How to Have Company (or Repairmen) In Your Home When You Have MCS/ES

Even when people try to be fragrance (and other chemical) free, they can have 2nd and 3rd hand residues from personal care, cleaning, and laundry products all over them. Air “fresheners” and scented candles are other items that leave residues on everything. It can take weeks to get it out of skin and pores, and longer to get it out of clothing and bedding, all the while re-contaminating the body and anything else that has contact with the fragranced surfaces or air.


Fragrance (and other toxic) chemicals are just all-pervasive now. Unless people are completely fragrance-free and stay out of fragrance filled places, they will have some degree of fragrance saturation in their clothes, skin, and hair. Some of the residues are also impossible to remove no matter how hard one tries, because of chemicals that are designed to penetrate and remain active for long periods of time (think of the  laundry commercials where they boast you can smell the fresh scent days later – except some of us can be affected years later, because that’s how permanent those chemicals are).

If people who use those products come to visit, not only can they leave us gasping for air (or worse) during their visit, they can leave chemical residues that will keep off-gassing from the couch and anyplace else they touched for days or weeks to come.

fragrance around a sofa

Depending on how severe one’s MCS/ES is,there are different things that can be done.

WE are the ones who have to decide what risks we can handle, and let others know what we expect of them if and when they come over.

The simpler detox efforts people need to make when visiting (being fragrance-free that day) might not be enough and one thing we may do is provide them with coveralls to enclose the fumes emanating from their clothing and bodies. This doesn’t mean they get to avoid making an effort, because the suits aren’t 100% effective barriers.  It just means that despite their best efforts, more may be required.

It s not you 13

Here’s where tyvek suits come in very handy.


TYVEK suit

MCS/ES Fashion

I hate that we have to rely on a chemical company for not even 100% effective solutions to problems that they and their associates are responsible for creating in the 1st place, but for now, there often aren’t other alternatives available when we have to allow someone into our “safe” home and not suffer serious consequences for doing so..

I like the ones with elastic cuffs and hoods because the ones that don’t have them can allow waves of fumes to be released when people move around. My suggestion is to buy them as large as possible because they are made on the small side, and they can always be rolled up if too long, but are useless if too small.

We can (maybe) even have a party (if we’re not too sick)!

tyvek party 1a

I have to air mine out before bringing them inside. Also, be aware that some vendors use air “fresheners” in their premises. Find one that doesn’t, or you will have defeated the purpose, as they are too hard to air out then. Most safety supply stores and some paint or hardware shops carry them. They are usually around $10 each, give or take.

They can be aired out enough to reuse quite a few times, so don’t throw them out after one use unless they were ripped or soiled somehow. I ask people to turn them inside out and hang them on the line outside as they leave so I don’t get exposed to the worst of it.

It helps to have enough on hand for everyone to wear, including yourself. Not only can we don one ourself when company comes so they don’t feel singled out, they are also useful to protect ourselves with when we have to go out somewhere that has fragrances in the air and we don’t want our clothing, skin, and hair saturated.

Looks like they even come in different colours now!

tyvek party 2a


They don’t work well in hot weather though, unless you’re looking for a cheap sauna.

It’s good to have people wash their hands upon arriving with your safe soap mixed with some baking soda to get the top layer of fragrance residues off their hands before they touch anything and leave residues all over your home. Have a spare towel for this use.

It’s also good to cover furniture with towels or other textiles you can wash and keep aside for this purpose. Hard chairs can be covered with foil. Some residues do get through the tyvek.

If the tyvek level of protection isn’t required, or if it isn’t enough, you may need to leave windows open and have a fan blowing the air out the window closest to them while using another fan to bring fresh air in from another window.

Also, more than a few people with MCS/ES also have EHS and will need people to turn off all wireless devices before coming in.

Other resources to help people go fragrance free and visit people with MCS/ES:

How to be fragrance-free, by Peggy Munson, is currently available from:

Section 4. Guideline Checklists for a visit to a MCS person

MCS Visitors Guidelines for visiting people with more severe MCS/ES

If you are a person with MCS/ES and have any specific things you need them to do or avoid doing, then let people know. If you are a person with a friend, family member, aquaintance, or customer with MCS/ES, then ask them if there’s anything in particular you can do or avoid doing.

If the world wasn’t so full of toxic pollutants now, none of this rigmarole would be necessary, but since it is, we have to make the best of it, until things can be changed.

17 responses to “How to Have Company (or Repairmen) In Your Home When You Have MCS/ES

  1. Big problem in my home for my 22 year old who has mast cell disease and faints and swells her airway from perfumes, candles, all that smelly stuff. I have people change into our clothes in the garage before coming in, and keep the frequent visitors a extra set of clothes in my home.

    • One would think that in this day and age there would be more home-care workers who were fully fragrance-free too, but for some reason, it has yet to happen.

