Asthma UK community forum

Persil Non-Bio warning

Unilever has recently changed the formulation of its Persil non-biological washing powder. It's no longer ""the original non-bio"" as they falsely claim. Specifically, they've changed the perfume - about the most dangerous ingredient they could change. However, they don't tell you this on the packaging. The only indication of the change in contents is a misleadingly meaningless ""just washed feeling"" circle logo on the packet (and a slightly lower net weight for the same size of packet). This surreptitious change has already caught some people out and given them nasty itchy rashes (the cause of which took a while to work out because Persil had failed to indicate their product had changed materially).

The ingredients list is vague to the point of uselessness. So people will be unable to predict in advance whether or not they will be allergic to the new version of the product. It's very much a case of caveat emptor. The change happened some months ago so most older, safer packets of the product will have been cleared from the shelves by now. Hence it's already too late to stockpile significant amounts of the previous version in the hope Unilever can be persuaded to reverse their decision.

The main purpose of this warning is thus limited to informing people of the change which Unilever/Persil are otherwise ostensibly keeping secret and to alert Persil non-bio users to the possibility that any new symptoms they are experiencing may be the result of the change to Persil - since a significant proportion of customers may well have bought it in good faith, and be under the impression that they hadn't changed anything in their lives, without realising they are in new danger from a previously safe product.

This might also be a good place for people to suggest alternatives which they have found to be safe and build up a picture of which are the safest for the most respondants. Eg suggestions I've already received include: Surcare, Ecover and M&S fragrence-free non-bio.

10 Replies

CathBear has always reacted badly to clothes washed in Persil; many, many years ago her mum determined that this was a factor to bad eczema flare-ups and switched to Ariel. For safety's sake she's avoided all Unilever washing powders/liquids since.

CathBear has never had a reaction to Procter & Gamble's products, and at the moment we use Fairy Non-Bio.



I use Persil Non-Bio and have noticed the perfume had changed. Although I am a non allergy based asthmatic the chest phys said I will react to certain smells and the like. Working in a school I know which kids parents seem to ""dip"" clothes in fabric conditioner so you can imagine my horror when I noticed a similar smell coming from my washer.

Is there anything we can do. Will try Peaksteves recommendations. Both my children react to the perfumes in washing powder and are mild asthmatics.

Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.



If the perfume is the main problem, I find that Fairy Non-bio washing liquid has a weaker fragrance than the powder or tablets.


@ oboelady: ""Is there anything we can do.""

If you are a Persil user and their new product has caused you harm (or even inconvenience), you can try complaining at them (eg write a letter to the managing director or similar).


Public pressure

Well its certainly worth a try.

I will write to them and see what their response is. The more people who comment the more likely we are to get the perfume removed - what was wrong with the natural fresh smell.

I did try Fiary non bio, but my son's skin reacted badly. My daughter also has skin problems so I need to be careful.

Will let you know if they respond.



I use Ecover No-bio liquid which is kind to both my skin and the environments.

( Tesco's own brand of eco wash is very similar)

There are quite a few similar eco-friendly products on the market which are more skin friendly too.

another one is Soap-nuts, you place battered soap nuts in a little calico bag and they have natural saponins in them which wash clothes quite well.

I tried a sample lot a year or two ago, the only problem I had was the bag coming undone and my clothes being full of little bits of soap nut!

there are also some wash ball things which are chemical free.



Thanks SEf for this - my daughter - not really allergic - commented that the washing smelled like other peoples now. Why dint this alert me - no idea. But I have had a flare up of exzema on my arms for no apparent reason as I thought. Thanks to all who put other suggestions and what suits them I shall be trying them as well as sending Persil one of my unhappy consumer letters.

How frustrating is it when a manufacturer changes a product you have found after much trial and error, shampoo is usually a culprit for this.

Sandi xx Now delighted with having to readthe washing powder packets as well as any packaged food...


I use wash balls which can be brought from quite a few places. At the moment i get them from the Kleeneasy catalog, they also sell them in Lakeland and Woolworths. They are chemical, odour free and clean very well. Ive 3 boys so they have been tested on all manner of dirt and stains. For years i had problems with washing powders causing rashes. Thats why i decided to try them, and havent had any problems since.


@ sandi: ""shampoo is usually a culprit""

I've found that Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo has remained safe, even though it does have a sort of perfume - ie of babies!



Finally got round to calling Persil who said that they had added the extra ingredient. They have offered to reimburse me for my purchases of persil (had two lots in) and suggested I try the capsules which they told me did not have this new ingredient in. I did point out that whilst I would do this they were considerably more expensive than the powder.

Haven't got round to trying out the recommendations from everyone yet - am busy finishing my uni course so am living a blinkered life at the moment.



You may also like...