Hiring Green Cleaning

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hiring Green Cleaning

The process of cleaning homes and businesses with non-toxic substances is flourishing nationwide. Proponents of the practice are attempting to stem the use of toxic cleaners whose ingredients can cause and exacerbate health problems such as asthma and other respiratory ailments, neurological disorders, cancer, liver/kidney damage, etc. Nontoxic cleaning products, supporters say, can usher in healthier living.

Now there are cleaning companies that will perform green cleaning for you. One emblematic and promising nontoxic cleaning company is Virginia’s Eco Clean, begun by LocalMotion founder Betsy Dance in 2005. When Dance led LocalMotion, she drew experts from the environmental movement to lecture about the risks linked between toxins and health problems. Equipped with a vast environmental consciousness from running LocalMotion, she applied her knowledge to effect change in a pragmatic way. Dance cleans with safe and natural products such as baking soda, microfiber cloths, pumice stones and environmentally sound vacuum systems. She has workers dubbed Green Ambassadors who have cleaned scores of houses and businesses.

Green cleaning companies are also sprouting in Michigan. General Organic Services, begun in 2002, is headed by former Grosse Pointer Michael Peters. This service uses Earth Friendly and Dr. Bronner’s products in its quest to provide nontoxic cleaning. Clean & Green Natural Home Cleaning, based in Warren, caters to those with allergies as well as clients concerned about personal and environmental health. They employ Earth Friendly, Seventh Generation, and Naturally Yours brands. Kimba’s Cleaning Services in Oakland County also uses earth-friendly products and provides services for commercial and residential clients.

VOICES FOR THE EARTH REPORT 

A plethora of health risks can result from exposure to toxic cleaners. In a report called Potential Hazards of Home Cleaning Products by the environmental group Women’s Voices for the Earth, the detrimental effects of toxins is documented and buttressed by various recent studies. For instance, a study by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that cleaners using toxic products have twice the rate of asthma as workers in other venues. Another study in the journal Thorax showed how toxic household products are linked to childhood asthma. One impediment to understanding how the toxic content of cleaners is the lack of federal regulation mandating cleaning products to itemize their ingredients. The Women’s Voices for the Earth report attests that the government should order full disclosure so that people can be informed about buying cleaners and choose a healthier lifestyle if they want.

SIX RECOMMENDATIONS for people who want to use safe cleaning products are promulgated by Women’s Voices for the Earth. These include:

  • Make your own non-toxic cleaning products;
  • Use less toxic products;
  • Buy products from manufacturers that disclose ingredients;
  • Encourage product manufacturers to replace toxic ingredients with safer alternatives;
  • Never mix products ;
  • Contact elected government officials and ask them to support legislation that would require the disclosure of cleaners’ ingredients.

WHEN HIRING A POTENTIAL CLEANING SERVICE PROVIDER

• Along with following the above suggestions, don’t hesitate to ask your cleaning company for a list of products and their ingredients (the company should provide the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each product).

• Look at the product label/MSDS sheet for: hazard rating, health hazard information, and precautions.

• Choose the least toxic alternative given since the hazard ratings, i.e. caution-warning-danger-poison,are defined by levels of being lethal. Note labels containing “flammable” indicate the product may contain volatile organic compounds, which can evaporate readily at room temperature and cause dizziness, headaches, skin or eye irritation.

• Being biodegradable does not necessarily mean non-toxic.

MANUFACTURERS OF NON-TOXIC PRODUCTS are usually proud of their status and often list their ingredients. To be certain of the products being used, ask if you can supply your own. Some choices for pre-made products include Earth Friendly, Seventh Generation, Ecover, Dr. Bronner’s, Bi-O-Kleen, and Earth Rite. Or, you could also make own from recipes. (LocalMotion carries a selection of recipe books for sale.)

Michigan companies offering non-toxic cleaning services include:

• Clean & Green Natural Home Cleaning: 586-206-6592
• General Organic Services: 877-964-4GOS
• Kimba’s Cleaning Services: 248-515-5520
• Virginia’s Eco Clean: 434-296-4329

Women’s Voices for the Earth

-Carrie Cunningham, Fall 2007

Click Hiring Green Cleaning to download a printable pdf version of this article.

Published on November 13, 2007