Laundry Detergent Allergies: What Do These Look Like? Do You Have Any?

Shirts causing laundry detergent allergies

Do you ever get a random rash every once in a while? Are you sneezing and don’t know the cause? You might want to question if you have laundry detergent allergies. This is very possible, especially if you’ve recently changed your detergent. Many people have sensitive skin or allergies that they are unaware of.

Everyone’s skin defers in what it can handle, especially in terms of products or chemicals. If you are ever feeling unlike yourself physically, then you should think about what may be going on or what has changed in your life recently.


Feeling itchy in the skin and the eyes is a common sign of allergies. This could be for outdoor or indoor allergies, though, so it is important to get tested by your doctor if you think there is something you are allergic to in your daily life. A lot of people also get random rashes or blotches on their bodies, which some people might swear off as clothes rubbing on the skin too much. However, this could actually be a sign of an allergy.

That sweater you love that makes you itch after a few hours might be more than just an itchy fabric. Even when you think your clothing is irritating your skin, it might actually be your laundry detergent.

There are many possible reasons for laundry detergent allergies:

  1. Laundry detergent can remain on your clothes if not washed off all the way.
  2. Switching detergents can shock your skin.
  3. Store-bought clothes that are not washed before your first wear care irritate your skin with past detergents.
  4. Dye or fragrance in detergents can irritate the skin.
  5. Using too much detergent can overwhelm the skin.

Ways to spot a detergent allergy rash

When you look at irritated spots on your skin, see if they feel warm. This is a pretty clear sign that you have laundry detergent allergies. Rashes and sneezes could signal allergies to things other than laundry detergents, but a hot sensation on blotches of the skin, even blisters, is an extreme sign that you should stop using a certain type of detergent and consult your doctor.

While these allergies are not as common as those to dust or pollen, they definitely happen. Based on a study done by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD), around 1% of their large sample had a reaction to sodium lauryl sulfate, which is the most common chemical that causes laundry detergent allergies.


Other ingredients in laundry detergents that can cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), which is the technical medical term for laundry detergent allergies, are fragrances, dyes, and Cocamide DEA, or cocamide diethanolamine. The last of these three is a foaming agent made out of coconut oil. However, this ingredient does not agree with a lot of people because it takes the natural oil out of the skin. As a result, some people are allergic or show symptoms of irritation.

In the news

There was a lot of recent attention drawn to this issue of laundry detergent allergies after Tide Pods caused serious skin irritation issues like chemical burns. This makes sense because if the pods do not dissolve in the water all the way, then the detergent remains on your clothes and is more likely to irritate your skin, especially if you have an unknown allergy.

Sometimes trial and error is the best way to find and solve irritations of the skin. However, keeping an eye on your detergent use and laundry habits is helpful in case something starts to bother you. Laundry detergent allergies happen, but they are definitely not the most common allergies out there. It never hurts to know the symptoms, though, so that if they come up, you’ll know what to look for.