79: Leslie Reichert | Green Cleaning Coach | Massachusetts

Leslie Reichert, “The Cleaning Coach”, is a nationally-recognized green homekeeping expert dedicated to educating people on keeping their homes, schools and work areas “green”. From obvious dangers like toxic chemicals under the sink to hidden hazards that can be found in the office, Leslie helps teach simple steps to keeping families and pets safe from hidden toxins and health risks.

Leslie Reichert’s mission is to teach and encourage others in the “art” of green home keeping. She has a book called the “Joy of Green Cleaning” I quickly ordered on amazon for my kindle easy peasy!

Well probably all of your gardening people are listening going what why are we gonna be talking about cleaning?! This is a little weird. but I’ve been in the business for about 24 years, a lot of speaking, most of what I do locally is with garden clubs. It’s fascinating to see when we talk, you’re gonna see how we can marry gardening and cleaning into one really fabulous healthy way of doing things! So I’ve been doing that for 24 years.

I started with my own housekeeping service long ago, I grew it to be too big. The reason I got into the green aspect is I became the guru of shower cleaning. I became the Expert shower cleaner. I used what was then allowed to be used called Boraxo. That was the cleaner that they used on Fiberglass boats. After years and years of using that, I ended up getting very very sick. We found out it was the chemicals in cleaning products that we’re using. I started researching things and I found out that there is an easier better way to do things. Most of what I learned is it’s the same stuff that our great grandmothers used to use. And so that’s why I wrote my book!

The Joy of Green Cleaning cover - no border create space

Joy of Green Cleaning

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Gardening for me, was interesting, ’cause my dad had a big old vegetable garden in Western Pennsylvania and he loved to sit and watch while we weeded. As kids that was our job! He’d sit in the lawn chair!

When I first think of gardening. I always thought ugh I hate gardening, I think of the weeding aspect of it. I grew up in Pennsylvania. Everyone in our neighborhood had great big gardens. Noone ever thought of organic gardenign at all back in that day.

Since I’ve had my own home

Clean Green Living, we talk about clean living, clean green eating, clean gardening, and when we talk about clean gardening it’s about using less of the things people are selling you in the store and getting back to what is natural. I’m getting better at becoming an organic gardener! I’m excited to connect with you.

I originally thought this would be a topic based podcast that Mike would just teach people, but this has worked out better, it’s been so interesting and I’ve met so many cool friends! 

What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?

Well, like I said what it means to me, organic gardening is basically going back to, again my great grandmother grew up on a farm in Western PA. It’s so interesting if you look at some of the pictures she’s wearing back then, she’s wearing an old cotton long dress, it’s so sweet, that’s basic gardening, you’re just out there with a hoe. They never used a lot of fertilizers, it was just using what was in the ground, and a little bit of water, and using their heirloom seeds that they would keep in jars and in trunks.

It’s interesting what we have basically conformed to what we see what is in the grocery store is what we think of that big red tomato.

Then you learn about the different heirloom tomatoes and think they’re not all perfectly red or round, they all taste great!

Having the podcast it’s been forcing me to go to more farmer’s markets then I would usually attend. I bought a cauliflower from the Lower Valley Farm and it was sooooo good!

We get brain washed into thinking those bland, low vitamin, low taste food, think

I don’t know what the word is we just want that pretty apple, but you taste it and its like uck that’s the worst apple I ever had, but it looks good!

Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?

It was actually a combination of a lot of things. It was a perfect storm of the cleaning because we’ve been using essential oils, we’ve been talking about bringing things outside inside to use. It was also talking to a lot of different people on my podcast who are gardeners. We have Clean Green Living Magazine and we have a Gardening Guru, her name is Cloud, and she is walking me through the basic steps of organic gardening, sharing with all of my listeners as well, take them for granted that people know how to do those things. so it’s kind of a perfect storm of a little bit of cleaning, wanting to be outside and the rewards what you get,once you do the gardening! I mean I love a nice tomato!

Do you want to talk about your garden or the essential oils? 

I talk to a lot of gardeners when I, do my talks, my son calls it standup!

a lot of the gardening groups, enjoy that, you can make your own cleaning products, and bring what you grow in your garden.

