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Meet Ms. Green Clean

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This week, Upper Green Side caught up with Cori Morenberg, otherwise known as Ms. Green Clean. Cori is one of NYC’s eco-entrepreneurs. She runs a small business that cleans people’s apartments in an eco-friendly manner.

UGS: Can you describe your business? How did you get started?

Cori: Luckily, a cleaning business is relatively easy to start and there’s not much financial investment. Of course, there was a good amount of research involved regarding non-toxic cleaning recipes and products, hepa-filtered vacuum cleaners, business and pricing structures, where to buy printed t-shirts, business cards. I had to learn how to make a bed properly. Things like that.

UGS: What did you do before you started the business? How was the transition to being an eco-entrepreneur?

It was a pretty natural transition for me. I have a B.A. in Botany from Miami University, Ohio. During college I worked at Greenpeace and after school I worked at the New York Botanical Garden and the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Bronx. I wanted a job that I could feel good about at the end of the day and where I could be my own boss and make my own schedule. Starting Ms. Green-Clean was the perfect career answer for me.

UGS: How has it grown since you founded it?

Cori: I actually got my first client call several months back, before I was even ready to begin. I was still working on the website and had done no advertising. But they found the site so the business was launched! My clientele increases every week.

UGS: What types of products do you use? Are these available in local stores?

Cori: All the cleaning products we use are made from simple and naturally-derived ingredients. They contain no VOC’s, or volatile organic compounds. I use a lot of borax, a miracle cleaner as far as I’m concerned. In well-stocked grocery stores it’s sold as “Boraxo” in the cleanser section, or as “20-Mule Team Borax” in the laundry section. I also use “Mrs. Meyers All Purpose Cleaner,” also available in many grocery stores. “Bon Ami,” a mineral-derived non-abrasive cleanser is a mainstay in my supply bag. We also use vinegar, baking soda and simple soaps. And I like to use a diffuser while we work to disperse different mixtures of essential oils into the air for an aromatherapy perk.


UGS: If people have trouble finding these in local stores, do you know where they can buy these items online?

Cori: After several clients came to me saying they couldn’t find a lot of these ingredients in their grocery stores, I opened an online store in association with Amazon where people can find everything I use and more in one central place.

UGS: Tell us about a particularly tough apartment you’ve cleaned?

Cori: Well, to be honest none of them are easy. When I get home from a day of cleaning I feel like I’ve raced in a triathlon. It’s truly grueling work. We clean all floors on our hands and knees because I believe it’s the only way to get a floor clean. I’m a little compulsive! I bought kneepads after cleaning my first house, and joked about purchasing a helmet, too.

I’ve noticed people tend to think their houses are not quite as dirty as they are, or maybe they don’t realize how deeply we clean, what details we get down to. I had one client who told me it would just be a general cleaning, pretty easy, but I could tell just from what she described that it would be a good six hours of working like a maniac. When I got to their house I spent the first hour and a half just cleaning the bathroom. It was filthy—mold, years of grime and dirt. When I emerged from the bathroom the husband asked if it would be more than four hours, the minimum we work in anyone’s house. I could barely help myself and just smiled and said it would take at bare minimum the six hours I quoted them originally. He seemed truly surprised, but not at all unhappy. When I glimpsed the wife after this exchange I realized she knew just exactly how dirty the house was. I immediately imagined there had been a typical spousal argument about who was going to clean for the company coming that evening. I ended up spending six and half hours there. They were so pleased with my work they’ve become one of my main references.

UGS: Who generally are your clients? How do you find them or they find you? Are any famous?

Cori: I have a nice cross-section of clients, which actually surprised me at first. I thought I would only have very wealthy clients, and mostly older and more established ones. I definitely have those, and several well-known clients, but I have lots of younger people, as well—even struggling artists and hard-working middle-class types, who are just pleased as punch to not have to squeeze one more task into their already busy days. I’ve learned that if people want the service, they want it. Period.

UGS: What’s something easy that the average person cleaning can do for themselves to make a difference in cleaning green?

Cori: They can buy, or check out from the library “Green Clean” by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin. It’s really all you’d need, besides basic supplies and ingredients, to clean everything in your home naturally. It’s a great resource.

UGS: What’s the one reason people should hire your service for their cleaning needs?

Cori: I feel pretty confident in saying that you will not find anyone who will clean as thoroughly and efficiently as Ms. Green-Clean does–and what a bonus that all our cleaners are safe for your family, pets and environment.

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