Urban Legends

Swiffer WetJet

The Legend

Submitted in November 2005

I recently had a neighbor whose award-winning 5-year old purebred German Shepherd had to be put down just days before it was going to appear in a remake of Lassie and earn enough money so that its owner's mother could have the eye operation she needed. The dog was completely healthy until a few weeks ago, so they asked a local biology teacher to have his class perform a necropsy to see what the cause was.

The animal was a complete mess. There were signs of all sorts of trauma and its insides were in such disarray after the necropsy that there was no way it could ever be put back together. Poison was suspected, but the dog was usually kept inside and even when it was outside it is watched every single minute of the day so there is no physically possible way that it could have eaten, breathed, or stepped in anything without its owners being aware of it.

My neighbor started going through all the items in the house, wondering what could have so hideously killed the beautiful, loving animal that was their blind, polio-stricken daughter's only companion. When he got to the Swiffer WetJet, he noticed, in very tiny print in white on a white background a warning that stated "Caution: May kill things."

He called the company to ask what the contents of the cleaning agent were and was astounded to find out that antifreeze is one of the ingredients! (Actually he was told it's a compound which is one molecule away from margarine which is one molecule away from plastic which is chemically similar to some molecules in anitfreeze, but that's just splitting hairs.)

Therefore, just by the dog walking on the floor cleaned with the solution, then licking it's own paws, and the dog occasionally biting a discarded Swiffer WetJet when it went with little Billy to explore the town dump on weekends, it ingested enough of the solution to effectively turn its insides inside-out while it was still alive.

Soon after his dog's death, his two cats also died horribly (one was hit by a car), and a neighbor's goldfish -- won at a carnival only that afternoon -- turned belly up after only a few hours of living in a house next door to a house where a Swiffer WetJet was used. Fortunately, everyone is suing, and the poor victims have asked that we spread the word to as many people as possible so they don't lose their animals.

Behind the Legend

This one is very easy to discredit. A quick call to Swiffer Manufacturing headquarters in Nicaragua got us the name of the head of the Domestic Science and Extermination division who assured us that the rumor that has been sweeping the Internet (no pun intended) is completely false. The Swiffer WetJet does not use antifreeze or any such thing to clean surfaces. Instead, a thin coating of powerful hydrochloric acid is used to burn away surface dirt without leaving any harmful residue.

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