Laundry Detergent Allergy Symptoms

If your skin is itchy, you have a rash or you sometimes suffer from other skin problems and suspect you may be allergic to your laundry detergent; you are in the right place.

Below, I explain what a laundry detergent allergy is, the typical symptoms and how to cure them quickly and easily.

As you will see there are alternatives to using laundry detergent. So, there is no need to worry. Your itchy skin, runny eyes, blisters and other allergy symptoms can be cured.

You will still be able to keep yourself and your family clean, well-groomed and healthy without using laundry detergent if you need to.

What Are The Common Symptoms Of A Laundry Detergent Allergy?

OK, first the symptoms. Well, they are pretty much the same as any other allergy or sensitivity issue.

The typical symptoms of laundry detergent allergies are:

  • Itchy skin*
  • Skin rashes*
  • Red and blotchy skin*
  • Patches of scabby skin*
  • Skin blisters*
  • Heightened skin sensitivity
  • Skin that feels tight
  • Hives
  • A runny nose**
  • Watery or stinging eyes**

(*) If these symptoms are worse where your clothes actually touch your skin, but not so bad where they are lose you are almost certainly allergic to your detergent rather than anything else you are using.

(**) These symptoms are more likely to be due to the scents used in the laundry detergent rather than other ingredients.

The Severity Of Laundry Detergent Allergies Can Vary

You can have all or just some of the symptoms listed above. Usually, if you regularly use the same detergent these symptoms will be with you pretty much all of the time.

However, the severity may vary throughout the year. In the summer, when your skin is moister, your symptoms may be reduced or practically disappear. The fact you are wearing less and your skin is exposed to the air can also help to reduce the symptoms.

In the winter, when your skin is covered, you sweat less and the wind keeps drying out your skin and your symptoms can return with a vengeance.

Never Ignore The Symptoms Of A Potential Detergent Allergy

This particular allergy is a huge problem because you are wrapped in your laundered clothes or bedding day and night.

As a result, your skin and the immune system never gets a break from the source of the irritation. Therefore, your symptoms just get worse, as time goes by and overtax your immune system.

You must take laundry detergent allergies seriously and get to the root cause of the problem. Simply living with the symptoms is not wise.

How To Diagnose Detergent Allergies

Generally speaking, the skin symptoms will be much worse on those parts of your body that come in direct contact with your clothes or bedding.

Typically, you will have more of a rash, dry patches or blisters in those areas. These are called contact rashes.

What Are The Possible Causes Of Contact Skin Rashes?

It is important to remember that you could potentially be allergic to other items you are using to launder your clothes or care for your skin. The possibilities include:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softener!!
  • Dryer sheets
  • Soakers
  • Gain boosters
  • Water softening products
  • Soap*
  • Shower gel*
  • Moisturisers*
  • Fake tan products*
  • Talcum powder*
  • Mite allergies
  • Finishing chemicals used on clothes

(*) Allergies to these products are more likely to cause all over skin issues. But, sometimes the moisture generated by the contact of your skin with your clothes can exacerbate the problem.

In that situation, your skin irritation will also be worse where your clothes cling to your body.

To work out which product is causing your skin irritation, you will need to change one at a time.

Start with the most likely irritant, which is your fabric softener…. yes, you did hear that right. I said fabric softener, not laundry detergent. Read on and you will see why.

Is Fabric Softener Causing My Skin Rash?

The thing about fabric softener and tumble dryer sheets is that these products are specifically designed to linger. The scent has to fix itself to the fibers, so they are made of powerful chemicals.

As a result, they are a surprisingly common cause of skin allergies.

Stop using them for a couple of weeks, if things improve, great. If not, move on to trying different brands of laundry detergent.

Which Laundry Detergents Cause Allergies And Which Don’t?

When you change your brand of laundry detergent, start by trying a hypoallergenic one like the ones listed below:

  • Arm & Hammer For Sensitive Skin
  • Dreft purtouch
  • Molly’s Suds
  • Seventh Generation Natural

The above are the brands that seem to crop up in forums the most when you research ‘laundry detergent skin rash’. They are the ones other people typically say helped them to get rid of their allergy symptoms.

So, our advice is to start with those first. They may help you, they may not, but tapping into the experience of others makes a lot of sense than just blindly switching brands, one after another.

It is also worth going to Amazon, Walmart, etc searching for sensitive skin laundry detergent. Then narrow your search down to the ones with the best ratings. You can read a few of the reviews as well.

Ask Friends And Family For Help

If you do not want to go to the expense of buying several brands of detergent, ask friends and families to help.

It will feel a bit weird asking them for a couple of capfuls of the detergent they use, but it is a heck of a lot better than spending $4-$6 on something you use a few times and have to bin.

How Long To Try A New Brand Of Laundry Detergent Out?

Each time you try a new brand, give it a proper go. Wash and wear your clothes at least three times before deciding it is not helping.

Of course, if your symptoms get any worse when using the new brand, bin it straight away. Then rewash your clothes in your old brand before wearing them.

