“Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we are beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of (the 1900’s) and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin.”
Dr. Dick Irwin, Toxicologist, Texas A&M University
Bicarbonate of Soda (also known as ‘Baking Soda‘ (not to be confused with ‘baking powder’)) is a mineral that can be used to absorb chemicals, embedded in clothing, that act as irritants, cause allergies, precipitate or exacerbate asthma, or inflame chemical sensitivities; it can also be used to absorb unpleasant odours! It can be used to wash clothes; and it can be used to decontaminate clothing that has been washed in fragranced washing powders, that contain a whole cornucopia of ingredients, which are toxic to many, many people.
This a great product to use if you are visiting/work with/attend classes with/or want to spend time with someone who is sensitive to fragrances: it can be used on clothes that have been washed, previously, in washing powders. It will not eliminate the fragrances entirely, but it will help, and it may stop your clothes from leaving washing powder residue on the furniture. But know this: there are some people who are so sensitive to chemicals, particularly fragrance, that this action just won’t cut it! Linda Sepp has done some extensive research on this very subject:
“Sometimes it is possible to detox regular clothing. For mildly sensitive people it might just take a few regular washes with a tolerable detergent. For more sensitive people, a more involved protocol may do the trick. For others, we often end up without much in the way of clothing and bedding, because even the trace chemicals can be too much.
Here are some methods many people have used to successfully detox their clothing. As always, individual results may vary according to personal sensitivities, water conditions, products available, and whatever might be in the clothing to begin with.”
For me (on other people’s clothing), on average, four washes would be a sufficient amount to actually make a difference to the fragrance contaminated clothing. If this is a problem for you to do, it could be worthwhile to buy clothes that are kept aside especially to be worn around people who suffer with this affliction. (All my friends, and family members who visit me, do one of these things (or for the ones that don’t do it, I’m still in the ‘persuasion’ process of facilitating it.), they either give their clothes to me to, repeatedly, wash and air, or we buy new ones, and store them here.) I find that drip-drying the clothes in the sun in-between washes, is an awesome help; as is leaving them out in the rain—this is providing that the sun comes out afterwards—but I often find they need to be washed one more time, due to Cladosporium (outdoor) mould spores.
if you can do this for another human being, it’s an immense sign of respect for humanity, and, it shows great empathy on your part. no-one chooses to be sensitive to chemicals; it could happen to anyone at anytime, and it’s happening to more and more people all the time…
Bicarbonate of soda can be used to decontaminate new clothing. Soaking the clothes in one cup of bicarbonate of soda, along with a fragrance free washing powder, such as Herbon Washing Powder (the fragrance free version), or Liquid, can and will speed up the process. I don’t have much of a problem with new clothes on other people. (I know, who would think that anyone could suffer symptoms from being near someone else wearing new clothes? But they do. This happens in our world; you may not meet these people because they are staying at home, practicing the avoidance strategies that their doctors have recommended for them. But please be aware… )
Bicarbonate of Soda is available from supermarkets, your mother’s pantry, and many specialist stores. If you are sensitive to fragrances, or have trouble purchasing from supermarkets—due to the VOCs of cleaning chemicals and fragrances absorbing into, and adhering to the products—then you may want to choose a ‘food grade’ brand, and find somewhere else to buy your bicarbonate of soda (because it absorbs chemicals, buying it from a supermarket is not a good idea if you are sensitive to those chemicals):
freefromfragrance in Australia stock it:
• Bob’s Red Mill premium baking soda is made from the deposits of mineralized sodium bicarbonate. It is extracted by an all-natural water process that uses no chemicals.
• It is a great household cleaner and odour absorber.
• Other uses include use in cooking as a raising agent, laundry washing and as a dishwaher powder alternative,
• Added to bath water for detox.
• Gluten free – Bob’s Red Mill products labeled Gluten Free are batch tested in our quality control laboratory.
• We use ELISA Gluten Assay test to determine if a product is gluten free.
(Interesting Fact: Bicarbonate of Soda is found in the ingredients list of most washing powders.)
Here are some ideas/links for fragrance free washing powders:
Omo Sensitive Washing Powder (not recommended for use by the chemically sensitive, but it’s often a product that they can tolerate being used on clothing worn around them (Note: not for use around all chemically sensitive people. Please check first!)
Fabric Softener: Reach for white vinegar. For a cheaper and nontoxic fabric softener option, add ¼ to ½ cup of white vinegar to your laundry’s rinse cycle. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell dissipates within a few minutes.
Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia:Guide to Less Toxic Products: Cleaning (Scroll down for household recipes using bicarbonate of soda.)
Health Clinic:Sixty Uses of Baking Soda
Linda Sepp:Laundry Decontamination Protocols
Linda Sepp:Toxic Chemicals in Our Laundry Products
Linda Sepp: There’s WHAT in my baking soda?
Maraposanaturals:How to Wash Clothes for the Chemically Sensitive
Safe Home Alert: What’s Wafting From Your Dryer? (Look for the Home-made Laundry Detergent Recipe on page II)
National Geographic:Green Living
(‘cleaning products’ image on homepage, sourced from Freeimages.co.uk)