…Hang laundry on the line in a February blizzard.
Really there is a purpose to clothes on the line in February: I’m on a mission to remove The Big Stink.
(If you want to skip the back-story and find out the best method for removing The Big Stink, skip to paragraph five.)
I had to quit my job a year ago because the office I worked in was moved to an unhealthy building. Believing that my employer would help me (duh) and well…you know…job, I didn’t quit soon enough and now have a chronic illness that makes it impossible to be out in a world full of synthetic chemicals and poorly maintained and designed HVAC systems without becoming ill. A word of advice: If your work environment is causing health issues for you and your employer doesn’t jump on top of helping you right away, they’re not going to help you. Save yourself. Don’t go to work. Call in sick. Get out now.
What you see here is the first steps in an effort to create an income for myself by deconstructing used clothing and reconstructing it into original designs so that I can work from home. Yard sale season is over so this clothing came from Goodwill. Goodwill and most of the big, charitable resale shops spray their clothing with the synthetic chemical concoction that causes so many people health issues: Febreze.
It “works” by encapsulating odors. It doesn’t actually remove them so whatever is causing the odor is still there. Plus it doesn’t really work. Whatever it’s sprayed with just smells like heinous, chemical fragrance AND stench. Does anyone even believe in this stuff? Mention the name anywhere and it seems the response is always, “It gives me a headache,” or “It makes me cough.” SIGH. If I leave anything sprayed with it in my home for any period of time, it lays me up for a month (I learned this the hard way.). I’ll spare you the entire list of symptoms, but one involves a burning rash on my face and the skin on my lips peeling off. Yes, it literally burns the skin off of my face.
I’ve tried every canary-safe method imaginable to remove this stench from clothing. It’s particularly difficult to get out of wool. Do a Web-search on the topic, and you will find entire threads dedicated to the effort of removing this…er, “stuff” from clothing. The most-touted recommendation is to dispose of the contaminated item entirely.
I’ve washed the clothing three times in the washing machine: still stinks to high-Heaven. Washed with Sal Suds, Murphy’s Oil, vinegar: Still stinks. Soak in vinegar, Citrasolv, Murphy’s Oil, dish soap: Still stinks. Dry on high: Still stinks. Wash and hang on the clothesline for a week: Still stinks. Worse yet, it still makes me sick! Once I manage to start to break through the The Big Stink, there’s still the perfume and laundry detergent that the previous owner coated it with to deal with. I’m sure Proctor & Gamble is very pleased that their product is so pervasive…but…for the LOVE OF PETE, please have mercy on the canaries of the world.
Hanging the clothing on the line for a week combined with washing in the machine with Sal Suds or Murphy’s Oil (if you can tolerate the pervasive smell of this) is the best method for foiling this evil, stinking beast. I speculated that sunshine and wind might be the key. However, I find the freezing temperatures and precipitation of winter are the best method. I’m now speculating whether or not putting the clothing in the household freezer might work but am not brave enough to try it. After all, one shirt sprayed with this evil stinking beast can contaminate an entire house. I’d hate to have the place I store my food invaded by this, er…product.
Here is a list of odor removal methods that are cheaper and actually take the odor away instead of just covering it up with toxic, synthetic chemicals.
SAFER ODOR REMOVAL METHODS:
- Fresh air and sunshine
- White vinegar in a spray bottle (smells like a salad at first but the vinegar smell will go away)
- Essential oils in water (and/or vinegar) in a spray bottle. My favorite smell is lavender, but tea tree, lemon, orange and Thieves are also good choices. You can blend these to make your own fragrance. If you’re trying to decontaminate something, I think Thieves would be the best choice. Note: Some sensitive people are made sick by the VOCs in essential oils so don’t get crazy with spreading smells all over the place.
- Smells Begone. An enzymatic odor eliminator with no added fragrance.
- Wash it with water and a safer soap like Sal Suds. Water is the most powerful solvent on Earth! Go water!!
To learn more about what common products are safe (or unsafe), visit the EWG website. Unfortunately they only analyze the individual chemicals. They don’t analyze the toxicity of the chemicals combined. Many products have over a hundred synthetic chemicals in them. Regulations are slim or non-existent and the manufacturers don’t have to tell you what is in their products.