If there’s one smell that transports me to my past, it’s Murphy Oil Soap. One sniff and I’m back helping my mom scrub the house with the warm, soapy water during summer vacations. Then the longer I smell it, the more I realize it also reminds me of college. Every year I moved in to a new dorm room, my mom would wash out all the dresser drawers and woodwork with Murphy Oil Soap and water. For some reason, the smell lingered for a few days, and now it’s my scent of anticipating new beginnings.
When Prince Charming and I unearthed all the finished hardwood floors in our new upstairs, instantly I went to my old stand-by. As I washed our bedroom floors a couple times with Murphy Oil Soap and water, I started wondering … is the soap safe to use?
After a bit of researching, I found Colgate-Palmolive Company’s material safety data sheet on Murphy Oil Soap Liquid. They fully disclose the cleaner’s ingredients, including potassium hydroxide, a strong alkaline chemical that’s on the Hazardous Substance List in several states.
Even though potassium hydroxide is considered a hazardous substance, it’s also known as lye – something commonly found in soaps, including castile soaps and the homemade soap recipe Kristy shared earlier this year. Potassium hydroxide is a typical ingredient in cleaning products, and it’s also used medically to diagnose fungal infections.
So … is it safe? Yes! Murphy Oil Soap is a LOT safer than many cleaners sold today. (It’s received a C in the Environmental Working Group Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which surprisingly is a safer ranking than most cleaners on store shelves.) It’s biodegradable and free of phosphates, ammonia, and bleach. Plus, it’s made with naturally-derived ingredients. If you have stringent safety standards, though, and want to avoid lye you’ll have to stick to natural staples like vinegar, baking soda, and lemons.
Interestingly, many floor care professionals say that Murphy Oil Soap should not be used to clean hardwood floors. Instead, a mixture of a gallon of warm water and a half cup of white vinegar is the best cleaner. Who knew that something so simple and cheap is really the most effective?
While I’ll start washing my hardwood floors with vinegar and water, I’m definitely keeping my bottle of Murphy Oil Soap for other cleaning jobs. I enjoy reminiscing while cleaning … but most importantly, I think it’s safe enough for my family and home.
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