Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"And then a hero comes along"

A few months ago I snarked about a show Hoe schoon is jouw huis? which was about as useful as nipples on a breastplate. I didn't realize at that time that it was a Dutch spin-off of the British show How Clean is Your House? And as strange as it may seem, I've become Kim and Aggie's self-declared biggest fan. Ever. I mean, come on--cleaning uncleanable windows is infinitely more useful than making sure your electric sockets are germ-free.

I've never been a fan of harsh chemical cleaners. Not only are they terrible for you--nothing like aerosolized SDS to destroy your lungs--but it's known that phenols are toxic for cats. Much more pleasant, to me, anyway, to slice open a lemon. Vinegar is a little strong, admittedly, but it's merely unpleasant, rather than toxic. We still keep a single bottle of Uber-Strong-Like-Bull cleaner in our cupboard, for the truly irremedial spots, but overall it's amazing what vinegar and baking soda ("By our powers, combined!") will do. Therefore, any show that shows you clever new ways to use things like cornstarch and ketchup is awesome by me.

There's been a slight paradigm shift in the content and marketing of cleaning product adverts recently: Stuff-That-Puts-Sarin-Gas-To-Shame is being marketed as "something so simple even a man can think of it, and so easy he might even help you clean!" And indeed, whether it's hot 'n hunky men, goofy guys, or procrastinating dads (I cannot find that particular advertisement anywhere, sorry), men are taking a front-and-center role in cleaning. At least, as the advertisers would have you think. I wouldn't know whether to be charmed at the thoughtfulness if Karel ever bought a bottle of Toxic-Purple-Stuff, or offended on his behalf...

The simplicity of "one-bottle-everything-cleaner (while the fumes melt your face)" is, I must confess, an appealing one. And it's a whole lot less intricate than figuring out when to use a lemon, or how much salt to sprinkle on a red wine stain (note, this only works with the cheaper reds). I have to wonder, though, whether guys--who are presumably the ones buying stuff like that--actually like using them, or if they just don't know about homemade fixes. I mean, when was the last time you saw any advice on how to clean your bachelor pad in Men's Health?

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