Categorized | Baby Care, Our Blog

Your dirty laundry – and baby and toddler rashes

Posted on 21 April 2013 by hulda

There are a few items that I never buy cheaply, namely shoes, the mattress in my bed and …a washing machine.  Because it basically runs all day long and I really want it to do a good job.  And I have only had to buy washing machines twice in my life, as they actually have lasted very well.

It was therefore a shock to have to call Siemens for the third time in two years to ask them to come and fix our machine this week.  After checking, they informed me that the reason for all these breakdowns was that there was too much washing powder being used, and the machine was clogging up.

I spend probably 1/3 of my week advising parents about various things regarding the health of their families.  One of the most common complaints that parents have — right from the early days with a newborn, through the toddler and childhood years — is rashes.  And the most common answer: if the rashes are not the typical baby achne or something of a similar nature,  consider that there might be external factors contributing to them, and  the first question is usually whether the person is using fabric softener or too much powder.  Most people are surprised and think this is not the reason, but will go home and check.

Because, as we live in Hong Kong, we are usually not responsible for doing our own laundry.  Most of us have helpers who take care of this and through my 12 years in Hong Kong I must say that I have learned that many helpers – and others — believe that they will have cleaner clothes coming out of the machine if they use more powder.  So they put in a lot.

washing powder

Research has shown us that washing powder and fabric softener can be a reason for rashes and outbreaks on sensitive skin. The powder or liquid may not be exactly what the individual is allergic to, but it may make symptoms much worse, especially for those that have sensitive skin and are prone to redness, spots or sore or itchy patches.  Then there are some that do have actual allergic reactions to some of the chemicals.  But very often, it is simply that there has been too much used and that the soap is not washed properly out of the clothes.

It is ironic that my own machine got clogged this way and I had to stop blaiming Siemens for it.  After all, I myself always just put very little powder for washing, maximum 1 teaspoon.  And I had told my helpers, but that was a long time ago.  I also have not observed them carefully regarding this, I only told them.

Now, when it comes to industrial laundry, that’s a whole different story. Companies like phs offer excellent laundry services for your staff workwear. Make sure you check them out at

So lesson learned from this and reading and looking into this matter:  

  1. Always use little powder, 1 teaspoon is enough.
  2. Longer washing cycles, and higher temperatures work better than more soap.
  3. A long rinse is very important to make sure there is no residue of soap in the clothes.
  4. Use non-bio powder, without enzymes.
  5. Skip the softener altogether.
  6. Use fragrance-free powder.
  7. Show your helper how much powder and how to use the machine and observe how he/she does it.

Happy washes,  less rashes.






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