A while back, I shared some of my favorite personal care products for allergies and eczema types like me. I have suffered from both allergies and eczema to varying degrees for my entire life. But a couple of years ago, a small patch of eczema that just wouldn’t quit eventually reached new levels. It has been a constant struggle ever since to try to figure out why I get it, in order to manage it. Since my eczema became so bad, I have seen countless doctors of the clinical and naturopathic variety, tried every natural remedy you can think of as well as several prescription drugs. And don’t even get me started on all the well-meaning strangers who can’t help but share their advice. None of it brought me much success.
I could go on and on about this subject and have done so in the past. But I want this and future posts to be helpful to other eczema and allergy sufferers like me. So today I am sharing some laundry and household cleaners that we use and find safe for our sensitive fam.
What honestly helped me the most with my eczema the most is:
- research, research, research on my own
- asking lots of questions of my various doctors, and, once I discovered what I was most allergic to,
- being super diligent about what I now bring into our home.
For the record, I can trace most of my severe eczema issues back to one preservative called methylisothiazolinone. I found out I was allergic to this through a special Skin Patch test at my dermatologist. Ask for it! Avoiding that as much as possible is what has helped me get my eczema into better control, like it is today. [You can read some of my favorite SAFE personal care products in this past post.]
Methylisothiazolinone is a VERY common man-made chemical preservative in tons of household products from laundry soap to cleaning sprays to body washes, hand soap and MORE. It has also been cited in several studies as a sensitizer [meaning repeat exposure over time can cause an allergy to develop]. Also it is a cause itself of contact allergic dermatitis [what I have]. Oh, and it is very toxic to aquatic life [when it gets washed down the drain]!
BE FOREWARNED: even things marked “natural” and “organic”, or “sensitive skin” could have this man-made chemical preservative in them because there are NO regulations on household product labeling in the US. Also, any liquid that is shelf stable must have some kind of preservative in it, and methylisothiazolinone is a common one. I dare you to try to get the ingredient list on your Tide detergent or Clorox bleach. Go ahead. But even if you wander the aisles of Whole Foods often, like I do, read some labels in the cleaning aisle and I guarantee you will see this ingredient on [guestimating] 80% of the labels.
So what’s a very sensitive girl to do? Here are my tips for shopping for laundry + cleaning products for a happy, healthy home:
- Again, “natural” and “organic” claims on the front of packaging are misleading, at best. The best way to know what’s in it is to read the BACK of the label. I love Beautycounter’s NEVER List and I always carry it in my wallet to remember what to avoid, in all products, not just beauty! No ingredients listed anywhere? Put that bottle down and run.
- I can’t always remember ALL the things I should be avoiding nor can I always pull out my Never List, so you only can remember a few, like me, remember to avoid:
- Methylisothiazolinone. Even if you are not allergic to this currently, repeat exposure can lead you to develop an allergy at any point later in your life! So especially avoid using this preservative on your children.
- Fragrance. Because fragrance is considered a “trade secret”, companies do not have to disclose what is in the fragrance. Which means the product listing “fragrance” could include preservatives like methylisothiasolinone or formaldihyde [another nasty chemical preservative that goes by many other names in our products – see the NEVER list!]. Essential oils are ok [as long as you are not sensitive to them] and they should be listed separately as such, not as “fragrance”.
- Parabens [methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- , etc] – considered a hormone/endocrine disrupter, these nasty chemicals may interrupt important hormone mechanisms in our bodies.
- Anytime you don’t see a preservative mentioned on a label or vague ingredients are listed such as “plant derived solvents” be wary. Any liquid that is shelf stable requires some sort of preservative. This includes household cleaning products!
I recently recieved some beautiful products from The Laundress, which were sent to me to try out. At first, I was super excited because the ingredients were listed on their website [usually a good sign of brand transparency] and they all checked out to not have Methylisothiazolinone in them, which is pretty big in my book! Unfortunately after more careful inspection of the ingredients, many products contained the scary work “fragrance” in them. I reached out to my contact at The Laundress to triple check about my allergy and lo and behold, several of their products actually do have the preservative methylisothiazolinone in them [however at very low percentages].
I was disappointed in the lack of transparency of these products to their customers. However, I do like that The Laundress offers a lot of educational material about how to do laundry. I found that over the years of relying on chemicals to get my clothes clean, I got lazy. My mother taught me how to pre-treat stains and separate clothes for the wash when I was pretty young. But somehow over the years, I started just throwing it all together and wondering why it never came out clean, haha! Even with my allergies, I would still recommend the products below as safe, alternative ways to get your clothes and home clean.
My concerns with laundry in our house are dingy whites and stinky yoga clothes [please tell me I’m not the only one!]. The bleach alternative and scented vinegar from The Laundress did the trick for each, respectively. Find out more about how to pre-treat and wash all of your clothes properly on The Laundress Blog. Don’t even get me started on why you NEVER need a dry cleaner!
Also just a few other products I didn’t link up above [because they are not available online]:
- Whole Foods brand Organic All Purpose spray cleaner.
- Whole Foods brand liquid organic dishwasher detergent.
Although I am yet to find a natural dishwasher detergent that can actually get my dishes clean [and not cloudy]. So if you know of one, let me know in the comments! Other good natural, all purpose cleaners are plain white vinegar [diluted, in a spray or bucket for floor cleaning] and baking soda [for scrubbing]!
Bottom line here is that unfortunately, we can’t trust any ONE brand to be 100% safe across all of its products. I have made this mistake over and over assuming that because one product is good from an eco-conscious brand, they all must be good. And it just isn’t true. You have to be diligent. It’s truly an unfair burden on the consumer. If this fact riles you up like it does me, I encourage you to get involved with the Environmental Working Group [EWG]. They often have online petitions as well as other ways to get active to change regulations and make products safer for consumers. I get their emails and try to sign everything I can! Once people hear enough of us fed up with using unsafe products, they will be forced to change the regulations in our products!
Thanks for reading and for your support, as always friends! This post does contain some affiliate links as well as several links to share my sources. I received product from The Laundress for my honest review and opinion and this is it!