Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Swedish Hygiene - So Fresh and So Clean

Last year DH and I were back in the States visiting a local zoo. 'Ooh Look, we can feed the birds!' I pointed to some wooden poles with little containers attached to them where kids and grown-ups were sticking their hands out.

But when we got closer I knew this was a 'You're not in Sweden any more moment.'

There was no birdfood - this was the Purell Antibacterial hand sanitizer stand. What these kids were doing was sanitizing their hands. I was disappointed. I wanted to feed the birds.

And this is how it goes - in the States - the sanitizer is king.

Here the Sanitizer is 'poison,' gross, a destroyer of all things good in the world (ie. leading to the proliferation of bad bad bacteria as opposed to the good stuff) and perhaps most damning of all - it is completely unnecessary.

Sure there are moments when I wish I have a little hand sanitizer on me. You know when you realize that thing you just touched was someone else's chewing gum. Or if I'm changing a diaper on the fly. To that end I have a small bottle of cleaning alcohol that I rinse over my hands and let air dry.

But Purell hasn't caught on here. And the human race endures. There must be something to that good old fashioned soap and water trick. Which is what most people use.

A few years back some kids were hospitalized for eating the hand sanitizer from a portopotty (or bajamaja as they say in Sweden). There was a rumor going around that hand sanitizer was made of GHB and would get you high. Not so true. Mostly it made them puke.


  1. I've gotten made fun of here for my little bottle of Purell in my purse and how I make Little Girl use it before eating ice cream and after visiting the petting zoo. Call me crazy!

    I have also been lectured on the stupidity of cleaning the kitchen table with white vinegar. Apparently a wipe-down with an ancient, damp dishrag you have been using for weeks is...well certainly not more hygienic, so I don't get it.

  2. Oh man, that dish rag grosses me out, too. I microwave it ALL THE TIME! And switch it out for a new one. I tried the vinegar route, too and got a lecture on 'dangerous fumes.' Thankfully my Swedish SIL mentioned that she uses vinegar, too. And since then it's gotten the thumbs up!

  3. Ha ha I am totaly americanized, I also carry with me my little bottle of hand santizer. I wish the Swedes would take on the hand santizing thing. They did kind of last year I heard when the swine flu fear was going strong and obviously it helped quite a lot beacuse people were suddenly much more healthy. Sure good old soap and water help a lot but the thing is I think that people don´t even wash their hands properly or often enough as they should. I miss the clorox wipes and stuff that you also find i the US. So easy to keep the kitchen and other surfaces clean with some wipes.

  4. I don't know what you're talking about. As far as I understand, Purell's not bad, as it's alcohol based. It's the antibacterial stuff, which is not alcohol based, that's bad, as it may lead to immune bacteria.

    And you may not find Purell's products, but if you go to the pharmacy, you'll definitely find alcohol sanitizers, both large and small to carry in your bag. In swedish it's called "desinfektionssprit".

  5. Wow, thanks Senchaholic, I was totally under the miscomprehension that Purell = Triclosan, but you are right, it doesn't. I have to say I'm glad to find that out - I guess it was the consistancy that threw me off, it's not like the alco stuff I got here during swineflu season.

    Thanks for the tip - I will edit the post with the new info!

  6. Hehe, you're welcome. I've never used it myself, but I checked, and Purell themselves deal with this misperception.


    So as long it's alcohol, rub away...

  7. Isn't Desifin the same thing? My wife keeps HUGE containers of it in the house here. lol

  8. Returning Swedish American...dish rags agree with other commentor gross!!!! Clorox wipes...miss them so much...then my boyfriend rolls his Eyes when I try and explain what they are...hand sanitizer....at least i could find it.