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Detergents, clothing and the consumer with sensitive skin

Rowe, Helen D. (2006) Detergents, clothing and the consumer with sensitive skin. International journal of consumer studies, 30 (4). pp. 369-377. ISSN 1470-6423

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Abstract

A typical detergent formulation for domestic garment washing is a complex formulation comprising: surfactants, builders, bleaches and auxiliary agents. Repeated exposure to surfactants can cause damage to the lipid film layer of the skin. Textile constructions used in clothing are also complex. Most apparel fabrics will be subject to a laundering process containing detergent at some time in the life cycle and thus it can be surmised that the combination of clothing and detergent is likely to be the cause of some skin problems. Certain fibre types show higher absorption rates than others. If surfactants present in domestic detergents are preferentially absorbed into the fabric during laundering and inadequately removed by rinsing a build-up of the surfactant may exacerbate skin irritation. This paper offers a review of the debate on the effects of detergents on skin disorders plus recent research on clothing and detergents.

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