By Susie Frank
Writer for the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign
I have just ended a decades-long, unhealthy relationship with Soft Scrub. It wasn’t easy. We had some very good times, Scrubby and me. I would crank up the music, grab a toothbrush and, together, Scrubby and I would make my kitchen counter grout bright white and perfect, no matter what challenges awaited us there. Red wine? No problem! Crayon? Easy! It seemed like Scrubby could do anything. Scrubby was even more important in the bathroom – I felt secure knowing that he would vanquish any mildew, mold, or germ lurking there.
And yet, it was hard to get close to Scrubby. He hated talking about himself, always leaving me to wonder, What is he really made from? His ingredients list simply said, Sodium hypochrolite 1.1 percent, other ingredients, 98.9 percent. Now I understand that he was afraid to show me who he really was…for fear that I would reject him.
And then there were the headaches. Ice pick in the forehead kind of headaches. I learned to open all the windows when Scrubby and I were together. In the last few years, as I started to become better informed about the dangers of chemicals in everyday products, these headaches started to seem a little bit wrong. Doesn’t a headache mean that something is . . . toxic? Am I really letting my child bathe in a tub that I just cleaned with something that made me feel sick?
It took me an embarrassingly long time to finally switch over to white vinegar, baking soda, and elbow grease. Being frugal (and in denial), I waited until my last Scrubby bottle was empty! I’m happy to report that now I have forged a new, healthier romantic attachment to my new set of scrubbing brushes. I have two different sizes – one for grout, another for the bathtub. They are so pretty, and they really do replace most of Scrubby’s chemical muscle power. The best part? No more headaches and no more fear. If my child wants to lick the kitchen counters after I clean them, I’m totally OK with that.