Your laundry detergent may smell like morning dew or spring rain, but chances are, it’s packed with some pretty serious chemicals. It’s not uncommon for people to experience adverse skin reactions to the ingredients in standard detergents.

Allergies or sensitivities to laundry detergent can develop the first time you’re exposed or after repeated exposures. Most people can prevent laundry detergent rashes by using fragrance- and dye-free detergents.

Conventional laundry products such as detergents and dryer sheets often contain toxic chemicals such as sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate and fragrance. Laundry care manufacturers are not required to list ALL the ingredients that are used in their products …the term “fragrance” alone may refer to a combination of several hundred laundry chemicals that may be toxic or hazardous. Have you noticed that your laundry detergent contains a warning label!


Laundry detergents contain a variety of potentially irritating ingredients.

Like most soaps, detergents contain some type of surfactant, or surface-acting agent. Surfactants work by loosening dirt and oil particles and allowing them to be washed away. Harsh surfactants can be irritating for people with sensitive skin.

Artificial fragrances are another broad category of chemicals that can cause skin rashes and irritations.

Companies that make laundry detergents typically use proprietary blends of fragrances, making it difficult for customers to know exactly what’s in them.

Other common allergens found in laundry detergents include: preservatives, enzymes, parabens, colors and dyes, moisturisers, fabric softeners, thickeners and solvents, emulsifiers.

Allergies to mild allergens, like those found in laundry detergents, typically develop slowly after repeated exposures. Once you develop an allergy, however, it only takes small amounts of the offending substance to produce a reaction.

Face breaking out?

Now, you are not the only one who’s experienced problems from scented laundry detergent with irritating ingredients. Hundreds of men and women have had the same problem.

It’s possible that you can be allergic to certain chemicals or fragrances in the detergent. Even if your laundry machine is doing a good job during its rinse cycle, there’s often still residual product left on your clothes that can cause contact dermatitis.

When you switch to fragrance- and dye-free options, the pimples and cystic acne on your cheeks will begin to cleared up. Same with fabric softener. Plenty of people got itchy rashes and pimples until cutting it out of their routine.

Four ways to change up your laundry habits

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the UK, with six in every ten Britons suffering at some point in their lives.

Even if you don't struggle with full breakouts, that pre-date chin 'situation' can strike anyone.

Despite your best efforts to double cleanse every night and lather your face in anti-bac, avoiding a flare up can be hard. While sadly some spots are caused by hormones and stress, there are a few every day habits that can also be to blame.To stop your face breaking out, you have to make a change in your laundry habits.

  • Only buy detergent for sensitive skin - sorry but that brightly-colored laundry detergent bottle promising tropical scents has got to go. Instead, choose one suitable for sensitive skin that’s both hypoallergenic and free of any sort of fragrance or dye. It’s often scents and dyes that cause the problem. The majority of laundry detergents and fabric softeners include them, even some products marketed for baby laundry. To minimize the chances of contact dermatitis, be alert and look for detergents labeled fragrance-free and dye-free.

  • Be careful with essential oils - keep using your essential oils as much as you want, just make sure to leave them out of your detergent if you’re prone to breakouts. Even though they’re great for adding fragrance the natural way, they can still irritate your skin as much as artificial scents. Essential oils made from parts of plants by distillation or by mechanical processing are sometimes added to laundry detergent products to add fragrance, but these have the potential to sensitise and irritate skin, specially for those with eczema whose skin may be more vulnerable to irritants.

  • Ditch dryer sheets - dryer sheets might be responsible for helping your laundry stay soft and static-free, but your skin is not a fan. They coat your linens and clothes with a layer of wax and grease, not to mention fragrance, that can be especially irritating to your skin.

  • Replace fabric softener with vinegar - it might sound scary adding pungent-smelling white distilled vinegar into the washing machine with your laundry, but putting a cup in the fabric softener dispenser can seriously save your skin. Not only is it a fragrance-free way to soften your clothes, but it also gets rid of some of the irritators that are commonly leftover. White vinegar removes detergent and mineral residues from the clothes. There will be no toxic fragrance clinging to the fabric.

Not only are most laundry products toxic, they are also pore clogging. If you are acne-prone, it is especially important that clothing, bath towels, bed sheets, blankets and pillow cases are not washed with brands such as Tide, Purex, Gain, Arm & Hammer and All.

While “free” and “sensitive” versions of the above are better for acne, we also find it important to mention that these products are highly toxic. For example, the Environmental Working Group has given Arm & Hammer Free a D rating and is of moderate concern to be cancer causing. You can learn more at

I personally switched to a toxin/chemical-free home with the Melaleuca laundry and other household cleaning items and am so excited to be chemical free! Not to mention saving money.

**If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you!

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