Having sensitive skin can make doing laundry a real challenge. Many mainstream laundry detergents contain harsh chemicals and fragrances that can cause irritation, rashes, and other skin reactions in people with sensitive skin. Fortunately, there are some great options for gentle, hypoallergenic laundry detergents that get clothes clean without aggravating sensitive skin.
What to Look for in a Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
When choosing a laundry detergent for sensitive skin, there are a few key things to look for:
Fragrances are one of the most common irritants in laundry detergents. Synthetic fragrance chemicals like phthalates and artificial musks can cause contact dermatitis, hives, and other allergic reactions in sensitive skin. Opt for a fragrance-free or unscented laundry detergent.
Dyes used in laundry detergents are another potential irritant. Dye-free, color-free detergents are less likely to cause skin irritation.
Look for laundry detergents labeled as “hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive skin”. While not a regulated term, this generally means the product has been formulated to minimize potential allergens.
Free of Harsh Chemicals
Steer clear of laundry detergents with harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate. Instead, choose plant-based, biodegradable ingredients when possible.
For best results, look for a laundry detergent specially formulated for sensitive skin that has been tested and approved by dermatologists for skin safety. This helps ensure minimal risks of adverse reactions.
Reviews of the Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin
After analyzing ingredients and reviews, here are our top picks for the best and most gentle laundry detergents for people with sensitive skin:
Safe for sensitive skin but still effective at cleaning
Truly fragrance-free, not just unscented masking fragrances
Shows up well in consumer testing for sensitive skin
Seventh Generation’s Free & Clear laundry detergent is a top choice for people with skin sensitivities. The formula is free of fragrances, dyes, and common irritants. It relies on plant-based ingredients and enzymes to get clothes clean without aggression. Reviewers praise its cleaning power and gentleness on sensitive skin.
2. all Free Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent
#1 recommended detergent by dermatologists for sensitive skin
Fragrance, dye and allergen free
Gentle on skin but tough on dirt and stains
Safe for the whole family to use
National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance
Good Housekeeping Seal
Specifically designed for sensitive skin, all’s Free Clear detergent is the #1 choice of dermatologists. With no dyes, fragrances, or common allergens, it gently gets clothes clean without irritation. It’s received seals of approval from top consumer and medical groups for its effectiveness and safety.
3. Ecover 0% Zero Laundry Liquid
100% fragrance and dye free
Allergy certified and approved for sensitive skin
Plant-based hypoallergenic formula
Biodegradable ingredients and packaging
Dermatologically tested for irritation
Works well at lower temperatures to save energy
Ecover’s 0% Zero laundry liquid is an environmentally friendly choice for sensitive skin. It’s certified by Allergy UK for its fragrance and dye free hypoallergenic formula. The plant-based ingredients clean effectively while remaining gentle on skin. It’s a good option for eco-conscious households.
4. The Honest Company Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent
Hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested
Free of dyes, fragrances, and common allergens
Herbal scented using natural essential oils only
Plant-based ingredients and biodegradable formula
PETA cruelty-free certification
Good stain removal with deep cleaning enzymes
The Honest Company uses thoughtful ingredients designed for sensitive skin. With an herbal scent from essential oils only, it avoids harsh fragrances. Reviewers note it works well at removing stains and odors from clothes. The Honest detergent is a good choice for moderately sensitive skin.
5. Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent
Allergen and irritant free formula
Free of dyes, fragrances, and toxins
Biodegradable plant- and enzyme-based ingredients
Sulfate-free cleansers for sensitive skin
Dermatologist tested hypoallergenic formula
Good value for a natural laundry detergent
Puracy’s Natural Laundry Detergent is specifically formulated for sensitive skin with worry-free ingredients. It’s free of toxins, dyes, and fragrances that can trigger allergies. The plant-based formula provides an effective clean using enzymes and safe cleansers. If you want an affordable natural pick, Puracy is a good option.
6. Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear Detergent
Free of fragrances, dyes and perfumes
Dermatologist tested for skin sensitivities
Allergy UK certification for mildness
Baking soda ingredient helps fight odors
Effective on stains but gentle on skin
Budget-friendly cost compared to others
From a well-known brand, Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin detergent offers an affordable solution. While not all natural, it’s free of dyes, perfumes and fragrances. It relies on the odor-fighting power of baking soda to freshen clothes. For those looking for a conventional detergent for low cost, it’s a reliable pick.
7. Tide Free & Gentle Laundry Detergent
Dye and perfume free
Hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested
Powerful on stains and smells
Higher cost but better cleaning for some
Stronger aroma than some sensitive skin detergents
Trusted name brand with long history
Tide Free & Gentle is a top mainstream choice for sensitive skin. While not all natural, it avoids dyes and perfumes. It provides Tide’s usual strong cleaning power. With its fresh scent, it smells more like conventional detergent than some others. For those who want excellent stain removal, it’s a good option.
