By September 12, 2014 Read More →

Unusual home working jobs – natural cleaning remedies

Natural cleaning remedies - Vanessa Willes, Mangle & WringerA chance encounter on Twitter has produced a fascinating story for this series, a story that could come from a historical novel!

Take a few minutes to enjoy the tale of how a kitchen maid’s recipes for natural cleaning remedies eventually led to the creation of a business that perfectly fits 21st century needs.

Today I’m talking to Vanessa Willes of Mangle & Wringer:

Hi Vanessa, what led to the creation of Mangle & Wringer?

In 2004 I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue or ME. I had been working long hours as an architect/designer for 20 years and having small children by then I just ‘burnt out’.

I was very lucky at the time to meet a woman called Bette Smith who came to help me around the house. Instead of making me rest, as most people did, she suggested gentle physical therapy as part of my recovery and taught me how to make soap as her mother had shown her more than 70 years before.

As I started to get better I continued to make soap for family and friends who loved it, and Bette continued to pass on her knowledge and advice from a time when she had been in service in London and later when she ran a thriving laundry.

When Bette died in 2009 she left me a battered cardboard box of recipes and books that listed all her own natural cleaning remedies. Most of these remedies contained the soap that Bette had taught me to make so I made the Bathroom Balm and Kitchen cleansers that she had described.

To my astonishment they were wonderfully gentle, safe and highly effective cleaning products and, again, I passed them on to family and friends who raved about them! I felt Bette’s natural cleaning remedies were too good not to share and in 2013 I set up Mangle & Wringer to sell them.

You have an intriguing business name, how did you come up with it?
Bette went into service at the age of 14 in 1934. She worked in London until she married and moved to the country in 1948 to raise her family.

During the 50’s she ran a laundry in her local village where she became known as ‘Mrs Mangle’ – long before the Neighbours soap star of the same name! – and her eldest daughter, Margaret, became known as known as ‘Little Miss Wringer’.

We felt that we wanted to honour Bette in some way in the business and the name Mangle & Wringer seemed to fit.

Mangle & Wringer - natural cleaning remediesWhere do you make your natural cleaning remedies?
We are very lucky to live on a farm in the beautiful Cotswolds. We’ve converted a redundant hay barn into a workshop, where we also have a kitchen and a large dining table so we can all stop and have lunch together.

How do you sell them?
We sell our products online and through selected stockists. All our products are made with food grade ingredients so a lot of our stockists are farm shops or specialist food outlets. We like to promote the fact that you can cook and clean at the same time totally safely!

How many staff do you employ?
We have four members of staff at the moment, all of whom choose the hours that suit them best around children, university education and horses!

Margaret is our oldest recruit at 84! She is a hugely valuable member of the team, working as a housekeeper herself for many years she has us enthralled with her wealth of knowledge and anecdotes! She also keeps us on the straight and narrow; most importantly making sure we all break for a meal around the table at lunchtime.

What would you like to achieve in the next couple of years?
Over the next couple of years we’d like to grow our family of independent stockists. We’d like to offer our products for sale across the country through all the wonderful farm shops and smaller retailers as well as online.

Bette’s recipe books are crammed full of natural cleaning remedies so we plan to launch new products including her original bar of soap, a pure liquid soap, a gentle soap-based granite and marble spray and a beeswax furniture polish.

We will begin to look at scent in our products too. Currently all our natural cleaning remedies are unscented according to the original recipes. We have a large number of customers who find they are sensitive to fragrance in cleaning products, and love them, but we also have lots of people who ask for a scented version so I’m doing a lot of research with plant and essential oils.

It’s important to me that the fragrances are natural and that they serve a purpose; such as being antibacterial or antimicrobial for example. As a new company it’s a very exciting time for us, but at the moment we’re very happy making soap everyday and being bullied by Margaret!

work from home secrets

Find out more about Mangle & Wringer’s natural cleaning remedies and take a look at Vanessa’s wonderful tips for stain removal, which saved my linen shirt from the recycling bin by completely removing an olive oil stain modern products had failed to shift!

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