When you have sensitive skin, the simple act of washing your clothes can be a challenge. "Dyes and fragrances in detergent and laundry soaps contain chemical substances that clean, deodorize, and disinfect, and in an overly sensitive person, even the slightest can trigger an allergic reaction," says New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules ($13; ). "Your skin will turn red, start to peel, and be dry and itchy, or you can get hives," she says.
The solution is simple: dye-free, perfume-free laundry detergents, which often have the phrase "free and clear" on the label. "These are great for everyone, but especially for those who have skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or extremely dry skin," says New York City-based dermatologist Doris Day, MD. Try one of the following fragrance-free, dye-free detergents, including a few picks from our experts.
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All Free Clear
To buy: $23 for 104 packs; or $9 for 46.5 ounces/31 loads;
Both Dr. Jaliman and Dr. Day named All Free Clear laundry detergent as their top pick. All has conducted on its Free Clear products to ensure the hypoallergenic formula will clean clothes thoroughly without irritating sensitive skin. Available in liquid or pac form.
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Tide Free & Gentle Laundry Detergent
To buy: $11 for 35;
If you want the power of Tide in a version more suitable for sensitive skin, Dr. Day recommends you try this powerhouse. The pods can be used in any type of washer, and contain no dyes or perfumes. Pods are perfect for anybody who does wash at a Laundromat—carry just as many as you need, rather than the entire heavy bottle of liquid detergent. Prefer the standard liquid detergent? Tide has one of those in its Free & Gentle line, too.
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Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder
To buy: $16 for 2.64 pounds/100 loads;
Dr. Jaliman recommends Charlie's Soap for those who prefer powdered detergents. It rinses clean, leaves no reside behind (on your clothes or in your washer), and is good for the environment to boot.
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Seventh Generation Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent Free and Clear
To buy: $20 for 150 ounces;
An EPA Safer Choice certified product, this formula is made of 96% plant-based ingredients, yet can still eliminate tough stains like tomato sauce and strawberry juice. The concentrated formula means you use less detergent per load, making it more environmentally (and wallet) friendly.
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Method 8X Laundry Detergent Free and Clear
To buy: $10 for 20 ounces;
With only four pumps, you can clean a medium-size load of laundry with a formula that is a composed of 95% plant-based ingredients.
This eco-friendly cleaner conquers dirt by using just 1 to 2 ounces of detergent per load. Besides being great for sensitive skin, it also has a built in soy softener. That means clothes come out feeling soft without the use of an added fabric softener in the dryer.
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Arm & Hammer Free of Perfumes and Dyes
To buy: $10 for 50 ounces/32 loads;
Ever see your grandma toss a cup of baking soda into the wash? She's onto something. This old-fashioned trick makes whites whiter and colors brighter. No need for the extra step with this Arm & Hammer formula; the detergent harnesses the power of baking soda along with a low-sudsing formula to get your clothes squeaky clean without irritation.
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Nellie's All-Natural Laundry Soap
To buy: $20 for 3.3 pounds/100 loads;
Just a tablespoon of this powdered formula will wipe away any dirt and grime and leave your clothes smelling fresh. You can also use this product to mix up a DIY spot remover that won't leave behind any irritating residue.
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up & up Free and Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent
To buy: $9 for 100 ounces/64 loads;
Bargain-hunters, rejoice: Target’s house-brand laundry detergent brand is a great option for those with sensitive skin who don’t want to spend a fortune but still want to get the job done.
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Biokleen Free & Clear Laundry Liquid
To buy: $18 for 64 ounces/128 loads;
With the power of plant-based detergents from grapefruit seeds, this formula will impress with its concentrated formula that leaves no residue.
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Ultra Purex Hypoallergenic Free and Clear Laundry Detergent
To buy: $11 for 50 ounces;
At just 13 cents per ounce, this is one of the best values on our list—and it still boasts fragrance-free, dye-free stain-fighting power.
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Planet 2x HE Ultra Laundry Liquid Detergent
To buy: $16 for 50 ounces/32 loads; While this detergent is tough on stains, it's gentle on your skin—and the environment. It's biodegradable and never tested on animals, and the Environmental Working Group gave it an A grade.