For example, you have the essential oils, pressed out of your different flowers you have

Take something like lemon balm, press it or oil it, and put it into a product your now gonna use in your house. It give you such a sense of fulfilment,

not just a flower now your bringing it into the home and using it.

Do you bring the flowers in and make essential oils out of them?

No! But I’m excited to learn how to!

It’s simple

it is a very long drawn out process. Even if you go to your natural food store, you can buy some of the basic essential oils, you can put them in your cleaning products!

I usually end up buying the product in the health food store. Like I love Lavender and Nature Gate Shampoo and then I’ve also been using Mrs. Meyer’s, a friend of mine gave me some of that.

don’t have to make yourself

The reason Mrs. Meyer’s has done so well these last few years, is when she stared that company she saw the writing on the wall

People were gonna steer away

She went with a natural base in all of her cleaners, then she got the perfect formula for the scents. So she’ll take the ccent of geranium and she mixes it with something else.

Her lemon is not just lemon it’s lemon verbena. Or the germanium is mixed with something else. Now she’s gotten really fancy, into a blueberry, or I just got a Sunflower dish soap I just got! But the basics of them when she started were very pure.

You can make those, up it’s not rocket science.

There are simple things in your pantry that work really well for cleaning!

Vinegar and baking soda, those are 2 of the four basics.

4 Basic Supplies for making your own soap

Borax is like Comet right?


Borax or oxygen bleach is a great booster

Borax developed in the late 1800s is a very powerful salt.

So what happens back in my great grandmother’s day it’s a booster. You may or may not remember that box, it used to be green, with a picture of a mule team on the front.

Now it has clouds. And some clothes line hanging and the word Borax is still on the top. And a little teeny tiny picture of a mule teem in the top corner, but it doesn’t look any thing like the old box. You can get it at Walmart, or any box store. Any hardware store. Laundry area. Down where you find oxycleans… not like a Comet. It’s a laundry booster. Mined out of Death Valley, go to the desert. Basically it’s just run off of years and years of water coming out of the mountains. Just a really powerful salt. It just boosts the power of it.

Even if you don’t want to make your own laundry soap you can putt a teaspoon of laundry soap. It will extend your laundry soap out two fold. It just boosts the power!

You need 4 basic ingredients. You can buy or find soap flakes. Sometimes they are hard to find. Right now I import them from London. Dried up soap flakes back in the fifties. Used to use it for snow at Christmas time. Teacher would use it for hand soap, kids would make soap for moms for mother’s day.

4 Basic Ingredients for Laundry Soap

  • 2 cups soap flakes
  • 1 cup of Baking soda
  • 1 cup of Washing soda
  • 20-25 drops essential oil for scent

Use 1/4 cup with a top loader or 2 TBs with a front loader.

If you don’t have it. You take an ivory soap bar, freeze it, grate it.

Some people have local places that have them.

Is Ivory the brand or just a white soap?

Ivory basic old soap. Pinterest you can use different styles. You can use the Mrs. Meyer’s soap,

I have a friend who makes soap: Simply Josephine has an easy shop where you can get homemade soap. When you walk into her house and it’s like heaven on earth!

Probably since its’ homemade it’s gonna be very soft, so put it in the freezer for a day or two and then just use a hand grater.

Washing soda, is baking soda on steroids. Made by Arm and Hammer, Walmart is starting to carry it. Orange box, it will say washing soda.

2 cups of the soap flakes

borax or soap flakes

1 cup washing flakes

will give you five cups of laundry soap

then you can pick your favorite essential oil!

Pick a lemon verbena, lemon grass, everyone equates the scent of lemon to clean.

Put about 20-25 drops of essentail oil into that dry powder. And you have 5 cups of laundry soap you can use.

Use 1/4 cup with a top loader or 2 TBs with a front loader.

It’s as if it were high efficiency.

I like that. I always have this problem with getting a white powdery thing on my clothes.

Is it like a salad dressing spot?

No it’s like a residue from the washer, like my black skirt or my jeans will come out with it.

Can I ask what you’ve been using it.

Probably whatever’s cheapest at the store. Lately I’ve been using Kelly Green which works pretty good.


