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Who doesn’t love Costco? Shopping at the store is an experience in and of itself. Far beyond samples, the warehouse store offers highly affordable deals and bulk products that last for ages. But even the best of companies is bound to have a fail at some point, and for Costco that would have to be their Ultra Clean Free & Clear Premium Laundry Detergent.

As Business Insider shares, the free and clear detergent rates a 2.8 out of 5 on Consumer Reports. The lower rating has little to do with the cleaning power and performance of the detergent, but rather it appears to be based on claims that the soap has been known to cause contact dermatitis in some users. This is a particular concern considering free and clear detergents (this one included) are typically marketed for people with sensitive skin. Kirkland’s product even claims to be hypoallergenic on the bottle. 

Unsatisfied customers claim the skin issue is attributed to changing ingredients in the detergent, with one Redditor saying, It seems the rash issue is down to Costco constantly changing their formula. Which begs the question: why don’t they list the ingredients? I can’t find them anywhere.”

Costco's Kirkland Ultra laundry detergent users commonly report dermatitis

While the ingredients may be hard to find on the bottle, the current formula is listed on Costco’s website. Nevertheless, customers are concerned; contact dermatitis is no small issue. The Mayo Clinic describes symptoms as typically including an itchy rash occurring within minutes or hours of exposure that can last two to four weeks. In severe cases, this irritation may cause sleep loss, pain, or infection. 

There are some easy ways to help identify if you are being irritated by laundry detergent. Allergist Tania Elliot told Allure, “If the rash is present on one side of your face and you’re a side sleeper, detergent could be the culprit.” Changing ingredients in laundry detergent are a common cause of skin irritation, but Elliot reminds readers that an allergy can develop at any time, even without changes to the product. Additionally, the use of too much detergent can also cause a rash, especially in high-efficiency washing machines. 

It’s tough to say whether Costco’s detergent itself is the culprit of the complaints, but if you’re one of the customers who has been unhappy, it can’t hurt to try switching detergents. Always check with your doctor for concerning or lasting symptoms.

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