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Safe Clothing Options for Sensitive Skin





MCS America

Lourdes Salvador's Column

...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.








Lourdes Salvador is the founder of MCS America, a science writer, and a social advocate for the greater awareness of environmental contamination, human toxicology, and propagation of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as a disorder of organic biological origin induced by toxic environmental insults.

For more information visit MCS America




Monday, October 11th, 2010:


Safe Clothing Options for Sensitive Skin


by Lourdes Salvador

Q: I was wondering whether you might have any clothing suggestions. I have severe chemical sensitivity such that I can't touch new clothing without breaking out and reacting. I am wearing out my old clothes and it shows. Do you know of any suitable clothing?

A: Each person´s tolerance level is different, so you will need to determine what fabrics work for you.  I usually recommend organic cotton and/or natural fiber clothing to start.  Avoid synthetic and petroleum based fabrics like polyester and most rayon.  Also avoid any fabric which is labeled as "stain resistant", "water repellant", etc.  These fabrics have been chemically treated.  If you are sensitive to the dyes, you will want to find natural colored clothing.  One last thing to watch out for is "eco" or "green" clothing.  This clothing may or may not be suited to chemically sensitive people and should be investigated first.  Some use "recycled polyester", which is ecological and saves the earth, but is a potentially toxic petroleum based product.  Some places you might find clothing are:


Rawganique Clothing

Natural Clothing Company

You can research many more by Googling "organic cotton clothing" and sorting through the results to find what you want.

Chances are any clothing you buy will need to be washed and ougassed before it can be worn.  Here are a few techniques that are helpful.

Sun and Air:  Before washing, allow the new clothes to outgas outside in the safest, airy location you have for several days to two weeks.  Then wash them with one of the below methods and outgas them outdoors again.  Repeat as many times as necessary.  The sun and fresh air does wonders to improve clothing.  Clothes may need to be outside for as long as two weeks for each airing.  I find one to two airings and washings sufficient for most items... even those bought commercially.  The organic, untreated fabrics are ready much faster.

Wash: Soak and machine wash the clothes with one of the following which you tolerate:

Baking Soda


White Distilled Vinegar

Dry Milk Powder (don't soak longer than 2 hours or the milk may spoil)

Any Tolerable Detergent

Some also find they need to boil new clothing.  If you find this is necessary, do it outdoors so that the chemicals escaping in the steam do not enter your home.  Also, check for colorfastness and shrinkage. Good luck!







For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.


Copyrighted 2010 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America



Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Forums



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People in this conversation

  • Yes, these things are always expensive aren't they! I would imagine there are people who have paid the money and would now be happy to sell on (or even pass on freely) the material for the Gupta program but I am not sure where you'd find them. Posting in all the major MCS forums would probably be a good start.

    On the subject of other drugs, there was someone posted in the forums here a while ago describing their recovery using a prescription medication but I can't for the life of me find it at the moment! I'll keep searching and let you know if I find anything. It may well have been gabapentin but I'm not certain. Other members have reported good results with phosphatidylcholine (PC) supplements and what's known as 'phospholipid exchange' therapy. In fact this seems to be helpful for more people than anything else, judging by members on this site at least.

    I just had a look at the Rokit website - they certainly have an eclectic range of fashions! Have you asked them about suitability for chemically sensitive individuals? I notice a lot of the clothes are handmade...but that's not usually enough to ensure they will be safe. Anyway, I hope they are ok! Let us know.

    Always happy to share my experiences if they will help other 'MCSers' in any way. We have to stick together as nobody else seems to want to help us do they!

    All the best and stay in touch.

  • Hi Angus,

    No problem, just wanted to share my experiences with you as although avoiding triggering chemicals is the cornerstone of coping with and hopefully recovering from MCS...there are other things you can do. Other members here have recovered using therapies such as phospholipid exchange, Professor Martin Pall's protocol, and just yesterday a member reported having cured herself of long-term and severe MCS using Ashok Gupta's Amygdala Retraining Program. Have a search here and on the web as a whole for these as I'm sure they will be of interest.

    Your neurologist will probably scoff at the merest mention of DHEA but nothing to lose in asking! It's something that is often recommended by more alternative doctors. Those practicing functional, nutritional, or environmental medicine. It is available over the counter in the US and you can buy online from the UK. It is definitely something that should be used only under the supervision of a doctor however, since it is a steroid hormone and thus does has potential for side-effects. I had problems with liver toxicity while taking 25mg per day but I did have significant problems in that area already. The benefits were huge though as it also helped with energy, mood, sleep etc.

    Sometimes I wonder why I pile the stress on myself trying to maintain this site but then someone will tell me how much it has helped I'll keep it up until that stops happening ;)

    Good luck at your next visit to the neurologist (amazing you got referred to one!) and also with the hunt for safe suits and shirts!

  • Hi Angus,

    I have worked with a number of doctors over the years and it was following an adrenal stress index (ASI) test through Dr. Sarah Myhill and subsequent supplementation with the hormone DHEA that my problems with chemical sensitivity resolved...and quickly. Studies have shown MCS results from hypersensitivity of specific areas of the brain (notably the limbic system) to the chemical compounds to which we become sensitised. One of the actions of DHEA is to reduce neural activity by influencing the activity of GABA, the major inhibitory neurotransmitter. I can only assume that the DHEA somehow 'reset' my hypersensitive brain to its pre-MCS level of sensitivity.

    Based on my own experiences and reasoning gabapentin should be worth a shot as it is an analogue of GABA i.e. it has similar calming effects on the brain and nervous system. Sorry it didn't work out for you. I do feel strongly that in combination with adopting a chemical-free lifestyle (as much as is possible), promoting detoxification pathways and addressing adrenal fatigue/neural hypersensitivity (as above) is the way to go to overcome MCS.

    I hadn't thought about dress shirts sorry, I have never had a regular job due to my ill health. I went from dropping out of uni at 19 due to illness, to bed for 4 years, to starting this website...which eventually began paying my bills (just). I don't think ebay will be a lot of use in the case of dress shirts will it! I'll have to think about that one. I'll post here again if I come up with anything.

    Take care,


  • Hi Angus,

    I agree with everything Lourdes said - direct sunlight and a light breeze would likely be most helpful for out-gassing clothing. Living in the UK myself I know all too well how weak the sun is this time of year though and the low temperatures don't help either!

    I would be inclined to try using your garage and if you have a portable radiator or heater I would warm things up with that. Remember, you essentially want to change the state of the chemicals on and in the clothes to a gas so heat is an essential factor.

    I suffered acutely from MCS for a number of years secondary to ME/CFS and my rule of thumb was to always buy second hand everything. Almost every new product these days gives off fumes that will cause any MCSer problems. It's still possible to buy used clothing and still be fashionable if that's a worry. eBay is always a good place to visit ;)

    Good luck,


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