Going Chemical-Free

Sharing what I Learned

The inside of a house with a kitchen table, sink, couch and front door with fiberglass in the walls exposed

When I figured out that my own families health problems were caused by fiberglass and then pin pointed the chemicals involved, discovering how widely used they are, I knew I had to go as chemical-free as much as possible to keep us healthy. It was challenging to find things that didn't contain the chemical benzene, which emits a low laying volatile organic compound vapor. The VOC is heavier than air, falling down into the cracks and crevises of my hardwood floors and lingering in my clothing, blankets and towels.

A gray sheet with the tag being cut out sitting on a wooden table

I found it very difficult at first. I could not get away from it, no matter what I did or where I went. Even when I would buy a 100% organic, chemical-free article of clothing for example, the tag attached to it was not organic. Tags are often made of things like rayon, acetate or other synthetic materials. Even when the tag was made of the same material as the fabric, the silk screen ink on the tag contained the chemicals. Since the VOC vapor tends to linger, it seeps into the fabric. I needed to remove all of the tags and resew where they were attached. I even had to remove the tags from my all natural mattress because the tags contained chemicals which emitted VOCs.

Tall stalks of bamboo growing outside

Reading the description written by the seller, fabrics, for example like bamboo always appeared to be all natural. But when I really looked into how they take a bamboo stalk and end up with a soft silky fabric, I discovered a long list of chemicals used in the process. In fabrics, bamboo is actually more like the synthetic fabric rayon, but is repeatedly fausly described as natural. This is especially disturbing to see in baby products.

A large bamboo salad bowl sitting on a wooden table

People often gear away from plastic kitchenware to avoid chemicals such as triclosan along with the other petroleum based toxins. They see a nice pretty bamboo wood and feel safe. When things are made out of bamboo wood such as a salad bowl or cutting board, they must glue the pieces together. Have you ever wondered what's in the glue as you eat food off of your bamboo kitchenware? More times than not the glue is made from toxic chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. Then they finish off the wood with a mineral oil mixture of petroleum based hydrocarbons or an undisclosed oil blend.

Over and over when looking for clothing, for example, the description will read 100% organic cotton. When I read more I discover that the manufacture blended orgainc cotton with a chemical-based fabric such as rayon, lyocell, polyester, spandex or elastane. The end result is no longer organic. I always have to read the fine print to get this information as the main title describes the clothing as an all natural, organic fabric. Tricky.

A folded white cotton towel sitting on a wooden table

Another thing that caught me off-guard were the 100% cotton towels in the color white. Surely with the lack of dye they would be chemical-free, right? I learned the hard way that they often add a silicone softener to fabric during manufacturing. Silicone gives me a fast, bad reaction. That was when I learned to look for the wording "chemical-free".

When I first bought thread for my new sewing projects, I bought a 100% cotton thread, but I had not paid attention to the dyes in the thread. They contained the chemicals I was trying to avoid.

A black wool blanket on top of a brown couch with a brown an white ticked puppy laying down on the floor next to it

I bought a 100% wool blanket that I was really excited about. Turns out it was colored with a harsh chemical-based dye that felt just as bad as the synthetic fabrics themselves.

A gray comforter and sheet at a dining room table with a metal seam ripper tool next to it

I bought a gray colored 100% cotton quilted down comforter with grey goose duck down feathers. The gray dye was a chemical- based synthetic.

I had to cut off any elastic around my fitted sheets. Turns out they work just fine without the elastic. I won't miss struggling to get the sheet just right.

I had to cut off the plastic ends on my all natural shoe laces.

I am still learning and discovering new things. I get an immediate reaction, which helps me figure out what is good and what is not. I have eliminated a great deal and I have gotten even better at detecting it. It seems to all be relative. For example, when I was wearing the chemicals on my body, a cotton shirt with synthetic-based dyes burned my nostrils harsher than my polyester shirt. The dyes used in both are chemical-based, but the chemicals used in the cotton seemed harsher to me. I think it is partly because the cotton would dust out just a bit, putting the dyes into the air right under my nose. Where as the polyester clothing seemed to not dust out, but it was causing my nerve damage just the same. I have had fibromyalgia type symtoms all of my life. It was my normal. I didn't know it was possible for it all to just go away and to feel good. Thinking back, I didn't even know what "good" felt like.

Here are some examples of products I found that, when the tags are removed, I do not get a chemical reaction from.

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