By P.J. Heller
When it comes to the green cleaning revolution, Dr. Ted Tidwell was ahead of his time.
His wife’s concern in the ’90s about the effects of toxic and harmful cleaning products on their 11 grandchildren prompted him to launch a five-year effort to develop a safe and natural cleaning product that could be used for a variety of household chores. Major chemical manufacturers he approached scoffed at his efforts, he recalls.
With no background in chemistry, biology or other sciences – he did receive help from his late brother-in-law who was a chemist, and from reading Material Safety Data Sheets from chemical companies – Tidwell worked at his kitchen counter developing a cleaning product based on plant-based chemicals that not only has applications for cleaning indoors but for outdoor agricultural applications.
“My background was in business administration. I didn’t quite know how to spell chemistry,” he says with a laugh. “I was sort of like Edison. I tried many many variations that didn’t work.”
While the results with his products seemingly might launch his 1st EnviroSafety company to worldwide fame and fortune, Tidwell, at 87, says he isn’t interested in competing with the giants in the industry. His company, incorporated in 1999 and based in St. James City, FL, has three part-time employees and sales of just under $1 million a year, all via the internet. He has distributors for his products throughout the world, including Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya, the Philippines and Ecuador. He has also licensed the technology to a company in India and reports receiving dozens of emails every week about his products.
Concentrates of his Purely Green Hygienic products include hand soap, All-purpose Cleaners and cleaner degreasers. Also offered is WOW! Industrial Degreaser & Oil Solvent, which uses a different formula, is designed for extremely heavy oil and grease remediation, and is more suitable he says for commercial or industrial applications.
Agricultural products include Fertilizer Booster, Biowash 25, Soil Amendment and Purely Green Bio-Pesticide. Tidwell advises that the bio-pesticide, registered in 41 states, is the only bio-pesticide in the world that is non-cancerous and genotoxicity free (harmless to human and animals).
“One of the worst problems on the planet is toxic pesticides,” he adds.
The bio-pesticide is exempt from registration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a “minimum risk pesticide,” according to its label. Its active ingredients are soybean oil, peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil and garlic oil.
Other than the bio-pesticide and WOW!, all of the products feature the same ingredients, among them coconuts, corn, grains, grass, potatoes, rice, soy, sugar cane and tree sap. The only non-plant-based material is EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid), used to improve stability in the products. The products are biodegradable.
“The key is not the ingredients,” Tidwell explains. “The key is the nanoparticles.” He admits he inadvertently created the nanoparticles.
He quickly ticks off the benefits of his products, making it sound like an all-purpose elixir.
“The same basic formulation and same nanoparticles work as a cleaning product. They work as a degreaser. They work as an insecticide. They work as a pesticide. They work as a crop yield enhancer. They work to enhance fertilizers. They work to help reduce the freezing temperatures of plants. They work to help plants survive drought. They increase the sugar content of tropical fruit.
“You have to get away from the concept that we have a cleaning product,” he says. “We have nanoparticles.”
Nanotechnology is defined as the study and use of structures between 1 nanometer (nm) and 100nm in size. A human hair measured diagonally is between 75,000nm and 110,000nm. Tidwell says comparing a nanoto a single hair is like comparing a basketball to planet Earth. The nanoparticles in his products are less than 3nm, he says, pointing out that at that size they can penetrate pores and crevices and uplift and remove contaminants that ordinary soap cannot.
“And it’s clinically documented as safe,” he adds.
Many of the claims touting his products are anecdotal.
“Who needs to pay for an expensive university study to test a cleaning product?” Tidwell asks. “It either works or it doesn’t.”
Because the product is plant-based and doesn’t have an active ingredient, it would have taken up to seven years and $6 million to $7 million to try to get it approved by the EPA, according to Tidwell.
“If I had that kind of money, I’d be on a sailboat out on the Caribbean,” he says.
Without that EPA approval, the cleaning product cannot be described as a disinfectant or say that it kills germs. Rather, it is simply sold as a cleaner.
