Michael DeJong is a clean freak and so is my mother.
DeJong, however, has a slightly different approach in relation to my mom’s personal fleet of cleaning supplies and brand names. In his first book, Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing, he demonstrated how to use simple, everyday items to clean house, save money, and live sustainably.
With Clean Body: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself, DeJong turns towards the human body and applies the same holistic, wholesome principles.
As a clean freak, DeJong is incredibly sensitive to his environment. Everything makes him sneeze, he says, and most commercial cleaning products and grooming aids leave him choking. Jam-packed with chemicals and additives, the majority of products for cleaning and grooming we take for granted can be unsafe and harmful to our environment.
Instead of charging to the store and loading up on all of the latest smelly soaps, goopy hair products, and silky shaving creams, DeJong suggests a proud return to simplicity. With 89% of cosmetic products not undergoing safety testing and a myriad of harmful ingredients infused into the stuff, it’s no surprise that his approach seems attractive.
His miracle cleaning products, the five of them (six if we’re including water), are deceptively simple: baking soda, lemon, olive oil, white vinegar, and salt.
By advocating a return to simplicity and promising effective and oft-superior alternatives to chemicals as grooming and personal cleaning supplies, DeJong rallies against mass consumption and promotes a lifestyle bent on reclaiming the environment and the world.
DeJong’s writing style is habitually hilarious and always open and warm. He tells frequent jokes, letting the reader into his world and his life with self-deprecating humour (lots of bald jokes!) and a simple style all his own. DeJong offsets his cleaning and grooming advice with little quotes and some small illustrations with witty one-liners, deliciously matching the minimalistic nature of the little book.
Of special interest is DeJong’s discussion of his ingredients. He goes into detail about the history of lemons, for instance, talking about where the fruit came from and why it is significant as a grooming product.
Chapters are broken up into their areas of use, with headings like “Elbows and Knees,” “Hair,” “Hands,” and “Privates” breaking the book into natural, easy-flowing sections.
DeJong’s suggestions are easy-to-follow and clearly-written. His chapter on the face, for instance, talks about smiling more and describes five basic rules to good facial care. A homemade facial scrub comprised of three parts baking soda to one part water is recommended, as is a drop or two of olive oil as a moisturizer.
All of the chapters follow the same pattern, offering easy advice with simple, funny instructions. DeJong is a delight and he comes across as a knowledgeable, amusing, caring individual with a true desire to experience life and help the world around him. Clean Body: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself proves that simple, sustainable living is possible, effective, affordable, and fun.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to tell my mother all about DeJong's baking soda foot soak.