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Question from S. P.

I own a small janitorial company. My mother and my wife both experience symptoms of chemical sensitivity and over the past year I have been converting to all green products. I enjoyed your book on the non-toxic home and office. I liked the fact that instead of dwelling on negatives until the end of the book, you offer solutions right away to each issue.

In my business I have to strip and wax large floor areas, I have found some “green” products for this but many still contain up to 6% VOCs. Do you know of any truly natural alternatives for this?

Here are a couple of the companies I have found so far:

If you would like more info on the company I am working on please visit our site: All Green Cleaning.

Debra’s Answer

I took a look at the products you mentioned.

Coastwide Labs has a Sustainable Earth® Wax Stripper #83 that lists some hazardous ingredients on the MSDS, but then says that skin irritation is the only health hazard, which is minor. This product looks relatively safe for a wax stripper, but, as you say, has limited availability.

National Chemical Labs makes some interesting statements about how they are envrionmentally-friendly–fortunately they also give the Material Safety Data Sheets right on line for all of their products. They have a number of floor stripper products. All the MSDSs I looked at for them contained hazardous ingredients. Some of their other products, however, contain no hazardous ingredients. So it’s a matter of checking all the MSDSs to find the products with no hazardous ingredients.

There’s a company called Safe Source that makes a commercial-strength VOC-free floor finish and stripper. There are no MSDSs on the site, but it states, “The developer submitted its formulas to the relevant federal agencies, which determined on the basis of independent chemical evaluations that their cleaning products are not hazardous and therefore do not require [hazardous] labeling.” The site says the stripper is designed to work with their VOC-free finish. Contact them to see if it can be used with other waxes. You may need to use a more toxic stripper to remove existing wax, then you can use this finish and stripper.

You might also take a look at Green Seal Environmental Standard for Floor Care Products. Though there are no products listed, they do give guidelines for floor care products and a list of ingredients they do not approve, which would be easy to identify if they appeared on an MSDS.

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