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Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin of 2021

Updated
You can stop itching now — try these laundry detergents for sensitive skin. 

Having sensitive skin is a constant struggle. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people forget that the way they wash their clothes might be irritating their skin even more. That rash or itchy nose might be because of your current detergent.

Nobody needs to suffer these symptoms anymore. These are the best laundry detergents for sensitive skin, so you can get into bed at night and finally get a good rest!

Our Top Picks

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Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Tide PODS Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent Pacs, 81 count
Best Laundry Pods
Tide Free and Gentle Pods
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Perfume & dye-free
  • Removes stains & brightens
Product Image of the Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear, 140 Loads Liquid Laundry Detergent, 210 Fl oz
Best HE Detergent
Arm & Hammer Detergent
  • HE wash compatible
  • Perfume & dye-free
  • Dermatologist tested
Product Image of the Molly's Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent Powder | Natural Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin | Earth-Derived Ingredients, Stain Fighting | 240 Loads Total (2 Pack)
Best for Eczema
Molly's Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent
  • Standard & HE wash compatible
  • Good for soft & hard water
  • No harsh chemicals
Product Image of the all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear - 46.5 oz
Best Smelling Detergent
All Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Stain lifter
  • Works with all types of wash
  • Works at any temperature
Product Image of the Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance Free Powdered Laundry Detergent Packets – 30 Pods (1 Pack)…
Best Laundry Powder
Charlie’s Soap Powdered Packets
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Brighteners & perfumes free
  • Dissolves quickly
Product Image of the Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent, Hypoallergenic, Enzyme-Based, Free & Clear, 24 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
Best Natural Detergent
Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent
  • Designed by doctors
  • Plant-derived, enzyme-based
  • Free of harsh chemicals
Product Image of the Seventh Generation Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent, Stain Fighting Formula, Fresh Scent, 40 oz (53 Loads)
Best Baby Detergent
Seventh Generation Baby Detergent
  • Made for babies
  • 97% natural ingredients
  • Fragrances & dye-free

How Does Laundry Detergent Affect Sensitive Skin?

Laundry detergent remains on the clothes even after you’ve gone through the rinse cycle. So if your sensitive skin reacts to your clothes, extra rinse cycles probably won’t help.

A lot of detergents aren’t hypoallergenic, so they’re not kind to folk with sensitive skin, eczema or other skin conditions. Here are some symptoms you might have if your laundry detergent is affecting your skin:

  • Rash.
  • Blisters.
  • Bumps.
  • Dry, cracking, scaly skin.
  • Itching.
  • Burning skin.
  • Tender skin.
  • Swelling.

Many detergents contain toxic chemicals, preservatives, artificial fragrances and dyes. All of these things can irritate your skin (1).

Can I Suddenly Become Allergic to My Laundry Detergent?

If you’ve been using the same detergent brand for years and your skin is suddenly acting up, you may have already ruled out laundry detergent as a cause. However, you can develop allergies to products you’ve been familiar with for a long time.

Allergens found in laundry detergent tend to develop slowly through repeated exposures (2). Once that allergy has developed, it doesn’t take a lot of the substance to trigger a reaction.

Also, brands do change their formulas from time to time, which could trigger an allergic reaction. If you’re concerned, try switching up your detergent to see if it makes a difference.

Ingredients to Avoid in Laundry Detergent If You Have Sensitive Skin

What specific ingredients should you avoid if you have sensitive skin? Some common ingredients used in laundry detergents can be damaging to your health, the environment and your skin. They include:

  • Fragrances: Manufacturers aren’t legally required to disclose which chemicals they used to make a fragrance. They only need to state that there is a “fragrance” involved. So, if you see fragrance listed as an ingredient, it’s best to avoid.
  • Stabilizers: Stabilizers such as ethylene oxide can result in dermatitis (3).
  • Bleach: It’s no secret that bleach is a dangerous chemical. While it has good cleaning properties, it’s definitely never necessary. Bleach is known for irritating skin, so if your detergent lists bleach as an ingredient, run.
  • 1,4 Dioxane: This carcinogen can easily be absorbed into the skin which isn’t good for sensitive skin. It’s also known to cause cancer (4).
  • Surfactants: These cleaning agents may be satisfying to look at because they bubble up, but they are dangerous. They are also carcinogenic (5). If you have sensitive skin, avoid detergents made with surfactants (6).
  • Formaldehyde: This is a dangerous chemical that is often used in laundry detergent. It can be disguised under other names, such as Formalin, Methanal, Methyl aldehyde, Methylene oxide, Morbicid acid, and Oxymethylene (7). It’s known to cause skin irritation and dermatitis.

