How to Choose the Best Laundry Detergents for Babies

By Christina Simpson | Reviews

Aug 20
Best Laundry Detergent For Babies

If there’s one thing every mother, pro or noob, knows about babies, it is the fact that they can make your usual laundry load double or even triple up even before they arrive. All those onesies and booties and mittens from your baby shower can pile up and, while it’s nice to have such generous people around showing some love to your little bundle of joy, it also means you’ll have more to wash.

Speaking of washing clothes, doing the laundry for your baby’s things can be tricky. Determining which detergent to use is, perhaps, the hardest part of all. If you’re a new mom, especially, you might even be surprised by the need to buy a special detergent for your baby instead of just using your regular laundry soap. If you’re looking for the best laundry detergent for babies, read on below and check out some of our tips and suggestions to help you decide which one to buy.

**Below, you'll find more detailed reviews, but you can also click links above to check current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.

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What You Need to Know About Detergents for Babies

Why Should You Use a Special/different Detergent for Baby

You may be wondering why babies require special kinds of detergents for their clothes and other washables like blankets, sheets, and diapers (if you plan on using cloth diapers, that is). Before you start using these detergents on your baby’s clothes, there are a few things you need to know.

Why Should You Use a Special/Different Detergent for Baby?

Babies’ skin are sensitive. Most of the regular laundry soaps we use contain ingredients that can harm babies skin, causing irritation and itchiness, and they can also trigger skin allergies. This is the reason why there are “special” detergents formulated especially for use on babies’ clothes. Most, if not all, of these detergents, contain very little to zero harmful chemicals, and they are also usually labeled as eco-friendly.

Do You Need It?

So, do you need baby detergent? Or can you just whatever you already have at home? Some moms say that they’ve never used baby detergent from the day their babies were born up until the present or up until their kids grew up while others say that regular detergent irritated their baby’s skin leaving them with no choice but to switch to using baby detergent.

They say all babies are born different, and I couldn’t agree more. Each baby’s needs will vary from the next so making decisions based on other people’s baby’s experiences isn’t always the best way to go. You can, however, use those experiences to sort of figure out what your baby’s needs are.

Baby Skin sensitive

When it comes to laundry, the main goal is to get rid of the dirt, stains, germs, bacteria, and the odor that’s stuck on clothes but for that to happen, you’ll need a strong and effective (read: harsh, full of chemicals) laundry soap. These soaps often leave residues on clothes and those are what comes in contact with baby’s skin and irritates it.

If your baby has sensitive skin or skin conditions like eczema, skin allergies, skin asthma, and the like, it is best to avoid such strong detergents and go for something milder and less irritating. On the other hand, if your baby’s skin doesn’t show signs of irritation from using regular detergent on his clothes then, by all means, go ahead and just use what you are already using at home for everything else.

How to test detergents for babies

Now, how do you know if it’s safe to use any detergent for your baby’s clothes, you ask? It’s quite easy. To see if it’s okay to use your regular detergent on baby’s clothes, wash any one item of his clothing and let him wear it all day or until you notice traces of redness, itchiness, and other signs that your baby may not be comfortable in what he is wearing.

A simple way to tell if the irritation is from your detergent is to check if baby’s skin is also irritated in the area that the piece of clothing washed in regular laundry soap has not touched. Usually, the best place to check is the diaper area since clothes don’t directly come in contact with the skin there.

irritated skin

If the skin on that untouched part is not red, then it’s most likely from the detergent which means it’s time to start looking for milder options. Otherwise, it could be something else affecting your baby’s skin and irritating it, so you’re good to go with the regular detergent.

How to Choose a Detergent for Baby

Just because some detergents are labeled as “baby detergent” or “baby-friendly detergent” does not mean they are better than those that don’t have those labels slapped on them or that they will work for your baby. When choosing a detergent that you can use for your baby’s clothes and stuff, here are some of the things that you should look for:

Fragrance-free - unless the diaper has leaked or the baby threw up, babies’ clothes don’t smell all that bad, so they don’t need perfumed or fragranced detergents to keep odors at bay. Fragrances can irritate the skin by triggering skin allergy. Going fragrance-free with your detergent may be hard if you’re accustomed to the smell of fresh laundry but if your baby’s skin gets irritated by it, it’s just not worth keeping at all.

Dye-free - just like fragrances which are unnecessary, the dye in your detergent could also cause skin irritations for your baby. If your baby has a skin condition called contact dermatitis, especially, dyes should be considered a big no-no. Dyes in detergent can stay on clothes, even after rinsing, and can leave residues which could result in product buildup. When this buildup comes in contact with baby’s skin, it could irritate it and cause rashes.

Gentle ingredients - sometimes, the use or incorporation of chemicals is inevitable so your best bet would be to choose the lesser of two evils and just go with the product that has less harmful chemicals on the list. Read the labels on laundry detergents and remember that, when it comes to detergents for babies, less is more.

This means that the less chemical ingredients there are in the list, the better it is for your baby. Some of the chemicals that you should avoid when choosing a detergent for washing your baby’s clothes include Laureth-9, benzisothiazolinone, bleach, and stabilizers.

Natural - detergents made with natural ingredients can be harder to find for some people but, thankfully, the internet is to the rescue. There are a ton of natural detergents out there that aren’t exactly especially formulated for babies yet are great to use on baby’s clothes. Natural detergents have fewer chemicals compared to traditional commercial detergents which mean that the chances of your child’s skin getting irritated are less.


