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  • Denise Frakes

What is Residue Free Cleaning?

My discovery of residue free living started very simply. Learning how to clean. When we started our first cleaning company back in 1991 I had no idea what true cleaning was. Which when I write that out sounds a bit backwards- lol. Such is life.

Within the first year we realized most of what we were cleaning could have been prevented or at least minimized. Most of what we were removing were residues left behind from cleaners clean. And most of the damage to the surfaces was caused by those cleaners. Hmmm

We focused our efforts on the science of removal. Removing soil and cleaners, leaving nothing behind that would re-soil. Thus began our first step in residue free cleaning.

It was only later on, through the good old school of hard knocks, did we discover how detrimental to our health those "normal" cleaners were. So we started using the mildest-safest means possible to do our cleaning...whenever we could.

Did you know cleaning is actually the science of removal? It's not the adding on of cleaners that matters, it's the breaking of surface tension and then removing, safely, everything that doesn't belong that is the key.

Basic formula of cleaning- to break surface tension

  • Time: how long you clean or leave cleaner on

  • Chemical: which can be as simple as water all the way to the extreme

  • Agitation: also known friction or mechanical means- my grandpa would say elbow grease. Microfibers' use friction

  • Temp: Cold, hot, Neutral. steam cleaners use heat

I will also include into this list

  • Awareness- what are you cleaning, what is the soil, is someone sick?

  • Prevention - can anything be prevented?

  • Removal- prior to cleaning- removal of the big particles is key. Prevacuum before cleaning floors - you don't want to make mud pies

As we got better at cleaning and our skills improved. I felt moved teach these aha discoveries. Besides where was cleaning being taught? No-where! So I started teaching cleaning classes and helping our clients know how to prevent soil, damage, residues. and extra work. Later I add in the most important parts of cleaning: How to clean for health, and be healthy as you clean. How to minimize harm in the process.

Our culture does a great job giving us a zillion cleaners to use. Most of of which I would call restorative cleaners. Not needed and definitely not for daily maintenance. Restorative cleaners tend to have strong pH's- strong acids and alkaline. They are meant to restore, so they tend to be more aggressive and abrasive. They can be loaded with toxic ingredients to make them fragrant and fast working- at the expense you and your environment's health. Most are overkill and completely unnecessary. They pollute your air and totally clutter up your home (under sink, in laundry room, in garages... you get the drift)

What I teach and practice is what I call residue free cleaning/maintenance

  • Focus on prevention: prevent work, soil, damage, and residues -like soap scum. Take off shoes, rinse and dry showers, turn on exhaust fans and filter air.

  • Whenever possible use the mildest, safest, simplest and most effective means

my top tools: Fragrance free and clear- dish soap, one damp and one dry Microfiber, and a great vacuum.

  • Use the science of cleaning...instead of focusing mostly on the cleaner, you focus in time, friction, temp which means your cleaner can be very safe and you will still do a better job.

  • Leave nothing behind- when done cleaning always rinse and dry. Leave nothing behind- soil, dirt, cleaners or moisture. Air out your home, take out the trash. Be mindful of the energy you leave behind too. Clean kindly. Adding in music will bring another layer of cleaning to your home and spirit.

This simple practice of cleaning for health- of residue free cleaning is easy, less expensive, sustainable, shareable with the whole family and kind to our environment and your health.

Start simply Pick one thing:

  • Take off your shoes when you come home and wash your hands as soon as you get home. At minimum get great entrance mats and wipe your feet and paws.

  • When taking a shower- turn on exhaust fans, and then rinse and dry your shower.

  • Stop spraying cleaners into the air. Stop using aerosol cleaners- please!

  • Use dish soap for cleaning especially greasy areas like kitchens. Dilute your dish soap an always rinse and dry after using.

  • Become great friends with your vacuum. When vacuuming open up windows and turn on your exhaust fan.

  • When dusting, thing removal not stirring up. I use one damp microfiber followed by one dry one. The key is to contain and remove.

Keep your home's air healthy too. If the air quality outside is good, open up windows at least once a day. Turn on exhaust fans. Filter your air with an air cleaner, furnace filter (MERV 13 or FPR 10) or box fan/filter kit.

  • Clean with a kind heart. My favorite way is to add joy and energy is to play music, open windows and give myself time to clean.

Enjoy, cleaning is an ancient art of shifting energy in your home. It is key to creating a home you love and keeping you and your family healthy and happy.


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