If your baby’s eczema is aggravated by laundry detergents, keeping their clothes looking good without irritating their skin can be really tough – especially when they are starting on solids and food starts going everywhere! Most readily available stain-removers contain enzymes that will damage the silk fibres in specialist eczema clothing (including our own ScratchSleeves). They also contain strong detergents, optic brighteners and fragrances which can irritate sensitive skin and bring on an eczema flare-up. Here are our top tips for removing stains without aggravating your eczema baby’s skin (or damaging their clothes).
Soaking stained clothing as soon as possible: Soaking stained clothes in a bicarbonate of soda solution as soon as they come off your little one should minimise any staining. We kept a bucket of homemade stain solution (about a gallon of water, a tablespoon of bicarb and a dose of our regular laundry powder) by the washing machine when our little ones were small. All the bibs, foody clothing and anything that their nappies had leaked on went straight into the bucket for later washing. By not letting the clothes dry out, the stains usually didn’t have the chance to take hold.
- Pre-treat stained areas: As we line dry most of our laundry, my usual tactic is to check the clean clothes for any lingering stains as they go onto the line. Anything with a stubborn stains gets put to one side and, while they are still damp, I rub both sides of the stained area with a soap based stain bar before popping them back in the wash. Our stain bar comes from Skin Salveation so has no known irritants in it (and it comes free with their laundry powder). Other soap based stain bars are available from the supermarkets but if you use the mainstream brands do make sure that you wash clothing thoroughly to remove any potentially irritating residues.
- Use the washing line: Leaving the clothes in the sunshine is an amazing easy and effective way to rid of any organic stains, especially food and nappy related ones. We’ve even managed to get rid of tomato based stains this way, 2 days on the line does the trick for most stains, even if it is cloudy. If you baby’s eczema is aggravated by pollen, give any clothing that you have hung on the line another wash and tumble dry before using it.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Really tough stains should come out with 3% hydrogen peroxide poured directly onto the stain. But hydrogen peroxide is a bleach and may fade some dyed fabric slightly so make sure you wash it out straight away (the striped fabric used to make our ScratchSleeves and PJs should be fine as long as it is rinsed promptly). Hydrogen peroxide breaks down to water and oxygen in light (which is why the bottle it comes in is dark or opaque) so there is no risk any residues causing skin irritation so long as you wash the garment after application and leave it in the light for a couple of hours. This method of stain removal should be used sparingly as it will degrade the fabrics slightly every time it is used – but it’s great for rescuing a favourite outfit (or a wine stained tablecloth!).
- Allergy friendly laundry bleaches and stain removers: there are a number of stain removers and laundry bleaches available that claim to be allergy friendly. These are usually based on bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide with some added surfactants (detergents or dispersants) to help the cleaning process along. While these are convenient, which is definitely a consideration when you have little ones under your feet, you can get the same stain removal power using the suggestions above without the risk of possible reactions to other ingredients (and for a fraction of the price).
A note of caution: As with all things eczema related, finding effective, eczema friendly laundry solutions and stain-removers that work for your family can be a case of trial and error. Products labelled as hypo-allergic or natural can cause reactions and things which work for one baby’s eczema, may not work so well for yours.
Here at ScratchSleeves we don’t just share our experiences of bringing up an eczema child and favourite allergy friendly recipes, we also manufacturer and sell our unique stay-on scratch mitts and PJs for itchy babies, toddlers and children. We now stock sizes from 0-adult years in a range of colours. Visit our main website for more information.