Best of the West: From Natural Brushes to Robots, Here Are Our Favorite Spring Cleaning Tools
Thomas J. Story
The west is a big, big place, and every week our staff is all over it, digging up the best takeouts spots, beaches and trails, artisans, services, and well, phenomena that make the region so vibrant. This is Best of the West, spring cleaning edition.
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Humble & Grand Brushes
My intentions to live a plastic-light life run into serious problems in the kitchen. Over the last year, since bulk bins in California have been off limits and grocery store runs feel like mad dashes through minefields, I have (sadly) let my usual habits of carefully considering more sustainable options slide a little. One place where I’ve been able to pick up the slack is with cleaning products—not just using glass cleaner and counter spray from concentrate—but with the tools I buy and use. Simple and beautifully made wood and natural bristle brushes and brooms take some of the drudgery out of housekeeping. I just discovered Ventura, CA-based Humble & Grand, a team of two sisters, Lauren Kellim and Erin Conklin, who run an online marketplace that sells sustainable home goods with a clean Japandi aesthetic. They may not be able to solve my yogurt container and snack-bag problem, but supporting a local, family owned business with a well-edited selection of kitchen towels, baskets, and gorgeous brooms and brushes is something I can feel good about. —Christine Lennon, home and design editor
Among the COVID-craziness, I became obsessed with cleaning my vegetables and fruits. Not only did I want my groceries germ-free but I wanted to get rid of any extra dirt, pesticides, and chemicals. I stumbled upon Trader Joe’s Fruit and Vegetable Wash one day and have not looked back since. I immediately tasted the difference in my fruits and veggies, especially strawberries and lettuce. My food feels and tastes cleaner. I like to keep it by my sink next to my sponges and dish soap so that I never forget. The tasteful design stands out against my boring dish soap labels. I will certainly use this product for years to come. Pick it up at your local Trader Joe’s in the cleaning aisle or here on Amazon. —Teaghan Skulszki, editorial intern
Keep the Counters Clear
This year for spring cleaning, I’ve been focusing on blending function and style in my (very small) kitchen. That’s why I’m a big fan of my new Cuzen Matcha Maker. Not only is it sleek, lightweight, and stylish, but it also makes insanely delicious matcha with the touch of a button. The starter kit comes with everything you need, from the leaves to a magnetic whisk, so all you have to do is add your favorite milk for a cafe-worthy drink. Plus, it’s really great for anyone trying to cut back on coffee, or a beginner matcha drinker. —Jasmin Perez, digital director
Keep It Smelling Fresh
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at one early stage of pandemic-fueled isolation, I became candle-obsessed. It was an actual problem. Spending nearly every waking moment in a studio apartment left me with an insatiable desire to have the space smelling pristine, but before I knew it, there were candles practically spilling out of the apartment’s limited storage. I couldn’t burn them fast enough, nor could my salary support this wax-crazed habit.
Eventually, enough was enough, and I bid adieu to the costly lifestyle of candle polygamy … because I had found the one. The M. Baker line from Colonial Candle of Cape Cod was mine. I was weak for the wick.
Started in 1905 by a Massachusetts school teacher on Cape Cod, Colonial Candle uses natural soy-blended wax infused with essential oils that’ll leave your nostrils in awe. Now, I’m aware that Cape Cod happens to be the geographical anthesis of the West. However, unlike in 1905, we have the Internet. And what better time to acquire and employ a beatific scent than after giving your living space a spring cleaning facelift? You won’t be disappointed. —J.D. Simkins, staff writer
Shake It Up
I have never been great at cleaning, from wiping down the stove after frying something and getting grease everywhere to unloading the dishes; I can’t think of a task that would bring me less joy. However, I am a fan of doing almost anything that is somewhat cute, and Blueland has brought cuteness to my house cleaners. With an alka-seltzer-like tablet that you get to shake up in pink, yellow, and blue neon acrylic bottles, Blueland has added fun to your cleaning products. The reusable bottles and products are all free of paraben, phosphate, ammonia, and chlorine bleach. Meaning you’re cleaning with clean products, which is like.. double the clean, right? Either way, Blueland makes dish detergent, hand soap, dish soap, and a variety of cleaners so you can spring clean in style as long as your reusable bottles last you! —Magdalena O’Neal, assistant editor
Here’s the thing about spring cleaning: You can’t just do it in the spring. You have to keep at it. And my favorite tool for maintenance cleaning is the Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S—or, “The Robot,” as we call it at my house. You can spend a lot more on a floor-sweeping machine but I’m not sure why. I don’t need my Robot to communicate with the International Space Station; I need it to keep up with the cat hair while I do something else and here the Eufy delivers perfectly. It’s quiet, good at finding its way around the house, and keeps grit and dust bunnies at bay. Bonus: My cats aren’t scared of The Robot the way they fear the standard vacuum. Candidly, they don’t yet like it quite as much as I wish they did, but maybe before this is all over….#QuarantineGoals. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer
Over the past year we’ve seriously cut back on our household plastic use and our recycling bin is now routinely bereft of the jugs, bottles, and tubs that wreak havoc on the environment. But finding a convenient, zero-plastic alternative to laundry detergent proved a challenge as we don’t live near one of those low-waste housewards shops where you can refill a jug every couple of weeks. Happily my wife discovered Earth Breeze Laundry Detergent Eco Sheets. The brilliant fragrance-free detergent sheets dissolve in the wash, come 60 to a biodegradable cardboard envelope that’s smaller than most notepads, and best of all, we no longer have massive cumbersome detergent jugs taking up closet space before living in landfill for eternity. — Hugh Garvey, editor in chief