'Free' question

PatSeptember 8, 2011

I prefer Cheer and Tide "Free" laundry products, but is it the actual "perfume" or scent in regular laundry products that cause allergic reactions, or are there other chemicals in regular products that are the irritating culprits missing in the "Free" versions? Did I just make sense?

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A friend of mine who was a chemical engineer in a former life, has told me it is the perfume that causes problems. I have found that to be true in our case.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 8:17PM
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To add to what Cavimum said, Free and Clear detergents are those that are free of perfume AND dye as those are the most common culprits that cause the allergic response in sensitve people.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 8:59PM
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Some people can be sensitive to optical brighteners (present in most detergents).

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Yup, I remember reading once that optical brighteners are dyes. So I guess that puts Cheer Free back at the top for me. Just cannot understand why the Cheer Free powder is so hard to find locally. Amazon even has a hold on the product right now.

Thank you for your replies.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 9:30AM
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@patann - the Cheer 'Free' powder is not shown on Cheer's web site. It may be out of production.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 11:28AM
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Cavimum, done some poking around and I fear you may be right, but I'm hoping they are only reformulating the powder yet again and it's not ready to be marketed yet. Right.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 8:30PM
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For me it is some of the enzymes used in certain brands of detergents. I have never had issues with optical brighteners or fragrances on my skin. However, after the horrible and violent allergic reaction we had in my household to liquid Tide detergent, I switched to All Free & Clear for a while. Now I am back to using all different detergents but avoiding Tide and not having issues. I came to the conclusion it is the particular enzymes that Tide uses to beat protein stains. Since Tide doesn't rinse out all that well it was leaving some of those enzymes behind. Anyplace on my body that had moisture, it would re-activate those enzymes and it was eating at my skin. My 85 year old mother was starting to have the same issues as me.

So, I think it might vary from person to person exactly what you might react to. I spoke to several other friends and they all had similar reactions to Tide, even with their Free & Clear version, which backs up my enzyme theory (at least for some of us having similar reactions).

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 6:27PM
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xhappyx, I think I owe you bigtime (like I did a couple of years ago about your input on body lotions).

I'm assuming (maybe wrongly) Cheer's enzymes will have the same effect, so I'm going to try Era and others and get back in a couple of months. You are amazing!

And if you haven't, you and Mom MUST try Vanicream bath soap, face, hands.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Spotted Cheer Free & Clear at a CVS Pharmacy. This one used to be Longs so don't know if available at all the CVS Pharmacies. It was the powder form only.

You might also try other pharmacies as they now carry all kinds of stuff & one normally don't check the laundry/paper/auto sections.

I found Elmers' lubricant which may be a form of silicon but works better than a branded aerosol labeled silicon or wd2. The lubricant works very much better on the bolt for my foldable rowing machine.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 4:26PM
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@xhappyx, most detergents use the same enzymes (there are only a handful). I'm curious exactly what enzyme you think is the culprit.

From my understanding of how enzymes work, they couldn't be "eating away at you". Enzymes will work only on their specific target - not human flesh.

Enzymes fit their target substrates like a lock fits a key.

The active site of the enzyme is open only to specific target substances (i.e., substrates) with a matching chemical and 3-dimensional shape. If the substrate doesn't fit, it can't enter and no reaction occurs. This makes the action of enzymes highly specific for their substrates.

They are a protein and, if anything, cause respiratory allergies (like pet dander does). They are not "contact" allergens.

Enzymes are proteins. Like many other proteins, enzymes can cause respiratory allergy in some people if they are breathed in at very high concentrations, frequently, and for long periods of time. This doesn't pose a safety issue for consumers who use laundry detergents. However, this can represent a health issue for people that work in enzyme making facilities and in detergent production facilities, especially if enzymes are not handled properly.

Which of these enzymes do you believe to be in Tide but not in what you're using?

- Proteases act on soils and stains containing proteins. Examples are collar & cuff soil-lines, grass, blood. Proteases are enzymes that break down a long protein into smaller chains called peptides (a peptide is simply a short amino acid chain).
- Amylases remove starch-based soils and stains, e.g. sauces, ice-creams, gravy. Amylases break down starch chains into smaller sugar molecules.
- Lipases are effective in removing oil / greasy body and food stains
- Cellulases provide general cleaning benefits, especially on dust and mud, and also work on garments made from cellulosic fibers, minimizing pilling to restore color and softness


Here is a link that might be useful: What are enzymes?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 10:18PM
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@livebetter, I am not sure which enzymes in Tide might be causing it because I have not spent the hours researching which exact ones. But there are some enzymes that do eat at protein stains.

However, there can be a myriad of different manufacturers for enzymes that fall into a specific generic category. (i.e. just look at surfactants and how many manufacture various types that fall into the same category, but all manufactured differently.) And I know all about this from my history of formulary and manufactring of personal care products.

If you look here: http://www.specialtyenzymes.com/products/term/protein-stains You will see there are enzymes specific to attacking proteins. And that is just ONE supplier/manufacturer out of many.

From looking at several medical sites, my reaction is not an uncommon one. Speak to an allergist and see just how common my reaction was/is. Because if I am wrong, then the medical community is wrong that has treated people for this specific condition. Then that also means that all the cloth diapering communities are wrong too, with their theory when they use certain enzyme containing detergents and their babies end up with raw skin after wetting their diapers. And this only happening when they have been washed in detergents containing enzymes.

