Skin irritation can be a response to stress factors caused by clothing and laundry detergent1-5

Physical, chemical, and immunologic stress factors caused by clothing and laundry detergent can elicit an inflammatory response in sensitive skin1-5

Read a paper that examines the impact of laundry on sensitive skin

dive into data

Immunologic stress factors that can contribute to skin sensitization include:
pollen bush

Airborne allergens that become trapped in fabric fibers.3,4,6
These include top seasonal and everyday allergens, such as:

  • Cat and dog dander
  • Dust mite matter
  • Ragweed pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Tree pollen
  • Formaldehyde released by permanent-press clothing7
  • Dyes and fragrances8

Chemical stresses from laundry products used on clothing can cause damage to the stratum corneum (SC) and disrupt skin barrier function, worsening the skin’s condition9

Laundry products are complex chemical formulations9-11

chemical stress graph blue detergent bar

*Mildest Amongst Leading Sensitive Skin laundry detergent brands. Milder using a combination of 3 tests: zein, cytokine, and corneosurfametry. Patch test results were the same across all sensitive skin detergents tested.​

  1. Allergy to mold - animal dander - dust. MedlinePlus website. Accessed August 23, 2012.
  2. Housecleaning tips to ease allergies. WebMD website. Accessed April 25, 2014.
  3. Kiriyama T, Sugiura H, Uehara M. Residual washing detergent in cotton clothes: a factor of winter deterioration of dry skin in atopic dermatitis. J Dermatol. 2003;30(10):708-712.
  4. Fujimura T, Takagi Y, Sugano I, et al. Real-life use of underwear treated with fabric softeners improves skin dryness by decreasing the friction of fabrics against the skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2011;33(6):566-571.
  5. Farooq A, Schramm CJ Jr. Fabric softening. In: Zoller U, ed. Handbook of Detergents. Part E: Applications. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2009:181-200.
  6. Isoda K, Takagi Y, Kitahara T, et al. Treatment of cloth with a fabric softener ameliorates skin dryness. J Dermatol. 2011;38(7):685-692.
  7. Data on file, The Sun Products Corporation.