We’ve been seduced into the idea that bubbles & foaming means better when it comes to
many products we buy including washing up liquids, shampoos, soaps and even toothpaste. This is a misnomer.
We believe this because that’s the way products have been marketed to us.
Many of you will remember the old Fairy Liquid ads and if not, if you Google ‘old Fairy Liquid ads’ you’ll soon see what I mean. The bubbles in Fairy were marketed to us as not
only doing a great job cleaning dishes, but they were also kind to our hands too! It’s brilliant marketing… but totally inaccurate in that washing up liquid bubbles have no discernible benefit to our hands.
Some of you will remember the days before automatic washing machines… these were the days of Twin Tubs and mangles. My mum had one for years and refused to get an automatic citing their poor performance. The truth was she was reluctant to change from what she knew to something new. (I’m glad I got ‘knew’ and ‘new’ the right way round there, or that would have looked foolish!) I digress… In the interim days when Twin Tubs were slowly becoming history and Automatic machines were taking over, supermarkets stocked two different washing powders – one for each method. The difference between them was that automatic powder didn’t bubble and foam as much. In fact in the transitional days tales abounded about those who had inadvertently put Twin Tub powder in their automatic only to find their kitchens awash with suds and foam. The idea was also used in several comedy sketches on TV too.
Anyway, the point is this, if ever we needed something to point to bubbles means better being a myth, then this is it. The idea is so powerful however that even automatic machine makers have got in on the act-
You might be wondering what the difference is between the two products…
It is Sodium Laureth (or Lauryl ether) Sulphate or SLS for short.
If you put SLS into a product it helps create lots of bubbly froth and foam. Take it out and
you get nominal amounts of foam..
Now here’s the rub – SLS is a surfactant and not a detergent. In other words it is not a cleaning agent. The sole purpose of SLS is to create bubbles.
Over the last few years SLS has had a bad press being cited as the cause of environmental damage, cancer and skin irritations. These have gained popularity through internet mob mentality and where opinion and fiction becomes cited as fact. Dig a little deeper and there seems to be little or no evidence of it being any of those things being true as found here …but I digress… bubbles!
The point here is that we’ve been lead to believe that more bubbles mean better cleaning.
Have you ever washed your plates & cutlery in really soapy water and left it to air dry, then noticed lots of bubbly water marks on your utensils? You then have to buff up your pots to get rid of the grubby looking bubble marks. Is that better cleaning?
In the early to mid 1900s we bought into the idea that the bubbles signify the presence of detergent thus bubbles means better cleaning. However, as I previously pointed out in the Twin Tub/Automatic machine scenario – automatic powders produce less bubbles but our clothes still come out as clean!
After we were sold on the concept it was added to shampoos, toothpastes, cosmetics and so on… and we continued to buy into the idea that bubbles means better. You can find out how that happened by reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
So, to wrap this up, I’m not telling you this because I want you to change nor I am not trying to change your buying habits or trying to sell you on any other products or alternatives.
My sole aim in telling you this is simple – just to make you more aware of the reality and more aware of what you’re being sold.
Until the next time – Keep it Clean 🙂