HGTV Message Boards
Laundry Detergent For Sensitive/Eczema Skin?

This topic can be found at:

Apr 19, 2013, 11:16 AM
Laundry Detergent For Sensitive/Eczema Skin?
My 88 year old mom has a very bad case of eczema- never had problems her whole life. She is under the care of a very good dermatologist. The eczema combined with her neuropathy has mad her skin extremely sensitive and she cannot stand clothes on her. Any sugesttions that will help to soften her clthes when washing- Vinegar, fabric softner, something else?/ She is in agony. We do have another appointment with the dermatologist nest Friday
Apr 19, 2013, 11:42 AM
The vinegar (mild acid) added to both wash and rinse cycles can help remove detergent/softener residue and help soften the clothes and water. Eliminate any softener or softener sheets from the wash/dry process. This can take several washes, as it tends to build up in each load.

Often it is the detergent and softening products that can cause the skin irritation. An HE washer and detergents can help to reduce the needed detergents, and adding extra rinses when possible can also help.

Personal experience with eczema, and eliminating softeners completely, really helped. There is an inexpensive moisturizing cream called CeraVe (available at Walgreens, Walmart, etc) that has also been a big help.
Apr 19, 2013, 11:54 AM
Thanks Conrad- she has aome prescriptin strenght crams right now and has has several shots of kennelog. If I did not know better, I would swear she slept in a poison ivy patch. It hit fast and hard
Apr 19, 2013, 12:30 PM
Curious? Is it concentrated in one area or all over? Or where clothes tend to touch and rub like the back, waist, or cuff areas? Cottons better than silky clothes? Less clothing the better probably. Shingles have been ruled out?

Sure can be miserable.
Often the steroid creams (prescription) can help initially, but much better to find what caused the tipping point of severe reaction, to avoid in the future.
Apr 19, 2013, 02:49 PM
cloryx will make your skin itch. My son had to use Ivory soap in his clothes because all other detergents caused itching. Be sure to rinse your mother's clothes at least two times to get the soap residue out.

love life
Apr 19, 2013, 04:52 PM
Allergy trigger ingredients vary widely from person to person. So there are no guarantees elimination of any particular one will work for your mom, if she's allergic to another or more.

Every major detergent brand, and many other smaller brands, carry a "free and clear" version. They have no dyes, perfumes, or other common allergy triggers. If you try any of these, use as little product as possible - which will usually be far less than the label suggestions - and run the clothes through at least two rinses. White vinegar added to the first rinse will help remove detergent residue.

Here's a page I found listing lots of different 'free and clear brands', with reviews of how they helped or didn't:

Consumer Reports has this to say about "green" claims, basically saying there is no federal standard for "green" or whether any of these is a guarantee of reaction-free results:
"Simplicity Hypoallergenic Non-Toxic 2X and Seventh Generation Natural Powdered HE are among the detergents said to have more plant-based ingredients than petroleum. Both cleaned well and claim to be hypoallergenic. The Simplicity is said to be nontoxic. But manufacturers can make those claims without any checks or federal standards. In fact, safety warnings for all the laundry detergents we tested, including those two, say that they can cause eye, skin, or respiratory irritation."

And finally, it has been stated on various sites that the homemade detergents based on borax, washing soda, and castile soap are hypoallergenic. Here's a link to one of those recipes:

As Conrad says, it's important to get rid of any residues remaining in the clothes still stored in her closets or dresser drawers. It might be helpful to wash those once or even twice in a hypoallergenic product before wearing them again to be rid of detergent and fabric softener residues that are almost surely hiding there. Don't forget to do her sheets, blankets, and towels.

