|Mrs. Meyer's geranium soap|
A few years ago while cat sitting for a well-off neighbor my age whose husband has a trust fund, tiptoeing around their front rooms filled with original art and antiques, a few token lights on for safety, everything quiet, still, other than me, I washed my hands at the kitchen sink after scooping out the day's cat-food ration and thought, When I have my own place again, I will buy this soap. With one small squirt, the simple act of washing off traces of dried animal parts turned ritual cleaning into a spa moment or like walking into a flower shop. Some things in life are worth their price.
Fast-forward many months and one of the first things I did after moving downtown last summer was order a case of Mrs. Meyer's liquid hand soap in geranium scent from Amazon, where it's much cheaper than anywhere else. This soap has been a little luxury worth every penny. Gone are the days when I refilled my soap dispenser with cheap toxic-blue dish soap from WinCo. Gone even are the years of supplying that pump with citrus dishwashing liquid from Trader Joe's (which I still use for hand washing dishes). Once a person samples Mrs. Meyer's, she doesn't go back—if she can afford it.
Oh, I've tested the alternatives. I've tried unpackaged bars of natural hippy-handmade soap and chic French-milled soaps, but bar soap doesn't last long and is messy (and expensive). And I've tried Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Castile liquid soap as hand soap. While Dr. Bronner's works great in the shower—the large 32-ounce bottle lasts forever—in a pump it squirts out everywhere like a baby boy during a diaper change. I've even spewed Dr. Bronner's soap in my eye that way—not fun. (Tip: Doctor Bronner's mild unscented baby soap is my favorite, but Trader Joe's sells the invigorating peppermint version for only $10, half what the other Bronner's scents may retail for elsewhere.)
Home cleaning products display choices revealing personality, taste, values—and income. Those who buy big-name brands full of chemicals tend to support the status quo in unquestioned convenience and well advertised familiarity. My mother serves up pearly Softsoap. My maternal grandmother bathed with white Dove bars (not the chocolate, mind you). My paternal grandmother preferred rock-hard orange slabs of Dial. If I had more money, I'd buy more Mrs. Meyer's products than just the hand soap, even if they are somewhat of a marketing racket and not entirely natural.
Those with more time or ethics than money can make their own wholly natural cleaning products. Baking soda and vinegar go a long way towards a clean house. Bon Ami, a 19th-century U.S. company, still makes a fabulous, inexpensive natural powder cleanser. The point is, we all have options. What do our choices say about our values? Are we thinking while consuming?
|Mrs. Meyer's geranium liquid hand soap|
My expert-gardener friend Sarah stocks the Mrs. Meyer's basil soap in her bathroom, and basil is nice, too—more masculine. She has a husband who may not want to smell like flowers. But for me, it's geranium all the way. My friend Dan just sent me another case of geranium hand soap as a belated housewarming gift. (Thank you, Dan!) With baking soda, vinegar, and Bon Ami under the kitchen sink and a bottle of Mrs. Meyer's geranium soap in the bathroom, I can pretend for a few seconds a day that I'm rich—and even the rich get their hands dirty.