i get sick washing clothes; help!

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Chilene, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    hi all;)...

    wow...this just keeps getting tougher!

    i live in an apartment building where i have to use communal washers. i have an assistant a few hours a week, and we have tried everything to combat my severe sensitivities to the washed clothes, but i'm still having pretty bad breathing trouble/itchiness/swollen face/lips each time we finish the clothes.

    i don't even think other peoples laundry/fragrances/chemicals are to blame, as much as the water itself! i have her wipe out the washers and dryers for every wash. i use an unscented liquid detergent and add some baking soda and vinegar.

    but i always notice i begin really sneezing and having more breathing trouble when i am around the wet clothes that are hung to dry in my bathroom. when i smell them, they smell like chlorine, not detergent. (or maybe flouride, too?)...and yes, i have a problem with the dried clothes as well, as often they still smell like someone elses' laundry.

    i thought that if i could only move to an apartment where i had my own washer/dryer, that this would solve the problem. out of state, if necessary, since chicago has vintage apartments mostly, with no washer/dryers. i am also getting stressed out by the city, and wouldn't mind moving west...however, now i am afraid that if it is as much the water as anything, there is nothing i can do, unless i were in a house (no chance, on disability, single...)...where i could by a whole house water filter..

    i just don't want to move and have the same problem.

    any thoughts?

    i'm exhausted with this! it's terrible to say that i feel much better when i don't wash clothes, but true!

    thanks you all!;)


    [This Message was Edited on 12/15/2005]
  2. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    I used to have an awful time with clothes washed at the laundromat. One of the problems was with the residue left from hydrocarbons burning in the gas dryer, but the wet ones bothered me sometimes, too.

    I get allergic reactions just being around people whose clothes were washed in Tide or other scented detergents or fabric softeners. When my kids come to visit they know they have to use fragrance-free for a few weeks in advance or they'll have to get a motel room! I'm sure you could get enough residue in your wash water from previous users to cause a reaction even if you couldn't smell it that strongly.

    If it's chlorine you're sensitive to, adding baking soda to the rinse (not just the wash) will neutralize it. You might try that first and see if it helps. Also Oxyclean in the wash might help if you tolerate it.

    I do know people who have had reactions to fluoride in the water, but if that were it you would have trouble bathing, too. Unfortunately you can't get that out with any kind of whole house filter...you have to have a reverse osmosis unit or a distiller. When we moved, we looked for a community that didn't add fluoride to the water.


    [This Message was Edited on 12/15/2005]
  3. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    yes, i also have trouble when someone around me has used strong detergent on their clothes. this has gotten worse over the years (all this)...what's weird is, i'm more tolerant to being in a bar than before (the smoke...)

    i'll try adding the baking soda to the rinse cycle, thanks.

    i don't have too much trouble with a bath, (just the heat, but that's another story!;)...so it sounds like it's probably the chlorine, not flouride...

    is there a website or something where you can check chlorine levels in the water of different cities, Jan?...

    thanks so much!!!



  4. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member


    I know in our city the levels vary quite a bit depending on the time of year, bacteria levels, etc, so I don't think you'd be able to find a chart.

    However once you move, you can remove the chlorine with a whole house charcoal filter fairly inexpensively.

    I feel for you - I finally have a good system for doing laundry but whenever I get new clothes or linens or buy something used at a thrift store I still have to wash them many times to get the chemicals, fragrances and prior detergents out.

  5. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    roll it up to the sink when needed, throw a tablecloth over it when not needed. That's what i had to do. I'd die if I had to share public washers, wiping isn't enough, liquid fabric softeners won't budge until weeks of rinsing.

    I doubt it's chlorine bothering you or you couldn't bath or drink your water. It's the residues of soaps/fabric softeners/perfumes from the public washers that are outgassing as your clothes dry.

    I'm about like Rockyjs for sensitivities, though I finally can tolerate Tide on people, but still can't take most fabric softeners and perfumes. On a bad day for me, even the smells off my own clothes, done in my own washer (scented stuff never used) can bother me. Don't forget, if you are chemically sensitive, you are picking up scents everywhere you go and your clothes absorb them.

  6. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Even if your detergent is unscented, you could still be allergic to one of it's ingredients. You might try switching to a different degergent, possible a 'natural' one.

