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April 17, 2013

Clean and green — How to spruce your house up for spring the way Mother Nature intended

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

There’s nothing quite like springtime sunlight to accentuate a layer of dust on household furniture.

While many of us are rolling up our sleeves in preparation for our annual spring cleaning sprees, others are trembling at the thought of what harmful chemicals could be in the cleaning products so many of us use. Luckily, there are plenty of experts in metro Detroit who can provide advice on how to get your house clean the natural way.

Karen Lutz, of Bloomfield Hills, knows firsthand how disruptive the stench of harsh chemicals can be in a home or, for that matter, in a yoga studio. As a long-time certified yoga instructor, Lutz noticed that the chemicals typically used to sanitize yoga mats had an overpowering smell and, in her opinion, were potentially harmful. So, she came up with a better option.

“I developed the cleaners in 2005. We came up with something that would smell good and would even be safe enough to freshen up your feet and hands,” said Lutz.

From Lutz’s all-natural yoga mat sanitizer came a whole line of Balance Home cleaners, created from eco-friendly and nontoxic essential oils, like lemongrass, tea tree and lavender. The oils not only work to naturally sanitize surfaces without hard abrasives or fumes, but according to Lutz, they can create a more energetic or calming environment with their aromatherapy properties.

“The cleaners that have antibacterials, or hand sanitizers: you can build up an immunity to those. With the oils, they’re harvested in different places at different times, so their properties are always changing,” said Lutz, explaining that when the oils change, germs aren’t easily able to develop a resistance to them. “It’s much safer, and the different fragrances can change your mood. Lemongrass has a brighter fragrance. It’s a bright, refreshing scent. And lavender is a very calming, soothing fragrance. Lavender oil is commonly used to clean veterinary cages in Europe.”

Balance Home’s all-natural, locally sourced home cleaning products and yoga mats cleansers are available at Plum Market in Bloomfield Township and Mills Pharmacy in Birmingham, as well as at yoga studios around metro Detroit and across the country. To learn more, visit www.balancehome.com.

Sometimes, natural home cleaning could require a bit of extra elbow grease. Susan Kahanak of Natural Cleaning knows that not everyone has the time or energy it takes to keep their home spic and span and also sustainable. That’s why she’s taken her more-than 35 years of residential and commercial cleaning expertise and opened an eco-friendly company that she says boasts only natural and, in turn, healthier cleaning practices.

“We use all organic cleaners; nothing that is toxic. It’s safe and effective for the environment, children and pets. We don’t use harsh or industrial chemicals, like formaldehyde, chlorine — bleach is so bad for the lungs,” said Kahanak.

Instead, she and her team of green cleaners create their own solutions from safer products, like vinegar, baking soda and fresh lemon. She said that the concoctions are just as effective at sanitizing surfaces as harsher chemicals and, most times, are considerably less expensive. She said many of the recipes to make the natural solutions can be found online.

“This all-natural cleaner that we use improves your home’s air quality, and there’s been a lot of links to health problems associated with chemicals in commercial cleaning products. (Natural solutions) don’t leave any residue or carcinogens,” she said, adding that the simplest step a person can take to cleanse their home naturally is just to let a little air in.

“Most people spend most of their time indoors. A real simple tip would be to just open the windows for a good part of the day to let the fresh air in, especially in the springtime here.”

For more information on Natural Cleaning, call (586) 751-5384.

Of course, not all household messes can be eliminated with just the scrub of a sponge. According to national pest control company Orkin, Detroit is second in the country, when it comes to bed bug infestations. But if eradicating bugs means having to pump your home full of toxic pesticides, some might rather live with the creepy crawlers.

Green Titan, based in Hazel Park, says they’ve developed a bed bug solution that doesn’t involve any chemicals. According to marketing manager Mayer Stein, the eco-friendly exterminators are turning up the heat on bug infestations.

“What we do to exterminate bed bugs is heat treatments. (There are) zero pesticides, zero toxins and 100 percent eco-friendly,” he said. “We get it up to about 140 degrees, and the bugs will get dehydrated.

“The heat will actually sterilize a living space. It gets rid of a lot of airborne pathogens and certain molds. If we have a customer with allergies, we often find their symptoms will (subside) after that,” said Stein.

Since there are no chemicals used, customers can be back in their home that same day, unlike pesticide treatments, which generally require a 24-48 hour vacancy.

Eco-friendly heat extermination does require that susceptible items be removed from a living space, such as oil paintings, candles, VHS tapes or pressurized products like hairspray, which could potentially melt or explode at 140 degrees. Stein said, however, the results are worth the inconvenience.

“The biggest misconception is that you have to be messy and cluttered and low-income to have bed bugs, and that’s not true. As long as you’re breathing carbon dioxide and giving off heat, you are a viable target for them.”

For more information on Green Titan, visit www.green-titan.com or call (855) 828-0800.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.