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9 Laundry Tips for People With Sensitive Skin

  • smiling woman in front of washing machine with basket of clothes
    Is your laundry detergent causing your sensitive skin?
    From severe eczema to mild contact dermatitis, studies show that nearly half of the U.S. population may be suffering from skin irritation or skin sensitivity. There are many allergens and irritants that can cause itchy, red, dry skin, and your household laundry detergent may be one of the culprits. Be savvy about how you do your laundry and follow a few simple sensitive skin care tips.

  • pouring out liquid detergent into measuring cup
    1. Measure the right amount of soap.
    Wait, what?! There’s a recommended dosage listed on every laundry product? It’s true, and the amount can be different for various load sizes. Too much soap can leave residue and cause skin irritation, so give measuring a try. Test different amounts until you find one that doesn’t make your skin itchy and dry.

  • Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin_2nd white bottle slide
    2. Don’t be afraid to try different detergents.
    It can be challenging to know exactly what triggers skin irritation, but added dyes and fragrances are often the cause. ARM & HAMMER™ Sensitive Skin Free & Clear is a fragrance free, dye free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent that is specifically formulated for sensitive skin. This dermatologist tested product is baking soda fresh and gentle on your skin.
  • woman putting clothes in washing machine
    3. Rinse twice.
    Since detergent residue can do a number on sensitive skin, make sure you don’t skip the rinse cycle. Many people with sensitive skin like to rinse twice to make sure there isn’t any lingering detergent residue on their clothes.

  • vaseline
    4. Apply petroleum jelly and wear gloves.
    Another laundry tip for people with sensitive skin is to wear gloves while you do laundry. That way you don’t have to come into contact with any irritating substances at all. The Cleveland Clinic even recommends doubling down on your gloves by wearing cotton gloves under rubber gloves on laundry day. They also suggest applying a protective barrier to your skin, like Vaseline® Jelly Original.

  • dapple fragrance free wipes
    5. Keep your laundry area extra clean.
    It’s important to keep your laundry area spotless if you have sensitive skin. Why? Because liquid soaps tend to drip and spill, while powdered soaps can get scattered everywhere. So use a fragrance- and dye-free product like Dapple® Fragrance-Free All Purpose Wipes to eliminate any chance of making contact with irritiating detergents by wiping down surfaces, as well as your washing machine and dryer, every time you do your laundry.

  • new men's shirt folded with price tag
    6. Wash new clothes before wearing.
    If you’ve ever suffered from itchy eyes or skin after shopping all day, you may have already experienced the irritating effects of the protective finishes manufacturers put on new clothing. It’s important to wash all new clothes before wearing them to remove the harsh finishes.

  • rubber gloves hanging on clothesline
    7. Take care when washing by hand.
    Washing clothes by hand may have a greater risk of irritating your skin since you’re coming directly into contact with the detergents. If you want to wash by hand, be sure to wear gloves and use mild detergent. You also need to make sure the the soap dissolves completely in the water and is rinsed away completely at the end of the hand washing process.

  • woman loading laundry into washing machine
    8. Don’t forget about dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
    While you’re busy deciding what type of laundry detergent will soothe your sensitive skin, don’t forget about the other laundry products you use. Fabric softeners and dryers sheets can also contain irritating ingredients. Fortunately, many manufacturers have started making entire lines of laundry products labeled for ‘sensitive skin’ so you have many good options that are mild on your skin and dermatologist tested.

  • smiling woman spreading out bed sheets
    9. Use the same precautions for everything that touches your body.
    A final word of caution as you start implementing your new sensitive skin laundry tips: if it touches you, it can irritate you. So take the same care with every fabric that touches your body, not just clothing. Use these tips for washing sheets, blankets, bath towels, kitchen towels, throw pillows and even stuffed animals. Your favorite teddy bear won’t be any fun to snuggle with if he makes your skin all itchy and red!

9 Laundry Tips for People With Sensitive Skin

About The Author

Elizabeth has been writing for Healthgrades since 2014 and specializes in articles about alternative and complementary therapies like meditation, yoga, energy work and aromatherapy. She also performs improv comedy and is a firm believer that laughter really is the best medicine.
  1. Are You Allergic to Laundry Detergent? 3 Common Symptoms and Treatments for Sensitive Skin. DSAP Institute. http://www.dsapinstitute.org/are-you-allergic-to-detergent-3-common-symptoms-and-treatments-for-sensitive-skin/
  2. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21781068
  3. Laundry detergents and skin irritancy--a comprehensive review. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24720081
  4. Contact Dermatitis. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/contact-dermatitis
  5. Laundry Care for People with Eczema and Sensitive Skin. National Eczema Associtation. https://nationaleczema.org/laundry-care-tips-people-eczema-sensitive-skin/
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Last Review Date: 2019 Aug 27
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