How Clean Clothes Can
Take Years Off Your Life
Having had super-sensitive skin my whole life, I’ve long suspected that soaps and detergents can do more harm than good. For almost twenty years I’ve always put my clothes through an extra rinse to get out as much detergent as possible. Now there’s evidence I was right — and there’s a lot more at stake than acne or a skin rash. As the stand-up comedians used to say, “This one will kill you.” In fact, “clean” may be worse than “dirty” when it comes to your clothes. Here’s the story…
Breast Cancer Survivor was told:
Doctors didn’t give Wiltrude much hope when they diagnosed her with cancer in the year 2000. Wiltrude, a German psychologist, never thought cancer would happen to her. But it did. And it came as a big shock.
One doctor told her, “You’ll be dead in a year.” Late stage breast cancer is virtually incurable using conventional treatments. Even M.D.s admit it. They talk about “buying you more time.” (Don’t count on it. The evidence shows you’re better off doing nothing than chemo.)
When Wiltrude told her doctor she was going to try alternative treatments, he said, “You are committing suicide with what you’re doing.” But she was determined to find a way to beat her cancer.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, this European woman came across a book by my good friend Bill Henderson, one of the smartest and wisest people I know when it comes to cancer treatment.
She tried Bill’s top, number one recommendation — a gentle treatment you can do at home for just $5.15 a day. What’s more, the cost goes down to $3.50 after six weeks because you just need a maintenance dose. And it even tastes good.
Not only has Wiltrude passed the five-year cancer survival mark, she’s survived for 12 years. We just interviewed her recently for this publication. The radiologist who tests her every year told her, “You’re the only one with this kind of result.”
You can find out more about Bill’s proven cancer treatment plan if you click here.
When I ask him about some of the treatments that top alternative doctors use, Bill sort of shrugs and says, “They’re fine, but why bother? My treatment works, you can do it yourself, and it costs practically nothing.”
He’s coached thousands of cancer patients with all different types and stages of cancer. Most of the people who follow the detailed, specific plan in this Special Report get over their cancer and live for years.
“Almost any kind of cancer is reversible,” says Bill. “I never give up on anyone.”
The toxic mistakes nearly everyone
makes when cleaning clothes
Every week the average family washes a whopping 80 pounds of laundry — 35 BILLION loads per year nationally. At a half cup laundry soap per load, Americans use a staggering 17.5 billion cups of laundry soap per year.
Just how safe are the products used for all that laundry?
As it turns out, not very…
Let’s just consider laundry soap, and not even go into dryer sheets and dry cleaning chemicals. Laundry soap products emit an average of 17 toxins which do not need to be declared on the label, and are often disguised by other names.
These potential dangers range from relatively minor (skin irritations) to severe (cancer, poisoning, and neurological problems).
Your skin is a mere 3mm thick. For decades it was thought to be a barrier to all potentially harmful chemicals. But in recent years, scientists have discovered that all kinds of substances can penetrate the skin.
You may be exposing your body to damaging chemicals every day, some of which your skin can react with to produce chemicals that are even more toxic.1
Fortunately, these problems are largely preventable once you know about them. Read on to find out how to mitigate your risks.
Let’s tackle the problem from your washer, to your dryer, to your dry cleaner.
Clean and fresh… or full of poisons?
Is “clean and fresh” merely a ruse?
Even so-called ‘green’ products emit toxic chemicals — especially scented detergents.2 A full one-third of them emitted at least one chemical labeled a possible carcinogen by the EPA.3
One significant unlabeled danger is 1,4-dioxane — a by-product of the synthetic petrochemical surfactant Ethox. 1,4-dioxane binds with water and remains in the environment a long time. A known carcinogen4, it’s also linked to brain and nervous system toxicity, liver, kidney and respiratory disease5, and immune damage and hormone disruption6.
Other risks include sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) — a chemical foaming agent, linked to numerous health issues… phenols — a rapidly absorbed carcinogen that can cause system-wide toxicity… ammonia — linked to cataracts, corneal damage, bronchitis and pneumonia… household bleach — a corrosive which can cause severe eye, skin, and respiratory problems, caustic burns, and — when mixed with other chemicals — hazardous fumes.
Then there are phosphates, which enhance a detergent’s cleansing power — but can’t be removed by waste water treatment plants. Phosphates cause nausea, diarrhea, and skin irritation. Another one is Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) — a petrochemical now banned in the EU and Canada for causing liver and kidney damage.7 Even Wal-Mart has asked its suppliers to eliminate this killer.
I’ll give you some strategies for minimizing your laundry detergent risks in a moment. But first…
Why it may be time to give up that “great dryer scent”
Unfortunately, fabric softeners and dryer sheets may give your sheets and clothes a nice smell, but they’re just as laden with chemicals as your washer’s detergent. Some consider them the most toxic part of the entire laundering process.
1. Benzyl acetate — linked to pancreatic cancer
2. Limonene — a carcinogen
3. Ethyl acetate — on the EPA hazardous waste list
4. Chloroform — a neurotoxin, anesthetic, and carcinogen
5. Pentane — dangerous when inhaled (no more deep breathing the scent of clean clothes!)
With this kind of risk, you may want to make some changes to your weekly laundry procedures.
Slashing your risk isn’t hard to do
Now, I’m not suggesting you never launder your clothes. As often happens, you’re halfway to solving the problem if you just know it exists.
