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Homes Away From Home: Nontoxic Hotel Rooms





Debra Lynn Dadd

Green Living - Questions & Answers

......with Debra Lynn Dadd









After recovering from MCS by removing toxic chemicals in her home, Debra Lynn Dadd went on to become a pioneering consumer advocate for health and the environment. Author of Home Safe Home, she also has a popular website containing a directory with more than 1000 links to nontoxic and eco-friendly products, a Q&A blog with many MCS bloggers, recipes for using natural sweeteners, and more. Debra is also available by phone for consultations. She lives in Florida with her husband, who drives a car powered by vegetable oil. Visit her website at




Tuesday, October 27th, 2009:


New bedroom furniture has a strong odor and pregnant!


by Debra Lynn Dadd



Larry and I love to travel. Most of our travel has been in the United States. We like to take road trips rather than fly--fewer toxic exposures in the car and we like to meander and stop to explore. So we are often looking for accomodations.


Some hotel rooms are very toxic. Sometimes I cannot stay in a room and ask for another. Once the room was so bad I got them to refund my money on a pre-paid nonrefundable room. But by following a few simple guidelines I'll give you, most of the time we are able to find rooms that--while not as nontoxic as my own home--are fine for the night.


The toxic exposures likely to be present in most hotel rooms are cleaning product residues, carpet fumes, detergent residues and formaldehyde finishes on sheets, pesticide residues, and cigarette smoke residues.



Here are my tips for choosing a safer hotel room...


1. Stay away from new hotels or hotels that have just been remodeled. They will reek with fumes from new construction materials, new paint, new carpet.


2. Choose a smaller hotel in an older building. These often retain their old materials (such as hardwood floors, marble slab walls and floors, etc) and have windows that open.


3. If you are staying more than one night, ask the housekeeping staff to clean the bathroom with water only. They don't need to use harsh chemicals to sanitize the room for the next guest because it's you.


4. Ask for a no-smoking room. Many hotels are now completely non-smoking.


5. Choose a hotel on a quiet side street (this is possible even in New York!), away from traffic fumes. Get a room on an upper floor (even further away from traffic fumes) and open the windows.



Green Seal has a very short list of hotels that don't use hazardous chemicals at Green Seal Certified Lodging Properties. I took a look at it, but these lodgings aren't where I'm going.


The Green Hotels Association has a longer list of members at Green Hotels Association Member List, but I am not certain that reducing toxic exposure is part of their program. They seem to be focused more on saving energy and water and reducing waste--all fine things that I support, but my first concern in a hotel room is toxic exposure.


I've found that small luxury hotels are often a good choice, as they use more expensive, upscale materials (such as cotton sheets and down comforters instead of polyester).


Bed and breakfasts are also very good. They often are in old historic homes with hardwood floors, are filled with antiques, and are maintained more like a home. They are also very service oriented and can accomodate your requests (ask them not to put scented potpourri in your room).


Usually however, we are driving along an interstate and have our choice of roadside chains. Having tried most of them, our preference is Country Inn and Suites. We also like Sheratons.


A tip: we save a lot of money by getting discount hotel coupons from little newspapers that are given away at gas stations, coffee shops and convenience store. Or you can get these coupons online at places like We've stayed at some really nice hotels with these coupons and saved hundreds of dollars on our cross-country trips. We always look for them now wherever we go.


I'm off to go jump on a plane...







Learn more from Debra's bestselling book:


Home Safe Home: Creating a Healthy Home Environment by Reducing Exposure to Toxic Household Products

Home Safe Home: Creating a Healthy Home Environment by Reducing Exposure to Toxic Household Products


» Buy from


» Buy from






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