I have not spent time on the Tide site looking at their MSDS sheets, although labeling for household cleaners does not fall under the same strict labeling laws as personal care products, so it may or may not be listed what is causing me issues, as the terms on household products are less specific. With those guidelines, even in personal care if there is less than 1% of something in a product it does not need to be listed on the label. Household cleaners are not obligated at all to list which surfactant or enzyme at all, but a more generic term that can group any one of them together. So I doubt looking at an MSDS sheet would do me much good to pin point the specific one.. But from a quick scan it might very well be Proteases enzymes. Since there are many manufacturers of those enzymes, it could be a specific one that is used by one company but not others... In other words some Proteases manufactured by one supplier I might be OK with, and others I may not. And just because that site says they are not contact allergens does not make that true... That is like saying nobody ever reacts to "hypo allergenic" cosmetics. Which, they have products in them to reduce chances for a reaction and they are GRAS, but there is a percentage of the population that still reacts to them severely.

And, I would like to note that since you skin is made of protein, and those enzymes are made to attack protein, I rest my case with my theory. My raw skin and severe reaction was a real medical issue, and only after using Tide, and then Tide Free & Clear.

All I know is that I am staying clear of what has caused us issues in our household. Tide seems to be the main culprit. (all versions) but I do not have issues with Gain, Arm & Hammer, Costco Kirkland (all varieties), All (all varieties), Clorox Greenworks. I can't mention any others as I haven't used any others in recent years. And I can't say WHICH Proteases I suspect because like I said before, there could be many.

And for comparison sake, that would be like stating I am allergic to ALL Anionic surfactants, when there are many on the market made by a multitude of manufacturers for the industry. When in fact if I reacted to one, it wouldn't mean I would react to all of them. (see what I am saying although I am fine and dandy with surfactants, was just using that to compare to to get my point across)

In other words, I don't know which one! And, until legislation is changed in the USA with stricter labeling laws on household chemicals and cleaners, I may never know and may never be able to pinpoint the specific enzyme that caused this. Although... I highly doubt I will be trying anything that I have used in the past and caused such severe allergic rashes on my body.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 11:42AM
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@livestrong... I also wanted to point out how the immune system works regarding proteins since the enzymes are protein based.

Basically, this explains why we can have contact allergic reactions and sensitization to foreign proteins.

But like I said, until we have stricter labeling laws in the USA, I will never know which exact enzyme caused this in our family. I believe it is in the protease family but which one in that family, I will never know for sure :)

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.jimmunol.org/content/30/2/149.short

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 3:01PM
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xhappyx, have you discovered anything new about enzymes in certain detergents since your last post above? I stopped using all Tides also because I got the exact same reaction to damp parts of my skin. I am wondering if you ever tried any Cheer forumla, even tho' it may have same enzymes. Do you still like Gain? Arm & Hammer?

You mentioned you once used All Free & Clear. I found it works for my sensitivity, but why did you stop using it and try the Gain, Arm & Hammer, etc., please?

I'm still looking for that perfect detergent that does not bother me but that cleans well. My huband has zero sensitivies, so I don't throw out any of my purchases. I am keenly interested in your findings.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 5:14PM
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Hi Pat, I started using the Gain & Arm & Hammer because I had some in my laundry stash that I wanted to use up. No other reason than that, and they didn't seem to bother me. I still like the Gain & Arm & Hammer just fine. I use the powdered Gain and while the scent is a bit too strong for my liking it works well on my whites. That is what I mostly use it for. I have not tried Cheer in many years, I have no idea if I would react to that one or not. Basically, there are different enzymes so I think it probably is a matter of which enzymes a particular product is using. It is too bad they don't list which particular enzymes they use on the labels. Sometimes the MSDS will list which family of enzymes but not which one in that family so it is hard to tell.. I wish I could be of more help than that. But so far no breaking out or troubles with Gain, Arm & Hammer, All, All Free & Clear and Clorox Greenworks.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 1:09PM
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Just a note here to xhappyx or anybody else who may be interested. I have no sensitive reaction to "Arm & Hammer Free Sensitive Skin" liquid but I do react to all other Arm & Hammer, powder and liquid.
Had a very bad reaction to "All Small & Mighty Free & Clear."
Just goes to show again how everybody has different reactions to different detergents. Never had reactions to any detergents until I got really old. Boo.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Does the regular(not 3X S&M) All Free/Clear bother you? My BIL went to the Allergist the other week with a rash and he told him to stop using Tide liquid and go to All F/C and his rash went away--but he did get some meds also. He did say he rewashed all of his clothes in the All too.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:25PM
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My sister's husband is super-sensitive to detergents, and the Arm & Hammer 'free' that you tried is the only one that works for him. The 'all F&C' probably has some ingredient that the A & H does not have. Our adult son recently had to stop using the 'all F&C' because he was developing a rash. He switched to liquid Tide 'free' and so far, so good (according to his wife).

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:49PM
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How irritating. I just answered both of you and my post got lost in some crazy message about a virus alert. So here I go again:

sparky: I got no negative reaction fromm the regular All Free & Clear, only the "Small & Mighty" and "Small & Mighty OxiClean" versions.

Cavimum: I rewashed everything in Arm & Hammer "Free Sensitive" and even my current poison ivy'd arms and stomach were not irritated. (Please to NOT confuse the A&H "Free Sensitive" with the A&H "Essentials Free" in the green bottle, which is much more harsh, for some reason.)

Amazing how these companies can have so many different varieties. I can tolerate "Ultra Tide With Bleach" powder, but I cannot tolerate Tide "Free & Clear," or whatever it's called, powder or liquid.

And this is all consistent with the scientific findings on the GoodGuide.com website for Laundry detergents, under the Health section. Discovered this website a few months ago and I've been getting great results in all their categories. Pretty neat site as far as I'm concerned. See my post "Good Guide."

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:05PM
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