Our experts test out the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin available on the market today. A lot of shoppers don't realize how much of an impact their laundry detergent can have on their skin. Since we don't apply these detergents directly to our skin, we think of laundry detergents as low on the list of potential irritants.
The truth however, is that laundry detergents stay on the clothes and then make contact against our skin during the day from the clothes we wear as well as at night from our pajamas and bed sheets.
Best Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin – Our Top Picks
Our focus is simple, we find detergents that refrain from using scents, dyes and other irritants while still effectively getting rid of grime, dirt and stains.
#1 Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry DetergentAmazon product
This Concentrated Laundry Detergent is a great laundry detergent to use if you or a family member has sensitive skin. Part of the reason why this laundry detergent is such a good choice to use is its lack of a scent.
Scented detergents usually use harsh artificial perfumes and fragrances to get their “fresh” scents, and these perfumes and fragrances can cause irritating physical reactions for people who have sensitive skin.
Another reason why this Laundry Detergent is such a great laundry detergent to buy if you or a family member have sensitive skin is its ability to clean clothes well.
It’s no secret that many laundry detergents that are formulated to be safe for sensitive skin also tend to not clean clothes as well as the regular versions of laundry detergent.
The reason why is usually because the enzymes used in hypoallergenic laundry detergent typically aren’t as powerful as the enzymes used in regular laundry detergents.
However, this sensitive Laundry Detergent is formulated with very powerful triple-enzymes that can give your clothes a good cleaning.
Something to consider before buying this laundry detergent is that it doesn't take much to get the job done, so be careful not to use too much of it.
If you or a family member have sensitive skin, but you still want your clothes to have a nice fragrance. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to this wonderful laundry detergent. Then you'll get to experience the best of both worlds: a sensitive skin safe laundry detergent that will clean your clothes well and a sensitive skin laundry detergent that will leave your clothes smelling fresh throughout the day.
#2 Molly's Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent PowderAmazon product
Molly’s Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent Powder is a very concentrated, natural laundry detergent that is specially designed for people with sensitive skin.
What makes this laundry detergent unique and such a great choice for people with sensitive skin is its ability to pre-treat clothes very well. Usually powder detergent can struggle to pre-treat stains out of clothes as well as regular liquid laundry detergent, but Molly’s Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent Powder can hold its own in this department. All you have to do is wet the area with cold water and make a paste with this powerful, concentrated powder laundry detergent.
This perfume free laundry detergent is also unique in that it only uses four ingredients that are 100% natural and derived from the Earth. People with allergies, sensitive skin, eczema, or newborn children should enjoy the gentle feel of this powerful powder laundry detergent.
Another thing to consider before deciding whether or not to buy this laundry detergent is the fact that it is dye free. This is an important feature to take note of because many of the dyes used in other laundry detergents can be very uncomfortable for people with sensitive skin. Research shows that many of the dyes used in detergents are skin irritants.
#3 Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Perfume and Dye Free HE Liquid Laundry DetergentAmazon product
This Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent is a good value option for those of you seeking an affordable laundry detergent that is safe for sensitive skin.
Being able to wash your clothes with a good laundry detergent that doesn’t make you itch or cause other skin irritations shouldn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. This laundry detergent is dermatologist tested and approved, and it was specially designed for people who have sensitive skin and need a laundry detergent for sensitive skin.
For those of you who are concerned about the Earth, what sets this liquid laundry detergent apart from some of its competition is the fact that it is sorted into three 50 oz. pouches for packaging rather than being poured into a large container. Not only does this make its packaging better for the environment, it also makes this laundry detergent easier to store, easier to use, and easier to pour.
Something to consider before buying this laundry detergent is the fact that it is biodegradable and has low suds.
#4 Dropps HE Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent Pacs, Scent + Dye FreeAmazon product
This is a solid contender, containing no fragrance and no dye. Plant based ingredients and cruelty-free practices make this an ethical choice as well.
Another big honor for this brand is to be listed as EPA's Safer Choice Program. Dropps also lacks irritants common to regular laundry soap, like chlorine, phosphates, enzymes, and NPEs, or nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactants. Without all these extras, this detergent is non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
#5 Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance-Free Laundry PowderAmazon product
Charlie's Soap is great if you are looking to “shop small” and support small and local businesses.
This small North Caroline business is not expensive when you consider the per load price and also soft and gentle enough to be used on baby clother, cloth diapers and other sensitive clothes.
Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin – A Buying Guide
Liquid – Liquid laundry detergents are very commonly used because they can double as stain removers. Liquid laundry detergents are also affordable because they are less expensive than pods.
The downsides of liquid laundry detergents include their eco-unfriendly packaging and how easy it is to over use them.
Powder – Powder laundry detergents are the most affordable type of laundry detergent per load. Unlike liquid laundry detergent packaging, powder laundry detergent packaging is very eco-friendly due to its recyclability.
Powder laundry detergents are hard to dissolve in cold water, and to pretreat clothes, you have to make a paste with the detergent for it to be effective.
Pod – Pod laundry detergents are very easy to use and are designed to be convenient. You don’t have to do any measuring for your loads, and there isn’t any guesswork.