It’s best to seek out the most natural and organic options possible — like detergents that are plant-based (not petroleum-based), food-based, non-toxic and safe. I regret to say that many “natural” products found in health stores don’t fit the bill. They may not be toxic — I can’t speak to that — but they’ve caused me unpleasant reactions ranging from joint and muscle pain, to sinus and respiratory problems, to skin rashes. I do use a health-store detergent, but I had to find the right one by trial and error.
Here are nine tricks of the trade to help you make a wise choice:
1. Wear your clothes longer before laundering them — 2 or 3 times, especially during cooler seasons when they’re soiled little with one wearing.
2. Use 100% non-toxic, biodegradable laundry products.
3. Use “phosphate-free” products.
4. Seek out plant-based enzymes and food-based detergents.
5. Skip dryer sheets. Natural fabrics don’t create static cling… Only use dryer sheets in loads with synthetics. And consider buying all natural fabrics, as discussed in Issue #111.
6. Say no to bleach, dyes, fragrances, optical brighteners, and masking agents.
7. If you want fragrance, put a couple drops of aromatherapy essential oils (lavender, sweet orange, whatever floats your boat) on a wet washcloth and throw it in the dryer with your clothes.
8. Some folks say to hang your clothes outdoors or on a clothes rack to dry. They’ll smell clean and fresh without the “help” of toxic fragrances. I live in the woods and mine tend to come back covered with pollen, so I don’t hang mine outdoors.
9. Reduce the amount of detergent per load. Remember — the manufacturer’s goal is to sell as much product as possible. You might find your clothes get just as clean with ¼ cup of detergent as with ½ cup. Plus, it’ll save you money.
Dry cleaning dangers — what you don’t know might shock you
The dry cleaning process is neither dry, nor safe. Instead, it’s a toxic wet process using harsh carcinogenic chemicals called solvents to remove most stains and dirt from most fabrics.
Dry cleaning exposes you to the solvent perchloroethylene, PCE, or simply “perc”. Clothes are cleaned in a liquid solution that’s mostly perc or some other solvent with little water, if any. Hence the term, “dry cleaning”.
Perc is a volatile synthetic organic compound, a confusing term. Scientifically, the word “organic” means a chemical contains the element carbon. Since perc contains carbon, it can be called “organic”. This is what chemists mean by organic, but it’s not the way us laypeople use the word, so don’t be misled. Perc is not organic the way you think of organic.
Seventy-five to 85 percent of America’s 35,000 garment cleaners use perc as their primary solvent. EPA classifies it as an air contaminant and a “likely human carcinogen”.8
Lab studies show that perc can cause birth defects and infant death… plus dizziness, fatigue, headaches, confusion, nausea, and skin, lung, eye, and mucous membrane irritation. Repeated exposure can cause liver/kidney damage and respiratory failure.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded fifteen years ago that perc is “probably carcinogenic to humans”, based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence in animals.
It causes cancer in rats and mice when swallowed or inhaled. And dry-clean workers have an elevated risk of cancer.
Federal law requires cleaners to handle perc as a hazardous material. It’s such an effective solvent that when exposed to the ground, it penetrates concrete and soil and doesn’t stop till it hits ground water.
Concerns about perc led California to outlaw it, and other states are considering a ban.9
How to dry clean clothing the risk-free way
Now that many businesses permit casual dress and many of us work at home or in small businesses, fewer people wear suits or high-quality dresses every day that require dry cleaning. But even so, you probably own clothes that say “dry clean only”. What to do?
Here are five strategies to slash your risk:
1. As with home laundry, wear your garments longer between cleanings. I rarely dry clean my suits or sweaters because these garments aren’t worn next to the skin and seldom pick up body odor.
2. Ask your cleaner which process they use. Perc alternatives like the silicon solvent, GreenEarth®D5, and petroleum solvents DF-2000™, EcoSolv®, ShellSol or PureDry® are only marginally better… and may also be carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and pose environmental and other health issues. They are a partial solution at best — the lesser of two evils.
Two better options do exist: (1) Professional wet cleaning — a simple process of using specially-designed computerized washing machines and biodegradable soap and water (2) CO2 dry cleaning involves the use of liquid CO2 in highly-pressurized machines.
3. If you smell solvent odor at your cleaner’s, it’s time to find a different cleaner. It may point to improper solvent handling.
Before wearing or hanging cleaned clothes in your closet, remove the plastic and let them air out in the sun for several hours, so perc doesn’t infiltrate your closet and bedroom.
And a secret you probably don’t know… Most clothes labeled “dry clean only” can be hand washed in cold water with a very gentle soap like gentle liquid face soap. Never use fabric softener, regular laundry soap, bleach… This quick process saves time, money, and your health. I have to tell you, I’m not thrilled with it. The clothes just don’t come out looking as good, and the process is a lot of work.
Here’s how it works: Gently dip the garment into the water a few times, use finger tips to gently scrub soiled areas like arm pits and necklines. Roll your garment in a dry towel (but never wring or twist it). Re-roll in dry toweling 2-5 times till no longer drippy. Gently shake to separate layers, and hang exactly the way you want it to dry.
These garments should always go to the cleaner: (1) Acetates (2) Rayon — hand washing may shrink it the first time only, so don’t hand-wash unless the garment’s too large. (3) Garments with a special finish, such as stiff fabrics. (4) Leather and suede (5) Any garment so special to you that you’d be devastated if hand washing somehow changed it.
Now that you’re aware of these hidden hazards, isn’t it time to make some changes in your laundry tasks to protect you and your loved ones?