At all costs, avoid these ingredients whether you have sensitive skin or not!

How to Choose the Best Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin

When it comes to sensitive skin, there are some things you should always look at when choosing your laundry detergent. You want to be as comfortable as possible in your own clothes.

Fragrance-Free

We’ve mentioned that fragrances are made up of toxic chemicals that companies don’t legally have to disclose. As long as it says “fragrance” on the ingredients, they’re good to go. But are you? Not if you have sensitive skin.

Fragrances are considered to be in the top five of allergens (8).

No Dyes

If you have sensitive skin, choose a laundry detergent that doesn’t include dyes. Dyes can cause rashes, like eczema. If you’ve noticed a scaly, red rash, this could be due to the dyes in your laundry detergent (9).

Dyes are unnecessary additives in laundry detergent, and are usually created artificially to give your detergent an attractive color. A bit like fragrances, dyes are left on the clothes even after a rinse cycle (10). If it stays on your clothes, it can stay on your skin.

Chlorine-Free

Chlorine is yet another ingredient you want to avoid if you have a skin sensitivity. Chlorine bleach can be found in laundry detergent, especially for white clothes. It disinfects, deodorizes and removes colors.

Bleach is a toxic chemical that can easily irritate your skin. You might get a burning sensation. The longer you’re in contact with bleach, the more susceptible your skin becomes. This makes it more prone to burning and tearing (11).

No Optical Brighteners

Optical brighteners are a bit like dye. They have the power to change forms of light and emit it as blue, which makes it look a bit brighter. This is especially good for whites that tend to yellow over time. However, if you have sensitive skin, avoid optical brighteners in your detergent.

Optical brighteners are left on the clothes, which means they come in contact with your skin. Not only can they irritate your skin, but they can make your skin more photo-reactive and sensitive to the sun (12)!

Use Plant-Based Enzymes

When in the laundry detergent aisle at your supermarket, check for plant-based enzymes. Normally, enzymes are used in laundry detergent because of their cleaning power and ability to remove stains (13).

However, if you have a skin sensitivity, look for detergent that includes plant-based enzymes so you can be sure that your detergent is as natural as possible.

Pros

  • Great for sensitive skin.
  • Hypoallergenic.

Cons

  • Not as effective for tough stains.

Water Temperature

Please Note

Always check the label of your clothes to see which temperature to use. Additionally, use the temperature suggested by your detergent manufacturer. Some only work hot, some only work cold.

Water temperature doesn’t have a direct affect on your sensitive skin. However, if you notice a sudden surge of itchy skin, then you should wash your clothes at the hottest temperature possible. This will kill any bacteria or dust mites living in your clothes, which may well be the cause of your skin issues.

High Efficiency Compatible

When looking for a detergent for sensitive skin, check if it suits your washing machine. In fact, the less detergent you use, the less likely your skin will be irritated. If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you’ll naturally need to use less detergent. This could be a huge blessing for those with a skin sensitivity!

Eco-Friendly

If a detergent is listed as eco-friendly, there’s more chance it will help your sensitive skin. Look out for this when shopping for detergent. Eco-friendly detergents leave out the hazardous, toxic and irritating chemicals that are usually tough on your skin.

Cost Per Load

Although you might find yourself spending a bit more on detergent for your sensitive skin, it’s still important to stay within budget. Do a quick calculation to figure out the cost per load to make sure you’re not being totally ripped off with your new detergent.

Pro Tip

Take the total cost of the detergent and divide it by how many loads it’s capable of. That’s your cost per load!

The Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin of 2021

The moment we’ve all been waiting for. What are the best laundry detergents for sensitive skin? Here is a fab list we’ve gathered, based on real customer reviews, to pair you with an amazing detergent that will clean your clothes and be kind to your skin.

1. Tide Free and Gentle Laundry Detergent Pods

Best Laundry Detergent Pods for Sensitive Skin

This amazing product has already had a shout-out, but we bring it to you again. Yes, it’s that good. If you like pods in the laundry room, the Tide Free and Gentle pods are awesome for sensitive skin.

