Q: I'm seeing more organic dry cleaners. What does that mean exactly? A: If a dry cleaner calls itself "organic," this usually means it...

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Q: I’m seeing more organic dry cleaners. What does that mean exactly?

A: If a dry cleaner calls itself “organic,” this usually means it doesn’t use perchloroethylene, or perc, to treat clothes. In the U.S., the chemical solvent has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a hazardous air pollutant and a possible carcinogen. Apparel cleaned with perc hasn’t been proved to pose a health risk, but people living in buildings with perc-using machines may be adversely affected by the fumes. As a result, all dry cleaners located in residential buildings will have to phase out perc by 2020.

Businesses that have gone organic operate machines with an alternative cleaning agent. A few more common options include silicone-based solvents, liquid carbon dioxide or plain water controlled by computerized jets. Upgrading to this equipment comes at a price, so don’t be surprised if you have to pay a few dollars more to have clothes cleaned by an organic cleaner.

Q: Can I grow my own bay leaves?

A: Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a handsome, woody plant that grows like a shrub, although it can be trained, topiary-style, to resemble a single-trunk tree. In addition to being attractive, the plant has aromatic dark-green leaves that impart a unique, savory flavor to marinades, sauces, soups, and stews.

Bay laurel is incredibly easy to cultivate. The Mediterranean native is a common landscape plant in warm, sunny areas. It thrives in a well-draining but moisture-retentive medium, such as loamy garden soil or a potting mix. Like most herbs, bay laurel does not need frequent fertilizing, and it is relatively untroubled by pests and diseases.

While the plant can withstand light frosts, prolonged cold and harsh winds will spell disaster. If you live in a colder climate, you can grow bay laurel as a container plant, keeping it outdoors during warmer months and bringing it inside when the temperature dips below 40 degrees. Bay laurel can reach up to 45 feet, so container plants must be managed with frequent pruning and transplanting.

Bay leaves can be harvested at any time of year, but the aromatic oils responsible for the plant’s characteristic flavor are at their highest levels first thing in the morning. You can use either fresh or dried bay leaves in recipes. To make your own dried ones, place the leaves — stems intact — on a rack, or hang them in a cool, arid room until they become brittle (this usually takes several days). You can store dried bay leaves in an airtight container for up to one year.

Q: How can I stop my dog from licking the carpet? He fixates on a certain spot and doesn’t stop until he’s licked clear through to the floorboards.

A: The first thing you should do is take your pet to the vet to rule out any medical causes for his behavior. There may be a bite on his tongue that he’s trying to scratch, or he may be having an allergic reaction to something in his diet.

The more likely cause for his compulsive behavior, however, is simple boredom. Dogs that lick incessantly are usually just restless and need a way to release energy. If time is limited and a walk or a game of fetch isn’t an option, try a few training exercises. The obvious examples, such as “sit,” “down,” “come” or “stay,” may be enough to help a pet get rid of pent-up energy.

It might take some dogs longer to unlearn bad behavior, but there are ways to manage. First, make sure there isn’t a spill on the carpet that’s attracting him to the spot. The next step is to cover the area with a rubber mat or a piece of furniture. Then you can continue with the training exercises. The goal is to redirect your dog’s attention and reward him when he doesn’t slip into old habits.

Questions may be sent to mslletters@marthastewart.com or Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. Sorry, no personal replies.