Sunday, February 12, 2012

Laundry Alert - Soft, perfumed clothes can be making you sick!

We take so much for granted.  We use so many products just because they are there.  And I will certainly admit to using fabric softeners and dryer sheets for many years.  I never thought about them - especially as having any toxins that could make me sick.  Oh there's that old song again, "Wake Up, Little Suzie" by the Everly Brothers.

Indeed.  Wake up!  According to the EPA and the industry-generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) there is a mind-boggling list of dangerous petrochemicals in these products, many of them used in untested combinations.  Sometimes one chemical by itself is not a serious problem, but if it is added to another chemical, it becomes very dangerous.

Who doesn't remember the volcano's we made in junior high with baking soda and vinegar?  By themselves neither of these items could ever do what the two of them paired can do.  It's like that with the petrochemical industry.  This is the ONLY reason they are even allowed in our products - get this - that singly each ingredient is tested - but the combinations are not!

Here is a list of some of the ingredients you find in your laundry products - you'll have to ask yourself is it worth potential health problems to continue using them?

Benzyl Acetate - linked to pancreatic cancer and its vapors can be irritating to the eyes and respiratory passages, causing coughing.  This can be absorbed through the skin as well.

Benzyl Alcohol  Upper respiratory irritant that can also cause central nervous system (CNS) disorders, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and dramatic drops in blood pressure.

Ethyl Acetate - This narcotic is on the EPA's Hazardous Waste List!  Irritating to eyes and respiratory tract.  May cause headaches and narcosis, anemia with leukocytosis and damage liver and kidneys.

Limonene - A known carcinogen, as well as eye and skin irritant.

A-Terpineol - Causes CNS disorders and is highly irritating to mucous membranes.  Aspiration into the lungs can produce respiratory depression, pneumonia or even fatal edema.

Camphor - Causes CNS disorders - on EPA's list of Hazardous Waste list.  Easily absorbed through body tissues, irritates eyes, nose and throat.

Linalool - A narcotic that causes CNS disorders, respiratory disturbances and in animal testing has led to death.

Chloroform - Neurotoxic, anthestic and carcinogenic and on EPA's Hazardous Waste List.  Inhalation of vapors may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness.  Aggravates disorders of the kidney, liver, heart and skin.  Especially a problem when subjected to heat!

Phthalates - Notorious for being used in children's plastic toys and other baby products, pthalates are also used in scented products fo help the scent last longer.  They have been implicated in breast cancer, allergies and reproductive system problems.

The effects of most of these chemicals are more acute when heated in a clothes dryer, making dryer sheets worse than liquid softeners.  Because fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing, the chemicals are slowly released either into the air you inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb.  Not only are YOU getting all this, but your dryer vents too.  Did you know - some dryer manufacturers include a warning in their users manual NOT to use fabric softener sheets?  There is a clause in some that state the use of chemical-based dryer sheets will void the dryer's warranty.  I never knew that, did you?  (thanks to Natural Life Magazine for all this information!)

I would hope that you have looked into the chlorine bleach issue as well.  There ARE alternatives and they are safe for you.  Look for non-chlorinated bleaches and automatic dish soap as well.

If you know of anyone with babies in the house, please let them know that our precious little ones are not meant to absorb all these chemicals in their little bodies.  Put the heavily "perfumed" dryer sheets in the trash!  Babies can get awful rashes, cry more and possibly get diarrhea reacting to the chemicals.  In fact, some researchers have found a possible connection between these chemicals and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

You can soften clothes naturally by adding a quarter of a cup of baking soda to the wash cycle or a quarter cup of white vinegar (do NOT use bleach with this) and do NOT make a volcano in your laundry by mixing the baking soda and vinegar together - it's either or, not both!

I've found some very nice dryer sheets - natural ones - at Whole Foods.  I make my own laundry soap and add a few drops of lavender oil to it.  The clothes come out fresh and clean, not perfumed.  It has been an amazing discovery since hubs has many allergies. 

