Why do we clean things? “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” immediately comes to mind but doesn’t seem quite appropriate here. There are tons of reasons to clean things but in the final analysis it comes down to aesthetics and function. Cleaning makes things look better or function correctly or more efficiently.
The typical automobile can be used to demonstrate both cleaning for aesthetics and for function. Many, many components of an automobile must be meticulously clean to function properly if at all. The inside of today’s automobile transmission, for example, rivals the degree of cleanliness found only in critical aerospace applications less than 30 years ago. Just one or two particles a fraction the size of a grain of sand can cause irreversible damage to a transmission even before the car is delivered to the customer. The same is true of the engine, pistons, valves, fuel pump, air conditioning compressor, switches, bearings and hundreds of other components. Safety is also an issue. Crash sensors, airbag deployment and anti-lock brake components also demand cleanliness to function properly. In this case, failure or lack of function could mean a loss of life! Needless to say, the automotive industry is extremely aware of the need to clean things to prevent warranty claims and liability for damage to life or property.
Meanwhile, we, as customers, take pride in keeping our cars clean. A clean car says something about the person driving it. Everyone wants a clean car for that “important date” or picking up that important client. How would we feel if our real estate agent picked us up to view a property with a mud covered car? The car would probably function just as well muddy or not, but the agent’s “image” would be severely degraded along with the prospect for a sale.
There is almost always a cost associated with cleaning – – but, similarly, there is almost always a cost associated with NOT cleaning. In the case of cleaning for function, the decision of whether to clean or not is often a no-brainer. It must be done. There may be options but in the final analysis, it must be done. The cost of NOT cleaning is likely to be greater than the cost of cleaning. The question of cleaning for aesthetics is not always answered as easily. Again, there is a cost, and the payback may or may not support the cost of cleaning. The value of cleaning (or the cost of NOT cleaning) is a little more difficult to quantify unless you are a young man going on that “important date” or the real estate agent showing a pricy property!
So when looking at the cost of cleaning, one must also factor in the cost of NOT cleaning. A slightly different perspective may bring things into clearer view.