Spotting The Symptoms Of Laundry Detergent Scent Allergies

If you are allergic to the compounds used to scent the detergent you are may just have the sniffles and, maybe, watery eyes.

Sometimes it is the scent of your fabric conditioner that causes an allergic reaction. In that case, simply trying another scent makes sense.

11 Sure-Fire Ways To Reduce The Symptoms Of Laundry Detergent Allergies

When it comes to allergies the best remedy is to avoid exposure completely, which is why the advice is to change the detergent you use.

Sometimes you will be lucky and simply changing your detergent brand or other laundry products will be all you need to do to solve the problem.

Other times, you will try dozens of brands without any success.

In that situation, you may never be completely free of symptoms. However, you can do a great deal to reduce the severity of them.

Below are some strategies we have found on allergy and cleaning forums. They have clearly worked for others, so there is no reason they should not work for you too.

You just need to be patient and persevere and you will find ways to reduce and eventually completely eliminate your allergy symptoms.

Get Rid Of Any Laundry Detergent Residue

Before taking your clothes out of the washing machine put them through at least one extra rinse cycle. This will make a huge difference.

It will rid your clothes of much of the detergent residue. If you are really sensitive, you may need to put your clothes through an additional full wash cycle without adding any detergent at all to your machine.

Use Vinegar To Break Down Laundry Detergent Residue

Adding a capful of white vinegar to the rinse cycle can also help to remove the residue. Provided you do not use too much your clothes should not come out smelling of vinegar. However, you need to be aware that it will break down the fibers, so using it will make your clothes wear out a bit quicker.

Use Baking Powder To Reduce Detergent Residue

For this reason, baking powder is usually considered a better option. You just need to add a capful and put your clothes through an extra rinse cycle.

Use Less Laundry Detergent

Keeping the amount of laundry detergent you use to an absolute minimum is another strategy that really helps. You can actually get most clothes clean using only a very small amount of cleaning product.

Provided you do not get too hot and sweaty you can get away with just spot cleaning any marks. Then apply a little detergent to the sweaty or very dirty areas and rubbing it in.

Because you are using less laundry detergent you will likely need to use the power of hot water to get your clothes properly clean.

It is usually best to run them through your washing machine at the hottest temperature listed on the care label.

Spot washing and spray on dry cleaner products can also help to reduce how often you have to put an item in the washing machine.

If you are not allergic to deodorants, using them more liberally can also help you to wear your clothes for longer between washes.

Buy Clothes That Need Less Laundering

It makes sense to buy items that do not have to be laundered very often. For example, a set of leggings or chinos will need to be washed after only being worn once or twice.

While a pair of jeans can easily be worn for many days in a row. It is also worth avoiding buying light clothing or fabrics that show the marks fast.

Use Disposable Sweat Guards

Sweat guards can be used to keep sweat away from your body. The disposable kind can really help to cut down on the number of washes you do each week.

Thus, reducing how often you need to expose your skin to a fresh batch of detergent chemicals.

Investigate Hi-Tech Fabrics

Sometimes wearing modern fabrics can also help. It is now possible to buy anti-bacterial clothes.

The main reason fabrics smell is that they are home to bacteria that thrive in damp and warm clothes.

As we move around we inevitably give off moisture, which turns our clothes into bacteria heaven.

Initially, the presence of bacteria is not noticeable. But, after a day, sometimes two, the numbers reach a critical point and you can smell the bacteria.

When that happens, you have to wash your garment. This reduces the bacteria population to the point where you can no longer smell them.

Sometimes you can get away with rinsing it away using just hot water. Other times, the power of detergent is needed.

There are now specialist fabrics available that make is super hard for bacteria to set up a home in your clothes. The underwear and vests made by SilverTech are an example of what we mean.

It is well worth trying out some of these specialist clothes to reduce how often you need to use your washing machine. Just be a bit cautious.

It is possible that these modern fabrics could actually irritate your skin. It is better to try out a vest rather than take the plunge and try a pair of underpants first.

Create A Barrier Between Your Skin And Fabrics

Using talc and moisturizers that you know you are not allergic to can also help to reduce the symptoms.

They create a bit of a barrier between you and your clothes. It is by no means a perfect solution, but it may help.

Wash Your Clothes With Your Soap Or Shower Gel

If you have found a brand of soap or shower gel that does not irritate your skin. Try hand washing some of your clothing using it.

This is not a perfect solution because these products can damage clothes. In particular, fade them.

However, having to buy new clothes more often is better than constantly suffering from skin allergies and itching.

Potentially, you can use them in your washing machine. However, there is a chance that doing so will gunk things up and damage your machine. So, think carefully before doing it.

Tap Into The Power Of The Sun To Clean Your Clothes

UV light kills most fungus, bacteria, and germs. Drying your gym gear in the sun and airing your bedding and clothes on a sunny day can help too.

Doing so reduces how often you have to wash your clothing and reload them with the chemicals that are causing your skin issues.

The above are the best of the approaches we have found after talking to friends and family and doing research online.

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