Archive for the ‘Cleaners’ Category

My favorite fragrance-free products

I’ve been in a lot of public places lately, which means a lot of fragrance exposure. I’d relaxed my defensive efforts–nose filters, mask, short excursions–because it seemed fragrance’s hold was lifting. I have tight, burning eyes and sinus pressure regardless of whether I go out now, and my short trips to the store and the longer outing to my friend’s place…Well, it seemed like those things weren’t making the symptoms worse like it used to. I thought my body was recovering.

I still think it is, but I’m finding out that repeated exposure can still build up. I’ve left only a day between each exposure over the past week or two–library, casino, grocery store, school enrollment, pizza place–and it has sure been taking a toll. I need longer rest time in a neutral environment between each outing to allow my body to metabolize the toxin. It’s such a relief to get back to my home, the most neutral environment I’ve found.

I’ve avoided making a list of fragrance-free products I use, because of laziness, yes, but also because until now I hadn’t tried enough of them to settle on a list of favorites. These products work as well as the ones they replaced, and in some cases better.

Cleaners

  • Clorox Green Works Natural dishwashing liquid, Free & Clear. I love this stuff. I also put it diluted in pump bottles for hand washing.
  • Soapopular hand sanitizer is completely inoffensive
  • Simplicity Hypoallergenic Non-toxic automatic dishwasher sachets
  • Borax is an excellent grease cutter. Nothing better for getting grease off appliances.
  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar
  • Water. Seriously, do you need to use a chemical everytime you wipe the crumbs off the counter?

I have yet to find a suitable replacement for toilet bowl cleaner, so I just use ammonia or vinegar, whatever I’m in the mood for, but they don’t really get rid of the water stains. I’m still looking. Be wary of trash bags, because they often have fragrance added.

Body-care products

  • Earth Science Fragrance Free Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Body Wash, Fragrance Free (I prefer the store brand version of this, because it doesn’t seem to have as much of an odor and it’s cheaper, but this will be more easily found.)
  • Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap. Make sure it says “Fragrance Free” on the package and not “unscented.”
  • Dove Sensitive Skin antiperspirant. Again, make sure it says “Fragrance Free” on the package. “Hypoallergenic” doesn’t always encompass it.
  • Almay makeup contains no fragrance ever, as far as I can tell.
  • Lubriderm Daily Moisture for me, and Suave Natural Oatmeal Moisturizer for DH
  • Olay Complete All-day Moisture Lotion, Sensitive Skin.

Be wary of any feminine hygiene products, because they do not have to list any added fragrance. I once bought a package of Carefree panty liners and was surprised with fragrance, so I avoid all their products, just in case.

Along my journey through the house listing all my products, I found a couple of scented products that sneaked past me. One was the Dove “unscented” soap, the other was my husband’s hairspray, both of which don’t list fragrance in the ingredients. I assume they list the actual chemical name of the fragrance, but the research to find out which one would be a couple of hours. And it doesn’t matter, anyway, because they have to go. These could be the reason for my constant eye and sinus irritation, and also the reason for the decreased stamina outside of the house. I’ve put that soap on my face every single day for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, that’s my list. Here’s an interesting interview I tweeted yesterday about toxins in personal care products if you’re interested in such things.

Update: So guess what? I didn’t use the soap or antiperspirant, and I feel tons better. It’s like night and day. I’m so happy I could scream. 🙂

Today: Wal-Mart. Tomorrow: the world!

From the comment section

I just saved a comment from the spam pile. Daniel writes, “Flame retardants do outgas from electronic devices and they are toxic in many ways. they are neurotoxic, immunotoxic, hormone disrupting and endocrine disrupting.” I’d like to direct you to his website, Outgas Report, which links to a ton of information about the problem of outgassing. Much more than I could ever list here. Thanks for visiting, Daniel!