The downsides of pod laundry detergents are their price and their potential to harm children and pets.
High Efficiency (HE) – HE laundry detergents can be used in any type of washing machine, and they can be a powder, pod, or liquid detergent.
HE laundry detergents are recommended by washing machine manufacturers due to the fact that these detergents don’t create as many suds. This feature makes them ideal to use in front-loading washing machines and top-loading washing machines that don’t have an agitator.
Washing machines without agitators use much less water than washing machines from decades past; so if you don’t use HE detergent in them, it could cause your machine to do multiple rinse cycles to get rid of the extra suds formed by regular laundry detergent.
Cold Water – Cold water laundry detergents are designed to work best in cold water. This feature can save you time, energy, and money by cutting back on the amount of hot water that you’ll have to use to do your laundry.
Environmentally Friendly – Environmentally friendly laundry detergents are good for the environment, but they may not be as good for your clothes. The reason for this is because in being environmentally friendly, this type of laundry detergent can lack the enzymes and other chemicals required to remove stains from clothes well.
Hypoallergenic – Hypoallergenic laundry detergent is designed to be safe for sensitive skin or allergies to use. This detergent is tested for common allergic reactions with the hope of manufacturing it without any allergy triggers.
Hypoallergenic laundry detergents can still cause a reaction, however, if your skin or allergies do not react well to other ingredients in the detergent.
5 Things to Look for in Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent
If you are looking for a laundry detergent for sensitive skin, then your best bet may be a hypoallergenic laundry detergent. A sensitive laundry detergent that is hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin typically has the following five features:
1. It is a fragrance free laundry detergent.
2. It doesn’t have any dyes in it.
3. It is free of chlorine.
4. There aren’t any optical brighteners.
5. The enzymes are (often) plant-based.
The Problem with Perfumes (And Why You Should Avoid Them)
If you have sensitive skin, then a laundry detergent without perfumes or dyes is exactly what you need. Laundry detergents with fragrances are typically made with artificial perfumes.
Though these fragrances may make your clothes smell great, these perfumes can also be harsh on sensitive skin and cause you to itch, form a rash, or develop hives.
You may be wondering, “what if I want a good scent on my clothes?” Don’t worry, your clothes or laundry detergent don’t have to be completely free of anything that smells nice. Essential oils can be a great alternative to the artificial perfumes and fragrances in some laundry detergents.
If you need a laundry detergent that is free of fragrances but still want your clothes to smell nice, then you can add a few drops of essential oil to your fragrance-free laundry detergent and reap the benefits of nice smelling clothes without the side effects that come with harsh perfumes or fragrances.
Dyes in Laundry Detergent Don't Stain But They Can Be Irritating
Dyes in laundry detergents may make your detergent more aesthetically pleasing, but they also can cause people with sensitive skin or allergies to have a bad reaction. There typically is not enough dye in laundry detergent to stain your clothes, but there is enough in it to have a negative effect on your reaction to your detergent.
Many dyes in laundry detergents can itch and irritate your skin. You do not need dyes in your detergent for your clothes to get clean, so forgo them and enjoy feeling comfortable in your shirts, pants, and other garments.
Laundry Detergents with Bleach
Laundry detergents with bleach often have chlorine as an ingredient. The negative effects of chlorine on sensitive skin is well documented, with many people being unable to get into chlorinated pools.
Though it is best to avoid laundry detergents with chlorine if you have sensitive skin, you don’t have to avoid laundry detergents with bleach altogether. You just need to find one that is chlorine-free. There are many options available.
Optical Brightening Chemicals Make Your Clothes Shine Brighter
Some laundry detergents have optical brightening chemicals added to them. These chemicals are added in order to make your clothes appear brighter and whiter after washing them.
These chemicals do not actually clean your clothes, however. They are just added in for their visual effect.
Unfortunately, many optical brightening chemicals have also been shown to affect skin and cause physical reactions, so if you have sensitive skin laundry detergents with optical brightening agents in them should be avoided.
The Pros and Cons of Plant-Based Enzymes
If you have sensitive skin or are prone to having allergic reactions to products, then it may be very important for you to have a laundry detergent that has plant-based enzymes.
Though plant-based enzymes can sometimes not be as effective at getting out tough stains, these eco-friendly enzymes are great at being delicate for your skin and allergy needs.
Choosing the Best Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
Some laundry detergents have fabric softener added to them. These laundry detergents should be avoided, especially if you have children. Research has shown that fabric softeners can decrease the effectiveness fire retardant clothing.
In 1953, when the Flammable Fabrics Act was passed, it became required for children’s pajamas to be made from flame-resistant fabric. After the dangers of certain flame-resistant chemicals became well-known, it became a law in 1996 that sleepwear for children didn’t have to be made from flame-resistant chemicals. It just had to be tight-fitting.
Still, many clothes and pajamas made for children are fire-resistant, and using laundry detergents with fabric softeners can potentially be dangerous. Choose one from our list of best laundry detergent for sensitive skin to insure you are getting a safe and tested product.