A newborn baby is so perfect, small, and seemingly fragile that it’s normal for new parents to fret over using the “right” detergent to clean their laundry.
The good news is that you can do your baby’s laundry with the same detergent as the rest of the family, provided that your baby does not have sensitive skin or allergies to detergents. A 2002 study (published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology) found that soaps and detergents rarely caused skin allergies. If an adult works with chemicals, such as paint, you may want to separate the loads.
Some experts do suggest that using a liquid rather than powder detergent may be better because powders can be more difficult to rinse out. If your baby’s skin is sensitive, rinse their clothes twice each cycle. Also, use less detergent than recommended by the manufacturer to minimize soap residue. Consider adding a half cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help eliminate soap residue on clothes and towels.
Use a detergent free of added colors and fragrances. Babies are very sensitive to smells, so skip the strong smelling detergent and forgo the fabric softener altogether. When you switch, first test the new detergent on one piece of clothing. If your baby shows a reaction, such as a rash, try a different detergent. Many of the detergents on the market that are specifically marketed to babies have strong colors and fragrances, so be wary of them.
If you are using cloth diapers, wash them separately from the regular laundry, using a gentle detergent. Strong detergents may cause diaper rash. Always wash these articles in hot water and double rinse each load. Follow the diaper manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you are cleaning them properly.
Wash new clothing once before wearing them. Washing will eliminate any left-over residue from the manufacturing process that can irritate your baby’s skin. Read the care label carefully, especially when washing something for the first time to avoid damage. For example, bleach shouldn’t be used on fabrics labeled flame-resistant because it can damage treated fabrics.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, July 2019
- For most babies, using regular laundry detergent and mixing their clothes with yours is just fine.
- If you usually use a strong smelling detergent consider one that is fragrance and dye free to decrease the chance your baby will react negatively toward the detergent.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to washing cloth diapers and always wash them separately from the family’s clothing.