This blog will tell you about some safe and practical ways to clean your clothes and save money. You’ll also get a free Personal Care and Cleaning Products Shoppers’ Safety Guide to which soaps, laundry detergents, household cleaners, shampoos and conditioners, facial cleansers, body washes, lotions, sunscreens and deodorants, are safe to use, as well as a list of products on the Caution List and Avoidance List.
Synthetic materials are all around us, in the carpets, on the furniture, in our beds, our cookware, food storage containers, dishes, literally everything we use. We live in a world of synthetic chemicals that are discharged by all these materials, and which predispose us to develop chemical sensitivities and allergies. Since we don’t know how they are affecting our health, or what the long-term effects will be, it makes sense to know how to shop for safe Laundry Products.
Hiding the Smell of Synthetic Fabrics
We now wear synthetic fabrics made from petroleum! Familiar names like polyester, acrylic, dacron, nylon, lycra, spandex, microfiber are all synthetic fabrics we wear everyday. But did you know that the fabric softeners & dryer sheets we are told to buy, were created to hide the sickening scent of these synthetic fabrics, which is brought out by the heat in the dryers and from our bodies?
Exposing the Game Advertisers Play
I remember when synthetic fabrics were first being introduced into the garment industry. Some of the clothes labeled 100% polyester smelled so rank that you couldn’t wear them without gagging. That fresh scent on your new clothes or clothes just cleaned with fabric softeners and dryer sheets, is really a camouflage to cover up the chemicals in the fabrics. And the fragrances used in these products are 50 times stronger than the scent of the synthetic smells they cover up. That’s pretty strong, don’t you think? Maybe that is why there is such a relentless, advertising campaign in the media, to convince us to buy these products. If we didn’t use them, we might be able to detect what they really smell like. And the game would be exposed.
How Dangerous is the Air You Breathe?
- Airports, malls, restaurants, hotels, office buildings, even hospitals have artificial scents that proclaim to your nose how clean and fresh the air is.
- We walk around in malls filled with artificial food scents pumped into the air to stimulate hunger at a subliminal level.
- In hotels, the sheets and towels are scented to give the “impression” of cleanliness.
- The air in public washrooms is conditioned with chemical scents to signal that everything is free of microbes.
- We work all day in air conditioned offices where you can’t open a window.
- At home we burn scented candles, use plug-in air fresheners, or spray the air in our bathrooms, living rooms, and kitchens so they smell fresh all the time.
- We sleep on sheets sprayed with air fresheners to make them smell April fresh, “like a meadow on a spring day”.
- We dab ourselves with colognes, and drive around in cars, in smog filled cities, with air fresheners hanging from the rear view mirror.
Fabric Softeners and Air Fresheners
Ninety-nine percent of the population uses laundry detergent. And to finish off a laundry, we are told to also add dryer sheets and fabric softeners. These make your clothes feel soft, smell fresh, and eliminate static cling.
But fabric softeners, dryer sheets, bleaches, and stain removers are some of the most toxic products we use. They contain chemicals that are linked to cancer and brain damage.
Air fresheners, laundry products and other consumer specialty products are regulated under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, and although we are told that the chemicals in these products are considered dangerous, they are present at levels much too low to cause harm. That may be so on a per product basis, if you only used one product infrequently. But consider how many of those products you are exposed to in a week? When you consider all the other chemicals we are exposed to, we are looking at an cumulative effect in the body.
More and more people are developing allergies and chemical sensitivities to the scents they come into contact with in the air we breathe. Even unscented products can contain a “masking” fragrance to make them smell odor-free. And if you smell these products, you will actually notice, they are definitely not scent-free.
The problem with all these chemicals in our homes, and our exposure through the air we breathe in office buildings, cities, and especially our homes, is that the diseases that develop in the body over time, cannot be traced to any one of them. The only protection we have is to be vigilant about the products we use.
Toxic Ingredients to Beware Of
Laundry Detergents contain:
- Ethanol – Linked to nerve disorders
- 1,4-dioxane – Considered unsafe to breathe under any circumstances
- Ethyl acetate – A narcotic that is a hazardous waste
What’s in Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets?
- Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
- Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
- Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
- Limonene: Known carcinogen
- A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
- Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list, eyes and respiratory tract irritant
- Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
- Chloroform: A Neurotoxin, anesthetic and carcinogen
- Linalool: Causes central nervous system disorders
- Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled, extremely flammable.
These chemicals are not required to be listed on the labeling if they are in the product.
The Best and the Worst-Dressed Laundry Detergents
1,4-dioxane is a synthetic petrochemical carcinogen, in consumer products such as hair care products, cleaning formulas and laundry detergents. And here’s the clincher. Manufacturers are not required to list it on product labels.
