Removing flame retardant chemicals from children's clothing - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-15-2008, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I saw in another thread this formula was recommended:

Step 1 Wash with 1/4 Cup Baking Soda added to detergent

Step 2 Repeat

Step 3 Wash with detergent and 1/2 Cup Vinegar

Step 4 Wash with 1/2 Cup Borax, 1/2 Cup White Vinegar, and BioKleen Laundry Powder


Does anyone know if it has to be biokleen, or why it would be? And by 'detergent' is it just any old laundry detergent? I'd rather not go out and buy something, but we have some bathrobes coming that I need to get this stuff out of.

A hold over from our cloth-diapering days, I still use sensiclean to wash our clothing and I'm wondering if this is good enough.

TIA
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Old 12-15-2008, 09:21 PM
 
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Thanks for this post!

Biokleen is not like regular detergent - it has enzymes and... other stuff I think... someone else will have to jump in here - Having trouble remembering because I haven't used it since the kids were out of cloth dipes...


ETA: I just realized you said the Biokleen detergent, not Bac-Out - not sure about the detergent...
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Old 12-16-2008, 02:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks anyway. I do have Bac-out though, it's a champ on ink stains!
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Old 12-17-2008, 02:10 AM
 
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No washing will remove the chemicals. It may help break down some portion, but it will not remove them entirely.

Sorry to be a bummer, but there is no way to totally remove the chemicals, since the fibers of the threads are pre-treated before the material is woven, much less before the garment is made.

If you're wanting to try to break down the chemicals as much as possible, then use fabric softener and a soap, not a detergent. There's a difference.

I would use Dawn dish liquid (the blue concentrated kind), and fabric softener. Be sure to run lots of rinses after.

But truth be told, I just don't buy those PJs, since it is not possible to guarantee that all the chemicals have been removed, whether it be from purposeful laundering, or from years of previous wear. Those chems cling hardcore.

I have, however, used the Dawn/softener approach with carseat covers and other furniture-type material that's been treated and is unavoidable (unlike the PJs, which are).

Never wash a carseat cover in hot, or dry in the dryer though, as you don't want to risk shrinking obviously.

Anyway if you were to use some enzyme-based cleaner (like Bac-Out) on pajamas or any clothing though, be sure to wash/rinse in hot water after. Otherwise the enzymes can remain on the fabric and cause skin irritation.

If you're wanting warm PJs go for layering and designated playwear fleece rather than designated sleepwear.

SAHM to Guinevere (04/05/06) and Eowyn (02/13/09)
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Old 12-20-2008, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. It's actually not pajamas, it's a bathrobe. And yes I think it's assinine that they treat children's wear at all, much less a bath robe. I have a hard time finding cotton (we don't do poly) bathrobes for my kids so I gave up and ordered one that said flame retardant. Of course two heartbeats later I found one that wasn't (restoration hardware baby, FYI). : Anyway, so the chemical ones are coming and I just want to do all I can before I give them to the kids.

One question on the soap/dawn. Do you know why it works better than laundry detergent? I don't mind using the Dawn, just curious.

Also, I thought fabric softener reduced flame retardancy b/c it coated the fibres, not removed the chemicals. Am I wrong? I also don't usually use fabric softner (it's not necessary with Sensi-clean), but I will buy it if it will remove this stuff (even somewhat)!

Thank you for the info and the tips about the bac-out. I had no idea it had to be washed in hot to remove. I rarely rarely rarely ever use it in our post-CD days, though.
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Old 12-21-2008, 03:01 AM
 
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Sorry -- just now remembered to check back here

Dawn has something in it that breaks down oils and residue that clings to fibers. Most detergents nowawdays actually add to the residue left behind (primarily via optical brighteners), which, like fabric softeners, do coat the fibers.

The theory as I understand it (and I could be wrong) is that the Dawn helps break down the chemical residue somewhat, and the fabric softener helps recoat the fibers to mask the residual fumes, etc.

Most regular detergents actually overtime have a similar effect to the softener. Some, like Charlie's Soap, actually remove more residue without removing the chemicals themselves.

Be sure to check the bathrobe to see if it's flame retardant or flame resistant. If it's resistant, then (it's my understanding) that means simply it's polyester (polyfleece usually) and not coated with chems. Just will melt when exposed to flame, by virtue of being polyester. You can typically tell the ones that have been treated as they feel less like a chenille type polyfleece and more like a felt.

SAHM to Guinevere (04/05/06) and Eowyn (02/13/09)
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Old 12-21-2008, 06:55 PM
 
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Would it be possible to return the chemically treated ones, even though it means losing the shipping fees, and purchase the untreated ones instead?

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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Old 12-30-2008, 05:05 PM
 
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: we just ot some FR pjs for x-mas

Waldorf mama to Autumn DD 9/05 and my Spring DD 4/08 Winter baby due 2/11
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