UK detergent for sensitive skin?

izeveMay 29, 2012

Can anyone recommend a UK detergent that is least likely to irritate sensitive skin? My daughter is at university in Scotland and has had terrible problems with eczema in the last few months which we traced to the use of Persil detergent. Can anyone recommend what detergent she could switch to over there? I've looked at detergents in the Tesco store while I was there last week but did not see anything specifically indicated for sensitive skin. I'm assuming that she should try switching to non-bio detergent (no enzymes) but I am not familiar with UK brands beyond Ariel and Persil. Unfortunately she is limited to dorm washers that do not rinse very well - that was probably a contributing factor in making her eczema so much worse.

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The "non-bio" versions of Comfort, Fairy, and most of the same brands sold in the US (i.e Surf) may be worth trying. Detergents aimed at the baby market like Dreft would suffice, but if it's anything like the US version it has a putrid odor. Look for terms like "free and clear" on the labeling.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 1:06AM
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Persil's "Sensitive" formula might be worth a try, but it still gave us problems because it has perfume in it. Other suggestions --- Has she tried running the laundry through a complete second cycle, without detergent that 2nd time, to achieve a good rinse? Has she tried reducing the dose of detergent?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:02AM
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It should help that most UK/Europe washing machines typically offer 4 or 5 rinses after the last wash cycle (many older US machines rinse only once or twice) - set the machine for maximum number of rinses, and if available, extra water in the rinse cycle. This should help no matter which detergent you use, because they'll be less of it left in the clothes.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:26AM
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Dorm washers are the worst. Thank God, I could remove the totally gunked-up detergent drawers on the Speed Queen washers I used in the UK to clean them out before using the machine. These also did a fairly okay job at washing and rinsing. And, we didn't have to pay for the washers and dryers - it was included in the rent, I suppose. My girlfriend was not so lucky. The Maytag Neptune front loaders did a horroble job at everything. She ended up hand-washing some *special* stuff in order to avoid catching whatever was floating around in those nasty washers.

I'd recommend posting over at Lots of folks from the UK there. If all fails... there are always those portable washers that look like twin tubs with one side for washing and the other one containing a spinner. These machines aren't that large, not that expensive and can be sold once she finishes her studies.

Best of luck. Dorm washer are the worst...


Here is a link that might be useful: Super Forum

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:17PM
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Thank you all for the very helpful input and tips. Unfortunately, there is no way for her to control the number of rinses or water levels in the washer. The setup is like a laundromat and all she has are a few cycle selections.... She used Tesco brand detergent at the beginning of the school year and that did not bother her skin but it didn't clean well. So she switched to Persil mid year which gives much better washing results but she ended up with her eczema flaring up like it never has before.
She'll try switching to non-bio Fairy or Comfort when she is back at university in the fall. I have also come across recommendations for Surcare detergent that seems specifically designed for problem skin? Now she's back home for the summer and her skin is improving rapidly :-)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:57AM
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What type of washers are they?

As I said, I used Speed Queen front loaders. The rinse cycle was very short. What I sometimes did was to add water through the dispenser to get more water in the rinse. That worked because a) there was a sink in the laundry room and b) nobody was watching. ;-)

How about Ecover detergent?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:56AM
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@whirlpool trainee, I didn't notice what brand they were. They are front loaders but with a solid door so you cannot see what's going on inside during the cycle. The dispensers have been covered shut so the students have to put the detergent directly into the drum. Even the hottest cycles (60C) are very short - just a touch over 40 minutes in total. So I'm sure the rinses are very short and limited in number.
She'll actually be in a different hall of residence next year so we'll see if the washers there are any different.

As to Ecover, I have seen it in the local Tesco. I have to read up on it and see if it would be suitable.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:38AM
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Sounds like Maytag Neptunes. Did they look similar to the one below?


The ones at my GF's dorm in London were super filthy inside (remember, these Neptunes were involved in the mold law-suit), hardly spun between the rinses and cost 2.50 Pounds per Super Wash. Worthless. If the ones your daughter uses are programmed like the ones I used -> tell her to use a laundromat or a portable mini (camping) washer cheaply bought off eBay. Just my opinion, of course.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Alex, wow! They look just like that except they have driers on top, so the control panel is in the front, not the back. They look pretty clean inside (her residence hall is very busy so these machines are in constant use and probably don't even have time to get moldy). Not sure about how they are programmed but the Super Wash is just a tad over 40 minutes and costs 2.20 Pounds. I have to double check but I don't believe they have laundromats in St Andrews :-(

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:29PM
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Have you considered Charlies Soap? The powdered version would be easier to carry in a suitcase back to the UK. It doesn't do very well on whites (no brighteners or oxy-bleach) but the oxy bleach can be added.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:46PM
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