Pine Sol without Pine
With all the gardening and soil hauling that I’ve been doing this week, my floors have gotten really nasty and muddy. Yesterday I attempted to address this problem with a little mop action. Of course, my floors are already muddy again, but that’s not my point. My point is this: what the F am I doing with a bottle of lemon-scented Pine Sol under my sink?
Pine Sol, on its own, is really not that bad. Its active ingredient is pine oil, which is a natural cleaning agent that comes from distilling the needles and wood of pine trees. The cleanser also includes alkyl alcohol ethoxylates, which are toxic if you consume them and hazardous in large quantities but also totally biodegradable, as well as isopropanol, which is basically rubbing alcohol. The cleanser also has some sodium petroleum sulfonate, which is basically oil-based soap. While you wouldn’t want to drink Pine Sol, or rub it on your skin, it’s probably not the worst thing (from an environmental perspective) to clean your floors with.
But still – lemon scented Pine Sol? I can’t even remember buying this stuff. I generally clean my house with vinegar, lemon juice, and the occasional “natural” cleanser that I buy from natural foods stores when I’m feeling fancy (note: the Seventh Generation bottle pictured above is about 3 years old and currently contains a vinegar-water solution). Pine Sol is a product of the Clorox Company, which is on the cutting-edge of greenwashing after having bought out Burt’s Bees and with its “Green Works” products (CLOROX: disposable wipes will never be “green”, please stop making them!).
I’m not sure exactly what the difference is between Lemon Pine Sol and regular Pine Sol, but I have a feeling the lemon kind is probably less benign. Wikipedia tells me this much, “The new lemon scented Pine-Sol received a positive review from the public due to its pleasant scent despite losing its cleaning and disinfecting qualities.” Does it have pine oil? Who knows. The smell alone should deter us all from buying it. I used the stuff to clean my floors yesterday and the chemically odor lingered for hours – people complain about the scent of vinegar, but at least that smell clears out within a half hour or so. Yes, the Pine Sol left my floors (momentarily) clean, but the whole experience made me feel dirty.
Upon scrutinizing the cabinet under my sink, I notice that there is also some Windex and a HUGE bottle of Murphy’s Oil Soap. At this point I face the dilemma of not wanting to use these products but also feeling guilty about throwing them out. I have a hunch that over the course of the next few years I will slowly employ them in cleaning my household and then flush them down the toilet, where they will enter the sewer system and eventually wreak lemon-scented havoc on New York’s coastal ecosystems.
But I make this promise to myself, and to you, reader: I will never buy crappy mystery cleansers like lemon-scented Pine Sol again. Never!