Press

Tidy living: organized space can bring peace of mind

Article excerpt: “He touted cleaning as the first offense in controlling common indoor allergens which may trigger asthma and other issues.

Jane Vincent intimately knows mites and mildew. She is co-owner (with founder Courtney Sunborn) of the Maryland Division of Ecolistic Cleaning. Ecolistic is an eco-friendly firm with offices in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill community, Annapolis and Delaware.

Over the past decade or so, the MICA graduate has cleaned all kinds of homes — from historic mansions to modest apartments. Today, she oversees two-or three-person crews that on average spend a few hours getting a home in shape; they scrub, mop, vacuum, dust, and if the client wishes, organize bookshelves, desks and the like.

“People are just extremely grateful when we’re finished,” says Vincent, whose team uses non-toxic cleaning products and natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar and lavender oil.

Besides payment for their services, her staffers frequently receive gifts and even hugs.

“A recurring thing I’ve seen with clients is that it’s very hard to focus when the home is out of control,” she adds. “It becomes a distraction. Once it’s taken care of, most people just seem happier.”

BEST SAVIOR FOR ECO-SLOBS: Ecolistic Cleaning

“We’ll just admit it: We are &#%!@? slobs. The moldy coffee cup on the desk? Yep, that’s ours. The obscene number of Boh and Union cans laying around, waiting to recycle themselves? Yup. The overflowing ashtrays smoldering with each new butt? Uh-huh. Well, that’s why, at home, we have Ecolistic Cleaning, which uses only eco-friendly cleaning products and does all the stuff we never even think to do—like dust. And Jane Vincent, the Baltimore manager/co-owner (there is also a division in Delaware), with her purple hair and love of heavy music, hires MICA students so that they can, you know, make enough money to do art and stuff. We know, it’s kind of like that episode of Portlandia where Aimee Mann ends up cleaning the yuppies’ house, but if we need help in this regard—and we do—we’d rather give our money to people we also like. Besides, just knowing that they’re coming makes us clean up a little bit and hide anything that might be embarrassing.”

Baltimore Green Guide: LIVING

Neat freaks: Ecolistic Cleaning “Natural Cleaning Specialists” use bagless vaccuums and nontoxic cleansers.

“Courtney Sunborn hadn’t planned to start a cleaning company. She enjoyed running a successful holistic daycare from her Annapolis home, but with the birth of her third child in 2003, Sunborn decided she needed a change. “I was with children all day and all night,” she explains. Then a neighbor hired her to clean his house. She asked if she could use her own homemade, non-toxic cleaning products. “I don’t care what you use,” he told her, “as long as it’s clean.”

It was. That job led to an ad on Craigslist, and Ecolistic Cleaning was born. Sunborn is now a single mother of four living in Lewes, Delaware, with a business that boasts more than a hundred clients around Baltimore and Annapolis, and in Sussex County, Delaware.

The idea is as basic as it is radical: cleaning up shouldn’t pollute. Ecolistic’s employees use unbleached paper towels, recycled biodegradable trash bags, and Dyson bagless vacuums, as well as only non-toxic cleansers made from ingredients like sea salt, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.

The company’s minimum cleaning fee is $125 and can range up to $225, depending on the size of the house. Ecolistic’s staff includes part-time musicians and artists. They bring all-natural treats for clients’ dogs and leave the company’s signature lavender-peppermint room spray lingering in carpeted rooms, plus two organic chocolates—a riff on hotel turndown service. Clients, in turn, have been known to present cleaning crews with pies, cakes, and homemade sandwiches, according to Baltimore manager Jane Vincent.

Ecolistic employees are paid between $12 and $15.25 an hour and go through rigorous training to teach them the art of cleaning green. “I feel like with each new employee, they’re getting an education,” Sunborn says, “and that gets passed on.”

Smart Living in Baltimore Magazine

Clean and Serene: “Want to get your home clean without exposing yourself- or Mother Nature- to a boatload of Lysol? The folks at Ecolistic Cleaning, the only eco-friendly house cleaning service that caters to the Baltimore region, spiff and shine using only non-toxic and biodegradable products. Their homemade cleaner features nothing stronger than lavender oil, grain alcohol, castile soap and spring water- but still does the trick.”

  • Published: March/April 2007 Issue STYLE Smart Living in Baltimore Magazine

The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

Cleaning up their act – and yours, too: “Businesses using eco-friendly ways to clean, and so can you. Courtney Sunborn, owner of Ecolistic Cleaning in Annapolis, tells a similar story. She’s been in business since 2003. Initially, she used natural cleaners because that’s what she used in her own home, and because it would lead to a better work environment for her employees. Customers have picked up on the benefits of natural cleaning. “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback,” Ms. Sunborn said. She hands out tipsheets to her customers and gives regular demonstrations of how to make your own cleaners at the Whole Foods store in Annapolis. The next demo is on April 19. “It’s really fun to make your own products,” she said.”

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