A Novel Multifactorial Approach to Developing Mild Laundry Detergents and Assessing Their Relative Mildness

December 2017 | Volume 16 | Issue 12 | Original Article | 1235 | Copyright © December 2017

Joseph F. Fowler Jr. MD,a Matthew J. Zirwas MD,b Lisa Napolitano BS,c Meghan Russell BS,c and Janet Coope-Epstein PhDc

aUniversity of Louisville and Division of Occupational Medicine at the University of Kentucky, Louisville, KY bMount Carmel East and West Hospitals, Columbus, OH; Private Practice, Columbus, OH cThe Sun Products Corporation, a Henkel Company; Stamford, CT

Figure 3Figure 4inflammatory response compared to other mild detergents, and especially compared to Product 11.

A Comprehensive Analytical Methodology

The Detergent Mildness Index was developed to comprehensively rank the irritancy potential of the mild laundry detergents. Each detergent was individually analyzed using zein, CSM, and cytokine tests. A standardized score was obtained based on a 0-100 scale to rank these detergents in order of expected overall mildness.13 As shown in Figure 5, DPD formula was shown to have the lowest composite DMI score. In contrast, Product 11 was found to have the highest individual zein, CSM, and cytokine values, as well as the highest composite DMI score. In this way, the DPD formula demonstrated superior comprehensive mildness com- pared to other existing mild detergent formulations.


Laundry detergents have the potential to impact the skin in several ways. Carefully selecting the right mild detergent is particularly important for patients with sensitive skin, as up to 2.5% of laundry detergent may remain on fabric as residue. Traditional patch testing provides a first step in demonstrating safety in normal consumer usage, but does not provide practicing dermatologists with enough information to differentiate between the many choices of mild laundry detergents and enable them to con dently recommend more mild formulations for their patients with sensitive skin.