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The Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin

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Written by Jenna Cartusciello
Washing machine, fabric softener

On the hunt for the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin? People with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis will all benefit from mild, hypoallergenic detergents, but so will people with “regular” skin. Traditional detergents can lead to allergic reactions and skin sensitivities, so avoiding dyes, certain fragrances and specific ingredients can help you prevent irritation before it develops. Best of all, they tend to be better for the environment.

So, how do you know whether a laundry detergent will negatively affect your sensitive skin? It’s impossible to know for certain unless you try it, but there are several key features of a good detergent that will prevent irritation. To help you on your journey, we dove into the world of laundry detergents for sensitive skin. We crafted a comprehensive list of soaps that are gentle yet effective, and we based our recommendations on reviews, product testing, ingredient lists and dermatologist recommendations. Learn more about our process below.


The Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin

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Finding the Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin

How can the right laundry detergent for sensitive skin benefit you? If you have a skin condition or a sensitivity, the soap will be a neutral factor in your daily routine — it won’t exacerbate inflammation or irritation. It will also be less likely to dry out your skin as compared to traditional soaps. This gives your skin barrier a chance to repair itself so it won’t become more damaged and prone to issues.

While our recommendations are less likely than traditional detergents to cause irritation, they can still create issues depending on your allergies and sensitivity levels. For this reason, we encourage you to perform a patch test with your chosen detergent before trying it in the washing machine. To do so, apply a small amount of the soap to your inner wrist and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Inspect your skin for signs of irritation and wash it off thoroughly. If you noticed redness, itching or hives, don’t use the detergent.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin


Knowing which ingredients are most likely to cause irritation can help you avoid a problem before it starts. Synthetic fragrance, parfum, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, phosphates, sodium borate, optical brighteners and dyes can all contribute to redness, itching and hives.


Generally, fragrance is one of the most common causes of skin sensitivities and allergies. If you’re struggling with irritation, we recommend first switching to a fragrance-free detergent to see if that solves the problem. Fragrance is often listed as “fragrance” or “parfum” on the bottle.


Colorants in detergent can also cause irritation, so a dye-free detergent is a good bet if you’re trying to reduce your symptoms. To avoid this ingredient, look for detergents that are labeled “dye free.”


Laundry detergent comes in four main forms: liquid, sheets, powder and pods. Liquid and pods are the most common, but dried and powder soaps tend to be more environmentally friendly. (We also find that sheets of dried detergent are a lot less messy!)


Unfortunately, the cost of laundry detergents for sensitive skin adds up month after month. We kept this in mind when selecting the best products, and all our recommendations cost between $8 and $30 per bottle or box. Most bottles and boxes on the market cost between $10 and $20, though many cost upwards of $50.

What Are the Different Types of Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin?


Liquid laundry detergent is the most common form of detergent on the market. Generally, it’s in a concentrated form, so you need to carefully measure out a portion for your load to make sure you aren’t adding too much soap to your washing machine. While liquid detergent is the most familiar, it isn’t environmentally friendly. The


Detergent sheets, not to be confused with dryer sheets, are a dried form of laundry detergent. One sheet usually equals one load, and you place it inside the washing machine rather than inside the detergent slot. From our experience, detergent sheets are effective at cleaning laundry, easy to use and non messy. They’re also environmentally friendly.


Detergent powder is dried soap that you can place directly in the washing machine or in the detergent slot depending on your machine. Generally, it’s more environmentally friendly than liquid detergent and works well on heavily soiled clothes.


Detergent pods are the most convenient form of laundry detergent. They’re placed directly into the machine, and their exterior dissolves when it gets wet. Pods are not the most environmentally friendly, but they’re useful in a pinch.


Best Liquid: Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent, Unscented


  • Simple, effective formula
  • Available at nearly all stores
  • Hypoallergenic


  • Hard to read measurements on inside of lid
  • Container gets messy
  • Pricey

We chose the Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Detergent as the best liquid soap for sensitive skin because it’s simple, effective and available at nearly all grocery stores and supermarkets. It doesn’t contain the dyes or fragrances of traditional Tide and the formula is hypoallergenic.

However, we still find it a little difficult to read the measurements on the inside of the lid, and the container can get messy after frequent use. It’s also on the pricier end of most grocery store detergents.


Best Powder: EnviroKlenz Unscented Powder Laundry Detergent


  • Hypoallergenic
  • Non-toxic ingredients
  • Environmentally friendly


  • Not great at removing detergent odors
  • Expensive
  • Not available at many stores

Most people don’t use powdered laundry detergent anymore, but it can be a great alternative to liquid if you have sensitive skin. That’s because powdered soaps don’t need the same preservatives as liquid ones, so they may be less likely to irritate your skin. The EnviroKlenz Unscented Powder Detergent is a great pick because it’s hypoallergenic, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

The downsides: We noticed that it wasn’t the best at removing odors, particularly from previous laundry detergents. This powder is also expensive and not available at many brick-and-mortar stores.


