Are Swiffer Wet Pads Safe For Babies and Pets?The Internet has given us a fantastic technological revolution that has impacted our lives in so many ways, and it’s impossible to measure them all. Thanks to search engines that find data and facts in a split second, a wealth of knowledge are at our fingertips. And social media is a wonderful tool for staying connected to friends and family. Checking our email and Facebook accounts each day helps us stay current with what’s happening in our circle, even with those loved ones who live far away. These tools let us stay on top of events happening in our families and broader issues facing the world at large.But social media and other online platforms can have a darker edge sometimes. Because they aren’t regulated and monitored in the way traditional news sources are, digital platforms can promote misinformation. Sometimes these errors aren’t intentional, but they can harm a person or company’s reputation. And when a person or company is targeted, it can take a lot of time and effort to dispel the rumour and gets the facts out to the public.And so is the case with Procter & Gamble (P&G), makers of the popular Swiffer line of cleaning products and a host of other consumer goods.Swiffer pads are convenient wipes that adhere to the bottom of a Swiffer Jet mop, letting users make quick work of dirty and stained kitchen floors.Somehow, these products have become the target of negative online messages that imply they are bad for children and pets. One post a few years ago went so far as to say a dog that simply walked across a fresh, Swiffer-mopped floor dropped dead from the toxins in the pad. And while it’s easy to dismiss these anecdotes as mere urban legends, if even one person believes the story and passes it along, the damage is done.A company’s credibility is harmed if even one consumer thinks its products are unsafe for their family. What is the extent of the damage if an entire community believes the falsehood?Where do these ideas generally come from, specifically this one about Swiffer Jet pads? And most importantly – is there any validity in them?The answer to the first question is no one is quite sure how these rumours start because it is impossible to trace them to one source, but they amplify and mushroom on questionable Internet sites, and soon people start reposting these false narratives.The answer to the second question – Is Swiffer pads harmful in any way? – is: absolutely not.Here at seizeyourlifetoday.com, we decided to investigate this online rumour and get to the facts of the matter.It’s worth noting that this is not the first or only time someone has painted a metaphorical bullseye on the company’s reputation and tried to sully it. Years ago, in the early 1980s – before the Internet allowed these theories to spread – someone decided that the logo of P&G, which included a man in the moon looking at 13 stars, meant that the company was in league with the Church of Satan. In fact, the 13 stars were intended to reflect America’s 13 original colonies, according to company literature. But that fact didn’t stop the frenzy or rumours from taking hold.At the time, panic over movies like “The Exorcist” was peaking, and some folks seemed to see devil worshippers everywhere. Unfortunately, P&G became a target. Scads of newspaper and magazine articles debunked the rumour, but it persisted for a surprisingly long time, considering there was no Internet yet to help spread the nonsense. Even the actual president of the real Church of Satan saying publicly the logo did not represent his church and was in no way connected to the organization didn’t help. Back then, much like today, facts and accuracy seemed not to matter when it came to a juicy story. P&G spent decades fighting this rumour, which stuck like glue to the company’s reputation.Later, the company’s air freshening product Febreeze was targeted. Claims circulated online that Febreeze contained “toxic” zinc chloride. It could kill a pet that simply walked onto a carpet that had been recently sprayed by the air freshener. Again, the rumour was proven by scientists to be utter nonsense. By then, however, the Internet was available to folks looking to spread baseless claims like these, and spread it they did. Whether they did it as a kind of bad joke or because they had misguided concerns about the product is beside the point. P&G had to spend time and money combating the misinformation through emails to customers, newspaper and blog articles, advertisements and other media outlets just to set the record straight.More recently, the Swiffer Jet’s moist pads have earned the attention of fear-mongering rumour spreaders. People have been picking on P&G products for decades, it seems, and each time the rumours are proven false under the scrutiny of solid science. This story about Swiffer Jet pads has circulated since 2004, rearing its head online from time to time, then fading into the ether as some other rumour gains traction and goes viral.Let’s set the record straight once again: Swiffer Jet moisture pads are not toxic to children and pets in any way whatsoever.The ingredient in them that seems to set the Internet ablaze is a chemical called “propylene glycol n‑propyl ether.” A mouthful to pronounce, for sure, like so many names of chemicals. Whomever started the rumour may have confused this chemical with another one called “ethylene glycol,” which is commonly found in some anti-freeze. The latter chemical is indeed poisonous to pets, and occasionally pets have died after licking up anti-freeze accidentally spilled by car owners or mechanics.But even if propylene glycol n‑propyl ether were toxic – and it is not — Swiffer Jet moisture pads contain only four percent of it; their dampness comes from water. In other words, the chemical is substantially diluted. Even the American Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) came out in defense of P&G in 2018, saying that the rumours on social media about Swiffer pads harming pets were, in a word, nonsense.While P&G has spent years countermanding these false narratives, a larger question needs to be asked.Why do some folks take a little knowledge and turn it into something calamitous? The two chemical names may sound a little alike, but they are entirely different in structure and toxicity. Just because both chemical names contain the word, “glycol” doesn’t mean they share toxicity. Nor does it mean they can be used interchangeably. But somewhere, somehow, someone saw or read those terms and decided Swiffer pads must contain poisonous aspects like some anti-freeze does. And boy, has this rumour had traction! This (and other) silly online messages are best fought with good, credible science and hard facts.It’s easy to overreact to a post sent by a friend suggesting you throw out your Swiffer for your child’s safety – who wouldn’t want to err on the side of caution? But because facts matter, particularly when it involves harming a company’s otherwise solid reputation, you should “look before you leap.”Do some online research, and reassure yourself that the product – any product, really – is not going to harm your family or pets. Perhaps most importantly, don’t pass on the untrue post until you’ve looked into this yourself.It’s easy to become frustrated by misinformation, and silly stories found online. In reality, however, false narratives have circulated almost since the invention of the printing press!For example, the term “fake news” is assumed to be a catchphrase coined by 21st-century politicians. In fact, it was first used in the 1890s regarding sensational reports running in newspapers. A little digging into verifiable sources goes a long way toward learning the truth behind outlandish claims.As for companies and corporations – they’ve been the target of rumours and smear campaigns almost since the Industrial Revolution. Fortunately, these incidents don’t happen too often, and companies get past them by keeping cool heads and continuing to put truthful facts out in the public realm.What is important is that people think for themselves and don’t overreact to outlandish stories they read online or in print or hear at the local grocery store, for that matter. Most of the time, these stories are little more than urban legends or even bald-faced lies.P&G has been the focus of at least three false stories – the one about its logo, the one about Febreeze, and the Swiffer Jet cleaning pads. It’s hard not to feel a little bad for a company that simply makes cleaning products, among many other consumer goods. But officials there combat rumours with good science and objective facts, and those are the tactics that win this game every time.
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