Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fabric Softeners and Hazardous Waste

I absolutely love the smell and feel that Fabric Softeners give to my laundry.  I've alsways found the scents luxurious and comforting.  But until recently, I did not realize that the chemicals which make up both liquid and dry fabric softening products are toxic. 

The ingredients of these products cause illness including cancer and brain damage.  The young and the very old are naturally the most susceptable to these dangers.  Take a look at some of the ingredients and their related toxicities:
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) hazardous waste list
  • Camphor: central nervous system disorders
  • Benzyl acetate: pancreatic cancer
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Irratates the upper respiratory tract
  • Ethanol: central nervous system disorders; Listed as hazardous waste by the  EPA  
  • A-Terpineol: respiratory problems, fatal edema, & central nervous system damage
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
These chemicals require very heavy, very concentrated fragrances to mask their odor.  These are the fragrances that have always smelled so good to me, but I realize now they are a toxic hazard to my health and that of my precious family.  The health effects from exposure to these toxic chemicals include:
  • Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
  • Pancreatic cancerCentral nervous system disorders
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Blood pressure reduction
But there are alternatives to achieving our desire for fabric softening and non-static clinging in our laundry and you likely have them sitting in a cupboard right now.  Baking soda and vinegar.  This dynamic duo seems to come to the rescue for so many every day household uses it amazes me. And these can be bought very cheaply at a warehouse club in large containers.
To soften a load of laundry, simply add:
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda to the washing water 
  • 1/4 white distilled vinegar to the rinsing water
For fragrance, simply add:
  • a drop or two of essential oil to the washer basin as it fills with water before adding clothes. (Lavender is a nice one but there are many to choose from.)
Yes, the oils can be spendy. But isn't it funny how we tend to justify spending money on certain things but balk at others. For example, the Fabric Softener I used to buy at our local warehouse club runs a whopping ten bucks per jug.  But if a small bottle of essential oil costs that much or more, I wince at the cost, forgetting that it is used in miniscule amounts and will therefore last a very long time. 

But more importantly, it represents better health and potentially a lack of doctor fees.  Not to mention the savings of cheap vinegar and baking soda which offset the purchase of costly essential oils.  Not that the oils are necessary, but they will make my laundry have the pleasant fragrance that I so love. Which in turn will make me happy. Aroma therapy is very good medicine. Combine that with the merry heart it gives me, (which doeth good like a medicine!) and you can't beat that.

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