How Do You Get Fragrances and Chemicals Out of New Clothes?

Those of us who have MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) are all to familiar with the daunting task of getting fragrances and chemicals out of clothes that have been purchased in  the store or in online shops.  I have found that online purchases are usually easier to deal with as they haven’t been exposed to as many fragrances and other chemicals found  in most department stores.

Depending on where the piece of clothing was purchased and the fabric it is made of plays a big role in how many times I have to wash the item.  For new purchases, I place the clothing in the washing machine with baking soda, powdered milk and 7th Generation Laundry Soap.  I allow the machine to agitate a little and then let the clothing soak for an hour or two.   Once the soaking has stopped, I finish the washing cycle and take a whiff.  Generally it can take three to four washings to be able to tolerate the item. If this doesn’t work I may add a little AFM Super Clean to a wash cycle.  Some of my information has come from a book by Carolyn Gorman with Marie Hyde.  The book is titled, Less-Toxic Alternatives.

I know others who have literally had to boil their clothes to get some of the formaldehyde and other chemicals out.

I am curious what have you tried to remove chemicals and fragrances from new clothing?

12 responses to “How Do You Get Fragrances and Chemicals Out of New Clothes?

  1. Oh god, sometimes I have my washing machine going all day. New clothes I will wash anywhere from four to nine times. I too buy online for the same reason that there is less perfume (usually none) and only the new chemicals. Sometimes i soak the clothes in a mix of zeolite and bicarb, then I might wash them is Herbon fragrance free liquid soap and then try a warm wash and then a cold wash. For really stubborn fabrics, I will hang them outside in the rainy weather and that usually helps; however, I then have to wash them again to get the soil smell, and smoke chemicals of them.

    When I go to the shops or university, I try to wear particular clothes (natural fibres) that I keep for this especially, that way if they pick up fragrances, I don’t have to breath them–I wear a mask when I go out.

    I’ve found that cotton and wool wash better and don’t hold onto synthetic chemicals that same way as polyester and acrylics do. I too have heard of boiling them but am lucky I am not that sensitive.

    I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks 🙂


    • I haven’t tried zeolite. How do you use it? How many parts of each do you use? I would like to give it a try and it might be something that I can pass on to others.

      • One cup of zeolite per load. I find soaking clothing in a bucket of it and water helps, rather than just chucking it in to wash. It’s great that you want to help others too! There are two types of zeolite available, one is white and the other is an earthy colour. Ive tried the earthy one, I also use it in cupboards to absorb odours.

  2. Pingback: How to Make Your Home Less Toxic on a Budget: Part 2 Laundry | Life in the City with a Future

  3. I don’t have MCS, but I have allergic contact dermatitis. I use white vinegar and Seventh Generation laundry soap. The zeolite sounds interesting.

  4. I have a friend with MCS AND allergic contact dermatitis. (She was poisoned while she was working in a building and they were doing renovations.) She uses Planet, because she is allergic to something in Seventh Generation (I think it is methylchloroisothiazoline — not sure of spelling). I don’t think she uses baking soda because of her nickel allergy (nickel is the most common allergen for ACD, but you probably knew that already, LOL). The powdered milk and AFM you use sound interesting. Have you ever used AFM housepaint? I’ve heard mixed things.
    I wonder what it in the raw wood? I never touched any, so I don’t know.

    • Thank you for commenting. I am not sure if I have tried Planet. I didn’t use AFM house paint. At the time my husband built this house he used Kelley Moore ecopaint. I did okay with it. I do have friends who have used AFM without any problem. The raw wood contains terpenes that I am highly allergic to.

      • Terpenes! Okay, good to know. My skin reacts to so many things. I have some mild MCS-like respiratory reactions too: I am bothered by very old or very new books, by newspaper ink, and I can’t use fragranced products on myself. I can tolerate it if someone else is using fragrance but not if it is very strong or if there is poor ventilation. Sometimes I wonder if I have MCS or if I’m just sensitive because of my fibro, Lyme, and high histamine levels.

      • Old books bother me because of dust and mold and fragrances. How I managed to get by without having newspaper ink bother me, is beyond me. I think you probably have MCS along with all the other issues.

  5. Sigh. Another ailment! I’m not sure what’s going on with me and books. Some of it could be chemical sensitivity to inks, and some of it could be my dust mite allergy. I don’t get reactions from fragrances in books, more from personal care/beauty products. I’m glad you can tolerate newspapers though. I have to read on iPad or phone. I like the New York Times app a lot, but I think you learn more reading the print version.

    • It is always something isn’t it. I read on my Kindle most all books. I will look at our local paper but then it gets recycled. Your issues with books could be a combination of things: mold, dust, and the ink itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s