We use normal detergent for our toddler's clothes. Our toddler regularly develops skin rashes over most of his body; we use creams prescribed by an allergy specialist to keep the rashes under control.

I'm allergic to SLS (I get tons of canker sores when I use regular toothpaste), so I suspect my toddler may be allergic to such detergents.


What's the best way to test? If the answer is "wash his clothes with a natural or mild detergent", please note that natural SLS (e.g. Tom's of Maine) iritates me just as much as synthetic SLS, and liquid soaps with SLS are often labeled as mild/gentle. I am very interested in hearing of specific laundry products which are known to not have any detergents.

4 Answers 4


My daughter used to have a reaction when we used normal detergents. When we started washing her clothes in "Lux Pure Soap Flakes" the problem went away. Eventually we were able to move her to Amolin detergent which means that we could use our washing machine for her stuff and did not have to wash her's separately to ours.


I wouldn't recommend testing an allergen on your child by yourself - that's something which should occur at your dr's office. That way, if there's a severe reaction (anaphylaxis) you and your child will be in good hands.

You say you're allergic to natural SLS (which is derived from coconut and/or palm kernel oil) - you might do well to see if you also have an allergy to those compounds too. If not, it might be something else in the formulation which is causing it. If it is coconut and/or palm kernel that's triggering your allergy, then things get trickier as most 'eco friendly/allergy friendly' alternative laundry detergents will contain one of the two for its foaming cleaning action.

I'd suggest a trip to the allergist to have you and your child checked.

  • Did you read the background? We've been to the allergist. He is currently exposed to normal detergents. I'm interested in trying to eliminate his exposure to detergents to see if that will improve his skin rash.
    – jrennie
    May 14, 2012 at 17:49
  • Yes, I read the background - you've gotten a cream for rashes, it doesn't mean you've tested him for the specific allergens which are in detergents, SLS and SLES. You can get detergents without SLS/SLES, but if the problem is the coconut/palm oil, then you're going to have issues finding a way to clean your laundry sans detergent.
    – Darwy
    May 14, 2012 at 18:14
  • He is already exposed to regular (bar) soap.
    – jrennie
    May 14, 2012 at 18:33
  • Regular (bar) soap will most often have SLS/SLES. If you contact your allergist, you can ask for a specific skin test against those two agents, which will give you a better idea idea if it is those two that are causing it. Otherwise, the soap product I linked previously is a good point to 'switch out' for his detergent and bathing needs.
    – Darwy
    May 15, 2012 at 10:23
  • I have yet to find a bar soap with SL(E)S. It's certainly common in liquid "soap" (which is really detergent). I think the allergist would have tried such a test if it were useful & practical. An issue with medical tests is that they're not definitive---the real test is what happens when you minimize exposure. Medical tests are useful for indicating what to try, but we're past that point wrt detergents and my son's skin.
    – jrennie
    May 15, 2012 at 11:49

Since you're allergic, what sort of detergent do you use personally to prevent negative reactions? Can you use those products for your toddler and see if the problem clears up?

  • I don't know if I have an allergic reaction from clothes washer detergent---we've never tried a non-detergent clothes washer soap. I have a mild skin rash, but extra vitamin D has largely cured my rash. My known allergic reaction (canker sores) is from SLS in most toothpastes.
    – jrennie
    May 14, 2012 at 17:24

In my experience with babies who have sensitive skin, a useful tactic for limiting reactions is to avoid products with scents.

  • We've tried that---didn't seem to help.
    – jrennie
    May 15, 2012 at 10:37

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