How Long Allergic Reactions To Laundry Detergent Last?

Last Updated on April 20, 2021 by

Having an allergic reaction as a result of using a laundry detergent can be both irritating and stressful. One main question that every victim asks is, ”for how long will I have to cope with this allergy?” Normally, the condition may last a couple of weeks, but this will depend on such factors as the nature of the allergy and the kind of detergent you used. 

Type Of Allergens And The Period It Is Likely To Affect You

Most ingredients in laundry detergents are allergens in that they will cause an allergic reaction to the user. Each allergen causes a different reaction, and the period it lasts will vary. The following are the main allergens;


Different detergents have varying perfumes meant to improve their smell. These fragrances are made from a combination of chemicals that can react differently to your skin. Depending on the individual and the type of allergen, one can have watery eyes, get a running nose, cough, whizzing, or develop a skin rash. Sneezing and coughing may last for a few minutes or hours, while skin rash and running nose can last for up to two weeks. 


Surfactants are chemical agents that surround dirt particles on your fabric. The agents then dissolve the dirt, making it easy to wash with water. Surfactants are made of various chemicals that include nonylphenol ethoxylate and quaternion-15, both of which are skin irritants. Allergic reactions from these substances last between two and three weeks, beyond which you need to seek medical attention. 


Stabilizers help to prolong the useful life of a detergent by keeping its formula intact. Some of these ingredients, like polyalkenes and olefin compounds, may cause allergic reactions to the users. Allergic reactions from stabilizers may last for up to two weeks before fading away. But, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately after you experience the condition. 


Some bleaching agents come as ingredients in laundry detergents, while others are sold separately. These substances help to whiten white clothes and brighten bright ones. You may get irritation in your eyes, lungs, and skin. 

Allergic reactions from bleaching agents may last from one week to several months. It is advisable to seek medication immediately you get this irritation to shorten the period it lasts. 

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that can either be an allergen or not. There are two types of this condition, i.e. irritant and allergic contact dermatitis. The type you get depends on what your skin comes into contact with;

Irritant Contact Dermatitis 

You can get this condition when your skin is in contact with an irritant you are not allergic to. Your skin’s top layer gets irritated, resulting in rashes immediately or upon consequent exposure. An immediate irritation may last from a few weeks to one month, but you can sense a repeated reaction and treat it before it worsens. 

This condition is the most common non-allergic reaction that affects the skin.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

You can get this condition if your skin is allergic to laundry detergents. But, your body will develop immunity towards the allergen. 

How To Prevent Allergic Reactions To Laundry Detergent

Preventing an allergic reaction before it occurs is easier than seeking to know how long it will last. Since we all love our bodies, it is important to avoid any irritation as much as we can. Below are some ways to avert allergies;

Rinse Your Clothes At Least Two Times

One of the main causes of allergic reactions is detergent deposits on your fabric due to the poor rinsing process. These deposits may contain allergens that affect you when you wear the clothes. 

To prevent this problem, be sure to rinse your clothes thoroughly. You can rinse your fabric two or more times. You may also use warm water since it helps to kill the allergens. 

Clean Your Washing Machine

If you share your washing machine among family members, it is necessary to clean it after using a common detergent. Doing so is important, especially if some members have an allergy to laundry detergents. The affected members may then use the equipment later with their preferred cleaning agents. 

Use Detergents That Are Free Of Dyes And Fragrances

Most allergens in detergents are contained in dyes and fragrances. You can choose to use detergents without these substances, such as those with vegetable-based ingredients. Such detergents are not only unscented but also hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin. 

Make Your Detergent

You can also decide to make your detergents at home as this will give you the liberty to pick ingredients that are friendly to your skin. Doing this will ensure that you avoid fragrances and dyes that are the main allergens in most laundry detergents. 

How To Make The Allergic Reaction Go Away Faster

Some allergic reaction symptoms such as itching, swelling, and redness will often disappear on their own within one or two weeks with no treatment. There are a few things that you can do to make these symptoms less irritating in the meantime, such as;

A Cool Compress

You can take a cold shower or a cool compress to help relax a fierce rash. Pat dry gently, then moisturize the affected area.


Powdered oatmeal (also known as colloidal oatmeal) mixes well with water and is suitable for calming inflamed skin for some individuals. While some people may react to this mixture, it is good to try using lukewarm water. Avoid very hot water since it can dry and irritate your skin. 

Avoid Contact

If you are aware of what causes allergic reactions to your skin, it is important to avoid the trigger. Doing this will help to prevent further contact with allergens which may aggravate the problems. 

Avoid Tight Clothes

If you have a skin rash due to an allergy, be sure to avoid wearing tight clothes. You can put on loose garments that are breathable such as cotton fabric. 

Use Anti-Itch Cream

Using over-the-counter creams such as calamine lotion or hydrocortisone may help relieve the itching. They are worth trying if you have skin rashes. 

Damp Dressing

In case of severe symptoms, you can try damp dressing. To do this, look for a soft, clean piece of cotton garments such as long pant or a long-sleeved T-shirt. Soak it in cold water, then wring it out. Put on the cloth and wear something that is not too tight on top of it.

While these home remedies may work on most allergies, it is important to consult a doctor if the condition does not clear on its own. 

How To Treat A Chemical Burn From Laundry Detergent

Sometimes you may get a chemical burn when using a laundry detergent. If this is the case, follow these simple steps;

1. Run some cold water on the affected area for about ten minutes. If there are some dry chemical on the skin, brush them off before flushing with water. You can use a towel or any other appropriate object, such as a soft brush.

2. Remove any jewel or clothing that has come into contact with the chemical.

3. Cover the affected area with a clean cloth or sterile gauze bandage. Ensure that you wrap the bandage loosely to prevent exerting too much pressure on the burned skin.

4. If you still feel the burning sensation, flush the area again using water for several minutes. 


Sometimes you may get allergic reactions as a result of using laundry detergents. These symptoms may last for varying length of time, depending on the trigger and the type of detergent you use. Mostly it will take a couple of weeks for the reaction to disappear.  Some symptoms include redness, skin rash, coughing, whizzing, or sneezing. 

If you know what causes the reactions, it is advisable to avoid the trigger. You may also consult a doctor if the allergy takes longer than you expect to go away. 

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