September 22, 2022

How to clean your house

Katie Scott started by helping people beautify their homes. Now her mission is to make their environment healthier and greener too.

Growing up, Scott loved art. Shortly after graduating from Nauset High School, she felt lucky to have found a color-focused job at the Sherwin-Williams store in Orleans. Over the course of a decade, she found herself leading the company’s color program in Boston and beyond.

Katie Scott has won the 2021 Cape & Plymouth Business “40 under 40” award, which recognizes young entrepreneurs. (Photo courtesy of Katie Scott)

Back home in Brewster, she indulged her maker side, exploring homemade home and beauty products. “I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer,” she says. So about five years ago, “I started taking that energy and putting it into creating things to take care of myself and my home in a more eco-friendly way.”

Now she does it for customers at her boutique, Pure Vita Modern Apothecary in Eastham.

Reducing waste, and in particular plastics, was one of the main goals of his company. Scott is therefore delighted with the way the store has organized itself: “I would say that 95% of everything here is recycled.” The sharp-edged wooden shelves were made from trees felled by a hobbyist in Orleans, she says. Tables and baskets were from the Brewster Swap Shop. Her owner, Darin Krum, who runs Ace Hardware a few doors down, has also been supportive by offering her space at a reasonable rate for a young business owner, she says.

You can bring your own container to fill with Scott’s all-purpose cleaner that works in the kitchen and bathroom. For quick cleaning, Scott prefers “Wet-its” – flat, convenient cellulose sponges – to paper towels. (Photo by Teresa Parker)

Scott’s first big hit was laundry detergent. Her homemade mix, which includes baking soda and castile soap, really worked. Her friends and family raved about it, so she scaled it up and took it to farmers markets in Provincetown and Chatham. “People were like, ‘Do you ship this stuff?’ says Scott. It spurred his dream of a store full of eco-friendly solutions.

She couldn’t do it all, though. “I worked to find products that matched our criteria and vibe – all-natural, local as much as possible, and free of synthetic colors and fragrances,” says Scott. “I am a believer in the exclusive use of pure essential oils.”

Katie Scott’s laundry detergent recipe helped launch her business. Meanwhile, lightweight eco-friendly tapes are another alternative. Add a light scent if desired and fluff it all up with wool dryer balls. (Photo courtesy of Katie Scott)

While there are plenty of choices at Pure Vita, Scott recommends a hands-on approach to changing up your home routines. Trying to go green all at once can be overwhelming, she says: “Just take one thing at a time.”

A good place to start, she says, is the laundry room. “Most people don’t have an emotional connection to the laundry detergent they use,” Scott says. “They just want their clothes to be clean.”

Scott stocks his own formula in bulk. But her collection includes detergent in laundry soap strips, which she recommends for older people who can’t lift large jugs or containers. “And because they make measuring easy and can’t be knocked over, they’re great for kids too,” says Scott. A godsend for those who teach their children to do laundry.

The cleaners you scrub surfaces with don’t have to be fancy, Scott says. Once you’ve exhausted that collection of specialty products under your sink, consider switching to an all-purpose cleaner that works on all kinds of surfaces. The only thing to be careful of is that since most of them contain alcohol to dissolve dirt, they can dry out too much on natural wood, which will work better with an oil.

Household revolution at your kitchen sink: Ditch your plastic dish soap bottle and plastic based sponge. (Photo by Teresa Parker)

Scott’s husband Steve, who helps mix batches of Pure Vita products and tends to the store from time to time, is a big fan of another multitasker, the “Wet-it.” At home, Steve says, these flat cellulose sponges have replaced both conventional sponges – which contain plastic – and paper towels.

Scott sells a bar of dish soap that comes in a simple paper wrapper, which, she adds, “You can throw in the garden – it has flower seeds in it.”

A bar of soap for the dishes? “It’s a lot more frothy than regular bar soap,” says Scott. She rubs it on a biodegradable Wet-it or a cellulose sponge or brush.

Yes, you can start your spring cleaning revolution at the kitchen sink.