Friday, 10 April 2015

Is It Clean? Is It Too Clean?

But decades later we still haven't won our war on germs. In fact, in many ways the germs are winning the battle.
Is It Clean? Is It Too Clean? - (By BeiBei): "Is it clean? Is it too clean?" Those are also questions that I ask myself many times every day. When I was little, the one question concerning sanitary conditions was, "Is it clean?" If the answer was "No", then we used water, soap, laundry powder or teeth cleaning powder. When I was three or four years old, my mother bought this fancy new item called shampoo paste. I even remember it was a brand called the Seagull. It was so new and expensive that I took a picture holding the bottle, smiling while scratching my head.

Then there came liquid shampoo that looked just like beer and even foamed too! Then toothpaste that tasted rather sweet but I still hated to use. And then soap that was so fragrant you would want to take a bite. I don't quite remember how old I was when dish detergent came into our household. Maybe it wasn't necessary since there wasn't much grease in the diet back then anyway.

Was it all of a sudden that the sanitary issue became so serious? There came shampoos of all colours and tastes, yes, as a kid I tasted the shampoo that smelled so delicious. There was dish detergent that could make your dishes squeak and shine. And then came shower gels and facial cleansers.

When I went to the States things got really complicated. There was soap, yes, I knew that. But liquid soap? Hmm…There was Windex. What's that for? For cleaning the window, making the glass so clean that poor birds would fly right into it and slide down from a concussion. There was bleach, oh, so pungent! My mother dissolved a pair of her jeans while trying to make it cleaner.

Someday, someone decided that all of these and a whole lot more were not making our world clean enough. There were little bugs you couldn't see. There were germs everywhere. There were viruses and other dangerous things that we must fight, fight, fight!

Then one day, the word "anti-bacterial" came flashing onto the stage. Bling~ Bling~ Flash~ Flash! We can now be saved, from all the bad germs! Anti-bacterial soap. Anti-bacterial wipes. Anti-bacterial detergent. Anti-bacterial mouthwash. The list goes on.

But decades later we still haven't won our war on germs. In fact, in many ways the germs are winning the battle.

In an article by microbiologist and science writer Jason Tetro, he said most germs are not interested in us humans and the majority of them are beneficial. Only a very small portion of germs is harmful and we only come in contact with a dozen of those. Yet, we've declared a full war on germs, a war that we can't seem to win.

But germs are tiny, why can't we win the war?

Tetro explained that germs can evolve about once every 20 minutes while human beings evolve about every 20 years. They have the power to change and change and they change fast! Every measure we take, every new cleaning product that we create, will eventually make them stronger. Besides, germs can live anywhere! You can clean your hands, steam your bottles and boil your food. But can you sanitize your whole house, your whole office, every nook and cranny? The worse thing is, while we are trying to kill off the bad germs, more of the good ones die along the way. Sigh!

This is not the only indication that our war on germs is coming back to bite us instead. Have you noticed the increase in cases of allergies, asthma and eczema in today's world?

Allergies were rare when I was a kid, but nowadays, it seems like everybody is allergic to something. When I went to the States, I learned that some people would swell up and die from eating a peanut! I've even heard of cases where some kids are allergic to things like eggs, rice and even water! I have to admit that I start my days with a stuffy nose and about a dozen sneezes, not knowing exactly what I'm allergic to. What is wrong with us?

One explanation is the hygiene hypothesis. It says that we've learned to clean our environment and ourselves so thoroughly that our immune system is left idle. But our immune systems were born fighters. They don't want to sit there doing nothing and grow fat, so they start attacking harmless substances, such as pollen and dust.

Many studies have shown that children who grew up with older siblings, who are always bringing home free germs to smear over their younger siblings, and children who have early exposure to pets or live in the rural area, have lower cases of developing allergies and asthma.

In my own family, the person who is the clean freak can get severe stomach pains from drinking a bottle of spring water that's been left open for just one day. But the person who would come home and sit on her bed without changing into indoor clothing (which freaks me out) can eat a rotten apple and not have any issues.

I myself am somewhere stuck in the middle. Yes, I want to live in a perfectly clean world. I can't stand the thought of bringing germs back home from the subway or putting money directly in my pockets. But the question "Is it too clean?" rings in my head more and more often now. I've learned to pull my hand back from the bottles with the word "anti-bacterial" on it. But yes, I still wash my hands and change my cloth the moment I get home.

