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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best laundry detergents for sensitive skin

Last Updated November 2019

Scritch. Scritch. Scritch. You notice an itch developing on your arms. Mysteriously, the rash also pops up on your torso. What’s going on? It could be your laundry detergent. Even those who have never experienced contact dermatitis may develop a reaction to certain harsh ingredients in traditional laundry detergents. It might be time to reconsider your laundry detergent choice.

That said, if your rash comes on suddenly and doesn’t go away with the usual treatments — moisturizers, oatmeal soaks, and OTC creams — a visit to the dermatologist is recommended. It’s difficult to definitively diagnose a skin reaction, especially online. However, sometimes a simple change in detergent can make all the difference and clear up the itchiness in no time.

Detergents for sensitive skin are also a must for those with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. If your skin is irritated easily, chances are that many regular laundry detergents are bound to cause a flare-up. Our buying guide includes information on what to search for when selecting a skin-friendly laundry detergent. It also features tips on washing clothes, as well as some product recommendations.

Are there other cleaning products around your home that might be causing skin irritation? Check soap, shampoo, and disinfectant spray labels and replace the products with unscented, dye-free versions to limit your exposure to potential irritants.

Key considerations

How does laundry detergent affect sensitive skin?

Anyone can develop a reaction to laundry detergent, whether via the first contact or after repeated exposure. Those with certain skin conditions or easily irritated skin may find themselves scratching after using products that contain perfumes, dyes, and other harsh ingredients.

If you find yourself periodically sliding your nails across clothed areas of your body, your detergent could be causing your discomfort. If your rash is concentrated in the areas where clothing touches your skin or in spots where sweat soaks through your garments, your skin irritation could be the result of using the wrong detergent. If your rash is also located on areas of the body not covered by clothing, including the face and hands, it may not be related to your detergent.

Form

The different forms of laundry detergent include powders, liquids, pods, and tablets. Because liquid detergents rinse away without much effort compared to powder, they’re the superior option for those with sensitive skin. Pods are a suitable alternative, as well as ultra convenient.

Ingredients

Different people react to different ingredients, but here are a few common detergent culprits that may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction:

  • Surfactants
  • Parabens
  • Dyes
  • Moisturizers
  • Fabric softeners
  • Solvents
  • Thickeners
  • Perfumes
  • Preservatives
  • Emulsifiers
  • Enzymes
     

Fragrances and dyes are far and away from the most common irritants in laundry detergent. When browsing laundry detergents for sensitive skin, choose formulas with the fewest ingredients. Picking a product with fewer ingredients reduces the likelihood that you’ll react to the product.

Cleaning power

Certain sensitive skin detergents have fewer ingredients than regular ones and are thus less effective when it comes to tackling stubborn stains. That’s not universally true of all skin-friendly detergents, however. We recommend checking online user reviews to discover what consumers have to say about a product’s cleaning abilities before you buy.

EXPERT TIP

Don’t forget to moisturize! Dry skin is often a trigger for skin irritation. Choose perfume- and dye-free moisturizers to prevent a reaction.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Eco-friendly: Like regular detergents, there are sensitive-skin options available for the environmentally-conscious consumer. Eco-friendly detergents are often biodegradable, but the moniker isn’t a guarantee that a product isn’t harmful to the environment. The FDA does not regulate the term. Check for products labeled as USDA Organic if this feature is a top priority for you.

Water temperature: Using hot water is often recommended to remove allergens from clothing, but some people still prefer to opt for cold water cycles because they’re more energy-efficient and kinder to the environment. Carefully read product labels to find out whether the detergent dissolves best in hot or cold water, and make a selection that fits your laundry habits.

High-efficiency: Detergent labeled HE is designed for use in high-efficiency washers, which use less water than traditional washing machines. If you don’t use an HE-compatible detergent, it may not rinse off entirely during a cycle, which can leave behind itch-inducing residue.