Best Scented Powder: Molly’s Suds Super Powder Laundry Detergent, Ocean Mist


  • Doesn’t contain common irritants
  • Naturally derived scents
  • Effectively removes odors


  • Scent may still cause skin sensitivity
  • Not available at many stores
  • Scent may be off-putting

We have to warn you: Molly’s Suds will come up again and again in our recommendations because their soaps effectively wash clothes without causing skin irritation! We love the Super Powder Laundry Detergent as it performs well but doesn’t contain common irritants such as dyes, formaldehyde, phosphates or optical brighteners. It does include naturally-derived scents, but we’ve found that these didn’t cause redness or itching.

Of course, some buyers may still experience sensitivities to any scents. (If this is your case, we recommend the unscented version of this product.) This detergent also isn’t available at many stores, and a few customers find the ocean mist scent off-putting.


Best Sheets: ECOS Vegan Laundry Detergent Sheets, Free & Clear


  • No toxic ingredients
  • Target tough stains
  • Leave a neutral, “no smell” scent


  • May not be as effective as liquid detergent
  • Can stick to walls of washer if you’re not careful
  • Shipping difficulties when buying from Amazon

Laundry sheets have quickly become our favorite form of detergent because they’re lightweight, non-messy and easy to pack into a travel bag. We love the ECOS Vegan Laundry Sheets in particular because they target tough stains and eliminate odors without toxic ingredients.

However, a few customers argue that these sheets aren’t as effective as liquid detergent. (Note that it’s important to bury the sheets in the clothing so they don’t stick to the walls of the washer.) Others have experienced shipping difficulties when purchasing from Amazon.


Best Runner-Up Sheets: CLEARALIF Laundry Detergent Sheets


  • Affordable
  • 11 scents
  • Eco friendly packaging


  • Some scents may still cause irritation
  • Scent fades quickly from clothes
  • Soap doesn’t suds up

Looking for a more affordable alternative to the ECOS laundry sheets? Consider CLEARALIF. This brand charges just seven cents per load (ECOS charges 19 cents per load) and offers 11 different scents. We like that the packaging is eco friendly and that the formula for each scent is hypoallergenic.

Still, certain scents may trigger irritation in some buyers. Some customers also disliked that the scent from the sheets fades quickly and that the soap doesn’t make a lot of suds (though this doesn’t necessarily mean the clothes aren’t getting clean).


Best Pods: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Packs


  • Enzyme-rich soap
  • No fragrance, dyes or artificial brighteners
  • Easy to use


  • Pods don’t always dissolve
  • Don’t perform as well as liquid pods
  • Pricey

Looking for a gentle, non-toxic detergent pod? Try the Seventh Generation Free & Clear Packs. Each one contains enzyme-rich soap to target tough smells and stains without fragrance, dyes or artificial brighteners.

While the pods dissolve quickly most of the time, they occasionally don’t break down depending on how much water touches them during the wash cycle. A few buyers note that they didn’t perform as well as liquid detergent pods.


Best Runner-Up Pods: Tide Pods Free & Gentle Liquid


  • Same formula as liquid detergent
  • Easy to use, less messy
  • Hypoallergenic


  • Pricier than liquid detergent form
  • Don’t always dissolve during wash
  • May leave residue in machine

If you need a simple alternative to the classic Tide Pod, look no further than the Free & Gentle Tide Pods. They contain the same formula as the Free & Gentle Liquid Detergent, though they are arguably easier to use and less messy. We like that these pods are dermatologist tested and hypoallergenic.

However, a few customers note that they need three pods per load to effectively wash their clothes. Others note that they don’t always dissolve during the wash and leave residue in the machine.


Best Dispensing System: Swash Laundry Detergent, Unscented


  • Easy-to-use dispensing system
  • Manageable bottle size
  • No perfumes or dyes


  • Leaking issues when buying online
  • Not available at most grocery stores
  • Expensive

Traditional laundry detergents come in giant bottles that are difficult to maneuver and get messy after a few tries. We like that Swash Laundry Detergent comes in a manageable bottle, and the formula is highly concentrated to reduce waste. The product contains simple ingredients and no perfumes or dyes, making it a good pick for sensitive skin.

The downsides? A few customers have experienced leaking issues when they order online. This product is also expensive and not available at most grocery stores.


Best Value: Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear, 140 Loads


  • Baking soda helps deeply clean and remove odors
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Affordable


  • Bottle can be unwieldy
  • Cap gets messy
  • Leaking issues when buying online

Hoping to get more bang for your buck? Try the Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear Detergent. It contains baking soda to help you achieve a deep clean, and the formula is dermatologist tested and hypoallergenic.

However, the extra large bottle can be unwieldy and messy, and some customers have experienced leaking issues when buying online (we recommend buying in a store to avoid this).


Best for Allergies: All Free Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent


  • Dermatologist, allergist and pediatrician approved
  • No dyes or perfumes
  • Hypoallergenic


  • Bottle is unwieldy
  • Cap gets messy
  • Prone to leaking during shipping

If most soaps make you or your children itchy, the All Free Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent is the one we’d recommend. It contains zero dyes or perfumes (including masking fragrance) and the formula is hypoallergenic. Dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians all highly recommend this product for sensitive skin.

