Pine-Sol: A Green Cleaning Confession

Pine-Sol: A Green Cleaning Confession

I spend a lot of time advocating "green cleaning" solutions, like vinegar and baking soda and Dr. Bronner's soap and borax. But I'll tell you what: sometimes there's just no replacement for a big ol' bottle of Pine-Sol.

I should step back and clarify first that I'm talking about the original Pine-Sol. You know - the stuff that smells terrible. The smell of your childhood. I bet your grandmother cleaned her house with the original Pine-Sol. It's a hospital smell, no mistake.

But the thing about the original version of Pine-Sol is that it is the only one which cleans well. They have come out with a lot of other flavors, from lemon to "Clean Breeze." But they all have a different formula - more stuff that's bad for you, and less of the stuff that cleans well.

So suck it up and deal with the smell, people! One thing to admire about original Pine-Sol is that it is not artificially scented. That pine smell? It comes from pine oil, the real deal, and plenty of it. According to the MSDS, original Pine-Sol has an 8-10% concentration of pine oil, which is substantial.

Pine oil is just what you would expect: an essential oil which is concocted from pine needles. It is a phenolic disinfectant, and it cleans like crazy. I don't even know what they put in the flavored Pine-Sol varieties, but they just don't work well.

I broke down and bought a bottle when I wanted to wash some thrift store jeans. Because for some reason I got the specter of scabies in my mind - but it wasn't so strong as to prevent me paying three bucks for a perfectly great pair of jeans. (Three bucks!!!!) When you need to disinfect laundry, and you can't use bleach, there's just no replacement for original Pine-Sol.

Now that I had the bottle, nestled there uncomfortably on the shelf between the Simple Green and the Dr. Bronner's lavender liquid soap, what else was I going to do with it? It had been at least five years since I used a conventional cleaner. I honestly wasn't sure how to use the stuff.

I started out small, by cleaning my hardwood floors. And you know I believe the green cleaning thing with my whole entire heart, but people, I have to tell you - that Pine-Sol cleaned those floors like crazy! I followed the instructions on the website and mixed 1/4c Pine-Sol with a gallon of lukewarm water, and didn't bother rinsing. (I have soft wood floors - they just suck everything up. Why bother?) I was so astonished by how clean my floors were, you would have thought I was being filmed for an infomercial. It was a real novelty, cleaning my floors just by pushing a mop over them, instead of scrubbing and scrubbing.

So it turns out that Dr. Bronner's and Simple Green aren't very good at cleaning hardwood floors after all. Which started me wondering… what else has been slowly, imperceptibly getting grubby over the years? Where else am I working twice as hard to get something only half as clean?

And at what point do they revoke your "hippie" card? Do you think they will still let me shop at the food co-op if they find out I'm using Pine-Sol?

Photo credit: Flickr/aperture_lag