Hey macncheese (my favourite food!) Great question. Making sure the washing powder which I’m working on is hypo-allergenic is really important, especially as we want everyone to be able to use it, even if you have certain allergies. Something that does react with lots of people’s skin wouldn’t ever make it on the supermarket shelves!
Most of the detergents that I work with are already in washing powders today. One of them is called “SLES”. Next time you are near a bottle of shampoo, have a look on the ingredients at the back. Does it say “Sodium Laureth Sulfate” (SLES) ?? This is a really popular detergent which cleans things really well. In really high concentrations it is an irritant, but the concentration used inside washing powder/shampoo is really low, so it doesn’t tend to react with people’s skin. It’s not “hypoallergenic” though.
So for the newer, more environmentally-friendly detergents that I’m working on, it would be amazing if these were hypoallergenic. It would make them much more popular too! Luckily, from other people’s research, it seems like they are less allergenic 🙂 they are also non-toxic, antibacterial, and totally biodegradable (meaning they break down easily rather than collect in rivers and lakes), which makes them much better ingredients for washing powder than the man-made ones. 🙂