I read that a wadded up piece of aluminum foil in the dryer with your clothes will cut down on static cling.  I tried this.  It did eliminate most of the static, which sure surprised me!
This information has been given to many of my friends and family by me personally.  Some switch out to the natural alternatives, some are fighting it, hooked as they are on their "perfumed" laundry.  I hope that they will soon switch out their chemicals.  You know if we ALL do change, the message to the manufacturers will be heard.  Nothing talks to them better than sales/profits.  But of course, it is more important that we all stay away from chemically laden stuff period. 

Health and Wellness - Have LOTS of it!


  1. This is an important blog. I try to use fragrance free detergent, but have sometimes forgotten about the dryer sheets. Will try that aluminum foil trick. Or will look closely to make sure the sheets are chemical-free. Thank you!

  2. Hi Kathy! We have so many things to tune in to these days, it's like we've all been on auto-pilot trusting that if something smelled good, it WAS good. My same old ball of aluminum foil has been doing its thing for 3 wks now - I'm in total amazement! By the way, I wear a lot of fleece stuff and have found if I have put on a good amount of moisturizer (I use jojoba or shea) I don't get the static cling thing walking around the house.

  3. I do a humorous presentation for women's groups called "Dressed to Kill!" where I talk about serous clothing and food hazards that we "flirt" with regularly simply because we're unaware of the dangers involved. You can bet your bottom dollar that this information is going to be incorporated into my spiel.

  4. Hi Laurie! Great! I'm thrilled to know we are both getting the word out, however we can. When I do presentations it seems at first people get mad they've been duped/poisoned, then there is disbelief, like surely this cannot be happening - the third stage is where they either wake up and make changes or they fall back into their apathy "just because it's easier" than changing anything. I light a candle for those folks daily!

  5. Great post once again!

    I tried to join a gym in New Years...oops folks were sweating and outgasing laundry and hair products..until within 15 minutes of entering the building my eyes were swollen shut and nose running and face beet red...

    I had to give up church because of the perfume and people do not even take into consideration their soaps and laundry products.

    I use clear vinegar for a hair rinse and baking soda to brush my teeth..

    I did find a company that makes a laundry soap that uses tea tree oil for cleaning and it actually does not irritate my skin and took care of the dust mite allergies which meant I had to boil the sheets every day so my kids could breath.

    I usually can not stay in motels - The nice thing about having kidney and liver problems is that I can discover toxic materials right away and stay clear...the hard news is that I must be incredibly careful about going into other people's homes...
    In the USA we are allowed to bring anything into our homes we wish...
    I do not go up and down the laundry cleaning aisle at the grocery store is so terrible..

    And don't even get me started on those big stores like COSTCO... and Walmart...there are no deals there - we are paying through the nose with blood for their goods and services

    Our homes are the greatest toxic waste producers contaminating our waters - second only to feed lots and manure - oh my

  6. Hi Patricia! Well said, all of it, haha! Some aisles in the stores gross me out too - the garden one at Home Depot is awful too - my God I can't breathe til I'm outta range of the stink. I clean my house au naturel as well. I avoid large crowds because of the energy as well as the fumes. I'm a psychic sponge for energies which will make me uncomfortable before I even get the chance to smell anything! ha!

  7. This was a funny and informative post. I loved how you used the example of the "volcano" we used to make. That was great. AND I loved this line, "This is the ONLY reason they are even allowed in our products - get this - that singly each ingredient is tested - but the combinations are not!" That's funny and scary at the same time. Only our government would allow this.

    You have made me rethink those dryer sheets I love to toss in my wet clothes. I might be using baking soda, but definitely will HOLD the vinegar:~)

  8. Hi Sara! Oh try the balled up aluminum foil in the dryer for static cling - works pretty well. I get the "safe" dryer sheets at Whole Foods that are scented wax paper with lavender - lovely, but barely noticable - just the way it should be.

  9. I'm glad I don't have to do laundry very often!!

    1. Hi Jerry! Well aren't you the lucky one! Wearing clothes that have been bathed in chemicals has an accumulative effect on our poor toxin-clearing livers, so be sure to pass this info along to whoever does your laundry! :)