I tell myself that in the relatively safe environment that I live in, soap and water would be sanitary enough. I've also realized that the action of cleaning is more important than the product. It's the "running" in running water and the "rubbing" in washing our hands that carry away most of the germs. So don't idolize the fancy products. Most of them were created to make money, not to make our world a better place. If you really want to kill off germs, here is a tip from the experts: Instead of using harsh chemicals, use the most natural disinfectant, steam. Simple, clean and almost for free.

But really, my point is, let's not get overly anxious about germs. Most of them have been our neighbors and friends for as long as we've existed. Instead of turning all of them into enemies, let them play with our immune systems so they stay weak and we grow strong.

It can all be summed up by that old Chinese saying: Some germs a day will keep the doctors away!

Cleaning without making use of any detergents or soaps may be time consuming for most of the time.
Washing and cleaning products market - global industry size, growth, share analysis and outlook to 2020 outlined in new market research report: Washing and cleaning products are the substances generally liquid, powder, sprays or granules which are used to remove dirt, including dust, stains, bad smells and clutter on surfaces. Cleaning agents are normally in the form of acidic, alkaline or neutral depending on the use.

The acidic washing agents are mostly used for cleaning deposits such as scaling. The active ingredients are usually strong mineral acids and chelates. 

Alkaline washing and cleaning products consist of strong bases like sodium hydroxide as it dissolves oil, grease, fats and proteins based deposits. Whereas, neutral washing products are those whose pH value is neutral and are made from different ionic compound which are used to clean different types of dirt.

Washing and cleaning products are used in wide range of applications such as Sanitation & Janitorial Cleaning Products, Industrial Cleaners, Kitchen & Catering Cleaning Agents, Food & Dairy Processing Cleaners, Laundry Agents, pulp & paper, chemical processing, agrochemicals and others. Soaps and detergents have become a necessary product in our daily lives. 

End-users include various industries such as manufacturing units, food & lodging, building service contractors, food & drinks processing units, retail, healthcare and others commercial facilities. However, the needs and requirement for cleaning products used by these industries differ vastly. 

Products, which are used by building contractors, include those products which are used for cleaning soiled floors, carpets, restrooms, window glasses and furniture. The global demand for washing and cleaning products in the market is driven by rise in population and increasing usage norms impacted as it is by greater concern for hygiene. Cleaning without making use of any detergents or soaps may be time consuming for most of the time. 

Therefore, products, which make the task easy, quickly and to a high standard, are favorable. However, consumers are more likely to pay for such products. 

Raising awareness of personal hygiene, increased focus on communal hygiene and growing concern over the spread of infectious disease are some of the other factors which are driving the market for washing and cleaning products. Increasing concern about ensuring the safety, social and self-actualization needs by enabling safe food storage, sterilizing household surfaces and controlling garbage in a hygienic manner are also driving the washing and cleaning market at some extent.

In less developed countries, price becomes the major factor as consumers have less money to spend. Therefore, manufacturers of cleaning products must work on this aspect in order to succeed in the washing and cleaning product market. 

Strict government regulations about use of cleaning agents as many of them consist of certain chemicals which affect the environment in one form or the other. These are some of the factors which are hampering the growth of washing and cleaning products market to some extent.

Introduction of new, innovative and technologically advanced products, efficient research and development activities and development of product to meet the needs of the consumer are some of the growth opportunities which is likely to drive this market in the year to come. Improved lifestyle and tip from cleaning experts are some of the trends contributing the growth of this market.

Asia Pacific is the largest market for washing and cleaning products attributed to a large population of the emerging countries such as China and India. It is then followed by North America and Europe. 

Asia Pacific is also the fastest growing region for washing and cleaning products market owing to the rising population of this region. Moreover, rising leaving standard, growing disposable income of the consumer of this region has contributed to the overall growth of the washing and cleaning products market.

Some of the major companies operating in washing and cleaning products market include Henkel KGaA, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Procter & Gamble Co., Reckitt Benckiser Plc, The Clorox Company, Church & Dwight, The Dial Corporation and Unilever N.V. 

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