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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Itching Caused by Laundering?

By Dr. Laundry June 17, 2010

Q. Is there any possibility that my use of Clorox bleach in my laundering is a cause of my severe itching? I do an extra rinse to try to eliminate residue.

I am away from home for extended periods of time in which I have no itching at all. I do not use bleach when I am at the laundromat, but I use the same soap. Shortly after I return home, I have terrible itching. I’m trying to isolate a cause.

A. I seriously doubt that the use of Clorox® Regular-Bleach is the cause of the irritation. The liquid bleach reacts with stains/soils breaking them down into smaller parts so that they can be more easily removed from your clothes by the detergent. The end reaction products are 95-98% salt and water plus the soil parts. These are removed along with any leftover bleach in the subsequent rinse. If you do an extra rinse, that is double “insurance.”

Another item to consider is an environmental one. Personally, I have allergic-type reactions at home during certain times of the year. If I travel to another area like Lake Tahoe or Arizona, these symptoms disappear. You might try adding the liquid bleach to a load while you’re away to check your hypothesis. No reaction in the away location would mean you can scratch the bleach off your list.