We all have different skin, and some of us have sensitive skin that needs a bit of extra care. There are a lot of different factors that can trigger eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis), skin irritation, as well as other adverse skin effects, and laundry detergent is high on the list. Because our clothes and linens are in constant close contact with our skin, it’s important to make sure they are as gentle as possible. In the last decade or so, we've witnessed a growing concern surrounding certain household products, like laundry detergent and cleaning products, due to the high concentration of harsh chemicals they contain and how they can potentially lead to a number of health concerns. One common issue when it comes to laundry detergent is its ability to trigger skin reactions and conditions like eczema and contact dermatitis, which are caused when the skin is exposed to a foreign substance it doesn't agree with.
In this article, we’ll explore the dark side of detergent: the common allergens they contain, how they can negatively impact the skin, and, of course, what you can do to avoid it all.
How Can Laundry Detergent Negatively Affect Skin?
Many traditional detergents on the market today contain a number of harsh ingredients, like artificial fragrances, synthetic dyes, and a long list of toxic chemicals (like 1,4-dioxane, a potential carcinogen), all of which can aggravate the skin and cause a variety of issues in both adults and children. This rings especially true for those who have a history of skin allergies, chemical sensitivity, or eczema.
Another factor that can lead to an adverse reaction is using too much laundry detergent. Overdoing it on the detergent can cause the detergent to become impregnated between fibers of the fabric. As you wear the clothing or sleep on your clean sheets, the lingering detergent will come in direct contact with the skin and cause a reaction. It’s important to always stick to the amount of detergent recommended on the label, especially if you’re using a high-efficient washing machine.
A negative reaction to laundry detergent will sometimes present itself in the form of an eczema like rash: itchy, dry, red, swollen, and scaly skin. Reactions, though, are very individual, so what is an irritant for you could be very different from what's an irritant for someone else.
How Can I Determine if My Laundry Detergent is Causing My Skin Issues?
Having an allergic reaction and not being able to decipher what caused it can be incredibly frustrating. Chances are, if you develop a random rash on your body, you’ll immediately make a mental note of all the foods you’ve been eating lately and the bath and beauty products you’ve been using. And this is exactly what you should do, especially if you recently deviated from your usual routine in any way – for instance, if you recently tried a new cuisine or experimented with a new facial cleanser or body lotion.
If you suddenly develop a rash, it’s important to consider where it’s located. For example, if the rash is on one side of your face and you're a side sleeper, your detergent could be the culprit. While it’s more likely that you’d have an negative reaction to a new laundry detergent, you shouldn’t rule out the one you’ve been using for a while either. Contact allergies can develop at any given time.
However, if anyone else in your household has a similar rash, it may be related to something else entirely. It’s always best to check with your doctor to figure it out once and for all. You can also see an allergist, who can perform certain tests (such as an allergy skin test) to get to the bottom of your skin irritation.
What Should I Do If I’m Allergic to My Laundry Detergent?
Luckily, if you’re having an adverse reaction to your traditional laundry detergent, there are other options so you can safely clean your clothes and linens without having to worry about what weird toxic ingredients might be lingering.
At The Ecology Works, we’ve created an eco-friendly line of detergent, home-cleaning products, and anti-allergen products formulated without common allergens or irritants like phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial dyes, fragrances, ammonia, chlorine bleach, or other unnecessary additives. Our 100% plant and mineral-based laundry detergent is recommended by allergists and dermatologists.
By leaving out harsh chemicals, irritants, and allergens, our laundry detergent will leave you with a clean that feels good. It will leave nothing behind and won’t irritate sensitive skin. We’ve had many loyal customers with allergies and sensitivities, including eczema, who share their joy in finding a hypoallergenic detergent that is gentle on skin yet effective on dirty laundry.
The bottom line? If you're prone to skin irritation or have eczema, you should always steer clear of laundry detergents that contain irritants like dyes, fragrance, and other harsh chemicals at all costs, and instead switch to a hypoallergenic detergent that was made for your sensitive skin.At The Ecology Works, all of our products are made with the well-being of people and the planet in mind. Learn more about the science behind our products and how to make more eco-friendly choices. If you have any questions, please feel free to Contact Us or message us on Facebook. We’re here to help.