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laundry issues

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Tammie, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    Woodridge, IL
    I have been having a very hard time dealing with doing laundry, not only bc of CFS exhaustion, dizziness, etc, but also bc of MCS fragrance issues. I live in an apt and have to carry my laundry a ways up a hill and then share a laundry room with the other residents.

    The thing is that now I am starting to find that in addition to all the other reasons that this is hard, there is a new problem that I have no idea how to address. If people who use the laundry room before me use too much detergent in their wash, some of it stays in the machine and gets on my clothes when I wash them.

    Even though I use unscented detergent, my clothes wind up getting scented from their detergent. So far, this has not been too huge of a problem, but it is becoming more of one as I become more and more sensitive to stuff. It's a problem both when I inhale the scent, and when the other detergent comes into contact with my skin and I get hives.

    I was thinking that I must just be developing a problem with my detergent, but after reading an article about laundry detergent and how most people use too much I realized that it's not my detergent causing the problem, and it's not my imagination that my clothes have been winding up scented. Apparently, tests have actually found that detergent can stay in the machine for up to EIGHT washes if someone uses too much!

    I have wanted to move for a very long time (for other reasons, too) but have been unable to find a house or apt with individual laundry units that I can afford, so at this point that is not an option. Obviously, I have to have clean clothes. So, I have no idea what to do about this. Any ideas?
  2. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    This is my exact problem, too. I live in an apartment with a shared laundry room. Everyone in the building seems to use scented laundry products except me. The junk gets on my towels and clothing, the smell stays. I've even gotten rashes from it. I have no way of stopping it and I can't afford to keep running the laundry through with nothing for extra rinses just because people won't stop using scented products. I have not found a way around it. It's a really big problem. Like I wish we had a separate set of machines just for people who have MCS and must use unscented products. But the people here would just use them anyway, they never follow rules.
  3. glenp

    glenp "and this too shall pass"

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    Baking soda and vinegar

    Would it help to add baking soda to the wash cycle? I give my clothes an extra rinse and fill the rinse dispenser with vinegar. The vinegar helps. I haven't noticed a vinegar scent on the dry clothes, I only use enough to fill the rinse dispenser. I am also using vinegar rinse in my hair now as the scent of soap or shampoo in my hair bothers me
  4. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    Carrigon, I know you & I have commiserated about simialr things before.....stinks, doesn't it? (oops, pun actually not intended!)

    glenp, Does the vinegar smell stay on the clothes? I mean, even if it does, it would be better than what I am dealing with now, & I do clean my apt with vinegar, but I don't really like the smell.....the baking soda is also a good idea.....will have to try these
  5. Robin

    Robin Guest

    This sounds really silly but you might want to try Oxiclean. It's the stuff on the infomercials for stain removal? It's a good odor remover -- I put a scoop in with my dog laundry (my dog is big and stinky) and it works pretty well. I found it when I was researching bleach alternatives.

    It's made of sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate -- baking soda and the second is washing soda. Mixed with water they make hydrogen peroxide and soda ash. Some of the version have fragrances, I get the "free" kind which is just the powder.

    I have no idea if it will fully neutralize the perfumes from laundry detergent but that would be something to try. Good luck!
  6. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    We're not allowed here to have any type of machine in our apartments.

    From what I've seen, nothing will get the stink out once that junk is in there. It doesn't matter what you try. Rinsing it alot will help, but they charge us money to use the machines and I cannot afford it. I can only afford to do my laundry twice a month, that's it.

    No one at my building has any regard for other people. They simply do not care. And they follow no rules. It wouldn't matter what you said or asked, you could beg on your knees and they would sitll do as they please. It's a losing battle. Just like the battle with the noise. I can't make them stop that either.
  7. anne_likes_red

    anne_likes_red Senior Member

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    This was going to be my exact suggestion!

    I generally only use bicarb of soda and white vinegar in my wash (very occasionally some pure soap with it, or a few drops of pure eucalyptus or lavendar oil) and I know the bicarb in particular absorbs some synthethic fragrances, chemicals and surface dyes.

    I have MCS too. I don't have to share my laundry but I sometimes smell what other people wash their clothes in and I know how bad it is!
    I use bicarb and vinegar for almost every cleaning job in my home. I buy it in bulk :)
  8. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    Thnak for the suggestion, Robin. I have only seen the kind with fragrence, will have to see if I can find it w/o if the vinegar things doesn't work.
  9. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    catch, thanks for the ideas, but we are not allowed to have any washing machines either - otherwise that woudl be worth looking into

    and as good as the free idea is, I suspect that the first person to see it would take the entire thing