8. Dropps Laundry Detergent Pods – Sensitive Skin
Fragrance, dye and allergen free
Plant-based hypoallergenic ingredients
Dermatologist tested and National Eczema Association approved
Convenient pre-measured pod format
Subscription auto-delivery options available
Eco-friendly ingredients and packaging
Dropps sensitive skin laundry pods provide mess-free convenience. The dissolvable pods are filled with an hypoallergenic plant-based liquid detergent safe for skin. With eco-friendly ingredients delivered in recyclable packaging, they simplify laundry for the sensitive skin crowd.
9. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
Concentrated all-natural castile soap formula
No synthetic chemicals, fragrances or preservatives
Can be diluted for use as laundry detergent
Contains moisturizing olive, coconut and hemp oils
Less harsh on fabrics than conventional soaps
Versatile for household cleaning too
Dr. Bronner’s popular castile soap can also work as a laundry detergent. While not specifically designed for laundry, the all-natural gentle formula works well diluted. It contains no irritants found in typical detergents. With versatile uses beyond laundry, it’s a good natural pick for sensitive skin.
Molly’s Suds unscented detergent is designed for a baby’s delicate skin but works well for the whole family. The vegan formula contains no fragrances or masking agents. It’s crafted intentionally for sensitive skin. As a bonus, the company is eco-conscious and female-founded.
FAQs About Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin
What ingredients in laundry detergents cause skin irritation?
Fragrances, dyes, and preservatives are some of the biggest offenders in causing skin irritation and allergic reactions. Common chemical irritants include synthetic fragrance compounds, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), optical brighteners, and formaldehyde releasing preservatives. Enzymes and plant proteins can also prompt reactions in some.
Should I look for an organic or natural laundry detergent for sensitive skin?
Organic and natural detergents formulated specifically for sensitive skin can be ideal choices. They avoid harsh synthetic chemicals in favor of gentler plant-based ingredients. However, there are also some traditional brands that make sensitive skin formulas free of irritants, though not all-natural. Check the label for problem ingredients.
What’s the difference between “fragrance-free” and “unscented” products?
Fragrance-free means a product contains no added fragrances. Unscented products often still contain fragrance chemicals, but use masking agents to cover up the scent. Look for fragrance-free when avoiding irritants.
Can I use regular laundry detergent if I double rinse the clothes?
Double rinsing may help reduce detergent residues left in clothes. However, those with very sensitive skin likely still react to the irritants in regular detergents. Residue-free doesn’t mean irritation-free. Stick to specially formulated sensitive skin detergents for best results.
Should I look for a powder, liquid or pod/capsule laundry detergent?
Liquids or pods/capsules tend to be a better choice than powders for sensitive skin, as they minimize airborne irritants. Liquids are convenient to measure. But pods avoid mess and contact completely. Choose your preferred format based on your needs.
How should I wash new clothes before wearing with sensitive skin?
It’s wise to launder new clothing 1-2 times before wearing. Use your regular sensitive skin detergent and an extra rinse cycle to remove any chemical residues from manufacturing and processing. This helps avoid reactions from chemicals in not-yet-washed fabrics.
Can I use sensitive skin laundry detergent if my skin isn’t particularly sensitive?
Yes, laundry detergents made for sensitive skin are generally safe for anyone to use, even without special skin conditions. They simply contain fewer harsh chemicals likely to cause irritation. Choosing a fragrance-free sensitive formula can be ideal for the whole family.
What temperature should I wash clothes with a sensitive skin laundry detergent?
Follow the temperature guidelines on the care tags, as heat can damage fabrics. Most sensitive skin detergents work well in cool to warm water temperatures. Very hot water may decrease the effectiveness of enzymes. Save energy by washing in cooler temperatures when possible.
How much laundry detergent for sensitive skin should I use per load?
Follow the product directions for regular load sizes. Most recommend 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of liquid detergent per average load. With pods, simply use one pod per average load. Use less for smaller or lightly soiled loads to avoid residue buildup on clothing that could irritate skin.
The Takeaway on Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin
Doing laundry with sensitive skin present extra challenges. The good news is there are great options to wash clothes effectively while avoiding irritants found in regular detergents. Seek out fragrance-free, dye-free formulas that skip harsh chemicals. Look for plant-based ingredients and sensitive skin certifications when possible. With the right detergent choice, people with sensitive skin can enjoy clean, comfortable clothing without the red, itchy skin struggles. Follow care label guidelines, double rinse when needed, and avoid contact with detergent. With a little trial and error, you can find the perfect sensitive skin laundry detergent match.