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Urban Legends: Windex Is a Cure-All

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Bright blue and good for you?

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Most urban legends bubble up from the streets, but some start in Hollywood.

"Windex as a cure-all" apparently hit public consciousness thanks to the hit movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

In the flick, the father of the bride assures everyone that Windex cures everything "from psoriasis to poison ivy" and demonstrates its purported versatility at every turn.

Well...

Windex contains ammonia, and, in high concentrations, that stuff is caustic as hell -- or even as New caustic as Jersey on a bad day. That's a polite way of saying your dermatologist wouldn't recommend it as a skin lotion, especially if used frequently.

But the movie dad did tap into a bit of folk wisdom. Ammonia and Windex's other key ingredient, isopropyl alcohol, can help dry out poison ivy blisters and ward off bacterial infections that sometimes follow a severe rash.

But overuse of the cleaner can irritate or even burn the skin. There are better over-the-counter skin products available and they're hypoallergenic, too. So, using Windex to treat common skin ailments makes about as much sense as getting a cat or Chihuahua to cure an allergic reaction to critters.

Don't even think about using Windex to treat acne or other chronic skin outbreaks because constant use will make a cadaver look healthy. Adding egg yolk and lemon juice while folding in a month's worth of abstinence won't help, either. You're better off seeing a doctor rather than walking down the household cleaners aisle at Wal-Mart (WMT) in search of a bargain on Windex.

Windex
Here's a thought: use Windex to clean windows or mirrors, its intended purpose.

Consumer Reports magazine tested 10 cleaners and concluded, "For very dirty glass, try Windex No Drip, which was excellent on indoor and outdoor grime and on smoke." The key: "Whatever product you use, refold your cleaning towel often." Somewhere in that last sentence there's a metaphor yearning to be free.

However, if you're running for public office and need to clean up your act prior to a round of media scrutiny, Windex might do the trick. Note: Windex has no effect on financial shenanigans.

Others claim Windex works wonders for cleaning up dog piddles or a child's upchuck on the carpet. Says one fearless blogger, "The stains are GONE!!!" But not a word about how Windex might ease the emotional strain in lieu of tranquilizers or a better behaved kid.

Windex
Of course, you could save money by picking up ammonia and rubbing alcohol at a warehouse discount store and mixing them with water in a bucket. Remember to wear goggles and rubber gloves because this stuff is bad for your skin in high concentrations. On the other hand, mixing up a cleaning brew at home wouldn't do much to build The Myth of Windex and might toss an innocent blogger out of work.

Lotharios swear that Windex is the thing to use for an emergency clean up of lipstick in incriminating places. It will do the trick in a pinch, but a product designed to remove stains from clothes would work better. Moral: plan ahead for your indiscretions because carrying a bottle of Windex in your hip pocket is likely to ruin the moment. In short, Windex isn't an aphrodisiac. (Try booze.)

No matter what some may extrapolate from a movie, do not use Windex to brush your teeth, comb your hair or as a gift on a first date. Windex does not go well with toast, kittens or ear wax. Don't even think about using it to polish your Stradivarius.

You can bet the buzz about Windex as a folk cure will continue to grow because there's half a kernel of truth in the urban legend.

Just remember that Windex is a household cleaner and, despite the thickness of some people's skulls, you're not a hard surface.

Editor's note: no Windex was consumed in the production of this story.

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