When people think about how to prevent skin irritation, they usually consider lotions, body washes, soaps, and shampoos. They might not remember to use laundry detergent that’s safe for sensitive skin.
Some consumers aren’t even aware that they have a rash or stuffed-up nose because of their laundry soap. Although their clean clothes smell great, it might be the artificial fragrance that’s causing the problem. Or it could be the dye in the detergent, too.
But no one needs scents and dyes to clean their clothes. Instead, some of the best laundry detergents for sensitive skin don’t contain either component, but they do a great job of removing dirt and stains. And many of them safely wash baby clothes as well.
- Top laundry detergents for sensitive skin
- Dropps HE Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent Pacs, Scent + Dye Free
- all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Free Clear for Sensitive Skin
- all Mighty Pacs Laundry Detergent with OXI Stain Removers and Whiteners, Free Clear
- Tide Free & Gentle HE Turbo Liquid Laundry Detergent
- Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance-Free Laundry Powder
- Seventh Generation Free and Clear Unscented 4X Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent
- Method 8x Laundry Detergent
- Molly’s Suds Original Laundry Powder
- Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
- Dreft purtouch Baby Liquid HE Laundry Detergent
- Arm & Hammer, 2x Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
- Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent, Baby
- Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent
- Country Save Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent Powder for HE and Regular Machines
- Rebel Green Natural Laundry Detergent
- GreenShield Organic Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear
- What makes a laundry detergent dangerous for sensitive skin?
- Is hypoallergenic laundry detergent better?
- How to choose the right laundry detergent for sensitive skin?
Top laundry detergents for sensitive skin
Dropps HE Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent Pacs, Scent + Dye Free
Although it’s unlikely that you’ll find Dropps Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent at your local supermarket, it’s easy to buy online. And it’s one of the top detergents to protect your body from contact dermatitis. It contains no fragrance and no dye.
If you’re familiar with the EPA’s Safer Choice Program, you’ll find that Dropps Detergent in on their approved list. It has a biodegradable formula made with plant-based ingredients, and it’s cruelty-free, too.
The detergent also lacks irritants common to regular laundry soap, like chlorine, phosphates, enzymes, and NPEs, or nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactants. Without all these extras, Dropps is non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
Another bonus of the Dropps detergent is that it comes in pre-measured pods that make doing laundry fast and easy. You can use them in both standard and HE (high efficiency) machines, at any temperature, and on any fabrics or colors. And consumer testing proves that this soap removes most stains and everyday dirt from clothes.
all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Free Clear for Sensitive Skin
If you prefer liquid detergent, give all Free Clear a try. It’s frequently recommended by skincare experts like allergists and dermatologists. And it has no dyes or perfumes in it.
The all company says their soap is safe for any fabric at any temperature. And users report that it removes all but the worst stains without pre-treatment.
all Mighty Pacs Laundry Detergent with OXI Stain Removers and Whiteners, Free Clear
The all company also makes Free Clear Detergent Pacs with OXI stain remover. This kind might be a better choice if you need to remove tough food stains or grease from clothing.
Tide Free & Gentle HE Turbo Liquid Laundry Detergent
Of course, world-renowned Tide detergent has a Free & Gentle version, too. It’s made for use in HE machines. It was tested by way of cumulative irritation patch tests to be hypoallergenic. But if you prefer a more natural solution, try the next soap below.
Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance-Free Laundry Powder
Charlie’s Soap comes from a small company based in North Carolina. One of its best features is that it does not leave a residue on fabric or in the machine, so clothes feel soft. And it’s gentle enough to wash cloth diapers.
Amazingly enough, Charlie’s soap is also super economical. It only takes one tablespoon of powder to wash an entire load. Plus, the natural ingredients are free from dyes and perfumes and safe for septic systems.
Seventh Generation Free and Clear Unscented 4X Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent
Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear Liquid Detergent is 96% plant-based ingredients with no synthetic fragrances, dyes, or optical brighteners. Instead, its soft scent comes from extracts of bergamot, vanilla, and geranium.
With Amylase and Protease, natural enzyme stain removers, this detergent has no trouble erasing grass stains or chocolate. And since it needs less water to work well, it comes in a very concentrated formula in a small bottle.
Method 8x Laundry Detergent
Method’s 8x laundry detergent doesn’t contain dyes, phosphates, parabens, fluoride, or bleach. It’s biodegradable and kind to the environment. Plus, it’s concentrated so you can use only a small dose in each load.
The manufacturer is a founding member of the B Corporation, which certifies private companies according to their environmental performance.
Molly’s Suds Original Laundry Powder
Molly’s Suds has only five ingredients that are gentle to the earth and to your sensitive skin. In fact, the EWG gives it an “A” rating for safety. With this laundry powder, you can wash all sorts of lightly-soiled items except leather and silk.
The detergent is safe for high-efficiency washing machines because it makes very little suds. It’s also vegan and free of dyes, synthetic fragrances, brighteners, petrochemicals, SLES, formaldehyde, bleach, phosphates, and NPEs.
Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
Puracy’s Natural Liquid Detergent is a hit with parents who want to protect their infant’s skin. It contains a mineral-based odor-destroyer called Zinc Ricinoleate, and it has plant-based enzymes, too. Those enzymes, in combination with coconut-based cleansers, easily remove food stains and dirt from fabric.
But it’s not just the sulfate-free formula that draws in customers. Puracy improved their bottle’s design with a no-drip pump. And it only takes a ¼-ounce per load in an HE washing machine to get the job done. Should you find that the detergent doesn’t meet your needs, they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Dreft purtouch Baby Liquid HE Laundry Detergent
Dreft’s purtouch Baby Liquid Detergent is designed for use in HE machines. It contains 65% plant-based ingredients that remove up to 99% of all baby food stains on the first try. Of course, it does not have artificial dyes, chlorine, phosphates, or optical brighteners.
Arm & Hammer, 2x Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
Arm & Hammer’s Ultra Liquid Detergent for Sensitive Skin avoids phosphates, but not because they irritate. Instead, phosphates are hard on the environment. They cause algae blooms that damage rivers and lakes.
This laundry soap also avoids excess suds. Although it looks like detergent is more effective when it produces lots of suds, all it’s doing is leaving too much residue behind. Instead, the Arm & Hammer rinses away clean.
Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent, Baby
Purex’s Baby Liquid Laundry Detergent is free of dyes and tested by dermatologists to be hypoallergenic. But take note that it lists both a fragrance and Methylisothiazolinone among its ingredients. These two components lead us to think that there are better choices on the market for sensitive skin.
Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent
Babyganics does not put certain high-hazard ingredients in its laundry detergent. For example, its liquid formula does not contain sulfates, so it does not have 1,4-dioxane. That’s a known carcinogen that often contaminates soap ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate. Unfortunately, it does have Methylisothiazolinone, a preservative that is linked to skin and eye irritation as well as neurotoxicity.
On the other hand, this laundry soap is free of fragrances and compatible with standard and HE machines.
Country Save Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent Powder for HE and Regular Machines
Country Save’s Laundry Powder comes from the Pacific Northwest. It works in high-efficiency and regular washing machines. It’s also compatible with soft or hard water. In fact, you might not even need a fabric softener after using it.
The septic-safe powder rinses clean and doesn’t suds up much. But it’s capable of dissolving food stains and everyday soil. And it’s safe enough that the military accepts it in care packages.
Rebel Green Natural Laundry Detergent
Rebel Green’s Laundry Detergent is available in three natural scents or unscented varieties. It’s a biodegradable plant-based formula made for HE machines. And it does not have dyes, artificial fragrances, phthalates, parabens, or many other toxins common to soap.
GreenShield Organic Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear
Green Shield sells a USDA-Certified Organic detergent that achieved an “A” rating from EWG. Users report that it works well on regular soil, even in cold water. But stains may need a pre-treatment for successful removal.
What makes a laundry detergent dangerous for sensitive skin?
We’ve talked a lot about fragrances, dyes, brighteners, and so on. So what things are best to avoid when you have sensitive skin? Let’s take a look.
First, while you might feel like taking a big whiff when you stroll down the soap aisle, those scents may be what’s making you sick. People with skin conditions like eczema might turn red, break out, or itch if their clothes are washed with certain fragrances. And many artificial fragrances are made from petroleum derivatives.
Next, dyes, chlorine, and optical brighteners can have the same effect, causing hives or a rash. They definitely aren’t necessary to achieve clean clothes.
Some enzymes can irritate sensitive skin, but plant-based enzymes are safer. These ingredients dissolve organic stains like tomato sauce or grass.
Finally, although it looks like you need more soap when clothes are filthy, that’s not necessarily true. The more detergent you use, the harder it is to rinse away residue. And too much residue can make your clothes feel stiff and cause irritation, too.
Is hypoallergenic laundry detergent better?
Unfortunately, those of us living in the US can’t rely on the term “hypoallergenic.” It can mean whatever the manufacturer wants it to mean. Usually, they label a detergent that way if they’ve tested it for common allergic reactions. But it won’t guarantee that your sensitive skin won’t react badly to their product.
How to choose the right laundry detergent for sensitive skin?
To choose the safest laundry detergent for your sensitive skin, consider what factors usually irritate you. For example, if you tend to avoid colognes and perfumes, buy unscented powder or liquid. Better yet, stick to truly scent-free products because sometimes unscented means they used yet another chemical to cancel out the odor.
But take heart, you might be able to enjoy a detergent with a natural scent like Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear. It smells good because it has essential oils in it.
Second, try detergents that promise to rinse clean. This one fact makes them quite a bit gentler on your skin.
Third, stick to brands that the EWG (Environmental Working Group) rates with “A” ratings. Not only are those products kind to the environment, but they also contain fewer toxins to harm you, too.
Finally, test your new detergent by washing only one type of item in it, like socks, then wearing that item for a day. How is your skin at night, and the next day? You might even want to trial run for a week just to be sure.
Even if you have sensitive skin, there are lots of effective detergents on the market. Many laundry soaps get clothes clean without using harsh ingredients. That means you’re likely to find the perfect liquid or powder soap for a high-efficiency or a regular washing machine. And there are many detergents safe enough for baby clothes, too.