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21 November 2014

The Importance of Employment Ethics and Service Values

AspenClean team members pose for a family photograph...
AspenClean makes environmentally friendly, chemical free and vegan friendly cleaning supplies, but we are also a premiere cleaning service with locations in Vancouver, Calgary and now Toronto. Cleaning a client's home is a huge responsibility, one that we take seriously. Our clients trust us in their personal space, with their pets, their most prized possessions and more. That is why customer service is so essential at AspenClean, but so is who we hire, and how we operate.

Recently several companies have been in the news for class action suits filed alleging abuse of employees and violations of labour laws. In the interest of transparency, AspenClean competes directly with at least one company facing lawsuits and labour law violations, and we regularly compete with other companies that use contractors instead of registered employees. That being said, we thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at this issue and how it has become an increasingly common problem in the United States and here in Canada.

The Growing Problem

Imagine you are a young, fresh eyed high school or college graduate, looking for a career. You go out into the world looking for work and find the job market is a bit different than the one your parents faced. Many employers want you to work for an unpaid internship without the guarantee of employment, others want you to work part time and the full time positions you do find are so competitive you probably have to know somebody to get the job. Even if you do, starting wages are lower than ever when you adjust for inflation and it's difficult to pay the bills, let alone pay off student loans or a car loan. In the three most expensive markets in Canada, paying the bills is very difficult.

On the employer side, it's not any easier. Small employers face increasing competition from other start-ups and large corporations undercutting the market. Web services like Groupon help companies get noticed, but they also undercut the market further, forcing companies to offer lower and lower prices to stay competitive. The result is customers who expect lower prices and employers with unreliable and unsustainable profit margins. Many companies, big and small, pass on the strain to the employee. The result is a labour force that is increasingly unreliable, under-trained and most importantly, uninterested in advancement.

The race to stay competitive is never ending...
Recently the problem has gotten worse, with many start-ups turning to contractors to save money. Contractors remain an important part of doing business, but using loopholes in the law many companies are relying on them to replace full time employees. Companies like the ones involved in lawsuits south of the boarder are hiring contractors for lower and lower wages, even finding ways to avoid the minimum wage in some cases. They've been able to attract these temporary workers because of an increasingly desperate pool of applicants and to their credit, they offer some employees flexibility to pursue other passions.

This situation presents an ethics question and a larger concern about the value we place on work in service industries. From an employee's perspective, it creates a lack of training and breeds an environment of carelessness. But how does this practice of contractors effect you, the customer?

See another cleaning service make the case for full time, properly paid employees.

The Poor Results

If you are in the market for a home cleaning service like we offer at AspenClean, you will find a lot of options if you're in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto. Some will start as low as $50 for a cleaning, with other services costing much more. But what are you actually getting for that service? To quote an old adage, nothing is really free and if you find yourself saving money on a low cost service, chances are a corner was cut somewhere.

For instance, a local competitor might provide a competent contract cleaner for 2 hours at a lower cost, but that contractor isn't being paid a livable wage and they might not be insured. They won't have been formerly trained by their company because there is no investment by the company in that worker. That allows the worker to cut corners to speed things up, it means missing details, it means mistakes that could lead to damage in your home. It might mean you need to be more flexible in your schedule since booking times could change and it might mean the cleaner cancels at the last minute, leaving you high and dry. Even in the best case scenario, hiring a contractor is rolling the dice.

The AspenClean Difference

By contrast, AspenClean employees are full time employees with various benefits anniversary and quarterly bonuses, assistance with commuting to work, Yoga classes, parties, and extra bonuses paid out for 'wowing clients.' They are hired carefully for their personalities, interests and skill sets and are fully insured in case of accidents that could occur on the job. They also go through 1-2 weeks of training to focus their cleaning in the places that matter most to our clients. AspenClean employees are equipped with non-toxic chemicals that they do not pay for and even vehicle and fuel costs are covered along with travel time. AspenClean vehicles are equipped with GPS to make sure employees always arrive on time and jobs are scheduled with windows for travel time to make sure employees can safely travel from location to location.

AspenClean team members, owners and families volunteer to clean up a beach...
To us, our employees are our most important asset, and they represent the brand of AspenClean each and every day. We believe in providing opportunities for continuing education and advancement, and many of our employees have been with the company for more than 5 years as a result. We believe in rewarding good results, which encourages our employees to do their best work in each cleaning. If that wasn't enough, AspenClean cleaners work in teams of three to insure a FULL home cleaning in just a couple hours in most cases.  Our teams bring 10 years of experience and clean over 100 homes daily with arguably some of the best cleaning products on the market, and our customers notice the difference.