    As for moving, visit the city for several days. Drink the water, bath in the water, perhaps even wash some clothes in the water and wear them. Do not use a laudrymat, since that will get the residue issue. Wash them in the sink where you are staying.
  7. mamabear40

    mamabear40 New Member

    Hi, something you might want to consider is getting in an home with softwater unit. I had a client that had the same problem, and now lives in a duplex with a softwater unit and it stopped her allergies. Plus just being in laundry facility it has all times of chemicals in the and in the machines.
    I wish you the best of luck!
  8. peachbunnee

    peachbunnee New Member

    someone mentioned previously that even unscented soap can cause issues.

    In fact, unscented does not mean fragrance free - it means they have put a masking agent in the product to try and cover up the smell. (check to see if your products say "unscented" or "fragrance free".)

    Also, regular soaps are made using petroleum products and sometimes include phosphates and other things that may be irritants to those of us with MCS.

    Seventh Generation carries several scent free, dye free, cruelty free, petroleum free, etc products. If you check out their website, you can even get some coupons from there.

    Otherwise, local co-ops and the whole foods store, etc carry other brands in addition to seventh generation.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  9. fairydust39

    fairydust39 New Member

    There is a number of things that may be bothering you in the laundry!! It could be MOLD,all that water being used in one room sure could be causing a mold problem.
    Another thing that could bother you---do people bring their animals down there with them?
    I have to tell you a story about me and my Hubby, We went to a garage so my Hubby could pick up something he needed.He came back out(I was driving) and got into the car.
    Well I no more than started down the road and started sneezing and coughing.I said was there a dog in that garage he said, yes and I was petting it.I carry wipes in my purse and I said clean your hands and throw it out the window.
    Well guess what--the sneezing coughing,stopped. I did not see the dog either. A TRUE STORY!LOL That's how allergic I am, to animals.
    Hugs Shirley
  10. ~Sibyle~

    ~Sibyle~ New Member

    Just FYI on chlorine levels.

    According to the USEPA all drinking water systems are required to carry a chlorine residual of no less then 0.20 mg/L and no more than 2.00 mg/L .

    Do you know how your cities water supply is stored? If it is stored in a tank or reservoir it is possible to get algae growing in the water. Some people are very sensitive to algae.

    It also could very easily be residue in the washing machine and dryer causing your reaction. Detergents and fabric softening sheets are made with a substance that is sticky on a molecular level. The stickiness helps the fragrance stick to the clothes.

    If you suspect the chlorine causing your reaction, look for a fragrance free detergent that also claims to preserve the color of your clothes. Those types of detergents contain sodium thiosulfate which neutralizes chlorine.

  11. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    all baby detergent and i can't remeber the name i was my baby stuff 16 years ago....but that worked also it was in a pink box and poweder....

    and ithougjt he could handle tide detergent,, we both broke out in hives from head to toe.

    but i can use wisk no problems either.....

  12. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    ...other than my not so great credit and NO savings...

    there may still be a chance at a home someday, then!...

    i had NO idea about these HUD/etc. housing arrangements for the disabled!!!...and never would have guessed a filter would be covered.

    many hugs and thanks for this information, donnaeil!!

    ;) Chilene/helene
  13. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    i knew nothing about these types of washers, jeanne. what an idea!

    and yes, i don't have all that much trouble with the bath and shower (just the high heat of them)...so i would love to find out it's not merely chlorine!

    thanks tons!!!

    hugs to you;)

  14. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    very wise idea about checking out the water AND washing clothes before a move!!!

    and i have "unscented" natural detergent...but might try "making" my own!...

    thanks a bundle!!

    fibro hugs to you;)
  15. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    thanks for your thoughts, too, willow_whisp.

    btw: i love animals, and yours look wonderful!!! (you're not allergic to cats?..lol)...

    hugs to you;)

  16. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    wow, softwater. who wouldda thought?!

    that's a great idea. thanks sooooooo much!!!

    i love you guys!

    many fibro hugs...

  17. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    oh, i hadn't remembered to consider those differences (fragrance free vs. unscented)... i do use the seventh generation...and i know it's better than most...but thanks for your information--it will continue to help me!


  18. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    hmmm...people DO bring their pets down there...and i have an assistant who has a cat, i think, as i find cat hair here and there...not lots, but i am allergic to those lovely animals!

    really interesting one, shirley, thank you!

  19. Chilene

    Chilene New Member

    wow, where did you get all this great information?...either way, so many thanks to you!!! i will now look more closely at the detergent labels. verrry interesting!

    ;) fibrohugs, Chilene/Helene