Remember When Pine Cleaners Actually Smelled Like Pine?


Back in the 1970s, if you wanted pine cleaners that smelled like a pine forest, you wouldn’t generally have a hard time finding one. Those days have changed.

Pine cleaners were one of those subtle memories I have from childhood. When the janitors at my elementary school would clean the cafeteria floor, that scent just communicated “clean.”

I grew up in South Carolina, which could be called the “Pine Tree Capital of the World.” It wouldn’t surprise me to find that there are other states with more pine trees, but they’d have to have massive amounts of them to beat the Palmetto State.

Pine Sol’s makers advertised its fresh pine scent. Other manufacturers of other products likewise touted their miracle cleaners’ outdoorsy aroma.

Besides Pine-Sol, I remember Texize had a home cleaner that smelled like pine. I might guess it was Janitor in a Drum, although I’m not sure that that particular product had a pine scent. I do know, however, a Texize product with a pine scent existed.

But something happened to pine cleaners.

It has been several years since any “pine” cleaner I purchased actually had that familiar scent of pine.

Pine-Sol, surely the most famous of them, has a newer scent that doesn’t smell bad…it just does not smell like a pine forest.

I did a bit of online research and learned that Pine-Sol changed its scent way back in 2014. The primary ingredient that produced the scent of pine was pine oil. At some point, pine oil either became scarce, overly expensive or both.

Pine-Sol’s parent, Clorox, announced it had to remove the familiar scent because of pine oil availability. Angry customers flooded social media…because that’s what angry customers do.

Someone actually started a petition…because that’s also what angry customers do.

Some of us, however, apparently arrived late to the “Why don’t pine cleaners smell like pine?” party. I’m pleased to say I’m not the only one: comments about the lack of pine in pine cleaners have still been coming in to this story as recently as last month!

Maybe pine cleaner isn’t go great after all.

I found an article that suggests the “clean” pine scents imply may not be entirely genuine.

According to CleanLink, cleaners that use pine oil may not do as effective a job as other cleaners:

For a pine-scented cleaner to be truly effective it would have to be mixed at a very strong (and expensive) ratio thereby negating any true benefits.

It’s the smell that we identify as a smell of cleanliness. But it’s not necessarily clean.

What’s worse, the site says, pine oil and water can actually damage floor finishes. So if you insist on pine scent and you can find pine-scented cleaner, you’ll want to follow some steps to protect your floor.

Or, you’ll simply have to accept that the familiar smell of “clean” from your childhood might not be as “clean” as you thought.

Maybe we can all settle for pine-scented candles instead.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.