Our employees are a part of our family, and they feel important and valued, which in turn makes them more reliable and better at what they do. It's important to note that AspenClean is a premium service. Our prices are higher than some of our competitors, but we are also less expensive than other services and offer a reliable, green and detailed service with discounts for regular cleanings. Comparatively, our clients know AspenClean will deliver and they feel safe trusting us in their homes every week.

Interested in joining the AspenClean team? Apply here.

The Choice We Make

AspenClean has been committed to livable wages and opportunities for our employees since we began offering service in Vancouver in 2004. That does mean that our services are a little bit higher than some low cost alternatives, but the value of AspenClean's service and the results remain self-evident. If you are looking for home cleaning service that is reliable, ethical and offers a level of detail the competition does not, book your next cleaning with us.

AspenClean team members participate in Yoga Exercises...
Beyond our own industry, we believe that employers have a responsibility set a more positive trend for hiring employees. Without ethical hiring practices, we risk a slippery slope that undervalues work in other industries, one that could have dire effects on our economy. We would like to encourage all our partners and competitors to place more value in their teams, because the result is better service, better reviews and a better bottom line in the long run. It is up to us to set the standard and raise the bar for service and results, which is what AspenClean is all about.

3 October 2014

5 Shocking Places Germs Fester In Your Home

AspenClean products are now available in Toronto Whole Foods and their popularity continues to grow online through partners like More customer than ever before are experiencing the benefits of using environmentally friendly, chemical free cleaning solutions in their home.

Recently AspenClean products were featured on The Marilyn Denis Show in a segment highlighting Hidden Germ Hot Spots with Naturopath Mubina Jiwa. The popular CTV talk show featured AspenClean products as an ideal solution to eliminating unwanted germs in the home. Take a look at the entire segment below:

The Marilyn Denis Show: Hidden Germ Hotspots
The article on The Marilyn Denis Show site contains some helpful tips for cleaning your home with AspenClean products, but let’s take a closer look at five surprising places dirt and germs can fester in your home.

1. Your Bathtub 

We like to think of our bathtubs and showers as one of the cleaner spots in our home. Sure they get dirty like anywhere else, but it can’t be that bad, right? It’s hard to admit the truth, but our baths are some of the dirtiest parts of our home. All kinds of germs fester on tub, especially around the drain and knobs. Whirlpool tubs are even worse, with bacteria found to fester in pipes. A recent study found that 81% of whirlpool tubs contained fungi and 34% contained staphylococcus bacteria. Meanwhile, 26% of all tubs contain staph bacteria. Gross!

What’s the solution? 

Use our Bathroom Cleaner regularly, particularly if you’re using your tub for bathing and not just showering. For tough deposits of grime try our unique Superscrub Powder to make cleaning easier. Best of all, these products contain no bleach and were not tested on animals.

Learn more about our Superscrub Powder
Learn more about our Bathroom Cleaner

2. The Salt & Pepper Shakers

Germs are nothing if not stubborn. Every night you eat dinner and wipe down the dining room table, you’re leaving behind germs in the one place so many of us forget to clean. The Salt & Pepper shaker might seem harmless enough, but they are one of the most common places for cold viruses and other germs to change hands, literally. Multiple recent studies suggest a direct link to contracting a cold from interaction with seasoning shakers, and yet they remain one of the dirtiest places in any home.

What’s the solution? 

Use our All Purpose Cleaner or our Kitchen Cleaner for greasy shakers. Wipe down your salt and pepper shakers every time you clean of the table. Even if nobody at the table is sick, it’s always a good idea to keep popular items like this clean. The only other solution is saying no when asked to pass the salt, and that’s just plain rude!

Learn more about our All Purpose Cleaner
Learn more about our Kitchen Cleaner

3. Remote Controls & Game Controllers

Another popular household item that the whole family touches on a daily bases is the remote. What’s more, it’s likely someone might handle the remote while handling food like pizza without utensils. The remote doesn’t just make it’s way around the room to different members of the family and everything they touch, it also collects germs on the floor, table, in front of the television and in between couch cushions. Yup, right after it was hanging out with the spare change it was in your hand and then your hand was touching your face. If you’ve got a pet it’s even worse. Remotes quickly become greasy germ havens and because they’re electronic, they don’t get cleaned as often as they should. The same rules apply for game system remotes as well!

