-up liquid is not harsh on your hands, with no unnecessary extra foaming, colourings, or man-made aromas. Also where facilities exist, bottles may be refilled, minimising waste by allowing packaging to be re-used.

I use a general household cleaner whose versatile applications (in diluted form) cover a variety of surfaces and materials, indoor and outdoor, from kitchen to bathroom, from laminate flooring to ceramic tiles via the painted staircase, enamelled cooker top, acrylic sink, ceramic handbasin, PVC window frames and glass, windowsills, bins, iron gates etc. (to be continued)

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