What is the Best Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin?

Laundry irritating your sensitive skin? The wrong detergents can trigger rashes, dryness, and discomfort. Skip harsh chemicals and perfumes, and choose gentle, fragrance-free formulas instead. 

Quick links:

What causes problems with sensitive skin?

What are the common symptoms of allergies?

What to look for

What are the best detergents for sensitive skin?

Useful tips

Let's explore the top sensitive-friendly picks that clean thoroughly without causing reactions.

Laundry detergent strips

What Issues Do People With Sensitive Skin Have With Detergents?

If you have sensitive skin, you've probably noticed that some detergents cause rashes, itchiness, and discomfort. The culprits? Dyes, fragrances, and chemicals that irritate the skin.

These detergent ingredients can lead to red, itchy rashes and skin conditions like contact dermatitis, especially in delicate areas like the groin and armpits. Reactions may develop immediately or over time after repeated exposure.

The good news is that choosing a dye- and fragrance-free detergent can help most people avoid rashes and irritation.

What exactly causes the problem? Many conventional detergents contain surfactants, which are cleaning agents that loosen dirt and oils. While useful, some types of these surfactants can be harsh.

Artificial fragrances are another offender. They smell nice but can provoke allergic responses. Other common irritants found in many laundry detergents include:

  • Preservatives
  • Enzymes
  • Parabens
  • Dyes
  • Fabric softeners
  • Emulsifiers

Once you've developed a sensitivity to an ingredient, even a small amount can lead to skin conditions and rashes. By choosing gentler, allergen-free formulas, you can kiss irritating laundry days goodbye.

What Causes Sensitive Skin to Have a Problem with Detergents?

The biggest culprits for sensitive skin are fragrances, preservatives, surfactants, dyes, and pH balance in laundry detergents.


Fragrances make your clothes smell fresh and clean. But they can trigger skin allergies and sensitivities. Chemicals like limonene and linalool release scents when exposed to air and may cause reactions. Choosing fragrance-free detergents avoids this irritation risk.


Preservatives prevent bacterial and fungal growth in detergents. However, some, like parabens, have potential health concerns, including endocrine disruption. While paraben allergies are rare, many people opt for paraben-free formulas as a precaution.


Surfactants remove stains by loosening dirt and oils from fabrics. Look for mild plant-based or biodegradable options to prevent excessive dryness or irritation.


Dyes add color but can provoke allergic reactions in some people. Choosing dye-free detergents reduces this irritation risk.

pH Balance

Healthy skin's pH is around 5.5. But many detergents have an alkaline pH over 7, disrupting the skin's balance long-term. Sensitive skin formulas with a pH-balanced for the skin avoid this issue.

What are the Common Symptoms of Laundry Detergent Allergies?

Allergic reactions to harsh chemicals can result in the following symptoms:

  • Red skin
  • Skin irritation
  • Severe itching
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Hot skin
  • Skin that is painful to touch
  • Bumps
  • Blisters

What to Look for in Sensitive Skin Detergents

When selecting a laundry detergent for sensitive skin, look for these characteristics:

  • Fragrance-free detergents: fragrances, even natural ones, can trigger skin reactions for some people. Opt for formulas with no added scents or masks.
  • Free of common irritants: avoid detergents containing harsh surfactants, dyes, parabens, phthalates, and other ingredients that studies show can cause skin irritation.
  • pH balanced: healthy skin is slightly acidic, around 5.5 pH. Seek detergents designed to maintain this ideal balance and avoid disrupting skin.
  • Hypoallergenic: these products are clinically tested to be less likely to provoke allergic reactions or skin sensitization.
  • Dermatologist tested: choosing detergents tested and approved by dermatologists provides added assurance for sensitive skin.
  • Natural ingredients: biodegradable, plant-based ingredients tend to be gentler than synthetics. Seek options with natural oils and extracts shown to be non-irritating.

What are the Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin?

We have compiled a list of the top-rated laundry detergents for sensitive skin that will effectively remove tough stains while leaving clothes fresh-smelling and fabric soft, gentle enough for even highly sensitive skin.

All Free Clear Laundry Detergent

All Free Clear detergent is a premier choice for those with eczema or other chronic skin sensitivity. This hypoallergenic formula contains no added perfumes, dyes, or harsh irritants that may trigger adverse reactions. It has been awarded the National Eczema Association seal of acceptance, confirming its safety and efficacy for sensitive skin types.

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free and Clear

For a comfortable, irritation-free clean, Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Detergent is a wise option. The detergent has been developed with a fragrance-free and dye-free formula that ensures clothes get clean without redness or rashes.

ECOS Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent

An innovative plant-based formula makes ECOS laundry detergent a safe choice for those with easily irritated skin conditions such as eczema. It has been thoughtfully crafted to provide an effective cleanse while remaining gentle on reactive skin. No longer do those with sensitivities need to rely only on subpar detergents.

Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent

This EPA Safer Choice-certified liquid detergent from Seventh Generation is a top pick for removing stubborn stains as well as caring for delicate skin. The concentrated formula harnesses the power of plant-derived agents to target tough marks on clothes while maintaining a non-irritating composition that makes it ideal for parents washing baby clothes.

