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How to deal with a washing powder allergy

Think you have a washing powder allergy? Only certain ingredients will be to blame – find out more and get tips on using hypoallergenic detergents.

Updated Reading Time: 7 minutesBy Cleanipedia Team

Laundry basket next to washing machine and shelf with detergent
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A fabric conditioner or washing powder allergy can be a common problem nowadays. Here we'll discuss washing powder allergy symptoms, as well as how you can avoid and combat a sudden allergy to washing powder. Read on to discover our guide to dealing with any irritation that could have been caused by your laundry care routine.

Sensitive skin is more prone to irritation so opt for gentle, unscented laundry products. This will help you avoid an unwanted reaction to washing powder or fabric conditioner residue left on your clothes after washing.
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RequiredPersil Non Bio Laundry Washing Liquid Detergent
Persil Non Bio Bottle
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Washing powder allergy breathing problems and other symptoms to look out for

Did you know, you can’t actually have a detergent, fabric conditioner or washing powder allergy? Instead, it's certain ingredients they contain that cause unwanted irritation. Here we'll walk you through some of the tell-tale washing powder allergy symptoms you should keep an eye out for:

  1. A red, itchy rash.

    This is the most obvious symptom which usually occurs almost immediately after contact with a freshly washed item. You may find this rash disappears fairly quickly once the irritant is removed or you stop wearing the affected piece of clothing.

  2. Contact dermatitis.

    This also appears as a red, itchy rash, but usually develops 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the irritant. Sometimes the immune system takes a while to identify allergens so you may have been exposed to a substance multiple times before you have a reaction. Contrary to this, you could also have a reaction after just one exposure to the irritant.

  3. Sniffly nose, sneezing, and/or itchy eyes.

    This is particularly common if the cause of your allergic reaction to washing powder is actually the fragrances used in the product.

Top tip: Allergy relief can be obtained by speaking to your doctor or pharmacist, but the most obvious piece of advice is to avoid using the source of the irritant as quickly as possible. Read below for our tips and tricks to avoid washing powder allergy breathing problems and other symptoms.

Top tips for avoiding washing powder allergy symptoms

If you're dealing with an allergic reaction to washing powder, there are a few simple adjustments you can make to your laundry routine which could make all the difference.

  1. Use the correct dosage.

    Most modern laundry detergents are made up of concentrated formulas, so you don’t need to use a lot. Take care to always follow the dosing instructions on the product’s label as excess laundry detergent could leave residue on your clothes - a common cause of skin irritation.

  2. Consider adding in an extra rinse cycle.

    Modern washing machines usually have the option to add an extra rinse cycle to your wash. Utilising this as part of your regular laundry routine will ensure as much laundry detergent as possible is removed from clothing reducing the risk of skin irritation. For more tips and tricks, we have a comprehensive guide to doing your laundry like a pro right here.

  3. Always use a suitable detergent.

    We recommend sticking to a non-bio laundry liquid or powder that’s free from enzymes. Enzymes are also a known allergen, so could lead to irritation. A great choice would be to opt for a product like Persil Non-Bio Liquid or Persil Ultimate Non-Bio Liquid, both formulas have been dermatologically tested so you can be assured they're gentle next to sensitive skin.

  4. If all else fails, attempt using hypoallergenic laundry detergents.

    If you, or a family member, are continuing to experience a reaction to washing powder, liquid, or fabric conditioner, it may be time to opt for a hypoallergenic variant. These aim to keep fibres smooth, are usually dermatologically tested, and in general, and do not contain irritants like fragrance or dyes that could cause skin irritation.

    When it comes to allergic reactions and laundry detergents, everyone’s different. It’s all about experimentation: if one hypoallergenic detergent doesn’t work for you, then try another. 

The ultimate goal is to eliminate the irritant that’s causing your skin to react and whether we like it or not, this can involve some trial and error. If you are allergic to washing powder and still have no luck after trying multiple alternative laundry detergents, it’s best to consult your doctor. They can identify if something else is triggering your allergic reaction.

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With our guide, you should now be able to not only identify washing powder allergy sneezing, rashes and more but also take steps to eliminate any unwanted washing powder allergy symptoms. Once you find the right detergent for you and your family’s skin, stick to this, and wash all clothes and fabrics in your home with it.

For more information on combating common allergies check out our articles on allergies to cleaning products to dust mites and even perfume.

Frequently asked questions on having a fabric conditioner or washing powder allergy

I think I have had an allergic reaction to fabric softener, what does it look like?

If you’re wondering, “am I allergic to fabric softener?” there are a few signs to look out for. In general, the main symptom is a rash, also known as contact dermatitis, but sneezing, coughing, and breathing problems are also symptoms. It is generally best to speak to a medical professional if you think you are suffering an allergic reaction.

What is causing my washing powder allergy symptoms?

It is actually only a specific ingredient, or combination of ingredients, which causes the allergic reaction. These ingredients include enzymes, perfumes and dyes and they can lead to symptoms such as an itchy rash, sniffly nose, sneezing, and/or itchy eyes.

What are hypoallergenic detergents?

Hypoallergenic detergents are specially designed to reduce the likelihood of skin reactions. Most do not contain ingredients that are known and likely to cause irritation, such as fragrances and dyes. By switching to these products you can help to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

Originally published