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Baby Laundry Hanging on a Clothesline

Initial decontamination phase

The initial ‘detergent decontamination’ phase will seem very daunting, and granted, it is very hard work. Some of these steps would not have to be taken by you, but I’ll list them anyway as food for thought. But believe me when I say going detergent-free will be worth it. You will have to be your own detective, but if like us you see your babys skin heal and become soft and kissable it will all be worthwhile.

Once the initial decontamination phase is complete, the upkeep will be a lot easier and less time consuming. The upkeep can be worked into your daily routine.

These are the steps we took:

( For ideas on what products we used when cleaning, please go to the ‘Products we use’ tab )

  • We took everything out of the house, furniture, household objects and all. Everything was to be cleaned and washed again without detergent. I used vinegar, lemon juice, and non detergent soap to clean all furniture and surfaces. Anything that didn’t have fabric on it was moved back inside once clean.

  • We cleaned out the HEPA filter on our vacuum cleaner and made sure we cleaned it every two weeks in future as opposed to every two years!

  • We painted our living space & floors with low VOC paint & varnish to make sure we were starting with a clean space.

  • Any fabrics from furniture, curtains, and clothes were stored in an outside shed until our washing machine had washed everything 6 times with real soap.  We called this process superwashing. This process took a few weeks, and needed proper ‘policeing’ to make sure that no detergent fabric entered the house. (Note: I found letting fabrics air dry in between every second wash helps prevent any damage from excessive washing.)

  • I replaced Torins clothes with organic cotton outfits. These aren’t cheap so for the next year or so he didn’t have many clothes but what he had was adequate. There was some hype about the eczema clothes impregnated with colloidial silver, and we had some for him to sleep in. They seemed to calm him a little, but only by a little.

  • I also replaced his blankets, cot bumpers, mattress covers, bibs, socks and hats with ones that were made out of organic cotton. It cost a small fortune, but if needs must I was willing to be in debt, and at the time it had to happen. I spent a lot of time online shopping around, and the cheapest, best organic cotton clothes and accesories sites I  found are listed under the links tab.

  • We also discovered from a friend who is similarly allergic to things that the fact he was sleeping in a bed with feather duvets wasn’t good. Maybe he also had an allergy to dust mite poo. We decided (to my husbands dismay) that we would switch to hollow fibre anti allergen duvet and pillows.

  • All bedding, pillows, duvets, blankets and cuddly toys were washed, and if it wasn’t possible to wash them I put them into the freezer for at least 24hrs and then spread them out on our heated floors to dry them. Apparently being in the freezer for 24 hrs kills dust mites.

  • We gave our cat to my mother. We didn’t want our process of clearing Torins skin to be tainted by a possible allergy to cat hair.

  • We started getting water for Torins baths from my parents in law that have a well. I also washed all his clothes & bedding by hand in well water with sodium bicarbonate. After a while of doing this we eventually connected our household to well water, making life a lot easier!

  • I cleaned the enitire interior of the car & the kids car seats with warm water and soap.

  • Any fixed interiors like bathtub, sink, toilet, freezer etc. were washed down with soap.

  • All dishes, kitchen utensils, and kitchen appliances all got cleaned with soap, vinegar, lemon juice, or sodium bicarbonate.

Three and a half months after we started, our son had skin on his elbows, thin – but it was there, and it was soft. He didn’t have any infected areas anymore. He was still itchy, I couldn’t leave him naked, or leave any skin showing except for his head and hands as otherwise he’d scratch.

At night wore scratchsleeves, but at least he could (sometimes) sleep in his own cot.

His neck, face, earlobes, hands and back of his neck still flared up at least every two days and he was very itchy, but the change in his skin overall was amazing. We realised it would take a few months for his skin to recover from the constant trauma it had been under and regenerate itself and it's many layers. 

Thankfully I also got support from solve eczema’s website author A.J. who said the initial phase of banishing detergents can be a very itchy one before it decides to get better.

We have a large amount of people in and out of the house everyday, and though I tried keeping this under control as best I could I knew there was still detergent coming in so I went to the local charity shops and bought clothes in different sizes and some hats that I super-washed that visitors could slip into when they entered our house to keep their own detergents on their clothes and hair at bay.

Over the course of the next few months after we started this project I kept a strict cleaning schedule of eliminating all dust that may contain detergents in an effort to combat it. It was an exhausting process, but we knew from the improvements we were seeing that there would be light at the end of the tunnel. 

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