However, the large bottle can be difficult to manage and the cap often gets messy. As with other large liquid laundry detergents, this bottle is prone to leaking when buying online (though sellers try their best to reduce leaks).


Best for Eczema: Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Sheets, Unscented


  • No common irritants
  • Effectively reduces stains
  • Sheets are perforated


  • Expensive
  • No more effective than regular detergent
  • Not available in most stores

If you struggle with eczema, detergent powder or sheets could help ease your symptoms because they need fewer preservatives to extend their shelf life. The Molly’s Suds Detergent Sheets in particular are a great option for eczema as they contain no dioxane, optical brighteners, ethoxylates or dyes. We also like that the sheets are perforated so you can rip off a smaller piece for smaller loads.

However, these detergent sheets are more expensive per load (20 cents each) than many liquid detergents. They don’t seem to be more or less effective than liquid soap, either, and they aren’t available in many brick-and-mortar stores.


Best for Babies: Molly’s Suds Baby Laundry Detergent Powder


  • 8 scents, including unscented
  • Removes formula, poop and spit-up stains
  • Free of common irritants


  • Expensive
  • No more effective than regular detergent
  • Not sold in most stores

Need a gentle detergent for sensitive baby skin? Try Molly’s Suds Baby Laundry Detergent Power. It’s designed to remove formula, poop and spit-up stains and it comes in eight gentle scents, including unscented. As with all Molly’s Suds products, this powder contains no common irritants.

The downsides: This detergent powder is expensive at 20 cents per load, and doesn’t seem to be more or less effective than traditional liquid soap. Most in-person stores don’t carry Molly’s Suds.


Best for Removing Stains: Persil Pro Clean Free & Sensitive


  • Enzymes and deep cleaners target stains
  • Testing shows it removes stains better than similar products
  • Works with high efficiency waters and in cold water


  • Contains propylene glycol and sodium borate
  • Online delivery takes time
  • Cap design needs improvement

Unfortunately, detergents with blue dye are often the best at removing stains because they contain fabric brighteners. However, the Persil Pro Clean Free & Sensitive Detergent is a good alternative even though it doesn’t contain brighteners or dye. Enzymes and deep cleaners target tough stains without harming fabric.

However, this product still contains propylene glycol and sodium borate, which may cause irritation in extremely sensitive skin. Product delivery can take quite some time if ordering online, and we think the cap design could be improved.


Best for Odors: Dirty Labs Bio Enzyme Laundry Detergent


  • Phytolase targets tough odors
  • Relatively environmentally friendly
  • Uses natural scents


  • Expensive
  • Packaging isn’t 100% plastic free
  • Not available at most in-person stores

Sensitive skin detergents aren’t ideal for odors because they can’t mask existing smells. However, the Dirty Labs Bio Enzyme Laundry Detergent targets unwanted scents with phytolase, an enzyme cleaning technology. This product is also environmentally friendly and uses natural scents (no EU listed fragrance allergens).

The downsides: This is one of our most expensive recommendations at 33 cents per load. It isn’t available at most in-person stores, and the packaging isn’t 100% plastic free despite product marketing that indicates otherwise.


Best Natural Scent: Molly’s Suds Liquid Laundry Detergent, Citrus Grove


  • Subtle, refreshing scent
  • Free of common irritants
  • Works in all water temperatures


  • Scent doesn’t last very long
  • Pricey
  • Not available at most in-person stores

Hoping to find a detergent geared toward sensitive skin that still smells good? Try the Molly’s Suds Liquid Laundry Detergent in Citrus Grove. (This is our last Molly’s Suds recommendation — we promise!) The soap leaves a subtle yet refreshing scent on clothes without causing skin irritation.

What could be improved: A few customers wish the scent lasted longer. This detergent is also pricey at 22 cents per load and not available at most brick-and-mortar stores.

People Also Ask

  • Q: What kind of laundry detergent is best for sensitive skin?

    A:Stick to a dye-free, fragrance-free formula if you’re new to the world of sensitive skin or you have a skin condition. Liquid and sheet forms of detergent work well.

  • Q: What laundry detergent do dermatologists recommend?

    A:Many dermatologists recommend the Tide Free and Gentle Liquid Laundry detergent, available on Amazon.

  • Q: What is the best laundry detergent to use if you have allergies?

    A:We recommend the Persil Pro Clean Free and Sensitive Detergent for allergies.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

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By Jenna Cartusciello

Affiliate Commerce Writer Jenna loves recommending great products to her friends and family, so helping the rest of the internet on their quest to find the best stuff makes tremendous sense! Though she mainly writes in-depth buyer’s guides these days, Jenna still enjoys crafting the occasional health article. In her spare time, she loves immersing herself in creative writing. Her favorite authors (for anyone who is willing to geek out with her) include Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, and Jennifer Egan.

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