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The easy sale: “Making you afraid of it!”
An article by Maurizio Bertoli, the founder of the “marble cleaning” company

In the past decade the marketplace has been literally flooded by so called “disinfectant cleaners”. Each and every one of the big chemical manufacturers has a disinfectant cleaner which is more powerful than the next and kills every germ and bacteria on the planet, and then some!Three questions come to mind:

  1. How good are all these “high-octane” cleaners?
  2. Do we really need them?
  3. Is it wise to mass market all these products to consumers?

The first question makes reference to whether or not such products are really effective, and the answer is a big YES. After all, the Truth in Advertising Act carries severe penalties for misrepresentations, and the competition makes absolutely sure that every statement rendered by an ad is true. Besides, all the labels of each and every disinfectant/cleaner on the market in the USA are written – word by word – by the EPA. In conclusion, all those products do exactly what they say they do: they kill germs and bacteria.All of them!

Which leads to the second question: do we really need to kill all those germs and bacteria? What could be the long-term consequences of all these killings, both on humans and the environment? (Do you remember back when D.D.T. was considered the best invention ever, right after the wheel and the keystone?!)

Finally, the third question is about the way those products should be used and handled. We’re not talking about your regular glass-cleaner, here. We’re talking about anti-bacteria products that, no matter how “nice” and “clean” they smell, must be used and handled with all sorts of precautions. In short, we’re talking about inherently dangerous products. Is the average John Doe consumer up to the task? And what happens if those products are misused and mishandled?

We already answered the first question; let’s elaborate on the second one now.

Our entire planet is full of different forms of life, from the ones that we can’t see because they are too small, all the way up to the African elephant and the whale. It’s been proven time and again that all forms of life are important to the balance of the environment, and just about all governments of the world devote a great deal of time, effort and legislation to protecting what are defined as endangered species. We’re all concerned that untamed urban development exacts a heavy toll on the balance of nature in the surrounding environment. We’ve also learned (all too many times the hard way) that air, ground and water pollutions are terrible evils, not just for us humans directly, but indirectly, as well, because it kills all sorts of life forms, thus, once again upsetting the delicate balance created in a masterful and unmatchable way by Mother Nature.

It seems, however, that the forms of life we’re most concerned about are those that we can see. Whatever we can’t see – which in many respects is way more important – is something that we perceive as evil. It’s a fact that most diseases are contracted because some invisible being entered our body and did not get destroyed, or get recognized as an enemy by our immune system. We’re usually pretty much confident that we can find ways to fight back enemies that we can see and face, but we feel impotent at fighting enemies that we can’t see because they are too small. We all know that our body is full of vital bacteria, which include – but is not limited to – those making up our immune system. Without all those bacteria we would die, period. It’s been scientifically proven that even our surroundings are filled with bacteria from which we greatly benefit. Yet, because of our primal fear of the invisible and the unknown, the words “bacteria” or “germs” bring to our minds the image of some evil crawling enemy that we must destroy. It is true that among millions of good bacteria there are a few bad ones, but that doesn’t mean that in order to protect ourselves from these few we have to kill all of them, including the good ones that we need so much! Bacteria are an extremely important part of nature and of the environment. No doubt about it.

Consider this: a vaccination is nothing but the inoculation inside our body of a certain amount of a specific virus, so that our immune system can recognize it as a “bad guy” and learn how to fight it accordingly. Therefore even the “bad guys” when used properly can turn into “good guys”. So then, what is all the fuss and motivation about disinfectant cleaners mass marketed to consumers?

Money! What else?!

There are several motivations that encourage us to part from our hard-earned money, i.e.: hope, romance, achievement, etc. Fear is among them.  The fear of the unknown and the possible hazard to our health is what motivates us to spend money on disinfectant cleaners. And for as long as there is a motivation, it represents an opportunity for the business community to make money, and the more the merrier! I do believe, however, that by indiscriminately killing all germs and bacteria around us for the purpose of defending ourselves from a few bad ones, we probably create more damage than benefit. Think for a minute:

  1. How are we going to make up for all the good bacteria and germs that we need if we kill them?
  2. Since our immune system is literally kept on its toes by the bad bacteria that surround us, how do we keep it “in shape” if we kill all the enemies around us? How about when we go out in the real world, outside of the totally sanitized and disinfected cocoon we artificially created around us? Will our natural defenses be up to the task?
  3. What is it going to happen to our inner physical balance, considering that all too many of the vital bacteria we have in our body will be killed by the inevitable fumes of the disinfectant-cleaners that we use?
  4. How many diseases that once were considered rare are now more and more popular? (Asthma and allergies to cite just two. How come so few people had allergies, say, 40 years ago? And how come there are so many asthmatic children nowadays?). We don’t have the answer to that, of course, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised, some day, by learning from the experts that our immune system is getting weaker by the day, and that all this hysteria about sanitation brought to the max and to the masses has something to do with it. As a matter of fact, part of the medical community is slowly but surely getting there already!

