Q:What do you recommend for laundry? I know you make a laundry product though I have not had a chance to try it yet. I guess what I’m really asking is how do you do YOUR laundry? Do you use bleach? If so, which one? Do you use fabric softener? Dryer sheets? Can you recommend any products or ways to make doing laundry a little more allergy free?
– Anonymous from Tumblr/VMVHypoallergenics
A: Hi there, we do indeed make a laundry product 🙂 It’s called Fawn & Launder.
My mom (VMV Hypoallergenics‘ founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist) formulated it for her clients with clothing contact dermatitis and in my personal household, we can’t use anything else. If we do, my 8yo begins itching and stinging immediately, and more in the undergarment regions so it’s very uncomfortable. My husband stings, itches and gets hyperpigmentation (darkening) of the underarms and skin around the neck. I itch like a madwoman in the scalp (where my head most comes into contact with my pillowcase), underarms, around the neck, and under my lower bra strap.
Regular Cycle, Front Load, 2 to 2.5 capfuls = 32 washes
Regular Cycle, Top load, 5 to 5.5 capfuls = 16 washes
Hand Wash 1 to 1.5 capful = 64 washes
Bleach, we use occasionally but my mother is allergic to it, so she can’t. None of us uses fabric softener or dryer sheets.
The basic tips we share for more allergy-free laundering are:
1) Get a patch test.
As you can see from my own story above, we all react in different ways and in different areas. My mother is sensitive to bleach, we’re not, and we can tolerate fragrance less than she can. Far better than random trial and error or guesswork, a patch test can show you exactly what to avoid.
2) Avoid your allergens.
Once you know the specific ingredients that you need to avoid, Fawn & Launder may work well for you as it’s free of all published allergens. BUT, if your patch test says you’re really only sensitive to, say, fragrance, you now have a much wider selection. Several brands make “free” versions that are free of scents or fragrance (look for ingredients not called fragrance, however, that are also cross reactants like propolis, benzyl alcohol and cinnamic alcohol).
3) Avoid your allergens in drying products, too.
The same applies to dryer sheets and fabric softeners…avoid the stuff with your allergens. Remember that “natural” versions may not be better. Many organic, natural substances are also natural allergens (strawberries, peanuts, pollen, fragrance, etc.). If you’re allergic to these, you need to avoid them, no matter how natural they are. Again, why the patch test is so powerful…so you avoid only what you need to.
4) Clothing contact dermatitis isn’t just about laundry products…you could be reacting to something in the clothing itself.
Indigo in jeans is a very common culprit. If your patch test shows sensitivity to nickel or other metals, you might want to stick to pure cotton and other natural textiles. These absorb colorants better so manufacturers don’t tend to use “mordants” (which have metals), which are chemicals added to synthetic cloth to help dyes and colors bind to it better. Bright colors — reds, purples, vibrant shades — tend to also be culprits if you’re sensitive to dyes. And, elastics, spandex, rubber are common allergens, too. If this is a suspicion, your doctor may use an expanded patch test tray for you. And, there’s a great underwear and basic clothing company called Cottonique that can help (we did a clinical study for them with their clothing and our laundry shampoo).
5) Prep your machine before your first wash.
Another poster on Tumblr shared her thoughts…
“I just started to use the Fawn & Launder. I paid attention to what you posted about doing laundry (a big Thank You to the person who asked about that!) and I only used the Fawn & Launder and nothing else. I even “washed” the washing machine with it first to make sure there wasn’t any residue from my former products. I am really impressed with Fawn & Launder so far! It cleans well, no nasty scent and somehow it seemed to eliminate static in the dryer! I have to ask – how is that possible?!?”
…which leads to this 5th tip: “wash” your washing machine with Fawn & Launder, our hypoallergenic laundry detergent, before doing your first load! A big reason why we make our own products (we don’t outsource) is to ensure that vats or mixers used for our products aren’t also used for storing or mixing formulations with fragrance or other allergens. This is much the same principle. This is a great way to start on a more allergy-free laundry experience!