Is Laundry Detergent Bad For Your Hands?

Why You Shouldn’t Use Laundry Detergent on Your Hands

why you shouldn’t use laundry detergent on your hands

Unfortunately, most detergents usually contain certain chemicals that may harm your hands when they come into contact with your skin. This reaction happens especially when hand washing.

The Effects of Laundry Detergent on Hands and Skin

1,4-dioxane, a chemical present in laundry soap, is known to irritate, among other harmful effects. Another component of a powdered detergent that may cause skin irritation is optical brighteners. These, together with other blue light-emitting additives, are not friendly to your hands.

You should avoid using laundry detergents on your hands because overexposure to these may result in stripping off natural oils. Consequently, they result in dry and rough hands.

Is Laundry Detergent Toxic?

Most detergents may contain toxic chemicals that result in harmful health effects. Like earlier mentioned, one such effect is skin irritation.

Additionally, these toxic chemicals may lead to carcinogenicity and throat irritation. Furthermore, it may lead to harmful effects on the environment.

According to the EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency), 1,4- Dioxane is a Group B2 probable human carcinogen. Inhaling this solvent at acute to high levels can cause:

  • Drowsiness
  • Vertigo
  • Irritation (of the hands, nose, lungs, eyes, and throat)
  • Anorexia
  • Headaches

Laundry detergent contains ammonia, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), phosphates, nonylphenol ethoxylate, and phosphates. These are all harmful to your hands.

Remember, even after your clothes are dry, the chemicals may still harm you, especially when your clothes get damp due to sweat.

However, it’s worth mentioning that not all laundry detergents are toxic. Some are eco-friendly and safer for your hands and general health.

What Is the Difference Between Soap and Detergent?

what is the difference between soap and detergent

The difference between hand soap and detergent has to do with their chemical formulas. While most laundry detergents are formulated to work specifically in washing machines, soap is designed to clean with your hands.

They contain oils and lye (biodegradable substances) and are not as strong or harsh as laundry detergents.

In short, when it comes to cleaning clothes, especially those with oily or greasy spots, laundry detergents are stronger than soaps due to their chemical structure.

What’s a Good Detergent to Hand Wash Clothes?

what’s a good detergent to hand wash clothes

For delicate clothes, manufacturers recommend hand washing clothes instead of the washer. You should use soap or a mild detergent.

Your hands and skin should be your priority, and only a mild detergent guarantees gentleness on your hands and your clothes.

Why Don’t Laundry Detergents Rinse Clean?

why don’t laundry detergents rinse clean

Like soaps, laundry detergents do kill some germs. Also, detergent contains surfactants that help lower the surface tension of water, allowing the detergent to interact with grime and oil better when cleaning.

However, water containing laundry detergents behaves differently with surfactants, making them stick on clothes and even the skin, resisting rinse clean. The result is they tend to live behind detergent residue.

Can You Use Dish Soap for Hand Washing Laundry?

can you use dish soap for hand washing laundry

When handwashing delicate clothes, it’s advisable to avoid using laundry detergents. One adequate substitute for liquid laundry detergent is dish soap.

Dish soap is a mild detergent. It’s gentle on sensitive skin and also on clothes and does not dry skin. While removing any greasy or oily buildups may take longer, it’s still an effective and safer alternative to a laundry product.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »