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10 Easy Pieces: Remodelista Editors’ Favorite French Cleaning Tools


10 Easy Pieces: Remodelista Editors’ Favorite French Cleaning Tools

October 31, 2018

This past summer I spent a month in France unearthing all sorts of French secrets: What region makes the best butter? Where do the Provencal buy their pétanque sets? What do the Parisian’s use to clean their parquet floors? Where is everyone getting their shoes? Some questions were left unanswered; others I got to the bottom of.

Some of my best discoveries, turns out, were found in the most typical of hardware and sundries stores. When it comes to cleaning, the French aren’t wielding harsh chemicals or power tools, but rather, sticking to what’s worked for generations. Among us at Remodelista, there’s at least one tool or product we’ve each co-opted into our own American homes. Here are our favorites.

fan uses a traditional french radiator brush: &#8\2\20;it comes in handy in 17
Above: Fan uses a traditional French radiator brush: “It comes in handy in our 1920s home. I also use it to clean the dryer vent, refrigerator coils, between the stove and cabinet, and for other awkward, dusty spaces that usually get ignored.” The wood-handled Andrée Jardin Radiator Brush is available for $34 at Food52. For especially hard-to-reach spaces, a Flexible Radiator Brush is €19 from French brand Perigot.
in just about every french house i’ve ever stayed in, i’ve come a 18
Above: In just about every French house I’ve ever stayed in, I’ve come across a tiny bottle of cedar oil in a cabinet somewhere. After the third occurrence, I asked a French friend about it. “It’s for dried-out cedar blocks,” she explained. “When the cedar scent is  lost, put a few drops on the wood to continue keeping the moths away.” You can find a bottle at just about any natural grocery stateside or for €5.90 at Andrée Jardin (the Huile Essentielle Bio de Cedre).
from annie: “i myself have always wanted a table crumber. when i was an  19
Above: From Annie: “I myself have always wanted a table crumber. When I was an au pair for a French family in Paris, I’d occasionally be invited downstairs to the grandmother’s house for lunch (who also happened to be the former Secretary General of France). Like a good and proper Frenchwoman, she served lunch for the kids and me on silver, then ceremoniously went into the hutch and came out with a matching silver crumber that she used to sweep the table before dessert. Slightly compulsive, but also charming.” Options from high to low: A Fidelio Silver Plated Crumb Sweeper for $360 from Christofle, Alessi’s AC06 Ala Silver Crumb Collector for $27.48 at Amazon, or a simple Table Crumber for $6.90 at JB Prince.
julie likes the high industrial grade stainless steel clothespins from pincinox 20
Above: Julie likes the high industrial-grade Stainless Steel Clothespins from Pincinox, a French company manufacturing the clothespins since 1969. They’re unbreakable and won’t leave a rust stain on clothes; $20 for a pack of 20 at Flotsam + Fork.
michelle likes the savon de marseille en copeaux (soap flakes) in place of liqu 21
Above: Michelle likes the Savon de Marseille en Copeaux (soap flakes) in place of liquid detergent. To use, dissolve the soap chips in a little bowl of hot water before pouring into the washing machine. The soap chips are €8 for a 400 gram container at La Trésorerie.
margot reminds us that the natural pop up sponge is of french origin. made of g 22
Above: Margot reminds us that the Natural Pop-Up Sponge is of French origin. Made of gentle cellulose, they come flat and dehydrated, but expand on first contact with water. They’re $4 to $5.50 each at Flotsam + Fork, or $7.99 for a pack of 3 on Amazon.
how to make the french parquet shine like la tour eiffel? with lait de cir 23
Above: How to make the French parquet shine like la Tour Eiffel? With Lait de Cire (Wax Milk), a solution made of beeswax for maintaining and reviving wood floors; €22.90. It’s something I found on the lower level of Maison Empereur in Marseille along with a roll of tubular cleaning cotton, Chaussette de Coton, sold by the meter for €4.
from justine: “i use a set of french wire handled micro brushes to clean 24
Above: From Justine: “I use a set of French wire-handled micro brushes to clean the mildew from the tiny folds in the rubber that seals my refrigerator; ditto dishwasher and washing machine.” They can be sourced from Andrée Jardin for €3.90 each. From top to bottom: Écouvillon ‘Queue de Rat’, Écouvillon Nylon D14, and Écouvillon Nylon D10.
margot recommends the savon noir à l’huile d’olive. “ 25
Above: Margot recommends the Savon Noir à l’Huile d’Olive. “It’s biodegradable and is a great multi-purpose cleaner for hands (non-drying), counters, and floors (diluted with water),” she says. “A caveat: even though it has no added fragrance, its natural scents takes some getting used to. To my husband, it smells like olive oil, but to me it has a tar top note.” She likes the Marius Fabre version, available at Amazon; $16.88 for a large bottle.
with all the butter and vinaigrette that gets sopped up with baguette after a p 26
Above: With all the butter and vinaigrette that gets sopped up with baguette after a Parisian lunch, there’s bound to be a rogue drip that finds its way onto your pristine white shirt. (Unfortunately, I speak from experience.) The French solution? Terre des Sommières (€6.50 at Merci): a powdered clay that absorbs grease from fabric, leather, and suede (for hand washing, and not the washing machine). There’s also the Marseille Olive Oil Stain Remover Soap Bar from Fer à Cheval; $22 at Food52.

Looking for more French household secrets? See our posts:

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