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Cleaning your refrigerator after the holidays, naturally and as a team!


We all know that the holidays can be a wonderful time for celebration but we often do not look forward to the cleaning that must accompany all the festivities. We often stock up our refrigerators full of delicious and sticky treats which can leave residue or unsightly stains. What better way to clean up all that holiday gunk than with a natural cleaner and as a team in the same festival spirit?

If you have children, it is great practice to involve them. Make it fun by playing some music and if you are up for it and find that you can’t stop after cleaning the refrigerator, shine the love on other surfaces and areas of the house using the same home-made formula. Cleaning with your children after all the festivities is a great way to bond with them while teaching them empathy, responsibility, respect for their space and giving them a natural sense of belonging that comes from  cleaning a space. In any case, cleaning up with others can be something to look forward to and not a headache to try to avoid. It is also a great way to energetically, metaphorically and mentally transition from 2014 to 2015. See this article by our friends at Hammer and Mop for tips on cleaning with kids.

  1. To conserve power while cleaning, turn the refrigerator off or the temperature all the way up.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with No-Rinse Green Clean (recipe below).
  3. Working from the top of the fridge to the bottom, remove all the food from one shelf at a time. Discard items that are spoiled or past their expiration dates. Wipe down the rest of the food containers using No-Rinse Green Clean and a clean cloth. Children will love helping to take out food items and even helping out with some wiping.
  4. Remove the refrigerator shelf unit and wash in a sink filled with hot water and a few tablespoons of castile soap or dish soap and a cup of white distilled vinegar. Rinse and set aside to dry.
  5. While the shelf is out, spray the area inside of the fridge with No-Rinse Green Clean and wipe with a clean dry cloth.
  6. Replace the shelf and the food and get your children to be part of re-arranging the fridge. Then proceed downward through the rest of the refrigerator compartments. Before you replace the last shelf or drawer, clean the fridge floor.
  7. Don’t forget to set the refrigerator’s temperature to normal when you’ve finished!
  8. When all the cleaning is complete, especially if you cleaned other areas like underneath the kitchen sink, counter tops, etc give yourselves a treat.

Sweet Smell

Keep an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator to keep smells at bay. When you change the box, get double duty from the old one by pouring it into the kitchen sink. Follow it with hot water to leave the drains clean and fresh.

No-Rinse Green Clean

Cuts grease, disinfects and leaves a clean, natural scent—without harsh chemicals.

1 cup white distilled vinegar

2 cups hot water

5 to 10 drops lavender essential oil

Mix all ingredients together and stir or shake thoroughly.

Tip taken from:

Cleaning Storm: Action Réfugiés Montréal


action refugeeAt Zenith Cleaning we enjoy cleaning the homes of people who need a helping hand and do not have the time to clean or the money to hire a cleaner. We call these cleaning sessions Cleaning Storms – a team goes in for 1-2 hours and transform someone’s home with a gift of cleaning. Last month, Vera, Liz and Linda teamed up to clean the home of Megosa, a lovely mother of two girls who came to Canada after living in Sudan. We did this in collaboration with Action Réfugié Montreal, a non-profit that seeks justice for refugees. Cleaning Storm is one of the many ways we use cleaning to bring people together from different walks of life and promote community.


Friends at Santropol: Cleaning As Practice in Motion


We are working to bring Cleaning as Practice more into workspaces and organizations in order to shape organizational culture through the simplicity and richness of communal cleaning. In November, we visited our dear friends at Santropol Roulant for a short Cleaning as Practice workshop. Santropol Roulant is a non-profit organization that uses food as a vehicle for breaking social and economic isolation between generations and cultures.Their team got together to clean up their office space as a way to bond, practice empathy and have fun while reflecting on and sharing thoughts on the insights from cleaning and the connection between cleaning and the work the organization does. We look forward to facilitating Cleaning as Practice in their team and many other organizations in 2015.

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Tolu Talks

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This year we are grateful for the many opportunities to reach out to a wide variety of audiences to talk about Cleaning as Practice and our on-going evolution here at Zenith. Every time we are asked to come speak at an event or to share our story, we get to meet and connect with many amazing people doing amazing things. These are a few of the opportunities we have had to share about Cleaning in 2014.

