Is Lysol Greenwashing With Their “Healthing” Marketing Strategy?

Unless you DVR every show you watch, you’ve probably seen at least one of the new Lysol ‘Healthing’ commercials dozens of times. This new marketing strategy sounds great, but what does it actually mean? It seems to be a hybrid word made from helping and healthy – making the product a perfect helper to create a healthy environment in your home. It does this by eliminating 99.9% of all germs on contact. What could be better than destroying germs before they can wreak havoc on you or your children? According to scientists out of Ireland and Sweden, leaving some of these microscopic troublemakers alone might be just what the doctor of the future will order.

From the time we are old enough to stand at the sink we are told that dirt is the enemy. We must be diligent in our attempts to keep everything in the home clean, our hands, our clothes, our dishes and anything else we touch. On the surface, getting rid of every germ in the house seems like a great way to prevent sickness – but there are unintended side effects. When we use cleaners that kill off 99.9% of all germs, the 0.1% that don’t die become stronger. They develop into what are now termed “supergerms” that are resistant to the very killers that created them. A National University of Ireland at Galway study found that using disinfectant may result in germs developing  stronger immunity to antibiotics as well. So, by eliminating the competition in the environment by killing off all of the weaker germs, we actually create an environment in which the supergerms can thrive.

Of course, creating supergerms is only one problem with the Lysol way of doing things. Being exposed to weaker germs in the environment helps children develop antibodies against infection. If there are no germs in the environment, the child will have a weak immune system. A study of Amish children raised on farms done by researchers at ULM University in Germany found that these children were less likely to develop allergies or asthma than those that grew up in a more antiseptic environment. The findings support the need for some germ interaction to create a healthy immune system.

According to a study by researchers at Gothenburg University in Sweden, parents who cleaned off pacifiers that had fallen to the floor only with their mouths lowered their children’s risk of developing allergies, asthma and eczema. This study determined that exposing the children to environmental and parental germs actually helped them develop the immunities to these, and possibly other, diseases.

So, ‘Healthing’ your environment by destroying 99.9% of germs in your household may actually result in the exact opposite effect. That doesn’t mean that you should live in filth. A modicum of cleaning should still be done. You just shouldn’t attempt to create a sterile environment in your home. There should be a balance that leaves some of the germs intact.

To be crystal clear – we still applaud SCJohnson for trying to become a greener company. What we don’t agree with is the new marketing ploy that they have developed. The use of a made up word that implies that Lysol disinfectant is healthy and helpful in killing all of the germs in your home and that this will allow your family to remain healthy, is completely off base. The research does not support this – in fact it supports the opposite.

What do you think? Are you surprised that exposure to germs can be an asset to you and your family?