Written by Krista Bennett DeMaio
If getting to the root cause of your sensitive skin has you scratching your head (or any other part of your body), you may want to take a peek in your laundry room. It’s worth reconsidering how you wash your clothes — and what you’re washing them with. After all, your clothing touches your body all day long and whatever ingredients are in your detergent, your skin is absorbing. Perfumes and other additives, scratchy fabrics, and even washing machine residue can be rubbing you the wrong way — literally. Here are 5 simple laundry room hacks to make that will help keep your skin calm and your clothes clean.
1. Switch to a gentle detergent
If you have sensitive skin, you probably already know to be careful with your body wash and lotions, choosing fragrance-free formulas that work best with your skin type.. And the same goes for your laundry detergent. Fragrance and dyes in laundry detergents are often sneaky irritants for sensitive skin types, disrupting skin barrier and subsequently causing rashes, redness, and general itchiness. Swap out your current detergent for a hypoallergenic formula such as Arm & Hammer Sensitive Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent, which is free of dyes, perfumes, and is certified by SkinSAFE*, a certification program developed with the Mayo Clinic, which uses clinical data on ingredients to help those with sensitive skin find safe products.
*Certified by SkinSAFE to exclude 100% of their topmost considered skin allergens.
2. Clean out your washing machine
Be honest, when was the last time you did that? If it’s been a while, it’s time to give it a deep cleaning. Why? Your washing machine can become a reservoir of detergent buildup (especially so if you’ve been using a heavily fragranced formula), pet hair, and outside debris. Plus, a wet washing machine can be a hospitable environment for mold to thrive. This can all be bothersome to someone with sensitive skin. To clean your machine correctly, run a maintenance cycle on your machine using the machine’s designated “Self-Clean” cycle (if equipped) or manually per the instructions in your machine’s owner manual. It’s recommended to do a clean cycle once a week.
3. Wash your new clothes, linens, and towels before using
It’s tempting to wear that new dress right off the rack or to make your bed with those fresh, crisp white sheets. However, if you’re prone to itchy, rashy skin, you might want to give them a wash first. Here’s why: Those fabrics sit in stores, sometimes for a while, and come in contact with all sorts of things. Plus, the fabrics may contain lingering chemicals from the manufacturing process. All of the above can lead to uncomfortable skin. Wash, then wear.
4. Use a fabric softener
If wearing certain shirts or sweaters tend to be bothersome for your skin, don’t skip this important laundry step. As its name implies, a fabric softener softens and smooths down the fibers in your clothing and bedding. So, using it can help prevent skin irritation from scratchy, potentially harsh materials (like towels). Like your detergent, choose one that is free of fragrance and dyes.
5. Wash bedding in hot water
Every time you wash your sheets and pillow cases, use the hottest water setting combined with your gentle yet effective detergent. And to keep your skin healthy and happy, it’s recommended to wash sheets once a week.