Originally created 07/09/02

For cleaners, orange makes good scents



ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - It looks like milk and smells like an orange Creamsicle, but this boat cleaner, its makers say, is a pioneering product in the cleaning industry.

During the days of lemon-scented cleaners, Wallace and Sons owner Toni Main took a different route and opted for an orange scent when developing a degreaser for boat bilges, the lower parts of ships' hulls.

Nine years later, other companies are catching on and pushing up the price of the orange scent.

"Everybody's getting on the bandwagon," Ms. Main said.

In May 1993, Ms. Main was looking to develop a natural bilge cleaner that wouldn't pollute the water or harm sea life. But she wanted it to smell good.

Ms. Main asked her chemical suppliers to develop an orange scent for her Tuf-Enuf Bilge Cleaner, part of a family of cleaning products. The result was twofold - the orange chemical, called d'limonene, cuts through grease and smells great.

"It smells wonderful. That's why everyone is going to the orange," she said.

Recently, Wisconsin-based SC Johnson & Son Inc. announced new orange-scented versions of its Fantastik and Pledge products.

Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Orange Glo International makes 25 orange cleaning products.

John Otterson, of International Flavors & Fragrances in Jacksonville, a global flavor and fragrance supplier, said the orange chemical aids cleaners with disinfecting and degreasing agents.

"It's not just a nice citrusy smell. They (orange chemicals) have some good properties," he said.

Ms. Main said the price of d'limonene, an oily penetrating agent made from orange peel, has risen 12 percent in recent months.

Tuf-Enuf Bilge Cleaner retails for $29.95 a gallon - on the high end of bilge-cleaning products. "But you get what you pay for," Ms. Main said.

Karen McGee, Ms. Main's daughter, said the company already is seeing effects of d'limonene's price increase.

"We're eating plenty," she said about assuming the ingredient's extra cost. But they hope to hold off raising their prices until after the first of the year.

D'limonene penetrates plastic, so bottles have to be specially coated for protection, another added cost. The chemical is shipped usually from Brazil, Ms. Main said, even though Florida is home to vast orange groves.

The rising costs won't deter Ms. Main from continuing to use the scent in her products.

"I still would not give up the citrus scent," she said.