Once the initial detergent decontamination phase was done, it was still important to keep our home detergent free. Our home was Mr. T’s only ‘safe’ environment where he was comfortable to move around and do what he wanted. If a piece of clothing with detergent in it was to be worn in the house the invisible path of detergent it left behind would be very harmful for his extremely sensitive skin.
One example was a friend came to visit and although he changed into detergent free clothes that I had arranged for visitors, he left his own socks on. He then sat in our sitting room and walked on our floors with his socks on, and a toddling Mr.T was rolling round on the floor only to get a reaction from the floor where our visitors socks had been. Now this is an extreme sensitive reaction and I know a lot of other eczema babies out there may not be that sensitive, but you must understand that after all the work of the initial cleaning phase you have to keep your house detergent free. If you have one item or twenty items in your house with detergent on them it’s the same result. The detergent lint will spread and you will no longer have a safe environment.
I understand that Mr. T’s skin needed two months without a breakout to fully heal all layers of his skin. Once this happened his skin would be stronger and more resistant to small detergent exposure.
Here is a few notes on what we did to upkeep the detergent free lifestyle:
- We had to limit the outings we did with Mr. T that would involve being in public indoor places. Places such as playgroups, shops, activity centres and cafe’s were out of the question as his skin would break out just being near people with normal washed clothes or near furniture and floors that had been cleaned with detergent. The safe alternative to socialising indoors was to go to the playground outside and the park, or for walks in the mountains and forests we are lucky to have around us. There he could happily meet other kids without getting a reaction providing he didn’t hug them.
- I cleaned our car weekly to make sure that any detergent lint that we might have picked up while out and about wouldn’t be transferred into the house and to make sure that the car was also a safe place for him to be.
- If we went out I always gave Mr. T a bath straight away and everyone else also changed their clothes too. In the first 20 months of his life when his sensitivities were extreme I would have certain ‘town’ clothes that I would put on just to drop my daughter to playschool or pick her up, and then I would change back into my ‘safe’ home clothes once I was home again.
- Colder winter months made Mr. T’s cheeks and hands drier and more prone to breakouts. I had to put Paw Paw ointment on them to keep them moisturised. Before putting it on though you have to make sure that there is no moisture or chemical residue of some sort on the skin or else it will get trapped under the barrier cream and cause redness. Warm heated air indoors also made Mr. T’s skin drier so at times hanging wet tea towels around the house helped or again, a little bit of barrier cream or moisturiser from our herbalist.
- Christmas and birthdays were a bit of a challenge. I unwrapped any presents beforehand and washed any detergent off that may have been on toys from shops or factories and then I wrapped them again. I also cleaned any decorations, tins, fabrics etc. But of course you can’t wash wrapping paper! I realised the first time round that Mr. T couldn’t cope with wrapping paper as he ended up being a red irritated mess after unwrapping his presents. We abandoned ‘present time’, gave him a bath, hoovered and mopped any residue off the floor, and then all was fine again. Phew! At two and a half years old he could handle wrapping paper again, so that made parties a lot easier.
- We have a big family and lots of visitors so I went to the charity shop and also got unwanted clothes off friends in various different sizes and super washed them to remove all detergent residue. I now have lots of baskets of detergent free visitor clothes that people can change into when they come for a visit. When Mr. T’s skin was bad I also had some hats that they could put on the stop any detergent lint from falling off their head when they moved about the house. Also, if visitors had hand cream or sun cream on I would ask them to wash their hands with our ‘safe’ soap upon arrival.
- When in public toilets, don’t use the hand soap. It’s usually toxic stuff. I just bring my own soap in a plastic bag, and even our own well water in a bottle to wash Mr. T’s skin as when he was very sensitive even normal mains tap water affected him badly.
- If you are lucky enough to have family members that also embrace the detergent free lifestyle then great! My mother has changed her lifestyle to completely detergent free which is great as I can relax at the thought of him visiting her, or her coming over to visit us for a longer period of time.
- Dust – I try to keep the house as dust free and clean as I can. Especially in Mr. ‘s first two years this was extremely important as the dust consisted of lint and dust mite poo which would have affected his skin.
- Mould – I am not yet very experienced on the topic of mould, eczema and asthma but there is a connection. If you have mould or mould spores anywhere in your house get rid of them as it may hinder your progress. Unfortunately our Mr. T has also developed asthma even though having a detergent free home significantly reduces the risk of attacks. I have spoken to our GP and he has said if I wasn’t taking the steps I have taken his asthma would be considerably worse. I’m thinking maybe we have a hidden mould problem somewhere unseen, but I will keep you updated of any progress. UPDATE: Mr. T’s asthma has improved in leaps and bounds since he has moved into his own ‘low toxic’ (more on that in a later blog post) bedroom which is a lot further away from our shower than our own room that he was sleeping in before.