Together with Becca Stevens, founder of the amazing Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tolu was opening keynote speaker at the Social Enterprise Alliance conference in Nashville at a session titled “Building an Economy Based on Love.”

Tolu became a Visiting Scholar in the new Spirituality Mind Body Summer Intensive Program at Columbia University Teacher’s College. His first session was a joint presentation with Gadhadara Pandit Dasa, an urban Hindu Monk and chaplain at Columbia and NYU. This program is first of its kind in the Ivy League and we at Zenith Cleaning are grateful and proud to contribute to the future of learning, as cleaner

Tolu also was a guest speaker at Columbia Business School’s Career Success from the Inside-Out Seminar

He spoke again at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management’s Undergraduate Class as he does every year since graduating from McGill. This feedback from Tolu’s last talk in the Social Context of Business Class taught by Louis Chauvin is beautiful and fairly representative of the reaction of people in various settings.

Tolu spoke about Cleaning at the St Peter’s Anglican Church in Town of Mount Royal in Montreal in the summer. In early Fall, at Becca Steven’s invitation, he spoke briefly on the Theology of Cleaning at Vanderbilt University’s Chapel in early September.

In late summer, Tolu shared his story and philosophy of cleaning with a group of current and ex-inmates at the Open Door event organized by the Montreal Southwest Community Ministries and recently spoke at St James Church about cleaning and spirituality.

New Faces!


Alyssa Wilbur

Ethnically, I have Yemeni and American roots, but I spent majority of my life in Indonesia. I recently graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in International Development and Geography. Currently, I work as the Outreach Director at Zenith. In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer, reading, and spending time with friends. My favourite thing about cleaning is the introspective time I get to reorganize my thoughts and think about my life passions. My favourite place to clean are kitchens as I enjoy reorganizing spaces, and nothing is more fun than going through cooking spices and baking products!

Linda Sarvi

I have Finnish, Zambian and Malawian roots but I mostly grew up in the UK and the Philippines. I graduated from McGill University earlier this year and now work as the Communications Director at Zenith. In my spare time I like to daydream, dance, and go on adventures. My favourite thing about cleaning is that it allows my brain to come up with all sorts of creative ideas for fun while forcing me to come back to the present moment at the same time. My favourite place to clean up is my room as it helps me centre myself for the rest of the week…or until the next time my room gets dirty.

Edward Martin

My ethnic origins are Senegalese, Guadeloupean and American but I grew up in France and Morocco. I recently graduated from McGill and I am currently working in a fundraising call centre. I am working with Zenith Cleaners because I enjoy cleaning and I want to promote the notion that cleaning is not just about removing dirt but also about revealing beauty, whether it is the beauty of a space we live in or the beauty that lies within us. My favourite places to clean are kitchens because I love cooking and I know that the best meals can only be prepared in the cleanest kitchens.

Liz Pis

I grew up in Chicago. I am a recent graduate from McGill and I currently working with Zenith Cleaners as an Operations Director. My interests include social science research, biking, good food and good friends. I love cleaning in general. It gives me a chance to set my mind free while being physically productive, and always have amazing conversations with myself while cleaning! I love cleaning with a team and harnessing this whole communication thing to get the job done well! I love cleaning well-used areas, where you can easily see how your efforts are making a difference. I am most satisfied by scrubbing, scrubbing, and scrubbing until I finally get to that one thing that has been bothering me since I started the area/job.

Roni Leaving: Most clients of Zenith Cleaners are familiar with Roni, who co-founded Zenith and without whom we may have died in infancy. Roni handled all our accounting and operations. She is no longer with us and we are happy to see her thrive elsewhere.


Featured Friends – Tana Paddock


When Tana was a Montreal-based consultant and teacher at McGill University, she decided to step outside the box and try Cleaning as Practice at Tolu’s invitation. Tana’s experience laid the foundation for what eventually became our direction – using cleaning as a tool for personal, leadership and organizational transformation. She helped us articulate what we were doing before we knew how to articulate it. She and her husband Rennie gave created Organization Unbound, Tolu the opportunity to reflect on the cleaning experience through their blog, Organization Unbound, an attempt to re-imagine the way we think about and engage in social change . They have written about Zenith as close observers, including this paper on 5 innovative social purpose organizations in Canada, USA and Zimbabwe.