Independent laboratory tests Tidwell provided, however, show the effectiveness of the cleaning product.
Tests conducted by University of Ontario’s Institute of Technology in Canada found the cleaner effective against five microorganisms (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus spizizenii, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans).
“These five microorganisms were selected such that they cover a wide range of microorganisms and Green Clean was found to be effective against all of them,” it reported.
“Different dilutions of Green Clean were found to be effective against different microorganism, but 1:10 dilution when kept in contact with microorganism for 5 minutes, the growth was found to be negative for each microorganism indicating that if Green Clean is used at 1:10 dilution and allowed a contact time of 5 minutes all the microorganisms will be killed and if 1:1 dilution is used, the contact time can be reduced to 1 minute to have same disinfectant effect.”
Tidwell noted that Green Clean is the same as Purely Green and that only the name is different.
Another study in 2020 by Microchem Laboratory in Texas looking at the impact of Purely Green Hygiene Clean on Pseudomonas aeuroginosa found a similar result.
“A total of 60 contaminated carriers were exposed to the single lot of the test substance for a contact time of 10 minutes . . . Following a 10-minute contact time, Purely Green Hygiene Clean disinfected 59 out of 60 carriers,” it said.
A study in 2015 at the PS Medical College Karamsad in India noted that “disinfection of various patient care instruments as well as environment is a necessary component of healthcare with the main intentions of minimizing the risk of healthcare associated infections (HAI), the major cause of morbidity and mortality. A large variety of disinfectants of variable chemical composition are available in the market and most of them have less or more toxicity and incompatibility with human tissue that can influence its potency and efficacy.
“A commercially available product named ‘Green Clean’ is a nanotechnology-based product, which is 100 percent herbal, nontoxic, noncarcinogenic and very safe to use in wide range of applications in the hospitals, as well as in insects and mosquito control, water and garbage management by disinfecting and fumigating garbage heaps.”
The study found “Green Clean has an excellent disinfectant activity in clean conditions; 4.4- and 5.5-times higher disinfecting efficacy for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Salmonella typhi respectively in comparison to phenol, and the recommended dilution 1:500 is quite appropriate to achieve an effective disinfection.”
It went on to say that “whenever it is intended to use GC in dirty conditions in presence of organic matter, a lower dilution of 1:300 and a contact time of at least 30 minutes have been found to achieve an effective disinfection. Whenever there is a possibility of addition of contamination periodically during half an hour time, GC should be kept initially at the dilution 1:100 (or lower).”
Despite those findings, Tidwell’s products have attracted little attention from environmental organizations such as the Environmental Working Group or individuals and groups that promote non-toxic cleaning products online.
“I’m only one person. I’m happily retired. I didn’t come into it as a business to build it,” he says. “I came into it to provide something for my grandkids.
“A small company cannot compete with Procter & Gamble and other huge companies, so there was hardly any chance at all of putting it into retail stores,” he adds.
Others have tried to copy his formulation, but they have fallen short, Tidwell contends.
“They’re always trying to figure out what we’re doing,” he says. “They can see the MSDS. But they don’t know how to do the nanoparticles. That’s our secret.
“I’m not a chemist, so I didn’t go through the normal chemical steps that trained chemists go through,” Tidwell explains. “And they can't figure out how a non-chemist could do this. Some religious people say it was heaven sent.”
Some companies are marketing cleaning products with nanoparticles, including at least one that has developed a liquid cleaner and degreaser.
“Nanotechnology companies are finding ways to make the world a cleaner place by exploring three methods for improving cleaning products,” notes the Understanding Nanotechnology website. Among those methods is “using nanoparticles in soap that make it work better while producing less environmentally harmful by-products.”
Tidwell says some people have expressed interest in buying his company. If he decides to sell, he insists he won’t sell to “outlaw companies” that market toxic chemical products.
As for how he got to this point, he explains, “I’m just simply saying I was happily retired. My wife wanted a cleaning product that would not hurt the grandkids, and I was accommodating my wife. I had no intention of going back into business. I was just doing what a retired guy might do.”
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