Spritz, spray, wipe: In defense of dirt (and other healthy snacks)


Our grandmother’s may have prided themselves on having floors clean enough to eat off. They were unlikely, however, to have gone so far as to actually believe they should.

These days with the right combination of spritzes, sprays, cleaners and wipes, your kitchen floor may indeed be clean enough to nosh off. Or, in a pinch, perform surgery upon.

Pure nonsense. We are the purified generation. Our grandmother’s clean just isn’t clean enough.

We wipe our antibacterial cutting boards with antibacterial sponges, wash with antibacterial soap, feed our children from antibacterial plates, give them antibacterial toys to play with and sleep beneath antibacterial bedding.

We have our homes, hands, air, and even our laundry sterilized, sanitized and antibacterialized for our protection. An army of cleansers, cleaners, fabrics, soaps and additives exist to assist us in our fight against the dreaded microbe.

We crossed a line of sanity somewhere with the anti-bacterial toilet bowl cleaner. Does the world really need a toilet bowl that is clean enough to eat out of? Dogs don’t get a vote.

Let them eat dirt. Now, after we have become perhaps the most germ-free (or germ-phobic?) nation on the planet, those pesky scientists cruise in to tell us that a little dirt’ll do you good after all.

Why do they pull a stunt like this right AFTER I drop $200 bucks on a new vacuum cleaner?

Had they moved this study up in front of last week’s crucial “Americans ate more shrimp than canned tuna in 2001” bulletin, they could’ve saved me a bundle.

For those of us brought to worship on the altar of antibacterialism, the scoop on dirt is surprising.

It appears that in studies of childhood asthma and related illnesses, children exposed to pets, farm animals, and “good old fashioned dirt” fare better than their hermetically sealed and antibacterially protected counterparts.

All those veteran moms who picked up the baby’s pacifier off the floor, wiped it on their pants and popped it back in baby’s mouth knew something after all!

The years Lucy spent lamenting being kissed on the lips by Snoopy were misguided. And the days when my children were so crusty with “country life” that they had to be hosed down before they could enter the house were just preventive measures.

Country air. We’ve long heard the virtues of pure country air. Yet, it comes to pass that it might not have been the air after all. Rather, that rural and suburban children are likely to spend more time outdoors and exposed to pets, animals and that good clean garden variety dirt –


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.