I feel like I’m splurging if I by liquid laundry soap.

Make your own liquid laundry soap, mix it in boiling water.

Has some way it picks up the soap powder and put it into the clothing…

I used to always mix the laundry soap up with the water before I added my clothes and ran my wash and my new washer says I can’t do that. 

Add your clothes, Feel good about it like it, it’s an old fashioned soap not a detergent!

I like to make a green scrub.

Have you ever been on the environmental working group’s website?

What other tips do you have for us to bring out of the bottom.

Comet’s not a great product to use

EWG.org (enviornmentla working group)

went into the schools, what are the schools cleaning with and what in those products

Comet had seven carcinogens.


The people who use the products

Especially it’s airborne, you’re shaking it out, it’s airborne!

You’re respitory system is taking all of that it.

Green powder scrub

  • Baking soda
  • I use Borax but you can use oxygen bleach
  • Table salt

1 cup, 1 cup, 1 cup.

Pick the old geraniums that are starting to go. Geraniums dry out the leaves, sprinkle them into that powder. Add in whatever scent of essential oil you want to put in there.

Geranuium scent is actaully a rosey scent when you go to the essential oil. Put 9 drops dried geraniums. Now you have this very beautiful scrub that you can clean out your kitchen sink with that’s not gonna hurt anybody. The other thing you can do. One thing you find is people say now I made this great powdered scrub, how do I use it?

Put it in a parmesean cheese shaker. Shake it,

One under each sink.

I know I keep one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen! My husband said the other night there’s some in the bathroom and I said no way are you bringing those in the kitchen!

No cross contamination right?

Kids at home, clean the toilet.

Have the kids do it,

teaching the kids how to clean.

One reason kids are not learning how to clean is mom’s are too afraid of cleaning products. 20 years ago I never would have given my son a bottle of windex with a paper towel. HE would even had sprayed his face or sprayed the dog.

What’s in windex is not healthy

Now I can give my son a blue micro-fiber cloth, and a spray bottle of water and he can just go!

Tell us more about that, I saw that on your website right? You have that video?

Every gardener has their own favorite tool.

Same fabric, they give you the same cloth

Micro fiber, fine woven so it feels almost like silk. You ca do it 2 ways, wet it so it’s just damp over the window

Poof! No streaks, no smears, no lint! It’s amazing!

I was thinking it’s like what they give you to clean your computer.

You can use it to clean a flat paneled TV. I dust with mine, wet, cherry furniture. Because it picks up with water.

Can you use scent? I’m like the lemon scented pledge girl, I even clean my car with it because I spend way more time in my car and I love the lemon scented Pledge smell.

Because you’re gonna use an essential oil, you’re gonna be spraying the oil onto the cloth.

Could you use lemon juice?

You could you’d probably have to use 1/4 cup. I would probably use as a base as witch hazel, it’s gonna dry faster. You’re gonna get a pure lemon scent.Put the lemon with the witch hazel. Spray that witch hazel on the glass, use the blue cloth dry.

In the car, same spray bottle. In your car you don’t have to worry about oil on your dash in car. A little bit of oil won’t hurt your dash. I would use the base of witch hazel. Because it will dry a little bit quicker.

Keep the blue cloth in car. You know when you get in the car. IDK about you, but In New England, it gets all foggy. So you wonder how am I gonna get this quickly?

Wipe inside

Use it on your windows, your windshield, you can use it on the dashboard of your car. I just keep a little spray bottle in there with it.

What about wipes? I’ve been using wipes a lot the kind you use on a baby? 

Let’s make our own,

find a pretty heavy duty style paper towel. I like the microwaveable bountys.

Use a tuperwear container. Maybe find a container big enough to hold a roll of paper towels.

A little bit of rubbing alcohol, vinegar, add essential oil.

Do you want to disinfect things? or are you just cleaning?

I spend so much time in my car, I’m always eating in my car, so it’s washing my hands after eating in my car. 

DIstilled white vinegar,

add some lemon

soak cloths in there.

You know those Ziplock containers they came out with.

I use them all the time! I don’t know where they go? But I love them.

