Clean Clothes and the Toxins They Hide forums

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Mar 3, 2007
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The clothes we wear and the way we keep them clean can actually shorten our life span. What role is fashion playing in your longevity plans?

In the United States, dyes containing benzidine - a substance that is easily absorbed through the skin - are no longer used because they are so highly carcinogenic.

Most of the clothing that we buy today is imported from other countries that in many cases do contain these dyes. Additionally, let's take a look at "no-iron" cotton fabrics.

These are treated with formaldehyde resin, the fumes of which can cause allergies, asthma, cough, fatigue, headaches, restless sleep, and skin rash. Your best bet for good health is to wear naturally dyed cotton fabric.

Hang Toxins Out to Dry

Traditional dry cleaning makes use of a chemical solvent, called perchloroethylene, to remove stains. The chemical residue of this solvent is toxic to humans; in fact, many people experience such adverse reactions from dry-cleaned clothing as dizziness, headache, sinus congestion, and shortness of breath.

Perchloroethylene has also been found to cause cancer in animals. Minimize your exposure to chemicals by airing out your dry-cleaned garments for at least 24 hours before putting them away in closets or drawers. Another better option is to seek out dry cleaners that use only organic, nonchemical cleaning methods.

Clean of Chemicals?

Laundry methods are not totally free of health risks, either. When we clean our clothing with chlorinated laundry detergent and bleach, inhalation can irritate or damage the lungs and upper airway.

Your healthy alternative is to launder your clothes in baking soda or natural detergent. Brighten those whites with borax or nonchlorine bleach. When you stick to the natural stuff, you will not only get truly clean clothes but also help save the environment from degradation.

Keep Moths Out Naturally

Moths spell bad news for your clothes and nothing is more aggravating than finding out that there is a moth hole in your favorite sweater.

Tempting as it might be, don't use mothballs. They contain a benzene compound that can cause cancer. Instead, opt for the natural alternatives: cedar balls or panels and dried citronella, lavender, marigold, and pennyroyal that can be purchased in herb shops. Another option is to place your clothing in vacuum-sealed bags for storage.

A Caution About All that Glitters

When your favorite silver ring is tarnished, before reaching for your jewelry cleaner, consider this: one of the substances commonly found in these cleaners is cyanide - the potent poison that can affect you negatively through fume inhalation and skin contact.

Though a seemingly small amount of toxicity, these exposures add up, compromising our health over the long term. Some simple nontoxic alternatives for jewelry cleaning can be found around the house. To clean silver, line a bowl (preferably glass) with aluminum foil and fill with three cups of hot water mixed with two tablespoons of cream of tartar, readily available in the spice or baking section of your supermarket.

Once this mixture dissolves, soak your silver jewelry for one hour and then rinse with water. For gold, use baking soda or toothpaste with a soft cloth.

I hope this blog finds you fashionably healthy! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

--Dr. Mao


Feb 18, 2007
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It would be way too hard to find clothes that don't have that dye and look fashionable too. When I buy clothing I don't think of if it's gonna make me sick, I HAVE to have it because how it looks. This is alarming though, but I wont be acting on it..

The other stuff is scary too but I doubt I will follow, it's so much easier, unfortunately, to just go out and buy the laundry detergant than do these methods

Sep 5, 2006
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i use toothpaste to clean my tiffany's jewelery, and it is the only thing that makes it all come out sparkly clean.

Sep 28, 2007
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If you wash off the silver after you polish it, does the cyanide stay on there?

And doesn't toothpaste have fluoride in it, which is supposed to be so bad for you?


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