Detoxifying Clothing and Bedding: A Thorough Guide

Your clothes should smell fresh and clean with no fragrance. Instead, many people are wearing brand new clothes that have never been cleared of chemicals or clothing that has been washed with toxic laundry products and fabric softeners.  Brand new clothes and clothes washed in conventional laundry products have chemical residues that are harmful to health and should be outgassed.  After repeated washings our clothes become incorporated with the chemicals and dyes from the detergents. Since toxins can enter the body not only by inhalation through the respiratory tract, but also by absorption through the skin our bodies receive a double dose from these scented toxic laundry products. In addition your clothing may appear white and bright because of the chemical whiteners, yet they are a toxic waste by-product and a menace to your health. The synthetic fragrances may seem pleasant, but they are neurotoxic and are endocrine disruptors. Most people don’t get sick immediately by wearing the garments, but the absorption of these chemicals/metals consistently over the long term presents a potential for immune system depression and illness.

To detoxify clothing and sheets that are brand new or  that have been washed in conventional toxic detergents, a detoxification procedure is necessary. Sleeping on sheets or wearing clothes that have been washed in conventional detergents contribute to the chemical load that the body has to detoxify. This is especially an issue when sleeping because at night when the immune system is supposed to rest and repair, it instead has to use its energy to detoxify chemicals from the Bedding & Mattresses and pajamas. The kidneys and liver have to work harder through the night instead of rejuvenate and repair. It may take several treatments to remove detergent residues especially if fabric softeners have been used. If clothes are contaminated with mold or pesticides, a more extensive procedure is needed.

RECOMMENDED Materials:  

Branch Basics Laundry Solution  

Branch Basics – Oxygen Boost – booster and deodorizer

Baking Soda – available at grocery stores; can be used as a booster and deodorizer.

20 Mule Team Borax – available at grocery stores; can be used as a boost and for moldy or musty clothes. Borax kills mold. We only recommend the use of Borax if clothing is contaminated with mold and other methods have not worked.  Double rinse clothes washed in Borax as some people experience skin irritation from this product.

Sodium Sesquicarbonate –https://www.chemistrystore.com/Chemicals_S-Z-Sodium_Sesquicarbonate.html – an be bought in bulk at a chemical supply company in your city (Lab Safety Supply, Science Lab)

BOC (Biological Odor Control) by Medina – www.medina.com  (1-830-426-3011)BOC neutralizes mycotoxins (the metabolic byproducts of mold that many people react to.) It will not kill mold, but slows it down and reduces odors. Has no scent, must use with cold water. Medina does decontamination work all over the world. BOC is made up of algae (biological base of all their products) and is used in hydrocarbon degradation, chemical decontamination, VOC decontamination, etc.

Branch Basics Laundry Solution – premixed from the concentrate in refillable laundry bottle

Borax and BOC – use to decontaminate moldy or musty clothes

New clothes and clothes that have been washed in conventional products need to be outgassed in the sun until there is no odor coming off of them.

Procedure:

  • Hang clothes out in the sun. Turn them inside out to minimize fading. Lay out on flat surface if possible. This will help to outgas the chemicals from the clothes. Ideally, keep sunning  until all smell is gone or almost gone. Don’t underestimate the power of the sun. You can save wear and tear on your clothes and cut down the number of times you have to wash them if you partner with the sunshine. Note: Many times new clothes can be completely outgassed just by sunning
  • Take sheets or clothes and place in a big sink or top loading washing machine and cover with cold water or  hot water if appropriate for the fabric.  Let soak several hours, all day, or overnight with the following:
  • 1 capful Branch Basics Laundry Solution*
  • 2 scoops Oxygen Boost
  • If desired add one or more of the following to boost process
  • 1 – 2 small boxes baking soda – helps deodorize
  • ½ – 1 cup Borax – if clothes are moldy or musty (We only recommend the use of Borax if clothing is contaminated with mold and other methods have not worked. Double rinse clothes washed in Borax as some people experience skin irritation from this product.)
  • ¼ – ½ cup Sodium Sesquicarbonate
    Note: Using the baking soda and borax combination or Sodium Sesquicarbonate (bought in bulk) above is probably the most inexpensive way to go.
  • Wash and double rinse sheets or clothes in the morning (Note: after clothes and sheets have been detoxified, then overnight soaking is not necessary)
  • Repeat as necessary

If there remains a strong odor in the clothes, then use BOC:

  • 1 – 2 cups BOC – Soak overnight in cold water (hot water kills the enzyme action)
  • Wash in the morning with Branch Basics Laundry Solution and Oxygen Boost.

IMPORTANT

  • Fully detoxified clothes and Bedding & Mattresses will have no fragrance
  • It can take a long time to detoxify clothes fully, especially if fabric softeners have been used. Just keep washing and sunning them. Sunning is KEY!
  • For the Chemically Sensitive: To protect those recovering from illness from the fumes that may be generated when drying these clothes, ventilate the laundry room. Place fans facing out of nearest window (in the laundry room, if possible) to draw fumes out of the house. Do not have fans facing out of other areas of the home because these fans will draw air from the laundry room throughout the house.

Take-Home Message

IMPORTANT: If you previously washed your clothes, especially undergarments, in standard laundry detergent, we highly recommended that you wash them at least four consecutive times in the wash cycle before wearing them.

  • To get started with the Branch Basics products mentioned in this article and to learn more about all natural, human safe cleaning products, start here.

 

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13 Comments

  1. I just looked up 20 Mule Team borax on the EWG site and it gets an F. Did you know? Curious on your thoughts, since it’s recommended in your laundry detox protocol. I was very surprised to see the rating.

    1. Hi Jen – Great catch, Jen! Borax is very good for killing mold and if used properly, is non-toxic. It is EPA approved as a non pesticide to kill mold.

  2. This is so helpful, thank you! I live in a NYC apartment so I’m unable to do sunning (It would by terribly inconvenient to haul everything to a park, were the grass is probably s[rayed with pesticides anyway!). Any alternatives?

    1. Hello Rachel. Great question! If sunning is not an option, then washing and soaking (in the bathtub maybe would be good) with the concentrate and Oxygen Boost. Maybe 2 scoops Oxygen Boost and 1/4 cup concentrate for a large soaking tub. I would soak overnight. This might have to be repeated. Or you can do small groups in smaller containers – but the soaking and washing are the way to go.

      Best of luck!
      Rachel

  3. Great article and thanks for all of the information. I tried to find the Medina BOC product but the website link you provided doesn’t work and can’t seem to find it anywhere else. Was this product discontinued? If so, would you be able to recommend a similar product?

  4. I am concerned with the whites. I prefer white sheets because I have bleached in the past. I am attempting to do things in a “cleaner” way and am just concerned that they will not be that pretty white I am accustomed to. Besides the bed sheets I have three athletes and muddy soccer socks (of course white) are trying even using all of the nasty chemicals. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Hi y’all ~ I’m always sunning and washing our things in the wonderful Branch Basics (old formula) as I have MCS triggered migraines.

    I have another question though: We just bought a new Intellibed mattress, which wasn’t supposed to have any smell to it according to the article I read about it on WellnessMama’s web site, but it’s still out-gassing after 10 days. The mattress is heavy, and it’s COLD here in VA right now, plus it’s raining almost every other day so there’s no way to put it out in the sun.

    How can we remedy this? It’s truly the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on (yes, I’ve been sleeping on it after the first week of “airing” it in another room with the windows open; but my hubby is still waking after a few hours and goes back to our old mattress for the rest of the night), but is there any way to speed up the airing out process?

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