What’s the solution? 

Spray our All Purpose Cleaner on one of our Microfiber Cloths and gently wipe between the buttons on a weekly bases or every time you have a pizza party or guests over. Be careful not to use too much solution or you could damage the electronics inside. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands after handling the remote, especially if you don’t know where it’s been!

Learn more about our All Purpose Cleaner
Learn more about our Microfiber Cloths

4. The Keyboard, Mouse & Tablets 

Like your remote, the keyboard and mouse of your computer are often shared by multiple people. A family computer is used even more than the television in most homes and is placed closer to your face and hands for longer periods of continual use. Sneezing, eating, drinking, coughing and more all take place in front of the computer and those cracks between the keyboard and mouse are some of the grimiest places in your home.

What’s the solution? 

Try using a very small amount of our All-In-One Concentrated Cleaner on a cue tip or with one of our Microfiber Cloths to clean in between the keyboard cracks, but before you do that, turn over your keyboard and let any crumbs or dust that are trapped fall out naturally. You can also use our microfiber cloth and Glass Cleaner to clean grime off your computer’s screen, provided it has a plastic or glass cover like most iMacs or Tablets.

Learn more about our All-In-One Concentrated Cleaner
Learn more about our Glass Cleaner
Learn more about our Microfiber Cloths

5. Your Kitchen Sink 

So far we’ve covered everything but the kitchen sink, but don’t worry, we saved the best (or worst) for last. The kitchen sink might seem like one of the cleaner places, especially since you use it to clean your dishes. Bacteria and Germs actually love the damp surface left behind after you do your dishes, and it’s amazing how often we just use our sinks for rinsing dishes, which leaves behind even more germ bacteria. E. Coli and Salmonella fester in the sink, growing off of food particles left behind by cleaning and rinsing plates. Consider that we often use the same sink to rinse off vegetables or potatoes and that’s a little disturbing when you consider that statistically speaking your toilet is cleaner than your sink. And you wouldn’t rinse your carrots in the toilet, now would you? 

What’s the solution? 

It’s crucial to keep your sink clean every day. Sanitize your sink with our Kitchen Cleaner which is formulated to fight grease and kill bacteria without bleach. You can also use our Dish Soap for regular dishes and remember to keep your Garburator clear of food and clean it regularly.

Learn more about our Kitchen Cleaner
Learn more about our Dish Soap

It has never been easier for Canadians to keep their homes clean and green with AspenClean products, available in select retail locations across the country and online through For customers in Vancouver, Calgary and now Toronto, our professional home cleaners are ready to take on those germs for you with our home, office and apartment cleaning services. Keep your home germ and chemical free with AspenClean’s Gift Boxes, which get you started cleaning chemical free.

Learn more about our products and find out where they are sold here.

15 July 2014

DIY Versus Store-Bought Cleaning Products: What's the Difference?

Here at AspenClean, we're often asked why people should purchase our products. This rings especially true when we hand out homemade, healthy cleaning recipes at the events we attend. If you can easily make a healthy, natural cleaning product in the comfort of your own home, why should you purchase ApsenClean (Or any other company's) cleaning products?

Photo: Rob Bertholf
The answers are more simple than you might have thought. For example although lemon peel might be highly effective in cleaning and shining your kitchen sink, there are several practical considerations to account for before employing it as your primary cleaning tool. The first is the most obvious: time. In today's world, many of us simply do not have the time to make "homebrew" cleaning products, even if it's as easy as cutting lemon peels into squares. Time is also working against you with most homemade cleaning solutions. In the lemon peel example, you'll find that the peels quickly begin to go bad after coming off of the lemon itself. Refrigerating the peel will not slow down this process by much, and a cold peel is ineffectively for cleaning. In the case of a homemade spray product, the organic ingredients will begin to spoil shortly after preparation. This means that a savvy DIYer with enough time at home could make a fresh batch every time they wish to clean, but for those of us who are more hard-pressed for time, making product every single time anything needs to be cleaned is not reasonable. AspenClean cleaning products, despite being 100% natural, have carefully balanced pH levels to ensure that the organic ingredients in each bottle remain fresh and effective, until you need to use them.

Works great, smells bad

On the more technical side, there are two main reasons why DIY do not compare to professional made cleaning products: separation and efficiency.

