Meet Three Local Moms Creating Safer Cleaning Products for Your Home – San Antonio Magazine

From Scratch Farm

When customers are overwhelmed when trying to incorporate more natural cleaning products into their home, Amy Bierstedt has one idea about where to start: dryer balls.

The handmade wool balls that Bierstedt and her sister wind together can be tossed in the dryer and left there for months, negating the need to buy dryer sheets and getting rid of one of the biggest sources of toxins in homes. “Just throwing out dryer sheets makes a big difference,” she says.

Bierstedt began her From Scratch Farm business nine years ago after first making body products in her kitchen. She now sells those bath and body products plus home products, including an all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent and dish bar soap.

Everything is made in small batches using organic and natural materials when possible. Dyes and perfumes are never included, and each product has a short list of ingredients that Bierstedt promises you’ll be able to pronounce.

Her laundry detergent is a natural complement to the dryer balls and is created with super washing soda, baking soda, borax and a bit of OxiClean—because as a mom of boys Bierstedt knows detergent has to work on stains.

The all-purpose cleaner is made with distilled water, vinegar, lemon essential oil and an essential oil blend that acts as a disinfectant. Bierstedt says she uses it on windows, counters and even her microwave.

A single mom, Bierstedt spends much of her week running the Handmade on Main shop in Boerne, which features her products and those of 22 other makers. She also dedicates one day a week to making her products at home. “It’s exhausting, but it’s a joy and a priority,” she says.

Find her goods online, at area markets (check Instagram for her latest updates) or at Handmade on Main in Boerne.

Image courtesy Chabod Home

Chabod Home

Yuliana “Yuli” Martinez’s latest business venture, Chabod Home, was born just a few days before her first daughter, Amalia.

An environmental engineer by training, Martinez came to the U.S. from her native Colombia on a student visa to earn a master’s in engineering, but life circumstances forced her to pivot eight years ago, and she began cleaning homes to make ends meet. She started with just a few residential clients but over the years expanded into commercial cleaning and an official venture, Chabod Cleaning Services, which she runs with her husband Andres Martinez, also a Colombian immigrant.

It was while cleaning homes that Yuli Martinez noticed many of her clients had cupboards full of unused cleaning products and tools. She also tested out several dusters, mops and tile cleaners herself, but never found something she loved. “I’m a clean freak, and I tried so many brands, but there were always a few things we just couldn’t find anywhere,” she says.

So, she crafted her own.

The first three products from Chabod Home—the Anguis Short, the Peniculus and the Tortamque—are meant to help solve some of those everyday cleaning problems Martinez and her staff encounter. (Find them here.)

The Anguis short functions as a drain cleaner and clears hair (and other debris) out of drains. Martinez describes the Peniculus as “a flat broom” that can dust those hard-to-reach areas. It’s outfitted with a microfiber cloth that can be washed after each use. The Tortamque is a reusable electrostatic lint roller inspired by clients who have dog hair all over furniture and other items. Rather than a roller with paper that has to be peeled and thrown away, this version grabs unwanted hair and can then be emptied out much like a vacuum.

Martinez says she hopes to expand into multi-purpose cleaners next, and she’s already created her own paste to clean bathtubs. “As an environmental engineer, I know what is good for the environment and what is good to clean, so I try to strike a balance and use natural products (when we can),” she says.

In focusing on the product development side of her business, Martinez says she’s found a way to stay involved while also raising her infant daughter.

“Amalia is the reason for everything…San Antonio gave us what our country didn’t give us,” she says. “We love it here and we want to grow our business locally and give back to the community and create a legacy for our family.”

Organic Chix, photo by Claire Hogan

Organic Chix

As a mom of three, Catherine Hix wasn’t satisfied with the laundry detergent she found at the store. Between her kids and their family’s two large dogs, she often felt like her fresh laundry came out smelling like it had just been covered up with fake perfumes. At the same time, she was becoming concerned about the number of chemicals in their home and the toll it could take on their health.

She started Googling about how she might make her own soaps and then began experimenting. After several batches, she came up with a simple recipe that also got out all the dirt and stains in regular laundry. “There was a lot of trial-and-error, and a lot of product poured down the sink before we got it right,” Hix told San Antonio Magazine.

Her mission to lessen the chemical load in her home blossomed from there. She created a surface cleaner, and in 2014, founded Organic Chix so she could share her creations with other families. The business now sells everything from detergents and stain removers to surface and wood cleaners and dish soap. Knowing harsh chemicals extended beyond her regular cleaners, Hix also branched into “healthy living” options that range from hand sanitizing spray to mosquito repellant.

Each product is made with plant-derived ingredients and essential oils.
Hix says even her husband was skeptical her creations could work as well as those typical store-bought cleaners when she first began. After seeing them used in their home, though, he was “100 percent on board.”

Find them at a variety of local stores, or order online for local pickup. Organic Chix is also at Pearl Farmers Market, Gruene Market Days (every third weekend of the month).

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