Today’s Border Mail Column

Fancy Hand Washes Just Can’t Compete with Humble Soap

There’s an expression that cleanliness is next to Godliness, but if the increasing rate of the release of substances to cleanse, whiten and disinfect is any indication, Heaven is going to get very crowded and the angels, whose wings may not be ‘whiter than white’, may need to find an alternative address.

I agree that a certain level of hygiene is necessary. At any time, following guidelines on hand washing and other practices to decrease the chances of the spread of nasty bugs makes sense, but seriously, do we really need to have a no touch hand wash dispenser in our homes so that we don’t spread germs to each other?

These are currently being pushed by the companies which own the most popular personal and home care brands and you can also buy other models and fill them with the wash of your preference,  including generic, because apparently it’s not so much about the product but the no touch element.

According to the promotion of these products on one company website, we need to be saved from an up close and personal experience with the germs in our own homes:

 We all head straight to the sink to wash our hands after changing a nappy, working in the garden, handling raw chicken or after using the bathroom. The fact is though, that when we reach for the liquid soap, we may be leaving those very germs behind on the pump.”

And a further argument for using the no touch system:

“….Parents often find getting kids to wash their hands to be a difficult task, but the way the no-touch system ‘magically’ dispenses the liquid soap makes hand washing fun.”

Since when did the simple act of washing hands need to be linked to wands, cloaks and rabbits being pulled from hats?

Furthermore for parents concerned that their children are spending too little time washing their hands there’s now an antibacterial wash that kills the germs faster.

If little Johnnie can’t wash his hands for more than a few seconds this wash, the fastest wash in town, can out clean the nasties he might have picked up playing out in the yard in the fresh air.

But there is a more serious element to consider in all of this: the impact of liquid washes on the environment.

Hand washes, touch or no touch dispenser, shower gels and other non soap cleansers all come in plastic packaging which has to be disposed of; however, it’s not just the plastic which is an issue, with studies showing there are elements in body wash which may take 800 years to disappear from our water systems. Also they can wash away natural oils in our skin.

So why have we moved away from using soap which creates so little waste or none at all if we use a  soap saver/swisher to use every little scrap as our thrifty grandmothers did?

Soap is being given a bad name.

In a recent print ad comparing the day in the life of a bar of soap with that of shower gel the message was that once you knew where that cake of soap had been you’d be an instant convert to the liquid version.

Again we’re being persuaded that while we may love our families, there are some things we should keep to ourselves.

They may be right, but soap could always have its place in the family home to deal with the age old condition of foul mouth.

“I’ll wash your mouth out with lavender scented hand wash” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

 Click for more columns here.



About Robyne Young

Writer, creative writing teacher, editor, columnist. Literary lover. Short story collections, The Only Constant and The Basket and the Briefcase available via website.
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