Hypoallergenic, free of dyes and perfumes, and dermatologist tested, you can rest assured that this formula will suit sensitive skin.

You won’t sacrifice super clean laundry either. These pods are detergents, stain removers, and brighteners, too.

However, some users have complained that the boxes are difficult to open, especially if you have arthritis.

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic.
  • Free from dyes and perfumes.
  • Removes stains and brightens.

Cons

  • Difficult tub to open.
  • Lots of suds.

Additional Specs

Product Dimensions 4.5 x 8.8 x 10.2 inches
Weight 4.41 pounds
Number of loads Up to 81
Type Pods
Feature Hypoallergenic

2. Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent

Best HE Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin

If you have a high efficiency washer and sensitive skin, try out the Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent. It has a low suds formula which is perfect for HE washers.

It’s also free from perfumes, dyes, and preservatives. Being dermatologist tested, this product is found to be kind to people with skin sensitivities.

In terms of cleaning, it tackles odors, dirt and traps soils in the water. That way, it rinses away rather than clinging to clothes.

Pros

  • Good for HE washers.
  • Free from perfumes, dyes, and preservatives.
  • Dermatologist tested.
  • Great for odors.

Cons

  • Poor packaging — prone to leaking.
  • Unscented.

Additional Specs

Product Dimensions 11 x 5.9 x 10.2 inches
Weight 13.1 pounds
Number of loads Up to 140
Type Liquid
Feature Dermatologist tested

3. Molly's Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent

Best Laundry Detergent for Eczema

Molly’s Suds unscented laundry detergent is formulated with natural ingredients. It’s safe for you, and for the planet. This detergent was designed to be safe especially for mothers, since the chemicals women come in contact with during pregnancy can affect their unborn baby.

Ironically, Molly Suds won’t sud up, but that’s not a problem here. Suds come from harmful chemicals and aren’t necessary for cleaning!

Due to the non-sudsing ingredients, this detergent is great for sensitive skin. So whether you have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, eczema, dermatitis, or allergies, it just might help.

In fact, this product has a 4.7 rating for sensitive skin alone, with users saying it helped with eczema.

Pros

  • Kind on sensitive skin.
  • Perfect for standard and HE machines.
  • Good for soft and hard water.
  • No harsh chemicals.

Cons

  • Can’t go in soap dispenser, must be directly put into drum.
  • Sub-par stain removal ability.

Additional Specs

Product Dimensions 7 x 7 x 4 inches
Weight 3.08 pounds
Number of loads 240
Type Powder
Feature All-natural

4. All Liquid Laundry Detergent

Best Smelling Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin

Not everyone wants to compromise a nice scent for their detergent. With the all Liquid Laundry Detergent, you don’t have to.

This detergent is made with a hypoallergenic, light, fresh scent which is still gentle on skin.

Customers have described it as floral and slightly sweet, but really clean. Do you love the smell that comes with clean clothes? Then this detergent might be a good option for you! Plus, it’s still a really good cleaner.

All Liquid Laundry Detergent also contains stain lifters. So it’s great for getting out dirt, food and grass while still being kind to your skin.

You can use this detergent if you have a standard or an HE washer. It works at any water temperature.

Pros

  • Lightly scented.
  • Stain lifters.
  • Works with any washing machine.
  • Works at any temperature.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Doesn’t soften clothes.

Additional Specs

Product Dimensions 6.4 x 3.1 x 10.5 inches
Weight 1 pound
Number of loads 31
Type Liquid
Feature Hypoallergenic scent

5. Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance Free Powdered Packets

Best Laundry Detergent Powder for Sensitive Skin

For a hypoallergenic powdered laundry detergent, try Charlie’s Soap packets. They’ve been individually measured so you don’t have to do the work.

There are no brighteners, perfumes or fillers so you can relax in your clean clothes. Although it’s unscented, customers have complained of a strange odor.

The packets are also biodegradable, so you don’t need to worry about plastic waste. If you’ve had a bad experience with laundry powder not dissolving, Charlie’s Soap is different. It dissolves quickly in water and rinses clean all while keeping your HE machine clean.

