Rash From Laundry Detergent: Is It Possible?

pile of laundry in hamper next to the washing machine

There’s nothing like cuddling into crisp, clean bedsheets or the fresh cotton scent of a freshly washed pillowcase. But for people with sensitive skin, it is not uncommon for the harsh chemicals in many laundry detergents to wreak havoc on your skin.

That’s why throughout this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about:

  • Why laundry detergents cause skin irritation 
  • The common signs and symptoms of laundry detergent rashes
  • How best to naturally treat and prevent your sensitive skin

Keep reading to understand better how your laundry detergent could affect you.

What Causes Laundry Detergent Allergies?

Despite the sweet-smelling innocence of morning dew or spring rain, did you know that laundry detergents and fabric softeners tend to contain a precarious cocktail of potentially irritating ingredients, from surfactants designed to help loosen oil particles and dirt on your clothes to artificial fragrancespreservativesdyes, and other chemicals.

When these chemicals touch your body’s natural barrier, they can trigger adverse skin reactions such as contact dermatitis. 

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash caused when your skin comes into contact with specific allergens or irritants such as certain soaps, metals, plants, fabrics, or chemicals. There are two many varieties of this uncomfortable skin condition.

Irritant Dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis is the most common form of nonallergic skin rash. It develops when an irritating or harsh ingredient comes into contact with the top layer of your skin, the epidermis, damaging and weakening your skin cells.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

On the other hand, allergic contact dermatitis is triggered by the body’s allergic reaction towards a specific substance at the skin’s barrier, causing the body to produce an immune system response to fight back.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Laundry Detergent Allergies

While it is likely that laundry detergent rashes will present differently for each person, there are some common signs and symptoms to keep your eyes peeled for.

  • Inflamed red rash
  • Itchy skin
  • Blisters and little bumps that may ooze or weep
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • burning sensation across the skin
  • In severe cases, you may notice swelling in the affected area

Because your clothing and linens make contact with your entire body, laundry detergent allergy symptoms may appear anywhere. Having said this, however, some people tend to find symptoms intensify in areas of the body where clothing becomes humid and damp, such as the armpit or groin. 

While some skin rashes may appear as soon as you use a new detergent, for others, repeated exposure to detergent residue over time may cause a chemical buildup at the skin’s layer, triggering a delayed reaction. 

Treating your Itchy Rash Naturally

If it is your laundry detergent causing you hassle, don’t fret. There are many practical, safe ways to treat skin irritation naturally, helping relieve itching.


The Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream is a buttery-soft balm made from six natural ingredients that are gentle enough for babies and effective on adults. This product contains absolutely zero added preservatives or fragrances, perfect for aggravated skin. The active ingredient of manuka honey has been proven to reduce itching, minimize the risk of infections thanks to its antibacterial properties, and promote wound healing for skin damage.

Oatmeal bath

Why not try the Conqueror Oatmeal Bath for full-body relief from widespread contact dermatitis? Pour half a cup of the bath soak into your tub and allow yourself to soak for 15-30 minutes, relaxing as you soothe your itchy, red, cracked skin with wholesome ingredients and enjoy immediate, calming results.

Tips for Preventing a Laundry Detergent Allergy

If you think you could be at risk of an allergic reaction to laundry detergent, thankfully, there are many preventive steps you can start taking today to safeguard your skin.

Use a Fragrance and Dye-Free Detergent

To save yourself the discomfort of adverse skin reactions, try switching your detergent out for a gentler alternative. The SmartKlean Laundry Ball is eco-friendly, free of harsh chemicals and fragrance, gentle on the skin, and detergent free. It won’t leave behind residue on your clothing like detergents do. With one ball lasting through 365 washes, it is a cost-effective, eczema-safe option for those with sensitive skin or preexisting skin damage.

Find more advice on the best eczema-safe detergents here.

Rinse Your Load Twice

Did you know 2% of a garment’s weight comes from laundry detergent residue? To help prevent chemical buildup, rinse your laundry load twice. An extra run through the cleaning drum using hot water might be needed to protect your skin against adverse reactions and pesky allergens.

Make Your Own Detergent

Another option is to take matters into your own hands with a D-I-Y home remedy solution. Grab yourself some washing soda and borax from your local store to create a fragrance-free, powerful detergent that will save you money. Add some olive oil-based Castile soap for extra cleaning power.

Use Baking Soda and Vinegar.

Not only are baking soda and vinegar firm kitchen-cupboard staples, but they also make a great natural cleaning solution. These non-irritating, simple ingredients can be used as an alternative to detergent or add them to your second wash cycle when you’re rinsing your clothes to brighten and soften fabrics naturally.

Clean Your Washing Machine

It’s a proper Sunday afternoon kind of job (like defrosting the freezer!), but when was the last time you gave your washing machine some good TLC? If you or your loved one are experiencing a laundry detergent rash, thoroughly wash your machine after each load. Empty the drum and pop a hot-water cycle with baking soda and vinegar to combat scum.

Soothe your Itchy Rash Today

Use these tips to help you soothe your skin rash today and prevent an allergic reaction to laundry detergent in the future.


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