    the people who use the laundry room here are generally very, very inconsiderate, unfortunately - I am normally very much a people person, but after doing laundry and seeing some of the thigns that people have done, I tend to hate people for a little while......have seen/smelled everythign from cigarette smoke - just what you want on your clean clothes, and how hard is it really to refrian from smoking for the amt of time it takes to put a load of laundry or two in?, to used kitty litterin a washing machine, to massive amoutns of mud all over the floor, to someone dumping cigarette butts and garbage in a washing machine, and more, much more

    even if no one took the detergent, I would not really know if anyone had used it before doing my own wash
  10. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    anne, how much of the baking soda and vinegar do you use for a load?
  11. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    Tammie, I've seen them wash sneakers in the machines and that grosses me out. I don't want to wash my clothes in the same machine that someone put their dirty sneakers in.
  12. sarahg

    sarahg Admin Assistant

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    I used to have this problem maybe once in every 5 or 6 times I used the laundromat when I lived in Maine. But there was a local company, O-nature-L, that makes great non toxic stuff and a lot of people used it to support a local company. (google it, they ship, all their stuff is cheap and amazing) The nice thing about maine is that people don't use a lot of fragrance for anything. Most people in the town I lived in didn't even use so much as deodorant. I had no idea just how chemically sensitive I was until I moved.

    Anyway, at the laundromat (and maybe in your building's laundry room?) they have these little dispensers for soap and fabric softener and stuff. the only kind they had available was arm and hammer unscented soap and some kind of unscented fabric softener. If you have a dispenser like this, could you go over the heads of the people in the building and ask the super or administrator to just stock unscented products in the dispenser. It won't stop the problem but it will cut down on it a lot. (like the fabric softener that's unscented is still probably loaded with chemicals but there are less) It shocks me to see how many people will just use the dispensers instead of bringing their own bottles, when the bottles would be soooooooo much cheaper. But people do. And if you don't already have such a dispenser you could ask that one be installed with said products (and the building supers would make a profit from it, so big plus for them)

    Another thought, and you won't like it and you probably can't afford it, is that you could put in the vinegar and baking soda and run a cycle with nothing in the washer...and then wash all of your clothes in that machine, watching it like a hawk to make sure no one takes it. For this to be a viable option you would probably have to wait until all your clothes are dirty and wash them all at once to offset the cost of having to run an empty cycle. Due to energy issues, unless you have help that may not be possible.

    If you live in a public building with a bunch of so and so's this may not be possible, but you could always try and explain your situation and ask that one machine be designated fragrance free. Even if you put up a sign, it probably won't work cause people will take whatever machine is open and do whatever they want.
  13. HopingSince88

    HopingSince88 Senior Member

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    I saw that article on how too much detergent is being used. I would print that article and post it on the wall with big red letters: How To Save Money. I would also post a message that some folks are allergic to the products with fragrance and say that it would be appreciated if fragrance-free products be used, if possible. Maybe folks will comply. Even if half of them do, this may help.

    Also, regarding carrying your baskets...I have a cart that has 4 wheels that is about 2 ft wide x 1.5 ft deep x 3 ft tall that is made from sturdy wire. Along the coast of Maine they are referred to as Island Carts as all islanders use them for carting stuff to and from the islands. When I lived in the city near Boston they were called "Old Lady Carts" as mostly older women used them to go to market, although I frequently saw them with cats purched on top. I use my cart as a laundry basket on the 2nd floor of my home, then bump the cart down the stairs to the laundry area, and when the clothes are clean and folded, I use the cart to bump back up the stairs. It really has helped with the pain I used to get from carrying a basket.

    Hoping
  14. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I'm sorry you're having such a difficult time with this, Tammie! You've got two problems in one there with the laundry - schlepping all your stuff there and back, and the MCS issue.

    I wondered if there was anyone you could enlist to take your laundry to their home, who also uses the stuff in their own washing machine that you are happy with. Maybe you could pay for their use of the stuff for their own laundry too, to help make it an attractive deal - I noticed an earlier post on this thread talking about some good but cheap stuff suitable for MCS. I was thinking maybe you could pay them what you would have had to spend at the launderette, and/or maybe offer something else in exchange depending on your skills/energy. Maybe you could use the energy you save by not dragging yourself to the laundry to bake them a cake or something (i.e. something that uses less of your energy!).

    I sympathise if you're not keen on asking for help (I'm not either and wish I was better at it) but some towns have community skill-swap organisations or local economies with tokens instead of cash (called LETS or local economy trading systems). There may be local volunteer groups or something or maybe a friend would do it in exchange for something you could offer if you don't want to feel beholden.