Yes, one may say that we were able to defeat many diseases and that, over all, the general condition of our collective health is better off today than even one short generation ago. No doubt! But we’re hard pressed at giving any merit to disinfectant cleaners for this improvement. Better hygiene habits, better nutrition and more advanced treatment and surgical techniques are the factors we have to thank, not Johnson Wax, Dow chemicals, Procter & Gamble, et al!

Besides – and now we come to the final question – even if all these disinfectant-cleaners are useful for certain situations (and they are), are we sure that consumers are properly informed as to what specific situations warrant the use of a disinfectant-cleaner? To answer this question, just look at any one of the commercials promoting such products! Do any of those commercials ever tell consumers about the dangers of the misuse or over-use of disinfectant cleaners, and the clear and present hazard they represent to both our health and the environment? You don’t need me to answer that question! (“Let’s face it, life demands Lysol, it’s a factl! Does it really now?!…)

How many consumers do you think there are out there who know how to use and handle those products properly? Did you know that to be effective a disinfectant cleaner (not just ours, but each and every one of them) has to sit on the surface to be cleaned for at least ten (10) minutes? Do they tell you that in the commercials? Do they tell you what happens if you don’t wait that long and just spray and wipe? Do they tell you (in the commercials) that you have to wash you hands thoroughly after using any one of those products, and that to properly dispose the empty containers you should go as far as to consult with your local authorities on the procedures to follow? They do tell you all that in their back-label (they have to), but they count on the fact that only a few read products back-labels. Do you really think that all these issues are not important? THINK AGAIN!

We all know by now that many viruses (and counting!) have become immune to antibiotics just because people didn’t finish their prescription bottles! Same with disinfectant-cleaners: if you don’t let them “work” for the appropriate amount of time, the germs and bacteria that they won’t be able to kill will become stronger and stronger. Now, can you picture your cleaning lady – or even yourself for that matter – spraying a disinfectant/cleaner and let it sit on the surface to be treated for at least ten (10) long minutes before wiping it off? … And again, can you picture your cleaning lady making a telephone call to your local authorities to learn how to properly dispose of an empty bottle, or the paper-towel she used to apply the product? … Let’s be real: very few read the back label of any bottle, and even fewer follow the directions written on them to the letter. Welcome to real life!

Our company does market a very effective cleaner-disinfectant product, MB-15, which – while doing its job – is chemically safe on natural stone according to our own intensive testing. Therefore we’re not talking as manufacturers of specialty cleaning products that just weren’t able to bottle an effective and safe (on natural stone) product, and are just trying to subtly badmouth the competition’s abilities. We’re talking as manufacturers of specialty cleaning agents who know the truth from within and have the integrity to tell it like it is, even if it means a dramatic reduction in the volume of our sales of that specific product. As usual, we firmly refuse to be part of the choir and talk like any other “salesman”.

Please, for your own sake, use the product sparingly, only on the surfaces where you handled raw meat, poultry and vegetable, or environments where the growth of bad bacteria is most likely (i.e.: a shower stall enclosure or a commode). And again, please followALL directions to the letter!

The “Salesmen” will do anything for a buck! If it means making you “afraid of it”, so be it! Fixing the eventual damages? Well … let’s just call it another business opportunity down the road!

In a way, we’re actually trying to make you “afraid of it”, too. The big difference is that we’re pointing you toward the real enemy!

As the old saying goes: “We found the enemy, and the enemy is us!”

It may sound funny, but we promise you, this is a very serious matter.

MB Stone Care © – I/06

The article above was written on January 2005. Since then further mounting evidence of the consequences of the misuse of disinfectant/cleaners prompted us to make the (financially painfulbut ethically sound) decision to discontinue the bottling of our MB-15 Disinfectant/Cleanereffective January 1, 2007.


Maurizio Bertoli