Tag Archive for 'detergent residue'

Persistence of Detergent Residues

I think this research paper by Horiuchi Utako from Gunma University in Japan speaks for itself — the translation of the abstract isn’t perfect, but the meaning is perfectly clear:

1)  A lot of detergent remains in clothing even after excessive rinsing.

2)  A significant amount of those residues can migrate onto other surfaces that come into contact with the clothing, including skin.

The abstract is short and is well worth reading.  The interesting conclusion to Solveeczema users:  “wash the diapers for the babies with hypersensitivity using soaps in stead of synthetic detergents.”

The paper appears to have been published in 1983.


Talk of Pillows

Someone asks me recently if I could suggest pillows that would work, a question I have been asked before, but I really cannot answer in relation to the material on Solveeczema, at least with any degree of certainty.

We still mostly do without.

At one point, I ordered several very expensive organic pillows (cotton, wool, etc.) that were supposed to have been formulated for people with allergies.  All caused congestion (but no eczema).

I did wash all of the pillows, which turned out to be pretty difficult — especially with cotton, any agitation at all would ruin the fill.  I did a lot of machine soaking and spinning out with no agitation.  There’s no way to know if the congestion was because of the materials or a failure of the washing technique.

In desperation, I did finally pull some old boudoir-sized 100% goosedown pillows out of the closet, and toss them in the washing machine.  At least I didn’t have to worry about lumps forming from agitation.  I wasn’t sure they would survive the washing, though.  I washed several times, including a soaking with oxygen-based bleach, followed by soap and including hot water washes, followed by lots and lots of plain water washes and rinses.

The pillows came out of the front-load washer as flat as pancakes.  They looked ruined.  But I put them in the dryer by themselves, and dried until they were thoroughly dry.  They came out beautifully normal in the end, like I had never washed them.

I can’t recommend this to other people, because down is expensive (and we were probably lucky we didn’t ruin ours), and I suspect a great many people will still be allergic to something like down even after thorough washing.  But it was the only thing in our case that we were able to wash thoroughly — and in the end, surprisingly, it didn’t cause any congestion or eczema.  (Though it did become clear that if we wanted the pillows to remain so, we would have to keep them pretty clean, i.e., wash them again on a fairly regular basis.  Who knows how long they will last this way.)

Avoiding Detergent "Dust": The Mattress Problem

For us, the crib mattress was never a problem because it had a waterproof surface that could easily be washed.  Many, if not most, crib mattresses seem to have waterproof surfaces.

Finding a safe twin mattress when the time came (per the issues on solveeczema) was more of a challenge.  Most mattresses are covered with fabric of some sort.  Many mattresses are filled with potentially problematic materials.  Even natural and organic bedding contained cottons and wools that were certainly washed along the way.  Latex was a potential allergen in our case.  Even if we did risk it with a “natural” mattress, the cost of most was prohibitive.

After much research and cost comparison, we ended up ordering a “No Compromise Organic Cotton Ultra – Twin” from Naturepedic Organic Cotton Twin Mattress.   We ordered it directly from the manufacturer, who was able to match the usual free shipping deal everyone else was offering on the web.

The mattress cover is organic cotton, coated with a waterproof dust-mite barrier of food-grade polyethylene on top, sides, and bottom.  It’s pretty inert.  We have had no congestion, eczema, or other allergy issues with it.  (Note:  When it arrived, it had a slight smell – not significant compared to most mattresses – which was gone after a week or so.  Not all of this manufacturer’s products are entirely covered by this barrier, this is the only one that seemed a pretty sure bet for us.)

We considered an inexpensive metal bed frame from Ikea, but at the time we were buying, they didn’t have a design we liked.  It was tempting, though.  They had one all-metal bed frame for under $40.

We ended up getting a solid maple bed frame from Pacific Rim.  It had the option of no finish or an oil-based finish.  We took a chance on the finish, and let it air out for a few weeks before using it.  We have had no allergy issues with it either.  (The model we chose also had fairly sharp corners – a problem for us in a very small room – so we simply sanded the corners.  It wasn’t difficult, it looked fine, and we no longer had problems when we bumped into the frame.)

Prices for this same bed varied wildly on the web.  We got the best price and terms from Satara Inc online store.

All told, the mattress and frame together were, for us, a big expenditure.  However, the quality is great and they should last for decades.  Having no allergy issues was priceless.