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The Globe and Mail feature: Chic cleaning products look to transform a boring chore into a moment of mental wellness

By: Caitlin Agnew
Originally Published: August 26, 2022
Read the article original article here.

Guests on Earth The Globe and Mail

While isolating at home in 2020, a lot of us started paying closer attention to our living spaces. Furniture and decor sales sky-rocketed and cleaning products proliferated. If you could find them, Lysol wipes were rubbed over everything from doorknobs to Amazon deliveries.

The new fascination with home hygiene did not go unnoticed by many lifestyle entrepreneurs, who have since introduced stylish cleaning products and marketed them in a way that equates the act of caring for your home with caring for one’s self. It’s a perfect fit with the current approach to self-care, which emphasizes the cultivation of rituals that encourage presence, awareness and relaxation – all possible to experience through cleaning. But does a sleek, refillable bottle or a dish soap scented by a French perfumer really make cleaning more mindful and enjoyable? For some, a cleaning product that sparks joy, whether that’s through green ingredients, mood-lifting essential oils or aesthetically pleasing packaging, can indeed transform this chore into a moment of mental wellness.

That was part of the motivation behind Toronto-based Guests on Earth. More time spent cleaning during the pandemic led co-founders Jackie Prince and Liz Drayton to reconsider the products they were using – and eventually prompted them to create their own line. “I realized there was a big opportunity to turn this low-interest, under-the-sink category into a smarter, much more enjoyable one,” Price says.

While developing Guests on Earth, which incorporates refillable packaging and all-natural formulas, Prince says they learned that the majority of millennials use brands that encapsulate both their consumer values and aesthetic preferences. “It’s so starkly not represented in cleaning,” she says of typical plastic packaging and loud logos.

On a similarily eco-friendly tack is Anie Rouleau, who founded Montreal's The Unscented Company as a scent-free personal care alternative with the goal of reducing single-use 

plastic. Intolerant of fragrance, she’s quick to point out that scent has nothing to do with cleanliness. “For 50 years we’ve been brainwashed that if it’s not a citrus smell it’s not clean. But there’s nothing further from the truth,” Rouleau says. “Lavender and citrus are great smells, but it doesn’t show performance of a product.”

Taking a different approach to reinventing cleaning scents is Diptyque, the French fragrance company that put perfumed candles on the map. Its new La Droguerie collection includes a dishwashing liquid, multi-surface cleaner, and leather and wood care lotions. Each item features scents created by perfumer Olivier Pescheux, the nose behind blockbusters such as Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million eau de toilette.

With scented candles living firmly in the self-care category, it’s no surprise that Diptyque expanded into the cleaning-as-care realm. “We’ve spent a lot of time at home in the past few years, and we’ve all realized – if we had not before – that a cluttered house equals a cluttered mind,” says Eduardo Valadez, Diptyque marketing director for the United States and Canada. “Considering this, it only makes sense that taking care of your home is also taking care of yourself.”

Other recognizable names jumping on the trend include several celebrity brands, such as Homecourt, which was co-founded by Friends star Courtney Cox, and Safely, momager Kris Jenner’s take (never mind that she’s likely never picked up a feather duster for decades). Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company launched a Conscious Cleaning collection in January. They all promise a sustainability-minded and eco-friendly approach to housekeeping, served up in tastefully designed packaging.

Beyond the Goop set, Vancouver’s Saje introduced Home Cleaning by Saje, a collection of refillable cleaning kits scented with essential oils, this past March. Cleaning has even infiltrated the world of lifestyle influencers. Melissa Maker's Clean My Space YouTube channel 

has nearly two million subscribers who tune into videos demonstrating everything from toilet cleaning tips to baking-soda hacks. “I think cleaning utterly sucks and anything I can do to make it more enjoyable, I will,” she says.

Maker sees the introduction of elevated cleaning products as capitalizing on a cultural moment: the zeitgeist of clean. “The broader trends that I’ve picked up on are the glamorization of organizing and containerizing with the advent of shows and cultural icons like Marie Kondo and The Home Edit,” she says. “Organizing and cleaning is indicative of a particular aesthetic.”

Luckily for anyone who’s keen to up their cleaning regimen, for every $55 bottle of all- purpose spray you can buy, someone such as Maker, who doesn’t buy into the idea that a premium price tag equals an enhanced cleaning experience, has posted a DIY solution online.

“I could give you cleaning recipes that would cost five cents,” she says.

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