Cleaning Hacks

9 Ultra-Clean Laundry Detergents for People With Sensitive Skin

Erin Magner

Erin MagnerApril 30, 2019

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It’s kind of ironic that cleaning products are typically some of the least “clean” items in our homes. Laundry detergents in particular are heinous offenders, according to experts. They’re often filled with chemicals that aren’t great for humans or the environment.

So what, exactly, constitutes better-for-you laundry detergents? Here’s the thing: When it comes to cleaning products, finding the safest option isn’t always as simple as just reading labels. As Well+Good Council member and non-toxic living expert Sophia Gushée points out, brands aren’t required to list all of their ingredients, so it’s hard to know for sure what’s really inside the bottle.

In general, many laundry detergents contain certain types of stabilizers, colors, preservatives, surfactants, solvents, and brightening agents linked to negative health effects. (Think respiratory issues, hormone disruption, skin allergies, and even cancer.) Other common laundry detergent ingredients, like phosphates, can create harmful algal blooms that disrupt the ocean ecosystem.

If there’s one thing Gushée always avoids, it’s “fragrance”—a vague, unregulated term that can actually hide many different chemicals—aromatic and not—under its umbrella. “Fragrance can contain an unknown number of potentially threatening ingredients, some of which could contribute to cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies, and skin irritation,” says Gushée, author of A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures.

If this freaks you out, there are plenty of brands now making fragrance-free suds—or choosing to disclose exactly what’s in their fragrances—which makes that part of the equation, at least, a little easier to navigate. Bonus: They’re also great laundry detergents for sensitive skin types, which can be especially triggered by scents.

Below are a few clean laundry detergents that score high marks for people and the planet, according to the guidelines established by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Safer Choice standards. They also rate highly for effectiveness, as far as online reviews go. Because let’s be honest, opening the washer to find not-so-clean clothes is stressful—and stress isn’t exactly good for you either.

These are the best laundry detergents for sensitive skin

If you’re opting out of scented laundry detergent, these 5 baking soda hacks will keep your clothes smelling super fresh. Or if you want to go even more minimal, this DIY laundry detergent only includes four ingredients

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