The Lowdown on Laundry and Sensitive Skin
In this post-pandemic society, we’ve all become used to the signs of illness. A slight cough. A spontaneous sneeze. Listening to Phoebe Bridgers on repeat while shovelling down ice cream after a break-up. Wait, is that just us?
But what if, heaven’s above, it’s your laundry that’s making your skin irritated. Or to be more specific, your laundry detergent. Having sensitive skin can be an uncomfortable experience to say the least. That’s why Homethings is here to unpack why this might be, and what you can do to prevent breakouts and skin reactions from happening again.
You, Me and Allergies
Allergies are very common. It’s thought that more than 1 in 4 people in the UK will be affected by them at some point in their lives. If you’re a parent, you’re probably aware that they’re particularly common in children. Adults may also develop new ones later in life, as well as lose old ones through puberty. They’re a lot like hobbies, in a roundabout way. Except a lot less fun.
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a substance it believes is harmful. It’s not clear why it happens, but it is generally inherited within families. Particularly for conditions such as asthma or eczema.
The NHS proposes a theory as to why they’ve become so common: we’re living in cleaner, more germ-free environments. This is actually something we’ve written about before when speaking about green cleaning misconceptions and why to make the switch.
Because society is becoming more clinical, the number of germs we are exposed to and have to fight off on a daily basis have been reduced. It also doesn’t help that most mainstream cleaning sprays contain harsh, anti-bac chemicals that eliminate all bacteria – even the good ones that allow us to build up our immune system.
So how does this affect you and your laundry?
The Laundry Lowdown
It’s not uncommon for laundry detergents to contain harsh chemicals. It’s no wonder it causes some people to have adverse skin reactions, such as red, itchy rashes – known as contact dermatitis.
Ingredients such as fragrances, preservatives, colours and dyes, enzymes, parabens, moisturisers, fabric softeners, emulsifiers, thickeners and solvents can contribute to allergic reactions. This is because, like most soaps, detergents contain surfactants (invisible cleaning ingredients) that work by loosening dirt and oil particles on your clothes.
Additionally, using too much detergent can also have an adverse effect on your skin. This may cause the detergent to become infused between the fibers within your clothes’ fabric, which may later come into direct contact with your skin.
Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital, explains: “If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you really want to make sure you’re only using the amount of detergent recommended.” It may be tempting to add in more to make your clothes smell “even fresher,” but sometimes less is more, Refillas.
Now, we’re no doctors, just a group of people passionate about cleaning up cleaning. But here are our tips on how to prevent skin reactions from your laundry – particularly if you have sensitive-skin, dermatitis or eczema:
1) Use a fragrance- and dye-free detergent
If you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the fragrances, dyes and colours, or harsh chemicals of typical laundry detergents that’s making you flake like a 99, it’s high time to switch things up.
By opting for Laundrythings, you get 100% natural and biobased powerful cleaning with planet-friendly ingredients. It’s certified non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free. And as the fragrance-free option is hypoallergenic (containing few allergy-producing substances known as allergens), you’ll get 72 laundry pods that are kind to your skin and clothes, as well as the planet.
2) Give your washing machine some TLC
As well as washing new clothes before wearing them, you may also want to wash your washing machine every now and then. A hot water cycle with baking soda and vinegar can help clear soap scum and chemical buildup.
3) Pretreat stains naturally
Instead of using harsh chemicals and bleaches to pretreat stains, you could take the more natural route of using water, washing soda and baking soda. This will be a lot more gentle on not just your skin, but also your trendy garbs (did you thrift that? The colour really brings out your eyes).
4) Only use what you need
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Sometimes less is more. Like how most cleaning sprays contain up to 95% water and are shipped around the world in single-use plastic bottles. That’s bonkers. Especially when you can take the 5% active cleaning ingredients and Just Add Tap™ with Homethings at home.
So when it comes to loading your laundry, sack the powder-scoops. A Laundrythings pod is pre-measured and 100% biodegradable. That means that you’ll know the perfect amount of detergent is cleaning your clothes each and every time, all the while not adding to the plastic pollution problem affecting our planet. It’s a win for you and Mother Earth.