The Eco-Friendly Method for Washing Your Floral Buckets
My name is Hannah Hunt, and I am the owner of and designer for Golden Thistle Design in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I love wedding floral design, but once I opened my business and started designing full-time, I became concerned about the impact of the industry upon both the environment and my health.
I have been chemical-free for many years and, as my studio is in my home, I was hesitant to introduce the tried-and-true cleaning methods of bleach and chemicals. When I was still designing as a hobby, the cleaning of a studio space was not a huge concern. When dealing with clients and their flower orders, however, the issue became very real to me. I had to ensure that their flowers stayed healthy and in prime condition.
Based on my personal experience of making my own household cleaners, I began to analyze the situation. I spent much time scouring articles on natural disinfectants. There are many myths and misunderstandings floating around cyberspace. I tried to keep an open mind and stuck to more clinical studies. I read articles from university studies and mainstream health sites. My conclusion was that I could achieve acceptable results naturally.
We clean all our buckets in very hot water with a mixture of Borax and Castille Soap. Borax is still an irritant to the skin, so we wear rubber gloves. After this cleaning, we spray the entire bucket, inside and out, with my homemade antibacterial cleaner.
The antibacterial spray recipe
2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
20–30 drops tea tree oil
10 drops lavender oil
We use this same spray to spray walls of the studio, interior of the refrigerator (first wiped down with the borax, Castile soap, and hot water), work table, cutting tools, etc.
Occasionally, flowers will arrive with Botrytis, and in this situation, we disinfect what we can by using the above methods and then run an oil diffuser with tea tree oil to cleanse the air as Botrytis is airborne. Botrytis is identified by small to large caramel-colored spots on flowers. This fungal infection usually occurs somewhere in the distribution chain, so inspecting flowers while processing them is imperative. Botrytis is very contagious, so a daily cleaning of the workspace and tools is a must. Botrytis can also be caused by drastic temperature changes, too much moisture, and flowers being stored too tightly in containers without room to breathe. On a side note, I run a dehumidifier in the studio between weddings to help eliminate the moist environment that molds and fungi thrive in.
Recently, I’ve also added Thieves’ Oil cleaner from Young Living to my arsenal. It is a concentrate and smells lovely. I have seen a controlled study where it yielded excellent antibacterial results. Another high-scorer was Protect essential oil blend by Jade Bloom. (Note: I am not affiliated with either of these brands.)
In conclusion, scientifically speaking, bleach is excellent at killing bacteria; however, if you are like me and are worried about the effects of bleach on the environment and work environment, there are great options that I’ve utilized with very pleasing results and happy, healthy flowers.