Help with headaches from washing machine/clothes?
Unfortunately, I think I accidentally created a science experiment in my washer that is causing a lot of problems.
I'm severely chemically sensitive and (long story) had to wash some large sheets that had ammonia on them (supermarket generic ammonia so there might be something else in the ammonia besides straight ammonia). The sheets still reeked afterwards and had to be thrown out.
These sheets were organic sheets, so unsure if the linseed oil in them reacted with the ammonia possibly to leave a residue. Another possible variable is that a few washes later, I washed brand new organic sheets that had the strong linseed smell to them and maybe that started the problem? So it could be ammonia and/or linseed and or stuff on other new clothes (formaldehyde?) I had washed.
Anyway, soon after that, I did a regular wash and used an anti-chlorine tablet in the machine, as is my regular practice since we have strongly chlorinated water in our area. The tablet had ascorbic acid, citric acid, sorbitol, and sodium bicarbonate in it.
Around that time, I also used Heinz vinegar in a few loads of wash (to remove smells).
All this time, I was getting a headache when the washer ran - more than my typical chlorine headache, and a pretty unbearable headache at that. Soon I realized all the clothes I was washing also gave me the exact same headache. Now everything I've washed is making me feel awful and we can't wash anything else without good things getting "contaminated."
It's not the detergent (tested that multiple ways) that is causing the problem. I also use only fragrance/chemical free stuff like ALL free and clear, or Seventh Generation or Ecos. I switched them up a few times but still, same prob.
It's been months of running the wash with just water (hot and cold), with just detergent, with vinegar, with baking soda (not with the vinegar!), etc over and over to remove whatever residue of whatever chemical I created --- all to no avail. I realize that ammonia is supposed to dissipate so I'm thinking I made a whole new chemical (maybe the combo of ammonia and our highly chlorinated water plus the Vitabath chlorine tabs plus vinegar plus baking soda plus linseed oil from organic cotton sheets, plus???) --- I can't seem to neutralize the concoction enough to stop the headaches from the machine and from the residue it's leaving on the clothes. The inside of the washer has coated porcelain and plastic in it (and the drums are always plastic) so it's obviously absorbed something.
I'm now so sensitized to this, I can't wear the clothes or even be near them, so my husband and daughter and I have had to bag up all the clothes we washed and put them far away, and we can't wash anything else. There is no smell - just the headaches (which makes it hard to know what is "bad" without holding it next to me).
It's not just the city water because I tested washing ok clothes at a friend's, and they stayed ok.
Help? This sounds insane, but I'm both very sensitive, and also, whatever I created is very real. My daughter's skin gets irritated from it, too.
So what could it be, and how can I neutralize it? ANY help appreciated!