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Clean and Green Without the Pine

Posted by: Lisbeth Tanz on

If you think the top indicator of a clean house is it must smell like a pine tree–or worse–Greg Nicklas of Maid Brigade of Portland would like to clean yours.

Maid Brigade, a national cleaning franchise that’s been in the Portland, OR, area for over 16 years, decided to “go green” in April 2007. “It was a corporate decision and affected all the franchises,” said Greg. “It wasn’t an easy switch. We had to learn all new cleaning processes,” he admitted. “But the benefits far outweigh the initial pain we felt.”


Some clients, however, were skeptical. Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to the change went elsewhere. That’s one of the big risks a small business takes when it completely changes its business practices.

On the plus side, once the word was out about what Maid Brigade was doing, their business increased nicely with clients who appreciated the new direction. However, Greg insists the changes weren’t motivated by anything except the desire to do the right thing for the environment.

He makes a good point: What company wants to incur extra training, materials and product costs–and the risk of making customers angry with them–when what they’re doing currently works well? Hmm. That IS a good point.

Maid Brigade is the ONLY cleaning service certified for green residential cleaning byGreen Seal, Inc.. The independent non-profit organization is dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase and use of environmentally responsible products and services.

To obtain this honor, companies must jump through many “green” hoops and pass rigorous trainings. “At first, our employees were in shock,” Greg said. “But once they got into the groove of what we were trying to achieve, they jumped in with full support.”

This was no easy feat – it meant replacing common household cleaners with PH neutral, water-soluble, low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) cleaning solutions and changing their method of application.

Cotton cloths don’t trap dust, but microfiber does. In order to become Green Seal certified, Maid Brigade had to switch to microfiber and a color-coded cloth system to prevent cross contamination between surfaces and products. “It took a while to learn, but it’s not a big deal now,” Greg said.

Maid Brigade cleans your floors with safe cleaners. Isn't that what you want for your kids and pets?

Clearly, products that support the environment are naturally better for people who live in the homes being cleaned. My first thought was how much better this kind of cleaning is for people with health issues (asthma/allergy sufferers or those with compromised immune systems, for example) or children who spend copious amounts of time on the floor or pets, who walk on the floors and then spend time licking their paws.

The “silent benefactors” from this change that you may not have considered are the Maid Brigade maids. Think about it. Can you imagine using harsh chemicals all day, every work day? That’s what the Maid Brigade staff used to do.

Today, they have a healthier work environment because of changes to Maid Brigade’s business. Healthier staff could translate to happier staff (although Greg couldn’t necessarily confirm or deny that). I don’t know about you, but this would make me feel good if I hired them.

I know we’ve been trained to think that strong-smelling products and harsh chemicals are the only way to get things clean. But there’s a steep price to pay from a health and environmental perspective. Learning what this means isn’t hard, either. There are resources available to educate you on what green cleaning entails.

Greg often refers new clients to GreenTV, a video site dedicated to healthy living and green cleaning. Even though it’s sponsored by Maid Brigade, don’t let that sway you. It’s packed with useful, non-Maid Brigade focused information that will definitely get you thinking.

Maid Brigade will be at the Energy Trust Better Living Show. There you can try out your own smeller and see for yourself all your alternatives to heavy pine and a healthy indoor home environment.

Originally posted 2009-03-11 10:00:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter