Liz's Laundry

Can Washing Powder Cause a Rash?

Oct 23, 2021

Can Washing Powder Cause a Rash?

.Washing powder is a necessary and familiar feature of every laundry day. It makes your clothes, bedding and towels fresh and clean. It works its magic to freshen, rejuvenate and remove stains. If you want to make your whites even whiter and your brights even brighter, finding the best washing powder is the key.

As wonderful as that sounds, many washing detergents that you would find filling your supermarket shelves contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful and have a detrimental effect on your skin.

If you are wondering whether washing powder can cause a rash, the quick answer is yes. Read on to find out more.

We will unpack how to identify rashes, as well as some tips and preventative measures to put in place to ensure you don't suffer the side effects from selecting the wrong washing powder. If you're wondering specifically about Eczema, see our post "Can Washing Powder Cause Eczema?". 

If you're unlucky enough to develop a rash as a result of your choice of washing powder, you aren't alone. Unfortunately, many people have negative experiences with the stock standard detergents you'd find in your local store.

How to Identify Washing Powder Rashes

A rash that has been brought on by a reaction to your washing powder is most likely to appear where your clothes are the tightest, where it has more direct skin contact - such as under your arms, between your legs or behind your knees.

If it is widespread, you will likely find it to be confined to the areas of your body that have been touching your clothing. In babies, one way to find out if the rash is caused by washing powder is to check under their disposable nappy. If they have a rash all over their body where their clothing has touched, but nothing present under their nappy, it's likely their skin condition is a result of your laundry detergent.

The rash may appear similar to a flare-up of eczema, in that your skin may experience redness, scaliness, cracks, itchiness, swelling or blistering. If it has come about suddenly, the first thing to ask yourself is whether you have made any detergent changes recently. If so, you have identified the probable cause.

Why Do Some Washing Powders Cause Rashes?

If you are the recipient of a nasty rash or irritation from your washing powder, it has either been caused by allergens or contact dermatitis.

Many common laundry detergents contain allergens: substances that may cause allergic reactions in some people. The chemicals lurking in your washing powder are capable of triggering an allergic reaction. Usually, the main culprit is the synthetic fragrances packed in to give that daisy-fresh springtime vibe.

Other key players in the itchy game are preservatives and dyes, which are known to be responsible for reactions and sensitivities. If you already experience eczema or other existing skin conditions, you are much more susceptible to allergic reactions.

Contact Dermatitis is a type of eczema that is triggered by exposure to certain substances, like, you guessed it, washing powder. Contact Dermatitis will present itself as an itchy rash that is red in appearance and will appear after contact with an allergy trigger.

There are two types of Contact Dermatitis - allergic and irritant. Irritant Contact Dermatitis is the most common of the two and is brought about by repetitive exposure to a trigger. Over time, the irritant drains moisture and oils from your skin, leaving you with a red, itchy, scaly rash.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis may flare up, up to 72 hours post-exposure to an allergen, in what is known as delayed hypersensitivity. This presents as red, itchy rashes and possibly even swelling and blistering. It can be quite nasty, but fortunately, the allergy does settle down once the exposure has been cut off.

But What if Your Washing Powder Isn't the Cause?

So what happens if you've developed this nasty rash, but you've been able to rule out your washing powder?

Here are some other known causes that may result in similar looking rashes:

  • Hay Fever
  • Dyes in clothing
  • Nappy rash
  • Cosmetic products
  • Bug bites
  • Medication
  • Chicken Pox or Measles
  • Baby wipes
  • Cleaning products
  • Soap and body wash
  • Sunscreen
  • Chemicals found in rubber, latex or elastic
  • Exposure to poisonous plants

How to Soothe Your Washing Powder Rash

There are some remedies you can try in the comfort of your own home, to lessen the effects of irritants and allergens on your skin.

Cold Compress

Either fill a bag with ice or soak a face washed in cold water. Hold it against the affected area until the itchiness and/or pain is relieved.

The science behind this is to limit the blood flow to the inflammation site. This can work fast in reducing swelling, providing fast relief.

Oatmeal Bath

This one is a little old school but it's a classic for a reason. Make sure you have colloidal oats on hand (not the breakfast kind), add one cup to a bathtub filled with warm water.

Soak in this for half an hour, before rinsing off in a cool shower. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of oat oil work together to ease your rash.

Coconut Oil

Whilst coconut oil is amazing to use in the kitchen, it is also incredibly versatile. It has many uses, including working to cute rashes. Virgin coconut oil contains healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities and you can apply it directly to your skin as a moisturiser.

Aloe Vera

As far as inexpensive, in-home options go, aloe vera can be a wonderful tool in soothing the irritation and pain experienced due to your rash.

For best use, wash and dry the affected area, before applying the aloe vera as you would moisturiser.


Moisturising the rash can be effective, in replenishing the natural oils and moisture which have been stripped by the allergens.

A Trip to the Pharmacy

When in doubt, ask your local pharmacist about your over-the-counter treatment options. They will likely recommend an inexpensive (yet effective) ointment to be applied daily.

If you are unable to determine the cause of your rash, or it gets worse, be sure you contact a medical professional.

Preventing Washing Powder Rashes

They say prevention is better than a cure, and when it comes to laundry time, there are a few ways you can prevent rashes and protect your skin.

  • Leave the run-of-the-mill washing powders on the shelves, and switch to a hypoallergenic washing powder by a brand that puts you first (like Hudstone!). 
  • Give your clothes an extra rinse, once your washing machine cycle has finished. This will aid in the removal of any excess washing powder
  • Add one cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle. This will remove any soap residue and as an added bonus, helps to make your clothes softer
  • Follow the manufacturer's guide for how much washing powder to use. Using too much could have consequences for your skin
  • Moisturising your body can act as a barrier between your skin and your clothes, not giving any residual detergent the chance to cause a reaction
  • Drying your clothes outside is an easy way to kill any bacteria. The UV light from the sun eradicates any germs that may be lurking
  • As excited as we can all be to wear our brand new clothes immediately, it's important to wash them first. This can help to remove any traces of the manufacturing chemicals and excess dyes

We all know that laundry products are marketed with their floral scents which certainly has its appeal, however, beware of synthetic fragrances. If you really want to add a scent to your washing, consider some essential oils

Find a trusted brand that works for you and stick with it. It can be tempting to pick up the cheapest brand or the one that is on sale any given day, but the truth is it's just not worth it. If you have a brand you know and love, that is kind to your skin, it makes sense to be consistent.

We May Be the Trusted Brand for You

If you're in the market for a gentle, environmentally friendly washing powder by a company that knows what it means to make only the best products from the finest ingredients then look no further.

At Hudstone, our washing powders are safe for sensitive skin conditions, and we have a carefully crafted sensitive blend that is very mild.

Many people ask us what we put into our laundry products, to make them so gentle yet effective in the fight against dirt. We have absolutely nothing to hide and can promise you that each and every Hudstone formula is safe for you, your family and the environment.

If You Need Something Even More Gentle

Our Hudstone Sensitive Washing Powder (Super Concentrate) contains an alkaline mineral salt, nonionic and anionic surfactant, making it the best choice washing powder for sensitive skin

It has been lovingly created with the most sensitive of skin in mind, such as those with existing skin conditions and even babies. We leave out all fragrances and essential oils from this blend, meaning it can do its job without posing any threat to your sensitive skin.

We don't mess around with any nasty bits you would probably be sold in the supermarket chains, such as fillers, irritants and synthetic fragrances.

We put only the premium elements in, giving you a brighter wash each and every time.

We sell this powder in a quantity perfect for any lifestyle - from our 2kg pack (averaging 80 top-loader cycles and 160 front loader cycles) right up to our 10kg pack (where you can expect a yield of 400 top-loader washes and an epic 800 front loader washes).

We recommend pairing it with our all-purpose spray and pre-soaker, guaranteed to make even the toughest stains disappear.

Every product in our range is non-toxic, biodegradable, safe to use and environmentally friendly. We are suitable for vegans and we have never and will never test on animals.

Proudly Australian made and owned, at Hudstone, we have been operating for almost 40 years. We are a company you can trust, and we know how to care for you, your skin and the environment.