      I tried spare clothes for people but the fragrance and laundry product residues from their skin just contaminated the previously safe clothing with chemicals that wouldn’t come out of the clothing when washed, hence my shift to tyvek.

      As more people develop more serious and immediately visible reactions to fragrances (as opposed to the delayed ones many of us get), it’s possible that more fragranced people will start believing it’s a problem too.

  2. I have a problem too with washing the throws I put over furniture after visitors have sat on them – I can’t risk putting them through my washing machine because of cross contamination – I can only assume the fragrances adhere to the seals on the door and/or other non-metal parts of the machine and transfer onto my clothes. After 20 years of illness I am that sensitive unfortunately. I wouldn’t be able to re-use the coveralls for the same reason. Have considered paper ones for one-off uses, but I don’t know how effective they would be – and how smelly in the first place! Still, we keep trying :-)

    • I don’t have spare throws (not even enough for myself these days, and no washing machine or dryer to wash anything with), so I use sheets of mylar (to protect myself or something I own)… Shiny :D And crinkly …
      The paper type coveralls are pretty useless for this purpose. The used tyvek ones hang outside for weeks. Sometimes longer.
      Since they’re not perfect to begin with, having a bit of residue left on the inside isn’t too bad after they’ve been outside a long time. For guests or repair people (not for myself to use – I keep mine separate).
      I’ve been too “sensitive” to make much use of these ideas myself, except for emergencies, (even the residues that get through can take me down for days or weeks) but I know a lot of people who could save themselves and their friends/family members a lot of social grief this way, in addition to making repair people less harmful.

  3. Rigmarole is the perfect word to describe what we have to go through. After our house is finished we want to have suits for any visitors. Of course, we’ll ask them to go fragrance free; but you know how it is with people who use it everyday: they are never going to be fragrance free! We want to keep spare clothes for some people but whether this is going to happen or not, I just don’t know. I find that getting work people to go without using any products is actually a far smoother process than getting extended family to do so. It’s easier to just avoid people visiting us these days.

    At this rental property, work people (as opposed to workmen), I usually have to suffer the fumes from their washing powders (only?) as the real estate agents understand to ask them about fragrances and sprays, but I also I open the house up and have fans running while they are here. However, with the building project for a safe house, I think I need to enlist the help of these suits.

    Thank you xx

    May 2015 bring you good health, great health and more great health.

  4. Decontamination units are an awesome idea! Happy New Year! My arm is inflamed, I have a new antibiotic protocol from my Lyme doctor because the other one wasn’t working anymore, the new drugs may have scary side effects, and my partner is going away on a week-long business trip. Ugh. I’m hoping that 2015 is better than the last weeks of 2014. In my personal super-stylish-fashionista opinion, they shouldn’t make Tyvek suits in that bright yellow there. It makes the wearer look like a highlighter pen. I am all for classic white, neutral khaki, or surgical scrub blue. :-)

  5. Reblogged this on freeandclear1 and commented:
    Story of my life.

  6. Hi Linda, Just wondering if you would mind if I include the below article in our next support group magazine? Also to let you know we have a downloadable leaflet for visitors on our resource page. Direct link:

    ALso one for severe MCS:

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards, Nicki Greenham CEO, The Charity for Environmental Illness – Registered Charity: 1152139

    • Hi Nicki,
      Thanks for asking.
      You are welcome to add the link back to this post as a resource :-)

      I do not wish for the articles I’ve posted to appear in subscription only publications, especially when I can’t afford the subscriptions, as it means many others can’t either.

      I have made this available here freely, please link to it here.

  7. HI LInda, Would it be ok to include this article in our next support group magazine? Also we have a free leaflet people can download about notes for people visiting someone with MCS here:

    Click to access What%20is%20MCS%20A5%20leaflet%20mcs%20aware.pdf

    and for severe mcs here:

    Click to access What%20is%20severe%20MCS%20A5%20leaflet%20mcs%20aware%20latest.pdf

    Nicki x

  8. Thanks, Linda, sorry, didn’t see the reply. No problem. Keep up the good work.

  9. I am the one who shops and runs errands. We have found a particular plastic bag that isn’t as noxious as the others. I put my hair up in a bun with metal hairpins. I wrap the bag around my head, and tie it. MCS fashion statement, you know. :) I change clothes, leaving the contaminated ones outside, and wear clothes that have never been outside.

    I do not use fragrances in any toiletries, cleaning or laundry products. But, the smells/toxins I pick up being out and about are contaminants.

    We outgas anything that needs to go inside the house. The lengths of time vary, depending on type of noxious fumes coming out of something.

    I also eat a low-spice, no garlic diet, and try to avoid processed foods and additives, so I don’t bring/leave those smells/chemicals behind me in the house.

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