Holiday Green and Clean

House: Air fresheners, cleaners, laundry products, and personal care products can contain over one hundred different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), with an average of 17 VOCs per product. Dozens of these VOCs are classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws; yet are generally not listed on product labels. Regarding VOCs in air fresheners, cleaners, and personal care products, Claudia Miller, an allergist and immunologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio says, “The best smell is no smell.” Remember:

  • Baking soda and vinegar absorb odors instead of masking them. Home Cleaning Recipes
  • Look for fragrance-free products from companies such as these Natural Cleaner Brands.
  • To freshen the air naturally try:
    • Real evergreen trees, swags, and wreaths, which release fresh woodsy smells.
    • Orange and clove pomanders: simply poke small holes into an orange (knitting needles or thin nails work well) and fill the holes with cloves. Hang with a ribbon.
    • Boil cinnamon sticks, cloves, or a dried up pomander on the stove (do not leave unattended).
    • Topiaries of rosemary or meyer lemon trees to fill a room with invigorating aromas.
    • Bake! Whether made from scratch or a box, pies, muffins, and other baked goods always make a house smell inviting.
    • Pump spray with essential oils: Add 10-20 drops of your favorite natural essential oil to 8 oz. distilled water. Or look for brands such as Orange-Mate or Uni-Fresh.

Clothes: Storing freshly dry-cleaned clothes in your closet can cause high concentrations of perchloroethylene—or perc—in the home. Perc is “Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” according to U.S. National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens and is the chemical used during commercial dry cleaning. Fortunately, current technology allows cleaners to effectively clean clothes without the chemicals. Wetcleaners use only a small amount of detergent, special machines, and cold water. Any items that are traditionally dry cleaned can also be wetcleaned.

Michigan Wetcleaners:

  • Cambridge Cleaners, Lake Orion: 248-391-2877
  • Curtis Cleaners, Grand Rapids & Lowell: 616-451-4908 / 616-897-9809
  • Executive Cleaners, Warren: 810-574-0959
  • H2O Cleaners, Grosse Pointe Woods: 313-640-4426
  • Jan’s Professional Cleaners, Clio (north of Flint): 810-687-7590
  • Master Dry Cleaners, Traverse City: 231-946-5620

Carbon dioxide, which becomes a liquid under high pressure, is another chemical-free alternative to dry cleaning. Across the U.S.:

-Melissa Cooper Sargent, December 2012

Printable pdf: Holiday Green and Clean

Published on December 10, 2012