Green Cleaning

By, Crystal Proxmire


As part of the Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission’s Green Week, a group called Local Motion Green gave a class to teach people about making toxin-free cleaning products on Tuesday, April 20, 2010.


“The air inside our homes is six times more polluted than the air outside,” said Melissa Sargent of She explained that in the 1970s there was a big push to make homes more sealed for energy efficiency.  But in addition keeping us warmer, the sealed homes trap in more toxins, as the air is circulated less.  “Opening the windows on a nice day is a great way to let the fresh air come and replace the stale old air inside.  Sargent gave many tips and examples of how people can benefit from being more conscientious about the products they use for day-to-day things like personal care and cleaning.  She recommended taking a more natural approach to home care.


“On cleaning products they don’t have to list the ingredients, but you can look for key words – such as CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER.”  With CAUTION it means that ingestion of over an ounce of the product can be potentially fatal.  WARNING means that over a teaspoon is potentially fatal.  And DANGER means that a few drops or more may be fatal.  This is regulated by the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency],” she said.  “We’re so used to grabbing the bottle that we always use, or that our parents use, that we don’t think to read the labels.”Sargent said that the toxic ingredients in cleaning products are linked to health problems, including respiratory problems.



“We’re such a germ-phobic society right now, but studies show that as long as we’re healthy we don’t need antibacterials,” she said. “The most important part about staying healthy is washing your hands properly with a mild soap.  Wiping your hands together is an important part of hand washing because that loosens up the germs and they can be washed down the drain.” There is a lot of concern that the heavy use of antibacterials may be linked to health problems, because they kill the beneficial bacteria that help us.  The antibacterial products that get washed down the drain end up staying in the water system and causing problems.  She said that white vinegar has been studied by the Food and Drug Administration and is proven to kill germs without being a large risk to health or environment.  Sargent recommended killing germs with (1) vinegar, (2) hydrogen peroxide, (3) tea tree oil, or (4) alcohol. 


She also said to use vinegar in wash to help kill odors and act as a fabric softener.  Use ¼ cup in a load of wash in addition to your soap. 


Other tips given by Sargent:


“Some people don’t like the smell of vinegar, but it absorbs odor so the smell goes away very quickly.  Some people add essential oils to their vinegar mix, like lavender or orange oils.”  She said that it can be used as a replacement to Fabreeze.


“Another great thing about vinegar is that it helps with ants. When ants find food they make a scent trail back to their home and more ants can find the path to the food. If you spray the ground where the ants walk, it erases the scent trail and it makes their job harder.” 


“The key is to making small steps in your life towards being healthier and thinking more about the planet,” she said.  “The more you do, the better you feel, and the more you want to do.”


The participants in the free class made take-home containers of vinegar and water spray mix, and a paste made out of baking soda. has recipes for cleaners and other tips for green, healthy living.  To download their HOME CLEANING RECIPES flier click


Green Week continues with an Earth Day Celebration at The Loving Touch. In order to celebrate and honor those in the community who help protect out planet, The Loving Touch (22634 Woodward) is hosting an Earth Day Celebration beginning at 7 P.M.  on Thursday, April 22.  Businesses that won Green Awards will be recognized.  There will be free massages, healthy food, vendors, green movies and much more!  The Loving Touch will also be featuring organic beer and a smoke-free environment. 


Western Market (447 W. 9 Mile) will be having an Earth Day After Party on Friday, April 23 from 4-7 P.M. in the parking lot of their family-owned fresh foods market.  They will be offering samples of what they call “Good. Real. Food,” including their new line of grass-fed, organic and natural meats. There will also be natural, organic and/or vegan products from local businesses like Strawberry Moon, Bizzie Lizzie, Living Zen Organics and McClure’s Pickles.  There will be a composting demonstration from Green Thumb Garden Center, products from local “green” companies, and information from a variety of environmentally-conscious groups.  There is also a 10% off coupon for organic produce, which you can pick up at events earlier in the week.