My recycling is everywhere. Foldgers coffee cans!

We’er going green, using products we have outside, and recycling! It’s a Win Win Win!

Took care of all your dusting spray

green spray to use in your toilet!

What about something for your floors?

I have mostly carpet and linoleum in my kitchen and bathroom.

Have you heard of Bucketless Mopping?

A swifter?

What I did I went into hospitals. They have this great way of cleaning floors so you don’t have cross contamination. You can’t be

They take a micro-fiber mop. If you have a swiffer. On the bottom of the swifter, there’s 4 little holes on the end of it.

Use one big micro-fiber cloth, in there. Take the cloth, punch it in, now you have your swifter with a natural fabric cloth

16 oz spray bottle,

1/2 distilled white vinegar. Put in your essential oils. Lemon, since you love lemon.

What other flavor can you use?

Rose, lavender oil, mix and match, citrus you have orange. Gambit anything that’s outside. Daylillies, sunflowers. Do you have whole foods?

We have a Naturals –

Do it seasonally:

  • In the spring: lilac
  • summer: rose, sunflowers
  • fall: daylillies, pumpkin or spice
  • Winter: pine or wintergreen, mint …

Every season has it’s scent

Put floor clear 7-9 drops directly into the vinegar.One of the complaints I get all the time is people who don’t like the smell of vinegar.

I put a tablespoon of vinegar in my dishwater. In my rinse water when I do the dishes so I don’t get spots.

Instead of additive spot free in dishwasher.

Vinegar 1/2 way up not gonna smell vinegar at all

Put about a 1/4 way, rubbing alcohol, if you don’t have rubbing alcohol, you can use vodka anywhere. Its totally scent free.

Is it gonna make it sticky? 

No, not at all.

Vodka’s coming up all over. Marisa said you can use it to make your pie crust the other day to make it flakier!

I’ll buy Grain Alcohol, go down and buy 2 bottles of it.

top it off with hydrogen peroxide. Shake it all up.

Now you’ve got a great floor cleaner

spray it directly on the floor, and then wipe it with the micro fiber cloth

How do you clean the micro fiber cloth? Cause I like the fact that it goes in the garbage.

Do you have dog hair?

Get a canister vacuum and clean the hair up.

2 dogs, 2 cats.

I use the swifter when I’m doing a quick clean. I use the mop when I move the chairs all the time. I use the swifter in the bathroom more then anything when I’m cleaning. 

If you use a microfiber cloth, instead.

Put a rubber glove, you can put it on, and hold the rag and hold it down the cloth. IT will pull all the dog hair off the cloth.

Throw it in the washing machine, wash it dry it, like it’s a regular old rag. I tend to clean all my rags together. A special load for rags.

What about dishes?

Dishes, a tool, not a trick

Casabela is a company I love. They have a sponge called a sparkle sponge.

Agressive enough to take everything off your dishes, without scratching things. I call it a princess sponge.

Do you ever use those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers?

This is more of a sponge, it has kind of loops on it that is kind of aggressive for doing dishes. Mr Clean eraser sponge…

Best place for those is in the shower. Oh Yeah! Takes the soap scum right off! You can even do it while your in there. When your conditioner says wait 3 minutes!

You have saved me, that is one of the jobs I put off as long as I can! I always use them on the fridge and the stove.

It uses the technology of Friction, so there’s no chemicals in those at all.

Don’t they get this white chemical soapy?

It’s like an eraser on a pencil. It’s using the heat.

Get’s really hot, even with the shower with the water running! You can rub it over the soap scum and it just heats up and cleans! It’s the best!

I think we have cleaned the house!

Green Cleaning Coach.com

On the right side to sign up you can get 10 videos that come every 3-4 days, for the green scrub, bucket etc.

We talk about it, and then if you think now what did she say again?

Visit at Clean Green Talk for Leslie’s Podcast!

Shop at our Green Cleaning Coach Store

Soap Flakes http://shop.greencleaningcoach.com/product/soap-flakes-3/

Microfiber cloth


Microfiber mop http://shop.greencleaningcoach.com/product/simplee-cleen-microfiber-swivel-household-mop-kit-with-two-pads/

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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