Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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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:
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:
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.
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