    I know that it's hard to build a network of local friends and so on when we're so ill and that my suggestion might not be at all practical or suit you for other reasons (laundry is a bit personal, after all!) but I thought I would suggest it. Although it sounds like an obvious thing to suggest, getting help is often the last solution I think of when I have got a practical problem and sometimes it helps if someone reminds me that it's an option!
  15. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    Wow - I wasn't really expecting that there would be any good solutions to this situation, but I figured that if anyone could come up with some ideas, it would be this forum full of brilliant and sympathetic people (despite brain fog, etc, there really are some smart people on here)...and you came through for me : )

    Some of the suggestions won't work, but there are a few that I will definitely have to try. So thank you all for responding. I very much appreciate it!
  16. bee33

    bee33

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    I don't have the same problem that you describe regarding sensitivity to fragrances, it's just very hard for me to do the laundry because I would have to push a cart on foot to the laundromat (about six blocks), and that's just no longer possible for me.

    What I do most of the time is just wash a few items by hand (very few, like one shirt, a pair of pants, and three pairs of underwear). I use the kitchen sink so I don't have to bend over, and a large cooking pot. I soak a few items with detergent and let them sit for an hour or so. Then I take plastic hangers and hang them over the kitchen sink (I happen to have a very sturdy shelf there), and drape the items onto the hangers and let the water run off them into the sink, and go sit down. I only wring them after the water has mostly drained off them on its own. This has to be repeated about three times to rinse them thoroughly. Then I hang them up outside to dry (I have a clothesline on a pulley just outside my kitchen window). Since I don't go out often, I don't need to wear clean clothes every day, so to be honest I don't do much laundry...
  17. creekfeet

    creekfeet Sockfeet

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    Eastern High Sierra
    I've been to laundromats where all machines or certain designated machines were labeled no-scent, biodegradable only. I think like recycling this is an idea that will spread but gods only know how much activism it will take to spread it.
  18. Victoria

    Victoria Senior Member

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    I have similar MCS problems & share a washing machine with the other 3 flats on my ground floor. Luckily, the other 3 tenants at the present time don't use a laundry powder or liquid that affects me. In fact, 2 of them are very environment friendly & use perfume free, non commercial products as do I.

    But in the past, I have had to hold my breath when putting the washing on (after someone's used it with a high chemical/perfume).

    I don't have many clothes at all - mainly good work/office type shirts.

    I wear the same 3 shirts all the time now, I've finished work. In fact, I wear the same shirt most of the time & as it is summer here, this short sleeved drip dry shirt washes & dries overnight.

    I suggest you try & wear as few clothes as possible. In my case, I suspect everyone who sees me now, is used to seeing the same old shirt.

    But as to getting other tenants to use perfume free laundry products, if it's a big apartment block, I really think you've got no hope of changing people's ideas. Most people just don't care about anyone else - they only focus on themselves.

    The only other thing I can suggest is finding some article on the internet that suggests certain chemicals in laundry detergents are carcinagenic (there must be something, somewhere), print it into a big poster & talk to your building manager about posting it in the laundry room.

    Cancer scares alot of people.

    Eventually.

    People who don't have MCS just don't understand the debilitating effect.

    Interestingly enough, I can use lemon scented commerical cleaning products, but never floral scented ones. I did look up the website of this particular commercial manufacturer & they said they had removed a certain chemical from all their products. Can't remember the name now, but when I read it all those years ago, I realised that might be the clue to my being able to use these lemon scented products (but no other common commercial products).

    Sometimes, I hand wash something & hang it on a hanger over the bath (until it stops dripping). Handwashing as much as you can (depending on strength & energy) helps avoid shared laundry facilities, but the reality is that sheets & towels really are too big & heavy to hand wash, so now matter how you look at it, you probably need to use a washing machine at some time in the month.

    By the way, in outdoor shops you can buy these wonderful small absorbent travel towels (for camping & trekking etc). Have never bought one, but they would be a good substitute for normal bathroom towels & you could hand wash those.
  19. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I've been reading a UK ME/CFS biomedical research fundraising blog that's running this year and your comment about wearing the same clothes rang a bell. I remembered this post about a woman's project to wear the same brown linen dress every day for a year (with extra layers if necessary when cold, washed overnight, etc.) as a sort of art project/"will anybody notice" experiment.

    I think it's true that we don't remember what people are wearing. I couldn't tell you what any of my friends were wearing when I've met them over the last week! Maybe that's the thing to do, just keep cycling through the same few easy to wash basics and maybe disguise them with scarves or jewellery or something like that, that doesn't need washing itself.
  20. Victoria

    Victoria Senior Member

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    Sasha,

    People think of me as always wearing black (or sometimes navy blue).

    When I was working full time, I had 2 pairs of black slacks, one pair of navy, & one olive green pair (of slacks) & about 6-7 shirts for work. I just rotated them.

    This was most of the year around.

    One day I wore a mauve shirt & nearly everyone I came in contact with on that day, commented how nice the colour was on me.

    So if you wear the same thing all the time, people get used to it. But if you wear something completely different they DO notice.

    When you have limited finances & you're home most of the time, who cares about clothes anyway.

    I rather spend my money on fresh organic food & supplements.

    (Besides, it's the clean underwear that counts :D )

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