Babyganics Baby Laundry Detergent

Babyganics liquid detergent is specially formulated to be effective yet gentle, making it a go-to choice for families with infants and small children. Thoughtfully selected plant-based stain fighters tackle messes on baby clothes and diapers while minimizing the risk of skin irritation.

Hex Performance Laundry Detergent

Utilizing a proprietary Hex Molecule technology, Hex Performance detergent provides a deep clean without harsh chemical agents that can worsen sensitive skin. The special formula thoroughly eliminates odors and stains with no added dyes, fragrances, or irritants.

Tide Hygienic Clean

The National Psoriasis Foundation has approved Tide Hygienic Clean detergent, ensuring that it meets high standards of safety and efficacy for people with sensitive skin or psoriasis. It is specially formulated to remove tough stains, odors, and allergens while maintaining the integrity of fabrics. 

Smart Sheep Detergent Strips

Smart Sheep Detergent Strips provide a powerful yet gentle cleaning experience, without the use of harsh chemicals or irritants. With a hypoallergenic formula, these unscented laundry strips effectively remove stains and odors from your laundry while being gentle on the skin. 

It's a win-win situation for both you and your clothes. The strips are fragrance-free, dye-free, and free from any unnecessary additives, making them a safe choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies.

Laundry detergent strips

Tips for Washing Laundry for Sensitive Skin

  • Do an extra rinse cycle to remove more residual detergent that may cause irritation.
  • Use an extra rinse, such as white vinegar. Adding a rinse with white vinegar helps remove detergent and soften fabrics.
  • New clothes may have chemical residues from manufacturing, so wash before wearing.
  • Review ingredient lists and avoid detergents with harsh surfactants, fragrances, and dyes.
  • Laundry balls help clean clothes without adding detergent chemicals that may worsen sensitive skin.

Laundry Detergent FAQ

What is the best sensitive skin laundry detergent?

Smart Sheep laundry detergent sheets are one of the top options. They are an eco-friendly product, free from parabens and harsh chemicals, and are perfect to become part of your laundry routine.

What is the safest laundry detergent for sensitive skin?

The safest laundry detergent is one that is fragrance-free, dye-free, and formulated with gentle ingredients. Look for options labeled specifically for sensitive skin or those recognized by dermatologists or allergy associations. Always check the ingredient list and choose products with minimal potential irritants.

Which laundry detergent is least toxic?

When it comes to the least toxic laundry detergent, opt for products that are free from harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and dyes. Look for plant-based or eco-friendly detergents that prioritize natural and biodegradable ingredients. 

Is Ariel laundry detergent good for sensitive skin?

Yes, Ariel laundry detergent is good for sensitive skin and has been dermatologically tested. Thanks to the mild formula, clothes washed with Ariel are as gentle on the skin as if they had only been washed with water. It is also an effective stain fighter, which is a win-win situation for both your skin and your clothes.

Is powder or liquid detergent better for sensitive skin?

Both powder and liquid detergents can be used, but preference may vary depending on individual needs and sensitivities. Powder detergents are generally more concentrated and can be effective at removing tough stains. They are also less likely to contain certain additives, such as preservatives or fragrances, which can be potential irritants. On the other hand, liquid detergents may be gentler on fabrics and dissolve more easily, especially in colder water. 

How do you know if your detergent is irritating your skin?

Common indications of detergent-related skin irritation include redness, itching, rashes, dryness, or hives in areas that come into contact with the laundry. You may also experience increased sensitivity or discomfort after wearing freshly washed clothes.

Is Persil detergent any good?

Yes, Persil detergent is highly regarded for its cleaning power and effectiveness in removing tough stains. It is known for its strong formula, which tackles different types of stains and leaves clothes fresh and clean. Persil offers a range of products tailored to different needs, including options for sensitive skin, color protection, and intense stain removal. 

What ingredient in detergent irritates the skin?

Ingredients commonly found in detergents that can irritate the skin include:

  • Dyes
  • Fragrances
  • Preservatives
  • Surfactants

What detergent should I use if I am allergic?

If you have allergies or sensitivities, opt for a laundry detergent specifically formulated for sensitive skin or labeled as hypoallergenic. Look for a dye-free, harsh chemical-free, and fragrance-free detergent. 

What are the symptoms of a detergent allergy?

Common symptoms of a detergent allergy:

  • Red skin
  • Skin irritation
  • Severe itching
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Hot skin
  • Skin that is painful to touch
  • Bumps
  • Blisters

Is it better to use laundry soap or laundry pods?

Choosing between laundry soap and laundry pods ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs. Laundry soap, which typically comes in liquid or powder form, allows for more control over the amount of detergent used and is suitable for various types of washing machines. On the other hand, laundry pods offer convenience and pre-measured doses of detergent, making them easy to use, especially for individuals on the go.

What are some other good laundry detergents for sensitive skin?

Aside from those already mentioned, here is a list of other dermatologist recommended detergents:

  • Earth Breeze Laundry Detergents
  • Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
  • Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent
  • Loni Bio Laundry Detergent
  • Persil Pro-Clean Sensitive Skin Detergent
  • Dreft Pure Gentleness Laundry Detergent
  • Tide Pods
  • Dropps Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent Pods

Do detergent pods work better than detergent?

Laundry detergent pods are more concentrated than powder laundry detergent. This means that you can use fewer laundry detergent pods to clean your clothes than you would with powder laundry detergent.

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