For families managing eczema or for babies and children with sensitive skin, every little decision we make can cause skin irritation or eczema symptoms to appear or worsen. This means we have to do things around our home a little bit differently than other families.
When my daughter Dani was a baby, I was able to use any commercial products in the home. I used scented baby laundry detergent, chemically derived soaps, washes and lotions, in wash fabric softeners, and even scented baby wipes. When she spit up on her clothes or had an explosive poop up the back of her onesie, I would use a spray-on stain remover to try to salvage her clothing before washing. When Vinnie was a baby, I went ahead and used the same products as I did with Dani because they were familiar, marketed as safe for baby and they appeared okay for her skin. I am now aware of how much my choices contributed to Vinnie’s eczema.
The truth is, babies and children with eczema and sensitive skin still get stains. Vinnie was a super happy, messy, drooly baby and is now an active, creative 8-year old boy. A few minutes outside means instant grass stains on the knees and a white t-shirt? We can forget about that. I have had to learn how to safely and effectively treat and remove stains from his clothes, without contributing to his eczema.
Avoid Stain Removers
Commercial stain removers on the market (even the ones designed for babies) contain some pretty harsh, heavy-duty chemicals to help lift stains such as Acetone, Ammonia, Sodium Thiosulfate, and Turpentine. These sprays also often contain strong fragrances to mask the unsettling smell of the chemical compounds. When you then place the sprayed garments into your laundry, those chemicals contaminate the water and spread to a full load of clothes then onto the skin while wearing. These chemicals are not a safe choice for anybody but especially for those with sensitive, eczema-prone skin.
Water, soap + a toothbrush
I have found that soaking stains is the best way to remove them, not chemicals. Fill a clean spray bottle with freshwater and a few drops of fragrance-free dish soap. Spray the stain until it is fully saturated and let sit overnight.
Before washing, use a toothbrush and a small amount of fragrance-free laundry soap and brush the stain to help lift it before adding it to the load of laundry. For tough set-in stains, you may wish to do this method a few times. If the stain is still there after washing, don’t put it in the dryer! That will set the stain forever. Give it another go with soaking and brushing again. It only takes a few minutes and it is much more effective than a spray and wash product and much better for the environment. One less item to buy, one less item to throw away, don’t you just love that!
Remember, it’s the small, mindful choices we make every day that can truly change the course of eczema and benefit your family as a whole. Celebrate those small, baby steps and daily skin improvements.