When many people experience a breakout, they start hunting for a culprit—is it their skincare products? Do they absentmindedly touch their face? Is their phone screen harboring bacteria? Despite focusing on such specific and nuanced factors, people often overlook one of the biggest offenders of face and body breakouts: laundry detergent.
If your skin is prone to sensitivity, you may want to avoid harsh or heavily fragranced detergents. Lingering residue can contribute to breakouts on your back, shoulders, or chest where clothing fabric tends to make more contact with your skin. If you’re using the same detergent on your sheets and towels, it can provoke facial breakouts, too.
Fabric softener is also a common irritant. It works by coating the fibers of your laundry with a thin, waxy film that lubricates the fabric to reduce static cling and provide a softer feel. This lingering waxy coating can be problematic for congestion-prone skin, especially when used on pillowcases or washcloths that frequently come into contact with your face.
So what are your alternatives? I firmly believe in a gentle, unscented, dye-free detergent. Brands like Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and Method offer some great options. That said, I love having fragrance in my life and want the things around me to smell nice. If you prefer nicely scented sheets and fresh-smelling towels, consider a linen spray. For clothing, remember that whatever personal fragrance you choose to wear during the day will linger on your clothes, so a separate laundry fragrance isn’t necessary.
If you absolutely can’t bear to part with your usual laundry detergent or fabric softener, try an extra-long rinse cycle or double-rinsing your laundry to help quell any stubborn residue. Anything you can do to diminish waxy deposits or detergent residue will help your skin.
If you haven’t used a gentle, fragrance-free detergent before, you should at least give it a try! Your skin will thank you for it.