Separation refers to the settling of various ingredients at the bottom of a bottle, while the liquid portion remains at the top. This "separation" can severely reduce the effectiveness of the cleaning product, depending on how long the ingredients have been apart. Many homemade cleaning recipes will inevitably lead to separation if they are left to sit for a even a few hours.

While many do-it-yourself recipes are highly effective at doing light surface cleaning, we've found that it still requires a professional-grade cleaning product to effectively combat that tougher dirt. Why is this the case? It's simple: there are ingredients in professional-manufactured products that would be difficult to replicate in the home for a similar effect. For example, AspenClean uses limestone in our SuperScrub powder. Limestone is 100% natural, and is a gentle abrasive, meaning that it helps loosen tough dirt and grime that would be difficult to remove otherwise. While "mainstream" companies might prefer a harsh chemical abrasive, AspenClean chose to continue natural ingredients. Don't take our word for it-we're EcoCert certified.

Proven effective and trusted by the pros!
Not only is this safer for the person doing the cleaning, it is also much better for the surface the product is being applied on. While limestone might sound a bit aggressive, it is completely safe to use on delicate surfaces such as stovetops, with absolutely zero marring. Another example would be our white vinegar mix. Although it is entirely possible to create your own cleaner using vinegar at home, it is not pleasant to work with due to the smell. Finally, all AspenClean products are infused with organic essential oils extracted from only the finest of ingredients. Not only does this leave your home smelling fresh-it also provides the benefits of aromatherapy, which can have many positive impacts on the health of your family.

So while AspenClean does not discourage home-making cleaning products from time to time, our research and experience indicates that it does require a professionally-produced cleaning product to thoroughly clean the home, once in a while. Do-it-yourself solutions might be helpful in between regular cleanings, but they're no substitution for years of careful research and development.

8 July 2014

Healthy Cleaning At The Cottage

Summer is (finally) here again. If you're anything like the team at AspenClean, you're probably dying to get out into the great outdoors and enjoy the sunshine after that long, brutal winter. For many people, the days of summer fun and sun mean driving up north for a remote weekend at the cottage. But cottage life brings a whole series of challenges along with it, and we're not just talking about the bugs!

Photo credit: Miika S.
If you're looking for a natural cleaning solution for your summer home, we know how difficult it can be to find a safe, but effective cleaner for the surfaces in your cottage. When you're up North, there is more than just the safety of your family to take into consideration-you also have to worry about the safety of the environment and wildlife around you. But how can you safely clean your cottage while protecting your family and the wildlife?

Our microfiber cloths are handy around the cottage-and reusable!

AspenClean's all-natural cleaning products are not only great around the house-they're also great around the cottage! Our products are all rated to be septic-tank safe, meaning that you can rest easy knowing that your clean home won't result in a damaged tank. Our All-Purpose Cleaner is great for those messy deck barbecues-just spray and wipe! Got a grimy window or boat windshield? Our Glass Cleaner is borderline magical on tough streaks stuck on vehicle glass. Forgot to clean up a spill when you left for home last time? Not a problem. With the SuperScrub Cleaner, all you have to do is  sprinkle some powder on, let it set for a few moments, then wipe off with one our high-tech microfiber cloths. Not only are our cleaning products natural and safe for the environment, they`re very easy to work with. You won`t need to haul a bucket around the cottage and rinse off any residue-AspenClean products are specially formulated so that they`re easy to clean off, meaning that you can spend more time relaxing with your family, and less time worrying about tidying up the day after.

Some simple tips to keep the cottage fresh and tidy:

  • Remember your water source: Some cottages do not feature modern plumbing systems. Take care not to pollute your local bodies of water.
  • Weigh down food wrappers and trays: We`ve all experienced food trays blowing away during an outdoor cookout. Make sure you weigh them down carefully, so that you`re not littering inadvertently.
  • Be conscious of what`s outside: Unlike in the city, there are many different animals roaming around cottage country. Carefully consider what you`re leaving out overnight. Will an animal be attracted to it? Will they try to pry it open? What if they put it into their mouth?
  • Re-use as much possible! Whether it`s our microfiber cloths, or simply a paper towel, remember to select products that can be reused as much as possible in order to cut down on the amount of rubbish you generate.

1 July 2014

AspenClean Products: Natural Efficiency

At AspenClean, we're extremely proud of the natural, organic, and healthy aspects of our cleaning products. What we don't say quite as much, however, is that our products are also extremely efficient. Don't believe us? Our professional cleaning teams only use our proprietary products, and service over 100 homes a month. Our clients can't believe the amazing job that our teams perform, thanks in part to our specially-designed cleaning products.

