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Dirty little secrets exposed
The West Australian Dr Chemical, Mark Imisides. Picture: Steve Ferrier / The West Australian

If you have ever come across a red wine or grease stain that you think will never budge, Dr Chemical is your man.

The independent chemicals specialist, whose wife refuses to take him grocery shopping because he has been known to wander the cleaning aisle at their local supermarket for hours, is busting the myths about household cleaning products.

If you thought a standard stainless steel cleaner was the best product to clean your stainless steel, think again.

Mark Imisides, who took the name Dr Chemical last year as he set out to warn consumers of the false claims made by companies about supermarket cleaning products, says an automotive polish called Kitten Cream Cut and Polish No 2 is the best product for the job.

Dr Imisides said assertions on product labels such as "new formula", "super concentrate", "uniquely formulated" or "scientifically tested" were often meaningless unless companies provided the results of their testing.

"A lot of products have vague marketing terms which you couldn't possibly disprove," Dr Imisides said. "Anyone who has a good product should be able to back it up with reports."

Dr Imisides, whose new monthly advice column for _The West Australian's _Habitat liftout starts next week, said branding was key in the household cleaning market, with perception of performance often more important than actual performance.

He said some home brand products worked better than more expensive products made by well-known brands.

"These brands often get a market and people start buying their product, and then they start to cheapen the product and hope people don't notice," he said.

"I can tell by looking at the chemicals. If I have doubts about a product, I write to the company."

Dr Imisides said a shift in the household cleaning market he had observed was the growing popularity of "natural" products, which had been driven by a number of historical chemical mistakes that had stuck in people's minds.

He said while some natural products, such as eucalyptus oil, oil of cloves and D-Limonene, worked well, every natural product had a chemical name and scientists had often improved on naturally occurring products.

"There were various pollution scares and there was this gradual shift away from a trust in scientists," he said.

"People now think that if something is natural it must be trustworthy.

"But if something is natural that's no guarantee that it is going to be healthy or efficient."

Dr Chemical's first column on the secrets to tackling three of the most hated cleaning jobs will appear in Habitat on Friday.