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Common household skin irritants and how to avoid them

Learn how to identify common irritants in cleaning products, and how to lessen the chance of developing irritant contact dermatitis.


By Cleanipedia Team

different coloured rubber gloves for common household irritants and how to avoid them

Key steps:

Help prevent irritant contact dermatitis or allergic reactions to cleaning products by following these simple steps:

  • Always read the list of ingredients on cleaning products, and identify any substances that are common skin irritants.
Learn how to identify common irritants in cleaning products, and how to lessen the chance of developing irritant contact dermatitis. Using products like Neutral 0% Fabric Conditioner with low levels of these ingredients can help limit a negative reaction to cleaning products. Always remember to read the directions on the label and test in a small area first when using new products.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

  • Protect any parts of your skin that might come into contact with these types of cleaning products and take any safety precautions that are advised on the label.
  • Where possible, opt for fragrance-free products like Neutral 0% Dishwashing Liquid.
  • Even over-exposure to water can cause problems for your skin, so don’t submerge your hands for too long when washing them after cleaning. Use a mild cleanser and dry them thoroughly before applying moisturiser.

What causes irritant contact dermatitis?

If you’ve ever experienced a burning, stinging or itching sensation after cleaning, chances are you’ve come into contact with a substance that causes irritant contact dermatitis – also called eczema. Fragrances can sometimes irritate sensitive skin, and these ingredients can be found in many household cleaning products like soaps, detergents, and disinfectants.

Who is affected?

Those with atopic eczema are most at risk, but anyone could develop a rash from cleaning products. Even weak irritants can cause problems after frequent use, so the more you clean the more you’re at risk. However, learning how to spot them on your products’ ingredients lists will help you know when to pull on a pair of gloves, or better yet, avoid them altogether.

Some common skin irritants to look out for

These following ingredients can cause skin irritation. Keep an eye out for these substances, and try to avoid products that contain them.

  • Fragrances – these can cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. Look for words such as “parfum” on ingredients lists as they indicated a fragrance has been added. Essential oils are another to look out for as they can have a strong scent.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – this surfactant is often used as a cleaning agent in sprays and laundry and dishwasher detergents to remove dirt.

How to avoid skin irritation

If you’re concerned about a reaction to cleaning products, then perhaps it’s time to switch to products that are specially formulated for sensitive skin, with no fragrance or colourants. Neutral Liquid Detergent contains no perfume but still does the job effectively.

If you’ve suffered from skin irritation or have sensitive skin, then check the ingredient labels on your cleaning products for anything that might be an irritant. Switching to brands that don’t use common skin irritants – such as Neutral 0% – could make a difference.

Originally published