When it comes to cleaning homes professionally, speed is always a concern. In order to safely and efficiently clean our clients' homes, our cleaning products have been specially designed to be easy to use. Not only do they not require rinsing, they leave behind no residues of any sort. While we can't share the exact secret of why our products are awesome, we can safely tell you that it's due to our unique formulas that took years to develop. Clients who want to use our products at home on their own can read the back of each bottle to see exactly what goes into their product.

AspenClean products: 100% Natural, 100% Effective

So what are you getting when you squeeze our European-manufactured spray triggers and release that magic that blasts away the dirt from your home? Almost all AspenClean products are made with a large of amount of water, ensuring that the product comes out in liquid form. Water, of course, is natural, so it doesn't stain or foam very much, and is helpful when trying to scrub away tough stains. Some AspenClean products also contain natural, mild abrasives such as limestone, which help loosen stubborn dirt. Organic essential oils round off the recipes, leaving your home smelling natural, with the benefits of aromatherapy.

AspenClean's professional cleaning teams combine our products with microfiber cloths to achieve maximum cleanliness and efficiency. What makes microfiber so special?
How Microfiber Works
After extensive research, we concluded that it was simply one of the best choices to clean homes safely and effectively. Microfiber clothes trap dirt and moisture, meaning it will suck up any cleaning products and grime with only a quick wipe. Microfiber is also free of the lint that plagues traditional cloths, meaning that they're safe to use on delicate surfaces such as stainless steel, chrome, and glass. In fact, many of those who swear by using newspaper to clean their windows switch to AspenClean microfiber and Glass Cleaner once they see the amazing streakless results!

27 June 2014

Eco-Friendly Treats Your Dog Will Love

From chemical preservatives to animal by-products, salmonella to melamine, dog treats can be pretty harmful for your pet without you even recognizing it! If you don’t know what an ingredient is, chances are you wouldn't eat it, so why should your dog?
Here are some alternative, more Eco-friendly treats that your dog will love from us at AspenClean!

  1. Stew: I personally make my dog a stew once a month and freeze it in containers meant for 3 day portions. Things you can include are potatoes, a meat or fish of choice, rice or quinoa, parsley and carrots. Throw it all into a crock pot for the day and you’re dog will not only smell the delicious stew, but they will gobble it up, too!
  2. Dehydrated sweet potato: super easy to make! Simply cut lengthwise fairly thick strips of sweet potato, and bake them at the lowest temperature (175 for me) for roughly 8 hours on a baking sheet. 
  3. Hemp: Treats with hemp meal are great for digestion, and hemp is also environmentally friendly because it can grow extremely fast in any climate with little or no herbicide, fungicide or pesticide. 
  4. Apples: my dog absolutely adores apples to no end! Plus, throw the core into the compost and you’re saving the planet! A little dab of natural peanut butter couldn't hurt either!

18 June 2014

Tips for a more Eco-Friendly Camping Trip

The summer months are among us and if you’re anything like AspenClean, you will try to go camping as much as you can! The only problems I seem to run into while camping, other than the 3 hours it takes to set up a tent, is all of the waste that is produced when buying pre-packed food, cooking utensils, and camping supplies. Here are a few tips to make your next camping trip a little more environmentally friendly:
  1. Solar powered equipment: from generators to fly traps, flashlights to lanterns, there is a large amount of gear out there that does not require any batteries or energy of any sort, other than from the sun. 
  2. Gear made from recycled materials: North Face, Patagonia and Mammut now carry gear like sleeping bags that are made from recycled materials. Or, you can order online from Play it Again Sports, and be a bit more environmentally friendly when camping.
  3. Reusable cutlery and linens: this one is a major, because paper plates and plastic knives and forks are a huge problem when it comes to creating waste while camping. Bring old towels and reusable napkins as well as reusable plates and cutlery, and not only will you be saving the environment, but in the long run you will be saving your wallet as well.
  4. Natural Fire Starters: rather than buying fire starters think about using dry pine needles and grass when starting a fire. You can even pack your own if you have access to some! This is another tip that will save your wallet as well as the environment.
  5. Pack your food: from hot dogs to marshmallows and lunch meat, there is a lot of plastic garbage that will need to be tossed out throughout the trip. Think about picking up hot dogs from a butcher and putting them in reusable containers, and also consider packing a ton of fruit for snacks, because all of the plastic bags and wrapping is harsh on the environment.
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