Detergents Follow Up
I wrote a few weeks ago about a lifestyle change designed to make my eczema easier to manage; eliminating all detergents (surfactants) from our home.
This is inspired by the methods detailed on SolveEczema.org and the Sammy’s Skin blog.
Clothes and Linens
We had to re-launder any clothes I wanted to wear in natural soap to remove detergents. We also laundered bedclothes and towels.
The laundry process is one cap of Dri-Pak liquid soap, two-three spoons of DP Soda Crystals (these all go directly in the drum) and then a 50% solution of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in the softener drawer.
I’ve gotta say, the first day that I got out of the shower, got dry in a detergent-free towel and lay down in a “truly” clean bed, felt really satisfying.
An added bonus, after a few washes, the washing machine cleaned itself!! We have hard water, and the soda crystals and vinegar removed all the soap scum from the door, and reduced the mildew in the rim.
A note, I hate the smell of vinegar. It is my most disliked smell. If you’re the same, don’t worry, the clothes don’t smell of it after they dry, not even a little bit.
You can use ACV or White Vinegar. Don’t use malt vinegar, and note that white vinegar and white wine vinegar are different. ACV has to be watered down so as not to stain, WV doesn’t.
We cleaned surfaces of the house with spray soap (5% Dri-Pak Liquid Soap with 95% water in a clean spray bottle). If this leaves a soapy residue you can go over it with a cloth with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).
I’ve been really impressed by traditional cleaning so far. You also learn something about chemistry as you go. It’s pretty fun.
We got a new Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal. We’ve been using it really regularly to remove dust from every room. I did an initial deep clean of the bedroom, including using the little car/upholstery tool on the matress. Wow, pretty shocking. When it was done I was really glad to have all that dust in the barrel and not in the room!!
One cool thing about the Dyson is the amazing filter. I always used to sneeze when I hoovered, now I don’t. It purifies the air around you.
First I was using Simple Bar Soap. Then I received and started using Cosy Cottage Sweet Orange soap.
So far I’m not happy with either of these. They’re very drying, and after a shower, I can feel pretty dry and itchy. In fact, for the first few weeks my eczema got a little worse, breaking out on my arms!
Two things could be going on here:
One is that these traditional soaps are very alkaline and skin is mildly acidic (about pH 5) so it’s being iritated a bit.
The other is that I’ve not been re-creating a moisture barrier on my skin. The “SEO” system (SolveEczemaOrg not Search Engine Optimisation - this time) pushes Eucerin Aquaphor to rebuild an aqueous skin barrier after washing. But this is generally £9 for 45ml!! I’m not paying that. CJ from the Sammy blog mixes it with ACV, which makes it sound like stuff that comes in a huge tub but it’s not. I saw it on sale at Boots for £6 but still. This stuff’s like printer ink.
Here’s a post about soap, skin, and moisture barriers (search for ‘substances on the skin’)
I have an E45 body wash which is “soap free” (so should be detergent free) but contains Laureth 4 which is technically a surfactant!! But if I apply this at the end of a shower, after cleaning, I feel a lot better.
I also still use Oilatum but I’m concerned that as described in the post above, it might create a water-like layer that increases permeability and causes moisture loss in the long run.
I did more research on soaps. Not all natural soaps are created equal. Apparently, a lower pH comes from soaps based more in Olive oil than Palm or Coconut oil (search the linked article for ‘pH level of soap brands’).
I found Oliva natural soap on Holland & Barret, and I also ordered a soap from Highland Soap Company who we used on holiday once in Scotland.
The Oliva is not drying at all, which is really promising. This stuff is literally processed olive oil. It smells like an old person but it cleans beautifully and it’s so gentle.
The Highland Soap I’ve not tried yet.
Here’s what’s next - I bought a load of Universal Indicator strips from an online school supplier. In a spare moment, I’m going to uniformly wet all the different soaps and stick a UI strip on them for 60 seconds. This will settle the pH question.
That’s for next time :)
This week my eczma is better. It’s natural for there to be a little bounce, and the way I was medicating my eczema has also been different. Some days I’m not itchy at all. The eczema has been reduced in places on my legs and hands, and it’s mostly gone on my arms. There have been some blotches on my shoulders and stomach.
I’m sticking with this to give it a chance and trying to stop using medicated creams altogether.
I’m still using Oilatum until I can find a better substitute.
Until the next update or some Soap Science, that’s it. If you read this, wow, thanks for caring! 😊