Guidelines for Non-Toxic Living http://www.ourlittleplace.com/nontoxic.html (Many easy DIY recipes from a woman with MCS)
MCS America Personal Care http://www.mcs-america.org/personal.pdf
Environmental Working Group data base – Type in name of the product and find out what is in it and what the risks are of each ingredient! http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond (a woman with MCS)
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstone
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide 2nd Ed. by Pamela Reed Gibson PhD
Living Well With Multiple Chemical Sensitivity by Lisa Bradford
Body Care Products & Stores
Dr Bronners http://www.drbronner.com/
VitaCost online store for cleaning, supplements, body care products, etc. (Most products are not safe! But they have good deals on some safe items with free shipping over $50.) http://www.vitacost.com
Glad Rags http://www.gladrags.com (Makes reusable 100% organic cotton panty liners and menstrual pads.)
Feminine Hygiene including panty liners, pads and tampons by Seventh Generation, Natracare, and Maxim http://www.needs.com/prod_detail_list/pc_Feminine_Hygiene/a
Some Canaries can wear all natural non-organic clothing; others have to be organic. Yet at least one I heard from has to wear high quality polyester, showing you cannot jump to any conclusions. One Canary buys cotton clothing and soaks it in a mix of citrus solvent and water for a week and then washes them twice in clean water and it helps her. Citrus solvent we cannot handle, but we do soak any organic fabric over night in water with high levels of baking soda and rinse and repeat before washing them. Synthetic fabric may not affect you the way it does another Canary. Remember, we all react to different poisons, plus they can change during your lifetime. Right now I won’t wear organic cotton with 5% spandex in it. I have learned the expensive way to really understand what the dyes used are. Many Canaries boil their clothing several times on a hot plate that is outside (no toxic fumes in the home!) for hours. Fabrics probably will shrink. Other tricks are vinegar for the rinse cycle for removing chlorine and an overnight soak in milk or water with powdered milk to remove formaldehyde. (Caution: Make sure no animals drink this poisoned milk!) The cotton industry has one the highest uses for pesticides in the world and most Canaries have a reaction to pesticides, especially since many became Canaries due to poisoning by agribusiness. I always thought I was allergic to wool. I may actually be allergic to chemicals with which they treat wool. Hugging a sheep never gave me a rash.
Buying Hints about buying organic clothing:
Check that all ingredients are organic or it could be 80% organic cotton and 20% nylon, or have an organic lining but not exterior. China has much lower standards for what means organically grown. EU safety and health standards for most things are usually the world’s highest. Dyes may be an issue for you, so see if they use plant based or clay based dyes, if they dye at all. Dyes are tricky, because the pigment may be safe but the mordant (what sets the color so it doesn’t run or wash out) may be toxic. Also when it comes in the mail, you need to make sure the packing and shipping process didn’t contaminate it. We remove packaging outside and then soak in a garbage can of water and a lot of baking soda over night, rinse and repeat, and later hand wash or throw it in the mini-washer if it seems uncontaminated. We don’t want to poison our safe washer. Stores that sell organic clothing often sell other eco-friendly clothing like fabric made with recycled water bottles. This is again why you need to remember eco-friendly and canary-safe is not always the same thing. Read the description carefully! The days of organic clothing looking like burlap sacks are over. The Resources page lists some websites. Please do read the descriptions because some of them sell nonorganic clothing, too. I note the plus size ones because sadly most organic clothing is made for babies and 20 year old anorexic yoginis. If you are bored with the organic basics, you can buy organic fabric and make and/or naturally dye your own, or you can buy simple organic pieces and tailor or upcycle them into what you do like. My priority is safe clothing. I can make it my style when it gets here. There are etsy.com shops with handmade organic clothing, but not for anyone over women’s size 16. (Some will custom design for you though if you send measurements.) As etsy owners often will state if they create in a home with animals or smokers, you can ask them if they burned incense, smoked ANYTHING, use a wood stove, wore essential oils and what soap they used, too. If they are making organic hemp Boho hippie togs, you might guess they use canary safe soaps, but you cannot be sure. With Greenwashing, they may be unintentionally using poisons.
