Green cleaning and poultry reading

Nontoxic residential housecleaning and a book about chickens

Claudia Desilles

Claudia Desilles

Green cleaner
Though Claudia Desilles hails from Brittany, she is not your average French maid. In addition to not wearing the stereotypical flouncy black-and-white outfit of popular imagination, Desilles—who founded local housecleaning firm House Cleanique in 1999 after moving to the U.S. in 1976—uses only nontoxic substances when cleaning her clients’ homes.

The play on words in the name of her business—“Cleanique” sounds like “clinic,” especially in Desilles’ charming accent—is intentional. The suggestion of health implied by the word “clinic” is exactly what Desilles had in mind. “I wanted something Franco-American that people would understand. The ‘Cleanique’ [means] not only do I make the house cleaner, but I also make the indoor environment healthier.”

The business motto on the door of her car reads: “Nontoxic residential housecleaning.”

Desilles uses biodegradable, nontoxic, organic products in her business, such as Life Tree tea-tree-and-lavender-oil bathroom cleaner and Ecover Ecological Cream Scrub stain-remover and degreaser.

She uses Bon Ami powdered cleanser, known for its friendliness to those with MCS, or multiple chemical sensitivity. She also employs simple baking soda, for instance, to remove stains from marble surfaces, and a vinegar-water solution to wash hardwood floors.

Desilles never uses bleach, a practice she began years ago after developing contact dermatitis as a reaction to doing laundry with bleach.

“I had terrible rashes all over the place,” Desilles said. “That’s when I started looking for natural cleaning products.”

She also uses a commercial-grade, HEPA-filtered, hospital vacuum cleaner, which she describes as “very clean.”

Many of Desilles’ customers are allergy sufferers or have children with asthma.

Desilles has seen an increase in the demand for nontoxic cleaning.

“The younger generation is more concerned about using safe products—definitely,” she offered.

“The only thing I don’t do,” said Desilles, “is compromise with the products. If someone asks me to use bleach, I say no. A few years from now, I am not going to be here if I use toxic products. I am talking about my own health, and, of course, [the health of] children and pets.”

Contact Desilles and her two-woman House Cleanique staff at 892-9662.

Recommended chicken reading
The Joy of Keeping Chickens (available at Lyon Books), by Jennifer Megyesi, contains pretty much everything one needs to know about raising chickens—including housing, feeding and showing them, “using the eggs you produce,” and common diseases and conditions. The only thing it doesn’t go into is how to go about changing behind-the-times city ordinances. It does, however, include Gene Logsdon’s fabulous quote, “The fact that zoning in towns allows residents to raise a barking, crapping dog the size of a small elephant, but not four hens for a steady fresh egg supply shows just how lacking in common sense we have become as a society.”

Dept. of apologies
Two columns ago, I mistakenly stated the address of Nani Teves and Jonas Herzog’s bicycle fix-it station as being at 379 E. 10th St. It’s actually at 379 E. 10th Ave.