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

A three-pronged testing approach was developed with tests to correlate with the level of protein denaturation, the amount of overall SC damage, and the extent of cytokine IL-1α release after detergent exposure. In this way, multiple aspects of skin responses in sensitive patients could be considered. This led to the development of the DMI, to allow for the ranking of various mild laundry detergent formulations, by predicting potential mildness for patients with sensitive skin. Results of this study showed that the DPD formula had the mildest effect on protein denaturation, SC damage, and IL-1α release, as measured by zein, CSM and cytokine testing, respectively, compared to all other commercially available sensitive skin formulas, resulting in the lowest DMI composite score. It would be expected that lower surfactant concentration would be milder on skin. However, the DPD formula contains 18% surfactant and appears more mild, while Products 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 all contain lower surfactant levels, yet produce harsher results. Thus, this study shows that thoughtful surfactant selection and composition, as guided by dermatologists, produces a product with superior mildness, while maintaining the required cleaning benefits. These results demonstrate that experienced dermatologists have an important role to play in the selection of ingredients and the development of a mild laundry detergent formulation. It is understood that laboratory testing is intended to provide guidance in understanding the relative mildness of laundry de- tergent formulations across this category and that these tests are not directly comparable to exact consumer usage. However, these methods can serve as important tools in the design of mild formulations. This objective scientific testing can help dermatologists to choose which mild laundry detergent to recommend to the patients with sensitive skin.


Joseph F. Fowler, MD has acted as a consultant and received honoraria relevant to the topic from the Sun Products Corporation. Matthew J. Zirwas, MD has acted as a consultant and received honoraria relevant to the topic from the Sun Products Corporation. Lisa Napolitano, BS was an employee of the Sun Product Corporation during the development of this manuscript. Meghan Russell, BS is a current employee of the Sun Product Corporation. Janet Coope-Epstein, PhD employee of the Sun Product Corporation. Funding/Support: This work was supported by The Henkel Corporation.


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Janet Coope-Epstein PhD Janet.coope-epstein@henkel.com