Youdovin has launched Butlers Brand Universal Concentrated Cleaning Solution, billed as a “butler-tested“ natural household cleaning product made of non-toxic ingredients.
This multi-purpose cleaner, sold in a 4oz glass bottle ($10), is designed to be diluted with water and placed into a reusable aluminum atomizer ($6). Properly diluted, one bottle of concentrate will refill the 16oz atomizer eight times, according to the firm.
According to Youdovin, Hire Society’s clients frequently expressed concern over the safety of their antiques and fine surfaces from cleaning products, not the people who were doing the work.
“This was the original impetus for Butlers Brand—to create a surface cleaner based on a harmless and effective DIY recipe of baking soda and citric acid. Most people like this idea of natural/DIY solution, but don’t actually have the time or desire to mix it themselves. So we thought it would be a good idea to bottle this solution for consumers, so that they only have to add water,” said Youdovin.
While he knows the service sector well, when it came to formulating and packaging, Youdovin sought out experts, including, well, butlers. The cleaning solution has been tested and used in more than 500 professional households during the past year, he said.
“As we gave samples of Butlers Brand to various butlers within the Hire Society network, we began receiving feedback on how to improve the product…To sit in a room of veteran butlers is an experience that will keep you on your toes. It is the job of these men and women to make sure things are done properly, and it isn’t unusual to hear them discuss their horror at waste—waste of time, waste of material resources, waste of any kind...”
Their candid feedback led this startup to find a plastic trigger that was ergonomic and would dispense a perfect mist instead of a hard jet, as well as recyclable packaging.
Youdovin also wanted to find a better preservative.
“As we designed the original formulas to be very ‘green’ with minimal chemical inputs; those first prototypes began to turn, so we found a food-grade preservative to give our concentrates extended shelf life,” he said.
Steve Richman, Butlers Brand cofounder, was also critical to launch process—especially his “experience as a third generation perfumer in developing our product and packaging,” Youdovin told Happi.
Butlers also turned to green chemistry for the surfactant, and wanted to stay away from palm oil. The solution was two nonionic coconut-derived surfactants that work well in acid and alkaline environments alike. Lauryl glucoside, the primary surfactant, binds the concentrate and tap water, while cocamidopropylamine oxide works as a foam stabilizer and grease cutter. The lauryl glucoside is better on protein stains (like food), cocamidopropylamine oxide better targets oil stains, such as grease around the range or fingerprints on stainless steel, according to the brand, which relied on its contract manufacturer’s expertise.
“We were incredibly lucky to discover a family-run manufacturer in Salem, MA,” Youdovin said. “The owner met with us on a number of occasions to help us modify our formulas as necessary. He was also very giving of his time to communicate up the supply chain to ensure we were receiving ingredients not derived from palm oil, which is not an easy thing to do.”
Youdovin isn’t shy about where be believes his company falls in the green cleaners category.
“Many other so-called ‘green’ cleaners use cheap and readily available palm-oil-derived surfactants. Though there are organizations like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), these labels are based on self-auditing and lack respect from the world’s major environmental advocacy groups,” he said. “For example, check out what Greenpeace says about RSPO and ‘sustainable’ palm oil.”
Butlers is also keeping an eye on local environments. During the summer, the company has been hosting clean up parties to collect garbage from parks, playgrounds and beaches. This month, the firm plans to help cleanup local schoolyards and other public places ahead of the new school year.
Universal Concentrated Cleaning Solution is sold online at ButlersBrand.com, and also inside at Fork & Rose, a retail store in Water Mill, NY. It can also be purchased at the Southampton Farmer’s Market on Sundays and inside the Butler’s Manor Bed & Breakfast in Southampton, NY.
The B&B’s owner, Chris Allen, has used the Butlers Brand product since its inception.
“I’ve been a butler for more than 20 years in some of the world’s most demanding households,” said Allen, who is also author of A Butler’s Life. “Everybody wants a ‘green’ cleaner, but the problem is not all of them work, and the staff ends up using twice as much solution. Butlers Brand is one of the only natural cleaning concentrates I use.”
Butlers Brand plans to launch a line of non-toxic cleaning products that are pH-specific to glass, metal, and common bathroom surfaces in the coming months.