There's nothing like putting on clean clothing or hopping into a bed made with fresh sheets, but freshly laundered clothing can sometimes cause itchiness and discomfort for those with sensitive skin. We're always so careful to not come in direct contact with detergents when loading up the washing machine, but did you know it may still be present in your clothes after washing? If you or your child have ever complained of itchy skin or you've started to find freshly-cleaned clothes irritating, the culprit may be in your washing powder. To help fend off the irritation, I put together this guide on the best toxin-free laundry detergents which won't upset your skin.
What are the symptoms of a laundry detergent allergy?
If you've ever noticed after putting on freshly washed clothes that your skin feels itchy, then you may have developed an allergy or sensitivity to your laundry detergent. When your skin comes into contact with an irritant, it can trigger an inflammatory response in the form of an itchy rash, hives or dry, red skin. Fragrances and colourings found in mainstream laundry detergents don't make any difference to cleaning power, usually serving only to make detergent appear more attractive to customers.
Other mainstream laundry detergent additives like Enzymes, foaming agents, preservatives and optical brighteners can irritate and upset sensitive or delicate skin, causing discomfort and distress if it becomes unbearable. This irritation can occur when clothes are not appropriately rinsed, as residue and traces of detergent can be left behind in the fibres. These washing powders can also be harmful to the environment, ending up in waterways and disrupting the balance of marine ecosystems.
How to help avoid irritation from laundry detergent
Washing detergent isn't something we can avoid since washing clothes in water alone won't remove those tough to beat stains and grime! Toxin-free, plant-derived or hypoallergenic laundry detergents are the safest options, and eco-friendly alternatives like Soapberries (also known as Soapnuts) are even better for the environment while still being convenient. For sensitive skin, you might want to steer clear of fragrances altogether, especially in laundry soakers and fabric softeners.
Always make sure you remove as much residue from your clothes as possible after washing. When filling up your machine, check how much laundry powder or liquid is recommended. We are often quite liberal with how much powder we put in, leading to extra residue on clothes and aggravate allergies. Depending on the effectiveness of your washing machine, you can add a different rinse cycle to ensure that all the suds are washed away.
Skin and earth-friendly laundry detergent
That Red House Organic Soapberries
Sustainably grown in Nepal, the That Red House Organic Soapberries make a natural and cost-effective alternative to laundry detergent. These certified organic dried berries are reusable, hypoallergenic, antibacterial and anti-fungal, producing a natural, soap-like foam to clean clothing thoroughly.
Organic Soapberries can also be used for general household cleaning by boiling them to make a liquid cleaning spray. Once used up, you can place them in the compost, as they're completely biodegradable. To use, place five soapberry shells into the free wash bag provided and put them into the washing machine. You can even add your choice of the That Red House Laundry Tonics to scent your clothes for a dash of freshness.
Resparkle Laundry Powder
Made in Australia with plant-based ingredients, the Resparkle Laundry Powder is certified organic, vegan and cruelty-free, with 50 washes' worth in each pack! Hardworking and effective on stained clothing and odours yet very gentle on skin, this all-natural powder contains Green Tea, Grapefruit and Lemon Extract for a light, refreshing scent. This hypoallergenic detergent helps to kill bacteria and remove grime while also keeping your washing machine free from building up.
Abode Laundry Liquid Zero Sensitive
Specifically formulated for those with hypersensitive skin, the Abode Laundry Liquid Zero Sensitive is free from allergens, enzymes, optical brighteners and fragrances of any kind. Containing plant and mineral-based food-grade ingredients, this Abode Sensitive Laundry Liquid effectively cleans clothes without the risk of irritation. This powerful, environmentally friendly detergent is also grey water safe, pH adjusted and completely biodegradable, making it ideal for those allergic to conventional washing powder. Suitable for front and top loaders, this Australian made laundry liquid is soft on your skin and can also be used in hot or cold water. Even Channel 7 uses it in their wardrobe department!
Skin and earth friendly fabric softeners
Abode Fabric Softener Zero Fragrance Free
The Abode Fabric Softener Zero Fragrance-Free is ideal for those with sensitive skin, helping to soften and freshen clothing with no fragrance or colours. Suitable for use in both top and front loaders, this plant-based formula works in hot or cold cycles and contains no palm oil or artificial perfumes. Use up to 1/2 capful in each load, and you can even add your favourite essential oils for a personal touch. Also available in Comfort Fresh scent, with warming Lavender and Cinnamon.
Wooly Mates Dryer Balls
To help reduce lint, dust and other allergens, you can add the Wooly Mates Dryer Balls to your tumble dryer. Made from 100% pure triple-felted Wool, these biodegradable, eco-friendly dryer balls are designed to help reduce drying time, soften clothing and reduce static. Add a few drops of pure essential oil before popping them in the dryer to lightly scent for a lightly scented wardrobe.