Are Your Laundry Products Safe?

September 24, 2014

We don’t usually think about the effect our clothing might have on us because it’s such a commonplace activity, but your clothing may be affecting you more than you think. Clothing is very close to your skin, which is our largest organ, so chemicals emitted from our clothing could be directly absorbed by the skin. Scents from clothing don’t have to travel far to reach our noses, so those smells can be very strong.  All of our cloth materials (clothing, sheets, towels, linens, etc.) are washed with some kind of detergent. Dryer softeners are also used for many of these items. The primary purpose of laundry products is to clean, but many also contain fragrances and dyes to make them more appealing. These additives often contain a mixture of chemicals, some of which can be very irritating. Fragrances can be especially difficult to track down since there is no requirement to list the specific chemicals that make up the ingredients.

Are you allergic to your laundry products?

Like any other cleaning products, laundry products have the potential to cause physical symptoms. The specific effects depend on the ingredients of each product, which are not always fully accessible, and the reactions of those exposed to these products. Some people are very sensitive to these products and may experience respiratory irritation (wheezing, coughing, sneezing, burning sensation), skin irritation (rash, hives, burning sensation), eye irritation (watering or itchy eyes, burning sensation), headaches, dizziness, or other effects.

7 ways to reduce the negative effects of laundry products:

Since we all have to deal with washing clothes and other fabric materials, it’s important to consider ways to reduce potential exposure to laundry product ingredients that may cause irritation or more serious symptoms. The list below includes a few suggestions that may be useful.

  • Use dye and fragrance free products
  • Store laundry products in a secondary container such as a plastic bin with a tight fitting lid when not in use
  • Try to ventilate when using laundry products by opening a window or installing and using an exhaust fan
  • Remove clothes from washer and dryer promptly
  • Clean the dryer vent frequently to prevent lint build up
  • Make sure the interior of the washer is dry before closing the lid to prevent musty odors
  • Consider making your own laundry products

Laundry products are essential to our health and hygiene, but can cause an unexpected hazard as well. Reducing the potential for exposure to ourselves and our families is an important step in providing a healthy environment. In addition to the actions listed above, consider performing an air quality test to find out how much of an effect these products could be having on your family.