(also posted same question in environmental section, but this group gets lots more participants - R)
Not sure if this is the right thread, but lots of folks in this group seem to have problems with perfume, so maybe someone can give me some tips. I have managed to get my home *almost* perfume free (occasional use of store-bought shampoos when I don't have time to make my own). But EVERYONE else I come into contact with wears perfume, or at least washes their clothes in perfumed detergent AND uses perfumed fabric softener. Folks who visit hang their coats up with ours and sit in our chairs. I can send them out onto the balcony to smoke, but the perfume is an integral part of almost everyone in the industrialized world, and I am not ready to become a hermit (yet!). And when I visit the homes of others or even ride in their cars, you can imagine the stink on my clothes when I get home.
My question is, just HOW do you get the perfume out of the clothes??? Cigarette smoke is easy to wash out (important here in Germany where the anti-smoking lobby is still fighting an uphill battle). But clothes that have been hung outside for DAYS still stink when I bring them in, and I'm running out of clothes to wear! I've heard that putting a bit of vinegar in the wash water helps, but I tried that and the clothes still stank.
The few allergy websites I've visited all seem to be political ones, trying to get laws passed to forbid folks from wearing perfume in public, to spare the poor souls who are sickened by the stink instead of enchanted by it. I'm all for that, although I don't think there's a realistic chance of such laws being passed, but in the meantime those of us who live in the world have to do something with the stink we bring home.
Try some baking soda. Baking soda absorbs odors well. I use it in my kitchen sink all the time. I also sprinkle baking soda on my furniture and carpets to remove odors (from from spills etc, but I'm sure it would help for perfume.) Sprinkle it on, let it set for about 20 minutes then vaccuum it up. I would also try adding it to your wash and see if it helps.
I agree with Sneezydiva - I use baking soda regularly, mostly for laundry during the wash cycle. I let the clothes soak in it for a while.
Can you let your closest friends know about your sensitivities? If they knew that their perfumes were making you ill, do you think they would be more careful?
Thanks to both of you for suggesting baking soda -- I remember now that it certainly was a help when the cat had an unfortunate accident on a sleeping bag and the dry cleaners in town refused to take on the project of removing the urine smell! Baking soda works like a charm! I will try it on my clothes in the next day or two.
As for asking folks to not wear perfume when they visit, I find that that isn't really the problem. Well, OK, it's really a problem, but I don't KNOW anyone who doesn't use perfume or perfumed soap or cosmetics! I've learned to just hold my breath and try not to sit too close to them. It's what they leave behind on MY clothes when they leave, and what I bring home from visiting others and riding in their cars. I can live with the smell most of the time when I'm around people (except for occasional times in the subway when my eyes burn and I can hardly breathe from the concentration). It's not a major allergy like some of y'all have, just an irritation I'd PREFER not to have to smell.
But then having to live with it on my clothes is too much -- I've been able to find perfume-free laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, dishwasher soap, liquid skin soap, skin creme, home-made shampoo, deoderant, -- even perfume-free retinol face cream (which is an indication that I'm at "that certain age" as the french say). But then to have it all negated by a visit to or from someone is very irritating.
Thanks again for the practical suggestion -- it's very frustrating to spend hours surfing the internet and find only either information on how to ADD yet more perfume into your life (I can attest to the fact that you don't need to spend a single penny for that!) or political sites on how to lobby for new laws. I appreciate the practical advice on what to do NOW, not years in the future!
Arm & Hammer, the baking soda manufacturer/packager, makes a pleated Baking Soda filter for central heat/air conditioning units that I have found to be very effective at removing volatile organic chemical odors. Recommended changing is 90 days, not monthly, so they are really cost effective. and they actually do help.