Allergies to Laundry Detergent

I have laundry facilities in the basement of my high rise apt building: 6 washers, 2 of which never work or only run cold, and 8 dryers, 2 of which are always broken, all for almost 300 units in my building. Not great odds.

After years of battling with housekeepers and other tenants for the working machines, just to find my clothing littered with animal hair or pock-marked with someone’s leftover bleach, I said to hell with it, I’m sending it out. Oh and they raised the prices to $2.00 per, for machines that calling them unreliable would be a compliment.

So, I’ve been sending my laundry out.

Yes, this Allergic Girl was concerned: what kind of laundry detergent would they use? Would I be allergic? But I took a chance and surprisingly the first few years were trouble free. My cleaners used a non-scented detergent and all was well.

Until a few months back.

I don’t know what happened, what executive decision was made to go from no smell to extra smelly/fragrant but my clean “wash and fold” arrived completely contaminated. I mean, so fragrant my clothes were unwearable.

I called Alex, the manager of the small dry cleaners who send it out, he said he would send it back to be washed in water and go through the cycle with “nothing”. Take three guesses what came back? Yup, they rewashed it in the same smelly detergent claiming they hadn’t changed a thing, that this was the process they had been using for years.

I really dislike it when people lie to cover their mistakes. Why? Why not just say we changed detergents, or vendors? What’s the big deal.

When I called Alex to tell him not only had they not run through the laundry with just water, but they washed it in the same detergent and made it twice as bad, he apologized profusely.

I said, “I have allergies that’s why I asked them to re-do this. I cannot wear clothing smelling like this not to mention what it might do to my skin.”

Alex said, as if it was simplest thing in the world, “You can give us your own laundry detergent. We have a lot of customers with allergies who give us their detergent to use.”

How cool that others had not only paved the way but created an easy solution! Yay! I had a large Costco-sized Tide from the days when I was still trudging down to the basement, I wrote my name and apartment number on there and easy peasy, all done.

I love it when something is simple in our collective allergic world.


Alisa said…
That is cool that they were so accomodating! I am surprised you can use Tide since it is such a common irritant, that brand is definitely out for me!
Allergic Girl® said…
i know, who knew tide would be okay? but we've been using it since childhood and it is.

i *should* probably switch to seventh gen and when that tide runs out i probably will give the laundry guys something of that everything free nature...

what do you use?
Meg said…
I use seventh generation, or often just plain borax. But, I am highly allergic, to the point that just smelling those scents can kill me (or at least it seems that way till I get medicine!) Great that you will not have to find some other way to get your laundry done. It is amazing, seems like every other person I meet has trouble with detergent scents, and yet they are still everywhere.
Anonymous said…
lol, I could have written the opening of this post myself. Luckily we have some really nice all natural brands here in Canada. (NatraCare is my fav).

Anyway, Tide and anything mainstream is sheer poison for me. So, lucky you.
Allergic Girl® said…
hey meg,
maybe the detergents scents are indeed getting stronger--they seems worse than when i was a kid.

hey jumpinjulia--canada has all kinds of allergy-friendly things! so great! and yeah i am lucky that some mainstream stuff is okay for me.

but i put a shirt on yesterday from an older batch of clean laundry with the "smell"... oy i could have keeled over, i had to put it in the hamper to be rewashed right away!
Anonymous said…
I use Seventh Gen., All, or Free... in smaller amounts than recommended. I have a W/D in my apartment (wouldn't buy one that didn't have it in-unit). I am also terrified of sending anything out to be dry-cleaned! You and I sound so similar in this allergen-filled world. I'm so glad you have a blog lol.
Allergic Girl® said…
thanks for the comment nicole! a washer dryer in your apt, lucky woman! you know here in nyc there are "green" dry cleaning services, might be worth looking into as less chemicals used.
Scener said…
so are they giving you a discount since you're buying your own detergent to use? ;-)

btw, may i invite you to participate in this tag:

- Ruth
Allergic Girl® said…
so smart, and i will ask today! thanks.

and thanks for the tag, 7 random AG things coming up!
Anonymous said…
That's great that you were able to work out a solution so you laundry can return to being allergy-free! : ) Wow...I had to re-read the part in your posting about you using Tide. I agree with a previous poster about Tide. It's been out for me..for years. But, it's great that you actually had it on hand and you're able to use it!
Marie said…
Hello everyone, I am totally new to the allergy world. My husband had been allergic to anything you can think of till we moved here to the USA. Then it stopped like a miracle. Probably there are different allergens here than back in Europe. The problem is that all of sudden BOTH of us started to suffer like hell in our bedroom! It seems that whenever I do anything with the laundry, both of us have almost like asthma attack. I bought a new laundry detergent recently (Wisk). I suspect it is what causes the problems. I am very happy to find your side, as it seems that it is a pretty common problem! Please, can you tell me ANY advices how to protect ourselves? What detergent to use? I found some detergents that advertise to neutralize dust mite allergens as well (AllerSafe, Allergy-Free), but they are extremely expensive. I have two small kids. I run several loads of laundry every day! Please, help me with some advice. Thanks!
nancythecat said…
You can make your own safe, unscented laundry detergent. See the website:

I am now getting very sick from even smelling laundry detergent on peoples' clothes because the newest chemicals are hazardous. If anyone knows of lawsuits going on, or are ready to start one, please contact me:

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