Robin Wilson launched Robin Wilson Home in 2000 and created a conglomerate that covers eco-design, licensed products, interior design, and real estate development. Her brand has generated over $82 million in wholesale revenue from sales of cabinetry and textiles. She became the first Black woman with a line of hypoallergenic textiles sold nationwide at Bed Bath & Beyond (now in Wal-Mart), among other retailers. Her book, CLEAN DESIGN: Wellness for your Lifestyle was #1 on Amazon and focused on eco-friendly designs and hypoallergenic products for consumers.
Recently, the lifestyle expert introduced the practical aspect of Top-Down Cleaning. In this era of quarantines and lock downs, the last thing anyone wants to do is add to our work load – and a few simple tips will help you maintain a clean and healthier living space!
Sixty million Americans – that is one in five of us – have asthma and allergies. We sneeze, sniffle, and itch. Expose us to a whiff of dust, a gust of pollen, a sniff of perfume, or an encounter with an inquisitive dog or cat, and before we know it, our airways start to close up, and we begin to cough, wheeze or struggle to breathe.
With COVID in the air, the last thing we need is an inflammatory response. So cleaning your space has never been more important. Remember that asthma and allergies cannot be cured, but they can be managed. We can reduce symptoms by avoiding the allergens that trigger them. Unfortunately, the average home is full of allergy and asthma triggers, which means the place that should be your sanctuary can be a major source of allergenic triggers.
What is Top-Down Cleaning?
Most people create twice the cleaning work by first cleaning the floor, softa, tabletop or countertop and then cleaning the lights, ceiling fan or cabinets – only to see dust drift downward.
Solution: Clean from the top-to-bottom. In fact, if you have a second level, start upstairs and then work your way downstairs. Start at the highest point and make sure you have the following tools: paper towels, microstatic dust mitt/cloth, microstatic duster/floor sweeper, HEPA vacuum and a non-toxic cleaning solution. Cleaning solutions should include: baking soda, vinegar, toothpaste and Coca Cola.
Starting at the Top
We forget that walls are one of the largest surfaces in our spaces. Use a microstatic duster cloth/mitt to rub gently along the walls starting at the ceiling line and let the dust fall. As well, make sure to swipe over light receptables, ceiling fans or chandeliers.
Then clean the surfaces, starting with the highest-level lamp, bookcase, window treatments, cabinet or closet shelf. Allow dust/dirt to fall. As you work you way down, you will find that you need to vacuum or wipe down surfaces.
As mentioned earlier, there are a few tricks that involve cleaning solutions that are non-toxic.
1. Toilet Ring Solution: Pour Coca Cola into your toilet overnight, and use toilet brush in the morning and the stubborn ring will disappear (may have to be repeated dependent on the level of stain) by morning.
2. Crayon Marks: Use toothpaste. Smear on the mark and let sit for about 20 minutes. Using light brush strokes, and the crayon should be removed, or at least diminished.
3. Stained Baking Sheets: to make them look new, use vinegar and baking soda. Coat pan with baking soda. Pour a layer of white vinegar on top. You may see slight bubbling. Let sit for 4 hours. Use gloves and a brush in circular motion. Watch the surface start to look new.
Finish at the Floor
The last thing that you need to do in your space is clean the floor.
1. Make sure to invest in a HEPA filter vacuum as the dust and dirt is stored in a chamber (unlike older vacuum units that sometimes-added dust back into the space), and the canister can be emptied outside.
2. Before you clean, you might want to make sure that you remove rugs and shake them outside.
3. Run a microstatic dust cloth over the floor before you vacuum so that you can ensure that minimal dust flies around.
One tech solution that many working from home families are investing is an electronic robot vacuum that can be programmed to work during the day in various rooms. Some floor robot vacuums have HEPA filters, and can be a great option if you have a pet and want to make sure to limit buildup of dander and hair on your floor.
[SIDE BAR] For a space that follows CLEAN DESIGN protocols, it is important to replace a few items:
1. Change your older model vacuum to a HEPA vacuum to effectively limit dust in the space. Especially important if your home is near any location that had recent fires.
2. Change your vinyl shower liner to a nylon shower liner to minimize mold.
3. Review the window treatments and find options that can be laundered and are not ‘dust catchers’ or which can be easily vacuumed.
4. Replace your pillow after 3 years if it has not been washed frequently or covered with a zippered liner.
5. Think about using your window screens so that you can open your windows for 5 minutes daily.
Leading triggers include:
- Dust mites in beds and pillows
- Dander from pets
- Mold growth in walls, bathrooms and basements
- Pollen from outdoor trees and grasses in your hair that infiltrates your sleep space or living room sofa
- Fumes from cooking and chemical cleaners
- Toxic or environmentally unfriendly building materials that permeate indoor air
Remember, you can change that by using the strategies in the book, Clean Design: Wellness for your Lifestyle (Greenleaf, 2015). Create a healthy home environment that manages indoor air quality and protect your family from dust, mold, pollen, fumes, odors, airborne toxins, chemicals and other substances. Create a home environment that nurtures good health.
According to the American Lung Association, “poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer…headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea, and fatigue” in anyone, not just those who suffer from asthma and allergies. We can all benefit from living in a more pure home environment.
More physicians are convinced that there is a link between environmental toxins, indoor air quality and allergies. Chemicals we are exposed to in our homes and offices have the power to make us sick, and we can improve our health and wellness using Clean Design principles.
Shopping for Hypoallergenic Options
The pandemic made both me and my clients realize that the CLEAN DESIGN HOME which sells our retail products is more important than ever – and that we should find non-toxic cleaning options and information for day-to-day living, especially since so many of us are working from home. I have pivoted to focus on building out the product line, and have just licensed our brand. So much information involves simple non-toxic options– the ideas are rooted in my bestselling book, Clean Design: Wellness for your Lifestyle.
About Robin Wilson
Her design projects including the White House Fellows office, a part of President Clinton’s Harlem office, and the rustic beach cottage of Robert DeNiro – each project had a very quick turnaround and exacting standards. She was named to the Top 100 Female Founders List in 2020 by INC magazine. Her eponymous licensed brands of textiles is sold at retail and hospitality. She is also in the process of creating Design+Build projects. She is author of two award-winning books: Clean Design She is the first woman with a branded line of custom cabinetry that was sold by over 400 independent kitchen dealers nationwide (2009-2018). First featured in Oprah’s magazines and extensive media coverage since 2005. In May 2013, her furniture line, Nest Home by Robin Wilson, premiered at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York. In 2014, she partnered with consumer products giant Panasonic to promote their latest line of cutting edge products for the home.She is an ambassador to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, and previously served on the board of the Sustainable Furnishings Council.