Some people have problems with the chemicals in new clothing. Many manufacturers use a number of chemicals in the manufacturing process of new clothing to protect fabrics, and garments at the warehouse level especially because insects and rodents. Additionally there can be different petrochemicals of the very aggressive type such as a plasticiser (waterproofing and thus mold protecting and for holding the garment's shape) and pesticides (to kill insects).

There is a simple test to see if something has a plasticiser or chemicals on it. Take the item and wet your hand in water. Then shake water from your hand onto the item. If the water beads up (not absorbed immediately) then it has chemicals and perhaps a plasticiser, which is a weak plastic film. This film can be broken down with a weak acetic acid such as vinegar. We recommend apple cider vinegar because its source is natural rather than some unknown chemical source.

Fill up your washer with hot water and add one quart of apple cider vinegar to the water being careful not to breathe the fumes. Add the new clothing and agitate them in this vinegar water with the washer top closed for about 10 minutes then stop the washer and let the clothing stand in the vinegar water all night long (12-24hours).

The next day, spin out the vinegar water and refill the washer with the hottest water you feel is safe for the fabrics and rinse again with one plain water rinse cycle and spin. Next, put the clothing through the regular long washing cycle with a natural safe detergent such as Nature Clean, Granny's, etc. or just use arm and hammer washing soda, if the clothing is light colored. At this point, some may wish to do another plain water rinse cycle and spin.

If the items do not smell bad to you and water does not bead up after they have been dried then most persons will be able to use them at that time. If they smell bad to you or water continues to not penetrate the material easily and quickly simply put everything through another complete cycle starting with the apple cider vinegar soak in the washer. It may be necessary to air the washed and dried clothing outdoors in bright sunlight for a while to completely remove the odor.

Environmentally safe laundry products including chlorine free bleach, powder or liquid laundry soap and fabric softeners are available from the aehf web store.


To buy products for the chemically sensitive see
For more information on medical treatment see
For more articles on the relationship of health and disease to environmental factors, see the list of available articles and other information available here.