Get A Gentle, Fragrance-Free Clean: The 8 Best Laundry Detergents For Sensitive Skin
Ever thrown a favorite sweater in the laundry only to find it itchy and uncomfortable post-wash? It's not the lack of fabric softener; rather, traditional detergents typically use harsh surfactants in order to remove all the grime from our clothes. And while those heavy-duty formulas can lift grease stains galore, a lot of those ingredients (namely, sulfates, preservatives, and fragrance) can cause atopic dermatitis, especially for those with an already compromised skin barrier.
That's why board-certified dermatologist Nava Greenfield, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Brooklyn, says, "It's best to use laundry detergents that are made especially for sensitive skin and are fragrance-free." Think about it: If you have sensitive skin, you probably avoid harsh, chemical-laden cleansers for your face and body, no?
Good news: There are tons of options out there specifically for those with super sensitive skin (or those simply looking for minimal, skin-supporting ingredients). Start with these eight: gentle, fragrance-free, and they don't skimp on efficacy—so that favorite sweater remains clean and cozy.
True Laundry 101 Load Clear Laundry Detergent
This four-time concentrated laundry detergent puts in the capital-W work without the use of perfumes or dyes. (Sweat, stains, and sports odors are gone faster than you can say fragrance-free). Needless to say, True truly gets the job done.
101 Load Clear Laundry Detergent, True Laundry ($16.99)
Dinobi Laundry Detergent
This plant-based detergent is made with super-simple ingredients: just water, plant-based surfactants, vegetable-derived fatty alcohol, and lavender essential oil. It leaves a heavenly scent on your clothes while remaining extra gentle on your skin (a win-win, we'd say). Plus, it comes in glassware packaging, so you can recycle or upcycle the product when you're running low.
Laundry Detergent, Dinobi ($17.99)
The Green Laundress Laundry Soap
You'll want to have this powder detergent on your radar: It's made with Castile soap, a super-gentle solution made from plant-based oils that we're big fans of here at mbg. In addition to the high-quality ingredients, this powder gives you super-concentrated results; it's not diluted with water like liquid detergents, so you can get off grime with half the amount of product.
Laundry Soap, The Green Laundress ($17)
The Simply Co. Unscented Laundry Detergent
When it comes to sensitive skin, minimal ingredients are key. And this unscented powder detergent just has three: Baking soda, washing soda, and organic Castile soap. The brand was created by Lauren Singer, a leader of the zero-waste movement, so you know this detergent trumps on the sustainable front. The powder itself is 100% biodegradable; the packaging, recyclable when you're all through.
Unscented Laundry Detergent, The Simply Co. ($24)
Dropps Baby Sensitive Skin & Baby Detergent Pods
A sensitive-skin trick: When searching for the most gentle products possible, opt for the baby-safe options. These Dropps pods are 100% dye-free, scent-free, and enzyme-free (great for washing delicates), and the formula itself is hypoallergenic.
Baby-Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent Pods, Dropps ($26)
Molly's Suds Unscented Laundry Powder
Another powder option to add to the mix, Molly's Suds unscented detergent is powerful, yet oh-so gentle. Despite the brand's name, you won't find any soapy suds in your laundry with this one: The powder includes a low-sudsing formula, which can yield a safer, more natural clean (as with sulfate-free shampoos, just because a detergent doesn't foam up doesn't mean it's not working).
Unscented Laundry Powder, Molly's Suds ($23)
Arm & Hammer Sensitive-Skin Perfume- and Dye-Free Liquid Laundry Detergent
Baking soda is a natural deodorizer (it's a common active in many aluminum-free deodorants), but it's also great for keeping your whites a brilliant white. That's why baking soda is the workhorse in this low-sudsing Arm & Hammer formula, coupled with biodegradable surfactants to yield a deep, effective clean.
Sensitive-Skin Perfume- and Dye-Free Liquid Laundry Detergent, Arm & Hammer ($12.58)
Charlie's Soap Natural Laundry Powder
Charlie's uses a combination of washing soda and plant-based surfactants to effectively remove gunk on all your clothes—be it delicate separates or greasy dungarees. A bonus: This green laundry powder can clean the inside of your washing machine, too (as traditional detergents may leave some residue behind). Just take a tablespoon of the powder and wash a load of rags before moving on to your clothes.
Natural Laundry Powder, Charlie's Soap ($19)
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.