Pros

  • Individually packaged.
  • Hypoallergenic.
  • No brighters, perfumes or fillers.
  • Dissolves quickly.

Cons

  • Annoying to split packets for smaller loads.
  • Customers complain of strange odor.

Additional Specs

Product Dimensions 7.5 x 4.2 x 8.8 inches
Weight 1.2 pounds
Number of loads 30
Type Powder packets
Feature Biodegradable

6. Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent

Best Natural Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin

The Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent is a great choice for folks with a skin sensitivity. It’s plant-derived, enzyme-based and free of harsh chemicals. They promise to effectively clean clothes without irritating your skin, which is the ideal scenario!

Doctors developed this great laundry detergent with you in mind. The priorities are happy families, healthier environment and clean clothes with no hassle.

To top it off, the pump system makes it super easy to measure out your detergent. No pouring, measuring or opening up sticky lids anymore. Just press the pump into your washing machine dispenser.

Pros

  • Designed by doctors.
  • Plant-derived, enzyme based.
  • Free of harsh chemicals.
  • Pump dispenser.

Cons

  • No refills available.
  • Doesn’t totally remove stains.

Additional Specs

Product Dimensions 2.8 x 2.8 x 10.6 inches
Weight 1.6 pounds
Number of loads 96
Type Liquid
Feature Plant-derived

7. Seventh Generation Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent

Best Baby Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin

As cute as babies are, let’s not deny that they are very messy creatures. Therefore, they require a top quality laundry detergent, but also, let’s not forget their sensitive skin.

No need to look further than the Seventh Generation Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent.

This is made to target tough baby stains from poop to their food. It’s made from 97% plant-based ingredients, free from synthetic fragrances, dyes and artificial brighteners. This product prioritizes your baby’s delicate skin.

Pros

  • Made for babies.
  • Great for cloth diapers.
  • 97% natural ingredients.
  • Free from fragrances, dyes and artificial brighteners.

Cons

  • Unscented.
  • Small bottle.

Additional Specs

Product Dimensions 3.8 x 5.8 x 11 inches
Weight 3.25 pounds
Number of loads 53
Type Liquid
Feature Made for baby stains

Laundry Detergent For Sensitive Skin Comparison Chart

Product Best Product Dimensions Weight Number of loads Type Feature
Tide Free and Gentle Laundry Pods Pods 4.5 x 8.8 x 10.2″ 4.41 lbs 81 Pods Hypoallergenic
Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Detergent HE Detergent 11 x 5.9 x 10.2″ 13.1 lbs 140 Liquid Dermatologist tested
Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Eczema 7 x 7 x 4″ 3.08 lbs 240 Powder All-natural
All Liquid Laundry Detergent Fragrant 6.4 x 3.1 x 10.5″ 1 lb 31 Liquid Hypoallergenic scent
Charlie’s Soap Powdered Packets Powder 7.5 x 4.2 x 8.8″ 1.2 lbs 30 Powder Biodegradable
Puracy Natural Liquid Detergent Natural 2.8 x 2.8 x 10.6″ 1.6 lbs 96 Liquid Plant-derived
Seventh Generation Baby Laundry Detergent Baby 3.8 x 5.8 x 11″ 3.25 lbs 53 Liquid Made for bax stains

Tips for Doing Laundry With Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, follow these tips to keep your skin happy and protected.

  • Choose the best detergent. (We’ll help you with that!)
  • Do an extra rinse at the end of your cycle to remove detergent residue.
  • Wash new clothes before use.
  • Clean up spills and wash hands after handling detergent.
  • Use the right amount of detergent.
  • Wear protective gloves if necessary.

Is Tide a Good Detergent for Sensitive Skin?

We humans like to stick with what we know. You might be on the lookout for a different detergent by a brand you’re already familiar with, like Tide.

Tide has been recognized as a leader in laundry for sensitive skin. Their Free and Gentle range is specially formulated to clean clothes and be gentle on skin. If you have eczema, psoriasis, sensitive skin or limited mobility, this detergent could help you.


Care for Your Sensitive Skin

If your skin is breaking out unusually, it could be because of your current detergent. Switch to one of these best laundry detergents for sensitive skin and feel yourself relax in your own clothes.

Make sure to follow our tips — doing extra rinses, using the correct amount and avoiding certain ingredients — for the best results.

Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!