“I am a Cleaner” Cause


The phrase, “I am a Cleaner” started as an update email from Tolu to our dear friends, Tana Paddock and Warren Nilsson of Organization Unbound, which they found so rich that they asked to make it into a blog post, unedited. The original “I am a Cleaner” article was published on Stanford Social Innovation Review as well as Walk Out Walk On, an initiative started by Meg Wheatley. Our documentary, produced by our friend Losira Okelo with the support of Montreal-based CUTV was also aptly titled, “I’m a Cleaner.”  We realized that the phrase “I am a Cleaner” was much bigger than a catch-phrase and that it was revealing itself to be a cause.

We therefore are proud and excited to start developing our social initiative called “I am a Cleaner”, which will be a platform for de-stigmatizing and bringing honour to the act of cleaning by raising the visibility of janitors and cleaners around the world. Right now, we are developing a pilot program to bring “I am a Cleaner” to private and public schools to teach empathy and mindfulness to students! We believe that teaching Cleaning as Practice to students through team-building cleaning exercises guided by the working janitors is a way to build a culture of empathy in schools: empathy for oneself through mindful reflection while cleaning; empathy for others through teamwork; and empathy for the environment through the awareness of waste produced in schools.

We also want to present “I am a Cleaner” as a way for students to learn about self-awareness in order to promote personal development.  Through our program we will discuss with students how the concepts of cleanliness and dirt apply to all facets of life, beyond just physical spaces but also on a personal level. We believe that “to be clean” in life simply means to bring out one’s true shine; for something to be “dirty” simply means anything that blocks potential.  Using these simple yet profound ideas, we hope to encourage students to think about their own actions, decisions, and judgments about themselves and the world through the lens of cleaning and beauty. As we are in the midst of developing a website for this project we ask that you join our community on Facebook by liking our page and sharing it with your friends at Spread the word, spread the love!


Cleaning Tip of the Week: Lemon Infused Vinegar

Lemon-infused vinegar, also known as citrus vinegar, is simply a jar of lemon (or other citrus) rinds soaked for two weeks in white distilled vinegar.

You can check out a DIY tutorial for it here.  Strain, dilute to a 1:1 ratio of citrus vinegar to water, and pour into a clean, empty spray bottle.  Lemons and vinegar both cut grease and grime, break down soap scum, and leave surfaces shiny and clean.  Citrus works great as a degreaser, stain remover and freshener.  Vinegar is also a great cleaning agent, breaking down mold, grease, mineral deposits and bacteria.  The acidity of both kills germs, making them perfect for a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen counter cleaner, and pretty much any kind of cleaner.

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Featured Friends – Lynn Harris and Jeff Arnold


Lynn and Jeff have been clients of Zenith for 10 years. They are Cleaners in the sense that they saw the beauty and potential in us even when we did not see it in ourselves and were still struggling with the stigma and shame of being cleaners. Being executive coaches and organizational consultants, they encouraged and mentored us lovingly and ceaselessly and helped us to believe in ourselves even when we missed a spot. Every cheque they have written since the beginning had the words, “Thank You”, which for cleaners or anyone who works with dirt, is priceless. At Zenith, we believe that you can know the character of people by how they treat their cleaners. Lynn and Jeff treat their cleaners as humans worthy of dignity and honor. Talk to them if you need executive coaching, team coaching or meeting facilitation. They work globally.


Cleaning as Practice

IMG_1136 (1)What started off as a simple cleaning company in Montreal has evolved into something much bigger and more profound yet equally simple: we want to bring people together through the act of cleaning in shared spaces, regardless of their titles and roles…just to see what happens. We ask ourselves “Why can’t CEOs clean once a week alongside their employees and janitors?”, and “What would happen if we made cleaning an activity in schools where students are guided through by the janitors?”

We call this immersive learning experience Cleaning as Practice. In the past we also have had notable figures approach us to try it out for themselves from different sectors; Deb Nelson, the Executive Director of Social Venture Network (SVN) and Julian Giancomelli, the CEO of Crudessence, have both taken part in Cleaning as Practice, taking a break from their titles for a few days to scrub bathrooms and mop floors. You can read about their experiences here and here.This week we will be introducing Cleaning as Practice in Santropol Roulant, a non-profit organization in Montreal that uses food as a vehicle to break social and economic isolation between generations and cultures. We are more than excited to see how Cleaning as Practice keeps growing within our community and beyond!