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Friendly Fabrics for Toxic-Free Fashion

Clothing in StoreIn 1881, the Rational Dress Society challenged the fashion industry of its day. The Society protested against dress that "either deforms the figure, impedes the movements of the body, or in any way tends to injure health." Seeking to do away with constricting and deforming garments such as corsets, the Society sought to insure each person would be "dressed healthily, comfortably, and beautifully."

How are we doing today when it comes to our health and fashion? Our modern clothing industry is a $7 trillion enterprise utilizing more than 8,000 synthetic chemicals. Are we sacrificing our health in the name of fashion yet again?

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, synthetic fibers pose such fire and burn hazards that Marines based in Iraq are prohibited from wearing synthetic clothing while off base.

The environmental watchdog group Greenpeace International released Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up in 2012. After purchasing 141 items of clothing from 29 countries, Greenpeace noted the presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs).

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Homemade Laundry Soap

Homemade Laundry SoapWhen making the switch to natural products, laundry detergent and fabric softeners play a key role. From the clothes we wear to our pillows and sheets, chemicals used in laundering come in contact with our skin 24 hours a day.

To get an idea of the types of chemicals found in products like detergents, see this article listing the most common chemicals found in 31 fragrance products.

Thankfully, there are many non-toxic options.

Soap nuts grow on the Chinese Soapberry Tree and are sometimes call soap berries. Soap nuts contain naturally occurring saponins, which foam when combined with water. Sources for soap nuts include Eco Nuts and Green Virgin.

Another alternative is to make your own laundry soap. Note that laundry soap will be more natural than detergent, as detergent is made from synthetics while soap is derived from natural elements.

Here are three simple recipes for homemade laundry soap.

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How to Make Your Own Washing Soda

Washing SodaWashing soda makes a great addition to any natural household. It offers a nice punch for cleaning since it has a higher pH than its "cousin," baking soda. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda has a pH of 8.4, washing soda a pH of 11. (To view the pH values of other common household items, see our Chemistry of Stain Removal Chart.)

Just as its name implies, baking soda is great for baking since it reacts with an acid to create an airy, spongy texture. (This is why baking soda, an alkali, is combined with cream of tartar, an acid, to make baking powder.) Washing soda, on the other hand, is great for cleaning since it consumes twice as much acid as baking soda. It is too caustic, however, for baking.

Since the two are closely linked, it's possible to transform baking soda into washing soda simply by heating it. The heat causes the baking soda to release steam and carbon dioxide, leaving a more alkaline substance behind in the form of washing soda.

Since washing soda is not as readily available as baking soda, it may be simpler to make your own.

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"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

" age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

This site is dedicated to a true friend and mother — Barbara Dell Kessel (1929-2009)