Wishing your dear mom a speedy resolution. Sounds purely miserable, poor dear.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: nettiejay,
Apr 19, 2013, 05:27 PM
Spanish Revival
If she can take ORGANIC Apple Cider Vinegar, this works very well to actually clear the eczema. 2 Tablespoons every day, could also possibly help with the foot neuropathy, and if hers is due to diabetes, it helps with that too! Google Effects of ORGANIC Apple Cider Vinegar on the body, it has many advantages for good health. It also comes in tablet form.
Apr 19, 2013, 09:05 PM
Thank you ALL for taking the time to respond with all the suggestions. I just want to make her comfortable. I don't want to anyone to feel sorry for her or me as I am very lucky to still have her here. It's been just the 2 of us since I was 10. 11 years ago she had open heart surgery, which resulted in a permanent trache. She moved in with my boyfriend and me. She had her first heart attack when she was 50 , diabetes at 40, osteoporsis has cause her to break her back 3 times, she is blind 90% in both eyes. She is deaf in one ear from scaarlet fever from when she was 6. I could keep on going, but luckily she does! Know it is her will to live and not leave me 'alone' as i have no other blood relatives. Anyhow, if none of the fabulous suggestions work, my only option is to drop her off at the nearest Nudist Colony. If I do, I prmise to post lots of pictures!
Apr 19, 2013, 09:11 PM
You can make your own laundry soap.
Just google homemade laundry detergent and recipes will come up. You could use a very mild bar SOAP, not the normal bath bar soaps that are FULL of chemicals. Do some research on it on the net.
And try to find some glycerin soap...our Dollar Tree carries Pear bar soap...non-allergenic! I sometimes use it when I have a bout of sensitive skin show up. What is blooming in my area seems to make my skin more sensitive!

"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
Apr 19, 2013, 09:46 PM
Thanks Ga for the homemase soap idea. i will try everything. Conrad, it started on her legs after she had some trauma- 2 softball hematoma on each leg- Then she had a spot on her iside right arm, for abour a week i thought it was a spider bite- thats when i first took her to the dermatologist- then BOOM 7 or 8 spots on each arm and her back and now her belly.
P.S. have reread my posts- thank goodness you don't know me from college- where I majored in English!!!!
Apr 19, 2013, 10:49 PM
Spanish Revival
Regarding the nudist camp... Sun is good for eczema!
Apr 20, 2013, 01:28 AM
Idaho Resident
Sandlance, So glad to see that you still have a sense of humor even dealing with this situation ~ nudist camp! Would love to see pictures of THAT but where you you hide the camera? Big Grin

Being serious, I completely understand that you don't want pity or sympathy ~ just help ~ as I was in the same situation for the last two years of my Mom's life. I viewed it as an honor and a privilege to have that time to spend with her.

On a practical basis, I have found Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent in a 50 ounce jug to be true when they say "no perfumes or dyes." Might give it a try if you decide not to make your own ~ Walgreen's carries it and puts it on sale every once in a while which makes the price very reasonable.

Good luck and post up-dates when you can; best wishes to both you and your mother....

PS. Don't worry about grammar and/or English ~ it's a message board where people should feel free to be a bit more casual.... Cool
Apr 20, 2013, 11:29 AM
This is why it is easy to take care of my mom and not regret a minute of it- well maybe a minuite or 2

Apr 20, 2013, 03:46 PM
I'm a chemical engineer working for Big Pharma,so I'm very skeptical about any product that claims to be "natural" or "organic". But in this situation I'll make an exception. You might be able to find a mild, fragrance-free detergent at an organic food store that won't irritate her skin.
Apr 22, 2013, 02:30 AM
Idaho Resident
Originally posted by Sandlance:
This is why it is easy to take care of my mom and not regret a minute of it- well maybe a minuite or 2

(The card should have been inserted here - just scroll back up to see it)

Sandlance, What a wonderful and beautiful gift to have received from your mother - especially given her vision difficulties ~ that would be something that I would cherish forever....

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Idaho Resident,
Apr 22, 2013, 10:55 AM
Oh, yes! The notes mothers leave us are to be cherished forever!

I have a friend with psoriasis. When her parents lived by the lake, she would get on an air raft and float for awhile. Now, she spends 10 minutes maybe at the most on a tanning bed. She said it helps relieve the itching. Wink Better check with the tanning bed salon - clothing optional?! Smile

I hope you find the right "formula" for everything to give your dear mother some relief.

Give that boyfriend a big hug!!! He's got to be a gem!

Does this hat make my butt look big?
Apr 23, 2013, 02:03 PM
Thanks all for the fabulous suggestions- I am trying out each one- one at a time. I have rewashed all her clothes that she wears often in vinegar , several times- they are definitely softer. I am "throwing" her in the car to head up to look at homes in Cape Cod. Will be a 2 day trip from Maryland to keep her comfortable. If the clothes get unbearable - I’ll just strip them off her! So what that my windows aren’t tinted! For those of you interested in the show, leaving Saturday, up 95N to 684… It's a green Highlander. Should I get a provocative bumper sticker???
Apr 23, 2013, 03:00 PM
Oh...too funny!!!!