Top 5 Laundry Detergents 
for Babies


Dreft is one of the most popular baby detergent brands in the market. It is hypo-allergenic and is made especially for babies. If you’re the kind who loves using products that have been tried and tested through the years, you’ll be pleased to know that Dreft has been trusted by moms for over 80 years now. It is also one of the top detergents trusted and recommended by pediatricians.

Dreft

.They have baby laundry detergents that are HE-friendly as well to help moms struggling with stains and odors, especially those who are using cloth diapers


  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Has a nice, light scent that is not overpowering for the nose
    Dreft has a nice, light scent that is not cloying or overpowering. While it is labeled as a baby detergent, the scent that it has is not your typical baby scent.
  • Good price point
    Dreft is considered to be affordable for most people’s budgets though it is a little more expensive compared to regular detergent. A 50 oz bottle priced at $18.22 can cover 32 loads. Considering how it works, though, I would say
  • Does not contain phosphate
    As mentioned earlier, phosphate is one of the things that you will want to avoid in baby detergents and, if you take a close look at the back of a Dreft bottle, you’ll see that it says “contains no phosphate.” This is one ingredient to avoid checked off the list.

Charlie's Soap

Via  Amazon.com

While not technically a baby detergent, Charlie’s Soap is a winner in many moms’ books. If you’re looking for a natural detergent to use on your baby’s clothes, you might want to check this out. It’s an underrated product in general, but many cloth-diapering moms have used and recommended this product. It is HE-friendly, environment-friendly, and non-toxic

Dreft

  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Not easily accessible
    Compared to other brands, Charlie’s Soap is produced by a rather small company. They are yet to be found in the aisles of big supermarkets like Target and Wal-Mart, but they are available in select Whole Foods stores.

    Some moms also say that they find Charlie’s Soap from their local cloth diaper stores, but the surest way to get a hold of the product is to order it online, either via Amazon or directly from the company’s website.
  • Needs help with strong stains and odors
    If you’re dealing with stains that have set and strong odors that won’t come off, you might need a bit of help with your laundry load. Pre-treating badly soiled laundry the night before seems to work best for most moms but you can also try using laundry aid products just before your main wash.
  • Might fade clothes
    One of the most common complaints among moms who use Charlie’s Soap on their babies clothes is that their clothes fade a lot quicker compared to when they used regular detergent.

All Free and Clear

Via  Amazon.com

If you’re not keen on switching to baby detergent, you can try switching to something milder that the whole family can use as well like ALL Free and Clear. This product claims to be “tough on stains yet gentle enough for the whole family.” It can be used in both standard and HE machines, rinses clean, and has a hypoallergenic formula. Of all the baby-safe detergents out there, this one has got to be my personal favorite because of the many benefits that my family gets from it.

All Clean and Free

  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Needs a little work
    Since it is fragrance-free, anything that’s heavily soiled needs to be pre-treated to get the stain and odor out. If you’re dealing with stinky cloth diapers and clothes with spit-ups, you may find that, unless pre-treated, the stink will still cling on to the diapers and the clothes even after a full cycle.
  • Might cause build-up
    ALL Free and Clear claims to rinse clean all the time, but if you’re not careful and you put in too much detergent, you might be setting yourself up for product buildup. The recommended amount is a tablespoon to two tablespoons per full load, depending on how dirty the clothes are.

Looking for a familiar brand to help you out with your baby laundry needs? You might want to check out Arm and Hammer’s Laundry Detergent line. They have one that is formulated especially for sensitive skin that can also be used to wash baby’s clothes and it works for both standard and HE machines, too.

Dreft

  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Not easily accessible
    If you’re not a fan of ordering your household essentials online, you may have a bit of difficulty spotting this particular Arm and Hammer detergent from your local chain of supermarkets. One of the major complaints about Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin among users is that it is not very easily accessible to them, and that can be a problem if you’ve grown accustomed to using it.

Seventh Generation Natural Baby Laundry Detergent is a natural baby laundry detergent that can be used for baby’s clothes and diapers. It is a USDA-certified product that is 95 percent biobased and uses a gentle, hypo-allergenic formula that rinses out well and does not leave residue on fabric. It also features quadruple-enzyme stain fighters to ensure better and easier removal of stains and odors on clothes.

Seventh Generation Natural Baby Laundry Detergent

  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Baby friendly
    Dreft is considered to be affordable for most people’s budgets though it is a little more expensive compared to regular detergent. A 50 oz bottle priced at $18.22 can cover 32 loads. Considering how it works, though, I would say
  • A little goes a long way
    Looking at Charlie’s Soap’s price tag, you’ll think that it’s ridiculously priced at $14.24 for 2.64 lbs, but a little bit of this product can go a long, long way. Charlie’s Soap recommends using one tablespoon of the product for one large load,
  • Free of unnecessary ingredients and toxins
    Some detergents contain unnecessary ingredients that could end up being toxic or irritating baby's skin. These ingredients include fragrance, dyes, optical brighteners, phosphates, and petroleum-based cleaners. Seventh Generation Natural Baby Laundry Detergent, however, is free from all that.

Conclusion

Of the five baby-friendly detergents on our list, I would say that Arm and Hammer is the winner. It has a very mild and gentle formulation that is great for baby’s skin, contains baby- and skin-friendly ingredients, cleans clothes well and leaves them looking and smelling clean, and is free from fragrance and dye. Despite being unscented, it effectively removes odors from clothes, too. It’s rather affordable as well which, I’m sure will make it a winner in many moms’ books.

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About the Author

I’m Christina Simpson and I am a mother of 2 little princesses and a dear little boy. I like to write stuff on PassionMommy, a blog about parenting and motherhood that aims to help other moms in distress (that is, when I’m not at a tea party with my girls or looting treasures with my little pirate boy).