In Defense Of Crisp Morning Air

I’m here today to advocate on behalf of “crisp morning air.” That’s the stated name of the latest soap to appear on the sink counter at the firm.

I haven’t risen to the defense of “Mahogany Teakwood” or any of the other combination fruit- or flower-based fragrances that have been used to describe prior bottles of soap at our office. I figure there is at least the chance that, in those cases, some odor element associated with the name has been added to the soap.

But “crisp morning air” has no specific scent element. The “crispness” comes from the cool and clean feel of the air, not any smell detectable by the olfactory senses. And speaking as someone who has enjoyed many hearty lungfuls of actual crisp morning air, a room temperature bottle of hand soap is never going to be able to fairly capture it.

Soap sellers, hear my plea! Experiment with odd combinations of flower, fruit, wood, and other substances if you must, but leave crisp morning air be. And while you’re at it, don’t mess with the cool of the evening, either.

“Cleansing” Versus “Cleaning”

Today I went to wash my hands in the restroom and noticed one of those dispensers of overly scented hand soap. In big bold letters, the dispenser touted the soap as “Deep Cleansing” — which made my teeth grind a bit.

IMG_1880What’s with the trend to replace “clean” with “cleanse”? Virtually any product that approximates the effect of soap and water on human beings now uses “cleansing” rather than “cleaning.” So, you see phrases like “deep cleansing,” or “gentle cleansing.” I’ve even seen an ad in which the actor says she likes “feeling cleansed” rather than “feeling clean.”

Why is this so? “Clean” is a perfectly good word that has been used for centuries. “Deep cleaning” certainly sounds more thorough than “deep cleansing.” So why isn’t it used?

I’m guessing that there are two reasons. First, no doubt advertisers and marketing managers have done studies that show that people will pay more if a product promises “cleansing” rather than “cleaning.” Maybe it sounds more highbrow. Second, “cleansing” has a softer sense to it. “Cleansing” sounds like something that might happen during a gentle spring rain, whereas “cleaning” conjures notions of attacking a dirty item with a stiff wire brush and Mr. Clean. (Of course, “ethnic cleansing” runs counter to this linguistic theory.)

It’s all part of the reason why I like to buy the generic versions of household products. They tend not to be infused with ridiculous scents, they tend not to be packaged in ludicous designs, and if they’re hand soap or hand cleaner, they use those simple, time-honored words. It helps that they’re cheaper, too.

Soap Story

On our walk through Gastown in Vancouver, we came across a store that sold this very evocative selection of hand soaps, among many other interesting items.  I’m not sure I’d want to have hands that smelled like “Cat Butt” — or “Bitch Slap Those Germs,” for that matter — but the display window was good for a laugh.