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Front page, 15 December, 2015

Front page, 15 December, 2015

Three of today’s national newspapers expose the marketing tricks employed by the pharmaceutical company Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of the painkiller Nurofen. Reckitt Benckiser market their product in four distinctive packages, each purporting to target a specific form of pain: migraine, back pain, period pain and tension headache but guess what—each pain-specific pill contains exactly the same active ingredients, a mix of codeine phosphate and ibuprofen. Well, I never! Who would have thought that a product that enters the blood stream via the stomach would be intelligent enough to target a specific area of the brain or a specific nerve simply because that’s what it says on the packet? Apparently, quite a lot of people.

But, my beef is not with the pharmaceutical companies. I figured out their strategy years ago and have bought generics ever since. No, my beef is with the companies that manufacture household cleaning products. I’ve been meaning to write this blog for some time. The Nurofen exposé was the catalyst.

Downstairs we have a cupboard. It’s absolutely bulging with cleaning products. Take a look:


In here you will find house cleaning products, dusters, shoe and walking boot cleaners, more dusters, insect repellents, cleaning cloths, stuff to clean metal ware, sprays to make the house smell nice, more cleaning cloths, special cleaners for waterproofing walking gear and who knows what else is lurking in the dark recesses? Just out of curiosity, I assembled a dozen of the household liquid cleaners. Here they are:


Here you will find cleaners for ovens, slate and marble, carpets and upholstery, stainless steel, windows (three different products), floors, kitchen all-purpose, lime scale remover, bathroom cleaner, and another all-purpose cleaner. Wow! Does the dirt and grime on each of these surfaces differ so much that each requires a different cleaner? I suspect not but wait, that’s not all. Upstairs in our shower room I found five more cleaners:


Another lime scale remover, two daily shower cleaners (neither of which have I ever used despite the fact I have a daily shower), a general-purpose cleaner (different to the all-purpose cleaner downstairs I noted), and a mould spray.

We have two more shower rooms plus a children’s bathroom but by now my wife was looking at me with daggers in her eyes and something heavy in her hand, a big all-purpose husband eliminator I think, so I stopped the photography. I’m not even going to mention the vast array of different shampoos, shower gels, hair conditioners, moisturising creams, toothpaste and hand cleansers we have scattered throughout the various cleansing shower rooms and bathrooms.  Nor will I mention the kitchen with its own specific cleaners: washing up liquids, capsules for the dishwasher, more oven cleaners (two off), a general-purpose germ killer (99.9% of all germs, dead), and more.  At this rate, we will soon have to move home to accommodate all the cleaning products we have.

There is no doubt; the household cleaning industry has us at its mercy. I haven’t done the detailed research but my guess is that the basic cleaning ingredients in most of these products are the same, probably some form of alcohol solvent (glycol ether, a carbon hydrogen oxygen compound), bleach (sodium hypochlorite, a sodium chlorine oxygen compound), ammonia (a nitrogen hydrogen compound), maybe some other stuff and certainly a perfume.  I hope none of these ingredients are carcinogenic.

It would be interesting to see what household surfaces you could clean just using a basic generic all-purpose cleaner (of which we have at least two brands) but there’s no doubt: we have the cleanest bodies and house in the neighbourhood. Betcha!

Next up: the drawers (yes, plural) containing my wife’s make-up but I’ll have to wait until she’s out of the house.