Laundry and Eczema
Eczema sufferers have some of the most sensitive skin in the world. Anything that comes in contact with our skin might easily irritate and trigger an eczema flare, so it’s important to take precautions to eliminate unnecessary irritants. Our bodies are in constant contact with clothing and our laundry methods can impact the way that our skin reacts when it’s in contact with the fabrics.
1. Choose detergents carefully.
It’s important to use laundry soaps that are free of chemicals, toxins, and allergens like surfactants, enzymes, bleach, fragrances, preservatives, metals, sulfates and dyes. When it comes to soap choose one that is hypoallergenic. Try liquid products which tend to leave less residue than powdered soaps. We always recommend All Free and Clear detergent because it’s recommended by the National Eczema Association. The Full Circle Free and Clear is a particular favorite.
Everyone’s skin reacts differently to different products so the laundry soap that works for one eczema sufferer might not work for the next. If you experience any kind of allergic reaction such as redness, stinging, burning, itching, rashes, or hives, your laundry detergent might be at fault.
2. Measure your soap.
Many people accidentally use more soap than is called for because they don’t read the detergent labels properly. When you use more soap than required, a build up of excess soap clings to the clothing. Stick to the guidelines on the detergent label and be careful not to over-soap your wash. Always do a second rinse in the washer.
3. Ditch the fabric softener.
While “soft fabric” might seem like a good idea, fabric softeners contain surfactants are sure to irritate sensitive skin. They also often contain fragrances, preservatives, and dyes.
4. Forget dryer sheets.
Like the fabric softener, dryer sheets are known to irritate and trigger eczema and are best to be avoided.
5. Go starch-less.
Starching clothing by spraying starch can stiffen clothing. When the clothes become stiff, it causes friction which can exacerbate eczema symptoms.
6. Reduce load size.
When you run large loads of laundry, it’s easy to overcrowd the machine. Smaller loads of laundry are more likely to properly dissolve laundry soap. You might also consider using your washing machine’s “extra rinse” setting if it has one to make sure that all soap residues have been rinsed clear away.
7. Wear gloves.
If you do any hand washing, be sure to wear non-latex, waterproof disposable gloves. As above, be careful to measure the soap precisely and to rinse clothing thoroughly which can be challenging when washing by hand.
When folding and handling large amounts of dry laundry, cotton gloves will protect your hands from contact with the fabrics which can be very drying to sensitive hands.
Always moisturize your hands immediately after removing the gloves.
8. Always wash new clothing before wearing.
New clothing is made of fabric with finishes and dies that are certain to irritate sensitive skin. It’s important to wash all clothing and fabrics before wearing them, to avoid contact with those finishes which can cause skin irritation. The same goes for bedding, and towels, run them through the washing machine before using them for the first time.
9. Infant Laundry & Laundry Room Safety
In addition to new clothing and bedding, wash plush toys before being used for the first time. Also consider washing your baby’s clothes, bedding, and towels separately from that of the rest of the household to avoid any cross contamination.
Discard empty soap containers and never reuse detergent buckets or bottles for other uses when you have an infant with eczema in the house.
Be sure to clean up any soap spills immediately and wash your hands and any items you use to pour or measure products directly following use.
Eczema sufferers have some of the most sensitive skin in the world. Anything that comes in contact with our skin might easily irritate and trigger an eczema flare, so it’s important to take precautions to eliminate unnecessary irritants. Our bodies are in constant contact with clothing and our laundry methods can impact the way that our skin reacts when it’s in contact with the fabrics, so taking precautions is essential.