Another commenter, Julie, said, “I researched this problem because I have severe allergies to scents and chemicals, like bleach and other normal household cleaners. All I could find was to see an allergist.” Julie, what cleaners do you use? How about your family’s body products? Have you been able to find any you can tolerate?

~~~

I’m sorry I’m not more organized on here, y’all. It’s mostly due to laziness. Well, laziness plus my other blog seems to suck my blogging time. I’ve thought about doing some in-depth posts on, for example, the FF products I use. But that requires concentration, organization, multiple links…ugh! I’m more of a community organizer than a drill sergeant. It may have something to do with my sleepy chemical-laden synapses. 😉

One interesting development to report: At my local Wal-Mart I requested they carry a certain free and clear dish detergent which I have been buying at Wal-Mart in another town. I talked to a lovely associate named Cara, who listened patiently as I lamented my difficulty in finding FF products as well as the symptoms of fragrance sensitivity. She took my name and number and said she would speak with her manager and let me know what she found out.

The days went by, and I didn’t hear back. I expected that Cara had handed off my number to management and went about her business, and that management either didn’t order the product I wanted or they didn’t think about calling to let me know.

Well, Cara herself called me yesterday, just to let me know what was going on. It touched me that she had taken a personal interest in my plight. She said that they were still waiting to hear back from the buyers, who were not only ordering the single product I’d requested, but also looking into what other fragrance-free products they could find. Hallelujah! Hopefully they’ll come up with some shampoo, which I also mentioned, and lots of things I didn’t expect.

The moral of the story: It never hurts to ask. And sometimes you get an answer which goes beyond the query. Now I’m thinking of writing up a letter to the editors of my local newspapers. I have dreams of being a paid FF consultant for Wal-Mart, relocating to Bentonville, AR, and making sweeping changes in the world of retail.

But those things would require concentration, organization…well, you know.

Fragrance-free-for-all

I have a lot of fragrance-related things to talk about so this will likely be long and rambling.

First of all, the euphoria that I felt after recognizing the problem got lost in depression. The depression was triggered by several factors, but I can’t discount the lack of fragrance as one of them. Don’t get me wrong, it is a HUGE relief to be able to say, “I have a headache because of _____,” instead of wondering why my body hates me. But it’s common knowledge that scents play a huge part in our lives, our memories, our comfort, and I have effectively eliminated those from my home environment, where I spend 95% of my time. I’m going through an adjustment period, I guess.

I made a fairly fragrance-fllled foray into the world this weekend. Saturday I scoured the thrift stores for clothes to fit my burgeoning figure (another adjustment to going FF?), then went to the grocery store. Sunday I went to Wal-Mart and spent much time near scented products looking for the non-scented versions. Ironic, isn’t it, that in order to go FF I have to first be inundated with fragrance? While at Wal-Mart I saw an old high school friend, and our hugs hello and good-bye left his cologne on my clothes. That part was worth it, but still.

Since my house is mostly FF, I can better observe the onset of symptoms when exposed to fragrance. Some chemicals instantly stab the bridge of my nose and some gradually make it harder and harder to focus. And I’ve figured out that that is the migraine trigger, the straining to focus all day after exposure. So that’s a bonus. All I have to do is learn how to do my chores and watch tv with my eyes closed and I’m fine.

TIP: It can take ten washings to get the fragrance out of your clothes, but I found that you can get rid of most of it by simply hanging them outside overnight. Two nights might be better. Inside doesn’t work. Outside.

It was a successful shopping trip, FF-wise. I’ve been buying All Free and Clear laundry detergent, but this Wal-Mart (not my usual one) had a free and clear version of Purex, which is a third less expensive. Bonus. While on that aisle, a clear bottle of dish detergent caught my eye. I didn’t want to believe it could be true, but it was! Clorox Green Works Free and Clear has no fragrance. When I realized what I had found, my eyes misted over. I kid you not.

I haven’t been able to wear make-up for a couple of months. This was the biggest deal. I kept my Almay eye shadow and mascara, but everything else had to go. Luckily, this was the period of time my chin decided to break out with a mystery rash which wouldn’t heal and I couldn’t cover up. Add that to the under-eye circles, and…oh, the hideousity. The circles are permanent, but the rash is finally clearing up, now that I can wear makeup again. *rolls eyes*

The prices of the “good” make-up sent me reeling, but I had no choice. I ended up with a mix of brands, going cheaper where I could.

TIP: The key to finding FF makeup is to look for the words mineral, natural, or organic.

I can’t say all makeup containing these words are FF, but that is what I observed in my shopping trip this weekend. I was able to find Physicians Formula equivalents in Maybelline and N.Y.C. for much, much cheaper.

What else, what else… Oh yeah, my home made soap is cured so I’ll be using it now. Stay tuned for details on that.

Warning: Whining ahead!

I finally broke down and ordered some FF shampoo and conditioner from Amazon. The brand is Earth Science, apparently a pretty popular one. Shipping was $9. Eek! But seeing as how I’d have to drive all the way to OKC to MAYBE find some in a store it’s going to work out the same.

And now I absolutely must find some dish soap that I can tolerate until the dishwasher is fixed. For the dishwasher I use a mixture of equal parts baking soda and borax and it works just great. But in the sink, as I said before, it ain’t cutting it. The borax seems to lose its grease-cutting power when dissolved in water, and the body-wash doesn’t last long enough, nor does it take the greasy fingerprints off the glasses. It’s just a nightmare. I want to cry thinking about the sink full of dirty dishes, knowing that I will spend a futile hour washing them, only to have it full again in another hour. I can’t keep up.

And my sink stopper doesn’t work right, and I hate the bits of food floating in the water, and I can’t seem to get to the store for some rubber gloves, and the kitchen smells like lard from my third batch of soap, and I’m fat and my hair’s falling out and I need new clothes…

So how are you today?

Adventures in FF alternatives

I did it. I made soap. It has tiny oily pockets inside, though, which may or may not disappear with curing. It may have been caused by overstirring (?) since I had to redo it three times to get it to set up. Time will tell.

On the plus side, the non-oily parts work like soap, if not as sudsy as I’m used to. It also rinses well, leaving no scent whatsoever, which I can’t say about even the fragrance-free Dove soap I’ve been using. My oldest says the Dove smells like puke.

I’ve been trying different things as shampoo since the stores around here don’t carry it. Things like oatmeal body wash (too drying), a moisturizing liquid soap (doesn’t spread through the hair well), and the Dove bar. So far the Dove is the best. It lathers with a little elbow grease, and doesn’t dry out the hair as much as the body wash.

I did find out, however, that the body wash works well on the dishes. My dishwasher went out again so I’m washing by hand for a while. There is no such thing as FF dish soap as far as I can tell. The first night I used Borax, which, though a miracle on most other jobs, did not work well for this one. The body wash won’t  work on a greasy pan because it’s too mild, but it’s fine for the plates and glasses. The greasy pan was made for Borox. Like I said, it’s a miracle.