Having an online registry of what you can wear safely is helpful for holidays when people are determined to send you a sweater. An online registry (I use Amazon’s Universal Wishlist) of safe things people can give my family allows those who want to help us to help us without wasting money and harming us. I suggest this for anyone who has specific needs. There is so much research to be done to find truly natural products that left on their own, your loved ones may be tricked by Greenwashing and get something toxic hidden in advertizing lies about “Mother Earth.”
You already know that your clothing needs to be fragrance free. Unscented does not mean fragrance free. It means that there was fragrance used and then they hid it with more chemicals. Sneaky. (Note: Dr Bronner’s castile unscented soaps actually are fragrance free.) There are many safe brands on the market like 7th Generation or ECOS that work, or Dr Bronner’s with some baking soda added. To make towels and jeans softer, adding some distilled white vinegar to the wash water works, but some Canaries must avoid vinegar. There are also laundry soap nuts, a sustainable resource. Some Canaries can handle Arm and Hammer Free and Clear, but we cannot. Sadly the white or distilled vinegar our great-grandparents knew is not what we have on the shelves unless we are paying more for organic and properly aged. The FDA allows it to be synthetic ethanol and it won’t be labeled that. Also it can be made in 22 hours. It is not the same thing available 60 years ago. Many Canaries are made ill by vinegar and I often wonder if this is why. There are also laundry soap nuts, a sustainable resource from financially poorer nations. Some Canaries can handle Arm and Hammer Free and Clear. We cannot.
Obviously thrift stores and clothing swap parties are now out of the question unless they are held by persons with the same needs. Public laundromats are off limits. For MCS disabled people, they are not assessable due to the barrier of fabric softeners and cleaning products wafting in the air. Also you might lose all your clothing like my family did by using a dryer that someone must have used a dryer sheet in that we didn’t notice the smell of since we were so inTOXICicated already. If you buy a washing machine, do not get a used one, for who knows what they used?
Miniwashers are relatively inexpensive. Hand washing is helped with a clothing plunger or wash board in a metal wash tub or garbage can. Wood or metal racks for drying clothes are easy to find. If you want to wring hand washing dry you can buy clothing wringers or mop ones (much cheaper but more work) – just make sure all metal and safe wood! No plastics! A fan and/or dehumidifier you can tolerate placed by the drying rack helps speed the process up. Sun and fresh air freshen, soften and bleach drying clothes. Make sure your outside area really IS fresh air, however, or you have to rewash. If you have clothing or linens ruined by fragrance, you can try hanging it outside for several months. The rain, sun and wind might help make it safe, says one Canary who rescued a wool coat this way.
Carbon Filter Mask
Your Canary wardrobe may not be complete without a respirator (which I know nothing about firsthand) and/orthe ever-handy carbon filter mask. I CAN BREATHE makes one a Canary suggested to me, and while it does filter out poisons and helps me avoid exposure, the synthetic fabric made my face red and itchy. Meanwhile Mom sleeps comfortably in hers. I found a woman who makes them from silk, cotton and organic cotton with different types of filters: Sandra DenBraber, R. N. skdbrn(at)ticnet.com http://ncchem.com/mask.htm
Public laundromats are off limits. For MCS disabled people, they are not assessable due to the barrier of fabric softeners and cleaning products wafting in the air. Also you might lose all your clothing like my family did by using a dryer that someone must have used a dryer sheet in that we didn’t notice the smell of since we were so inTOXICicated already. If you buy a washing machine, do not get a used one, for who knows what they used? Miniwashers are relatively inexpensive. The rubber cord for the water may bother you – I wrapped ours in aluminum foil which helps somewhat. Hand washing can be aided with a clothing plunger or wash board in a metal wash tub or garbage can. Wood or metal racks for drying clothes are easy to find. If you want to wring hand washing dry you can buy clothing wringers or mop ones (cheaper but more work) – just make sure all metal and safe wood! No plastics! A fan and/or dehumidifier placed by the drying rack helps speed the process up. Drying in sunlight and fresh air sanitizes, freshens and bleaches clothing. Make sure it is fresh air or you’ll wash again. If you have clothing or linens ruined by fragrance, you can try hanging it outside for several months if you have access to clean air. The rain, sun and wind might help make it safe, according to one Canary who saved a wool jacket this way. Some report their mold allergies are made worse with this process.