Will now be looking for some posts on YouTube!
Apr 24, 2013, 09:30 AM
Our dermatologist gave us a long printout of "lifestyle" changes -
No fingerpolish or hair dyes.
No plug in fragrances or sprays.
No scented lotion of any kind.
Less makeup, perfume and beauty products.

We were surprised to find out that laundry detergent is actually only one of the problems. Tide dye-free and Seventh Generation are my detergents of choice. Vanicream from the doctor works well.
Apr 24, 2013, 12:21 PM
LOL Be sure to honk at the truck drivers! They have a good bird's eye view. Wink

Does this hat make my butt look big?
Apr 24, 2013, 01:04 PM
Yep..and with no window tinting, you won't need any provocative bumper stickers!Big Grin
Apr 25, 2013, 01:57 PM
Sherry, not taking any chances with the truck drivers- I'm taking my dad's CB radio - 0ne Nina- this is Bare Butta and her sidkick Whaddaview- over
Apr 25, 2013, 11:28 PM
What a lovely note she wrote on that card--what a treasure---
Apr 26, 2013, 10:36 PM
Spanish Revival
That's so lovely! Because I've lost very special people in my life, children, I've learned to keepsake certain things that will bring me back to them.
May 10, 2013, 09:50 PM
Although probably too late, I'll chime in anyway.

I have horridly sensitive skin, but not eczema.

Can use very little in the way of chemicals. No fragrances, etc. There's been excellent suggestions given most of which I already incorporate.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned. Change what she is wearing.

Cotton is miserable on sensitive skin. It's supposed to be soft. But it's only soft on normal skin. I cannot put it on my feet--the most sensitive area.

I use ALPACA socks ONLY. While I can get them locally, others might have to order online.

Also, I no longer use cotton sheets. Discovered microPLUSH blankets. This should NOT be CONFUSED with microFLEECE (which is equally terrible on sensitive skin). I sleep ON a microplush blanket that covers the bed and COVER UP with another microplush blanket.

Also, I have a microPLUSH bathrobe.

When I first started going this direction, The Husband was astounded how soft and lightweight microPLUSH is. He was always of the cotton persuasion.

If desperate, cut holes in a microplush blanket and let her wear it as a robe. These blankets come in throw size, and twin through king size. just find a size that's right if you can't find a bathrobe.

Target seems to always carry microPLUSH year round. Those microPLUSH robes seem to only come around during winter.

Fleece and microfleece are NOT the same thing. I plan on making microPLUSH simple loungewear from the blankets as material for this coming winter.

I do NOT KNOW how this fabric will feel on eczema as I've never had it. But, I don't like clothes on, either, because of skin sensitivity.

Ditto with the alpaca socks.

YMMV. Just a suggestion that has worked for me.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Indexlady,
May 10, 2013, 11:02 PM
junk collector
Hope she is feeling better.

I have eczema on my lower back area and understand the not wanting clothing on it.

What helps me is no hot water for showers or baths as it really can irritate the skin. Warm is warm enough. I also swear by the new Neosporin eczema cream. It won't cure it, but after about three days you do feel relief. Available over the counter in the grocery store. They also have a body wash too, though I haven't tried that.
May 11, 2013, 05:10 AM
Wow, interesting and funny!

The thought that came to my mind was perhaps washing the clothes in baby detergent.

Now what's the difference between microPLUSh and microfleece? Are they both a polyester fabric?

I have found some cottons to be so itchy and scratchy (t-shirts) that I can't even wear them. And don't even get me going on some cotton sheets... Yet, I thought cotton was really what we're supposed to be using/wearing, not polyester.

May 11, 2013, 08:33 AM
fference between microPLUSh and microfleece?

This might help.

The cotton industry advertisements and "green" and "natural health" promotions about cotton are really great.

Too bad I don't experience cotton in that way. For me, it's rarely the best choice--in clear contradiction to all we hear and read about in The Media.