David Steinman from the Green Patriot Working Group (GPWG) did a study which evaluated 20 conventional and natural brand laundry detergents on how much dioxane was present in them. Here’s what he found.
Conventional brands – Amounts of dioxane
Tide (Proctor & Gamble) – 55 parts per million of dioxane(ppm)
Ivory Snow Gentle (Proctor & Gamble) – 31 ppm
Tide Free (Proctor & Gamble)– 29 ppm
Purex (Dial Corp.) – 25 ppm
Gain 2X Ultra (Proctor & Gamble) – 21 ppm
Cheer Bright Clean Detergent (Proctor & Gamble) – 20 ppm
Era 2X Ultra (Proctor & Gamble) – 14 ppm
Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight Co.) – 5.0 ppm
Wisk 2X Ultra (Sun Products Corp.) – 3.9 ppm
Woolite Complete Detergent (Reckitt Benckiser) – 1.3 ppm
All Laundry Detergent (Unilever) – 0.6 ppm
Dreft Powdered Detergent (P&G) – non-detectable
Sun Burst (Sun Products Corp.) – non-detectable
“Natural” or “safer” brands with less dioxane
1. Planet Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent – 6.1 ppm
2. Mrs. Meyers Laundry Detergent – 1.5 ppm
3. Clorox Green Works Natural Laundry Detergent – non-detectable
4. Ecos Laundry Detergent (Earth Friendly Products) – non-detectable
5. Life Tree Laundry Liquid – non-detectable
6. Method Squeaky Green Laundry Detergent – non-detectable
7. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent – non-detectable
So Are Your Clothes Making You Sick?
Fabric softeners are made to cling to your clothes and to slowly release into the air over time, as they stay in contact with your skin. Even if you don’t immediately feel the effects of these chemicals, over time your body is accumulating residual effects, and children are especially at risk.
Could you be experiencing any of these health effects associated with exposure to laundry chemicals?
– Skin irritation
– Difficulty breathing
– Central Nervous System Disorders
– Pancreatic Cancer
Safe Ways to Keep Your Clothes Fresh
A Quick and Easy Recipe for Fabric Softener
- Mix 2 cups of white vinegar with 2 cups of baking soda.
- While it’s still fizzing, add 4 cups of cold water.
- Pour one quarter of a cup into your final rinse cycle.
- Add a few drops of an essential oil that you would like to scent your clothes. eg. lavender, orange, lemon
Keep it in a large jug, ready to use on laundry day. This will save you a tidy little bundle.
Add half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
An Novel-Old Idea to Keep Your Clothes April Fresh
If you live in an apartment with a balcony, hang your clothes on something like this portable clothesline. This one comes in two sizes. The smaller one doesn’t show over the top of your railing. I like it because it looks neat, stays clean, and easily folds up, if you have to quickly move it to storage. Some things never go out of style!
A Natural Fabric Softener to eliminate static cling
Instead of buying fabric softener sheets, add half a cup of baking soda to the washer with your detergent. Who knew? 🙂
Wool Dryer Balls – A Natural Replacement for Dryer Sheets.
I’ve discovered a new product on the market called “wool dryer balls”. Yeah! Now this is a Real Find.
* Just toss 3-6 of these in your dryer. You will need 6 for a large load. Don’t try to get by with one or two.
* They can cut dryer time by 15-25%.
* They protect your dryer’s heating elements, and reduce static.
* They are quiet, unlike the plastic balls that bang around in the dryer.
* They last for years through many loads.
* Add your favorite essential oil to them, for a healthy scent around you that is your own personal signature.
* Nothing synthetic or toxic about these.
* Use them after a vinegar rinse.
You can get Natural Felted Wool Dryer Balls very reasonably from Amazon.
Get Your Free Personal Care and Cleaning Products Shoppers’ Safety Guide
The Organic Consumers Association has released a Personal Care and Cleaning Products Guide to Safe Products. They also include a list of products on the Caution List and a list of Products to Avoid. Find out which soaps, laundry detergents, household cleaners, shampoos and conditioners, facial cleansers, body washes, lotions, sunscreens and deodorants, are safe to use.
Look for Natural Fabrics
And of course, next time you buy clothes you can look for natural fibers created from animal coats, silkworm cocoons, and plants’ seeds, leaves, and stems. Cotton, silk, linen, wool, angora, flax, hemp, jute, and bamboo. You’ll feel better wearing a natural fabric next to your skin, rather than a chemical fiber made of petroleum.
We don’t have to become victims to an unhealthy environment. We are in control of what we bring into our homes. These safe laundry solutions will help you make wise buying choices for the products you use on laundry day. This will go a long way towards making sure you have clothes that will not make you sick.