Are you allergic to your washing powder?

Sensitive skin sufferers galore are irritated by the chemicals in most washing powders. Here are my top tips for choosing and using sensitive suds.

I’m feeling a little sore today after putting on a freshly washed pair of PJs last night and instantly breaking out in an unbearably itchy bout of hives.

A dash for the detergent box left me none the wiser – as I was dismayed to discover the following vague ingredients list:

This powder contains “amongst other” ingredients:

  • 15-30% Oxygen based bleaching agents (specific...)
  • 5-15% Non-ionic surfactants
  • >5% Zeolite, Cationic surfactants, Poly carboxylates, Phosphonates, Soap
  • Also contains Optical brightener (a clearly made-up word!), Perfume

Now I know we’re not ingesting the stuff but environmental triggers such as household products can cause serious flare-ups, as my back is living proof of!

For that reason, us sensitive skin sufferers need to know exactly what’s in the box.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about choosing sensitive skin-friendly suds:

  • Pick a liquid detergent over a powder, as it’s less likely to leave residues in your fabric.
  • Choose a non-biological detergent as these are enzyme-free. It is thought that enzymes can aggravate damaged skin and many report an immediate improvement after switching from biological.
  • Use half of the recommend amount of detergent or opt for Eco wash balls instead.
  • Use less detergent on garments and bed linen that is going to be in direct contact with the skin for sustained periods of time.
  • Pick an un-fragranced detergent as artificial fragrances are one of the most common skin irritants.
  • Opt for a long rinse cycle to ensure all detergent residues have been washed away.
  • Don’t overload your machine as this can prevent thorough rinsing.
  • paulaanmark@hotmail.com

    my son mark has a major skin problem,will try the advise now. get back with results .ruth

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ruth, do let us know how you get on. It’s a very common allergy but one that’s quite easily avoided.

  • imk

    I will definately used these tips as my allergy is driving me nuts

  • roger moseley

    i had my skin problem now for 17 years rash on my feet thats my socks rash on my buttocks thats my pants rash on my body and arms thats my shirt . my body is red rore all the time from my neck down to my feet . i dont get nothing on my face . but my wife still packs the machine to wash the clothes . im sitting here now still red rore thing am i going to work tommorow or go to the doctors again .

  • Anonymous

    Hi Roger, thanks for getting in touch. It sound’s as though you are really suffering. Have you tried any of my tips above to help the situation?

  • Ali Ann Beswick-plank

    Thank you for such fabulous advice. I am feeling quite helpless at the moment. My son is five years old, suffers awful hay fever and now, has broken out in the most awful rash. It’s itchy, fierce and very troublesome. It looks like a contact dermatitis/ reaction to something. I have always used Ecover products, recently changing onto their washing liquid and fabric conditioner. I was under the impression these products were less harsh on the skin. ( i am using the non-bio variety) Can you kindly recommend or advise on a safer less harsh washing liquid? Thank you again. PS i love your skin care, works wonders on my sensitive skin..

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ali, Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. If the rash and the product change happened around the same time you should definitely explore whether they are linked. I’m afraid I can’t recommend one good liquid right now – I will have a think and get back to you though. In the meantime you could try using an Eco ball? You can email support@paiskincare.com for more in depth advice about both your son’s eczema and an alternative solution. Sorry I can’t be of more help right now! x

  • “Itchy”

    Can anyone recommend an un-fragranced detergent? My search has so far proved unsuccessful!

  • Anonymous

    Ecover do a fragrance-free detergent and there’s also the option of using an eco-ball. There are quite a few fragrance-free options avaliable now, especially in shops such as Whole Foods. Hope that helps! x

  • charlyn

    So how do you treat such wounds? Everytime I wash my hands it gets dryer and more cuts appear. I have yet to find a cure for it. I’ve tried antiseptic cream but it just makes me itchy and doesn’t seem to cure it. /:

  • Graeme Miller

    Hi could you please answer a question. As well as wearing clothes having contact with the skin thus causing an allergic reaction. Can soap powder go airborn. As my mother does washing on a daily basis. She hangs the washing on clothes dryers and when I sit in tye washings company it drives me nuts and makes me itch like yell. Any help would be appreciated. Graeme Miller

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Hi Graeme, I’m afraid I can’t be sure about washing powder becoming airborne. But if you’re suffering from a reaction when you come into contact with the washing powder, I’d reommend trying out another brand. I hope that helps. x

  • teenah hopkins

    can washing powder allergic reaction make you feel like you’re having Bugs bite you

  • Anonymous

    Hi Teenah, Yes, it could do. Reactions can manifest themselves in different ways and feeling a though your skin is being ‘bitten’ or pinched could be one. x