Packaging: Like regular detergent, versions designed for sensitive skin are available in multiple types of packaging, including resealable bags, plastic canisters, and cardboard boxes.

EXPERT TIP

If you love the smell of freshly cleaned laundry but can’t stand the rash left behind by your regular detergent, use essential oils in tandem with a detergent formulated for sensitive skin.


Staff  | BestReviews

Laundry detergent for sensitive skin prices

The cost of detergents for sensitive skin varies from $0.13 to $0.32 per load. Generally, in the world of laundry detergents, the higher the price, the better the quality. While powder is the least expensive option, we recommend opting for pods or liquid detergent if you’re battling skin irritation. They’re a little more expensive, but they typically leave behind less residue than powder. You’ll also discover that price varies wildly depending on the brand.

Tips

In addition to choosing a detergent for sensitive skin, there are a few other ways to prevent laundry products from causing a skin reaction.

  • Rinse your clothes thoroughly. Choose an extra rinse cycle, if available, to ensure your clothing is free of detergent residue.
  • Skip other laundry products. Other products could also be sources of irritation, such as dryer sheets, fabric softeners, and stain removers. Instead, opt for dryer balls to remove static, soften clothing, and reduce wrinkles.
  • Use natural stain removers. Opt for alternatives like baking soda or gentle dish soap to fight stubborn stains and prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Turn up the heat. Although it’s not the most eco-friendly solution, using very hot water for a load is a reliable way to rid your clothing of nasty allergens.
  • Sanitize your washing machine. Use a washing machine cleaner or baking soda and vinegar to rid your machine of detergent residue and soap scum.
  • Don’t overload your washing machine. An overloaded washer isn’t able to effectively rinse away detergent.
  • Wash new clothing before wearing. This will rid items of any lingering residue from the manufacturing process.
  • See a doctor. If your rash doesn’t improve after a few days or gets worse even after changing laundry detergents, make an appointment with a dermatologist.
EXPERT TIP

Always carefully measure out the right amount of detergent. Using too much is not only wasteful, but it’s also more difficult to rinse out, so residue gets left behind.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

Still haven’t found the right detergent to ward off the itch? We have a few additional recommendations. The all Free Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent claims it’s the number one brand recommended by dermatologists and pediatricians. The concentrated formula is compatible with HE washing machines, and consumers agree that it’s a powerful stain remover despite its gentle formula.

The hypoallergenic Earth Friendly Products ECOS Laundry Detergent is free of dyes, parabens, and optical brighteners that might give your skin trouble. It’s scented using lavender essential oil instead of artificial fragrances.

Amazon’s Solimo Liquid Laundry Detergent is also free of strong perfumes and harsh dyes. The formula is hypoallergenic, and while it has a scent, buyers describe it as fresh and not overwhelming.

If you’re still struggling to find the right detergent formula for your sensitive skin, choose a baby-friendly detergent as an alternative.

FAQ

Q. I’m using a sensitive skin detergent and still noticing irritation. What’s going on?
A. Your laundry detergent may not be the cause of your rash or skin irritation, or your skin may have become infected. Either way, the safest choice is to visit a dermatologist for a diagnosis.

Q. How do I know if I’m allergic to my laundry detergent?
A.
it’s difficult to pinpoint laundry detergent as the definite culprit, but a bit of detective work will help you discover the cause of your skin allergy. Did your rash develop after changing your detergent? Is your rash located only on parts of the body covered by clothing? Are the affected areas located in spots where you’re often sweating through your clothes? The easiest way to figure out whether the detergent is the troublemaker is to stop using it. Wash your clothes in a gentle, sensitive-skin formula, and see if the problem goes away. If it persists, make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

Q. Why should I avoid scented products?
A.
Some people are sensitive to perfumed products and strong scents. In severe cases, a simple whiff of a strong perfume can give people hives or an asthma attack. Strongly scented products can indeed cause real skin reactions, even those in your laundry detergents. The fresh meadow scent may seem appealing, but it’s also a likely source of skin irritation.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Writer

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