When doing your baby's laundry, it is advised to use a baby washing detergent that has been specifically designed for a baby’s delicate skin.
You might be surprised at just how much dirty laundry your little human is capable of producing, so you want a detergent that is strong enough to get the stains out in one wash (to save having to wash them a second consecutive time), without being too harsh on your little one's skin.
We've spoken to Von Sy, founder of plant-based cleaning product brand Nimble and detergent chemist. He has over a decade of experience working for the world’s largest detergents manufacturer. He shared his thoughts on three main things parents can keep in mind when choosing a detergent for little ones' clothes:
“Through my work in the detergents industry, one of the key things I learned when looking for a detergent to use on sensitive skin is to pick one that will leave minimal residues. Big brand manufacturers often use surfactants (the cleaning ingredient) which are derived from petroleum, which contain heavy metals and other impurities which deposit on the fabrics and can cause irritation for baby’s sensitive skin.
"There are three main things to consider when choosing a baby-skin friendly detergent:
- Use non-bio detergents – non-bio simply means the product doesn’t contain enzymes which deposit in fabrics.
- Use liquid detergent – unlike powder detergent which are made with insoluble ingredients, liquid detergents dissolve easily so less likely to leave residue behind.
- Use eco-friendly detergents – unlike mainstream detergents which are made with petroleum-based chemicals, plant-based ingredients found in eco-friendly products are very gentle on fabrics and skin.”.
We also spoke to Pippa Hobson, an expert at Zoono, the skin and surface sanitiser brand; she said:
“A baby’s skin is super sensitive and therefore much more likely to react to both environmental factors, like temperature, sweat and wind, as well as harsh chemicals, such as dyes, detergents and water quality. As a result, it’s important to use low-toxicity products for all your household chores if you have little ones in the home.
"A few tips for your washing detergent include:
- Choose fragrance-free: Try not to be tempted to buy beautifully scented detergents that use chemical fragrances. Instead, opt for ones that are fragrance-free. You can always spray some natural oils, such as lavender, around your nursery to make it smell wonderful, instead of adding overpowering fragrances to your baby’s clothes and linens.
- Try a patch test first: Before you do a whole load of washing with a new detergent, try washing one item, such as a baby grow or blanket, with the new product first. This way, you’ll know straight away whether it has a negative effect on your baby’s skin – and be able to pinpoint it to that one item. It’s then easy to switch detergents if your baby does have a reaction.
- Look at the ingredients: Some common chemical ingredients can be harsh on sensitive skin, so before you buy, check the packaging. Detergents and softeners that use low-toxicity, natural, plant-based ingredients are much more delicate on baby-soft skin."
Surprised not to see some of the big brand names in our list? We've deliberately chosen those detergents that are specifically designed for babies' delicate, sensitive skin.
So what are the best baby laundry products out there? Here's our guide to the best baby clothes washing detergents:
Best baby detergents to wash baby clothes
These products are the perfect combo to keep your baby clothes clean. They are made for sensitive skin, are dermatologically-tested and vegan-friendly. Bollicine products are free from petroleum, lanolin, mineral oil, PEGs, SLS, SLES and parabens. They're also made with with easily biodegradable vegetable-based surfactants, verified according to the standards set by the ICEA Eco Bio cleaners board. If you like to have liquid detergent and a separate fabric softener, this is the best option for you.
Amazon review: "I love this product and use it for washing my baby's clothes. It doesn’t have a scent (which is how it should be) but clothes smell fresh and are lovely and soft. I recommend it to all my mummy friends. Instructions on the bottle are in Italian but I contacted the seller and had the instructions sent to me in no time at all. Very pleased."
Tough on dirt
NUK childcare is the leading brand of baby laundry products in Germany. It's effective on stains but gentle. This product is made with natural-based ingredients and leaves no residue. One small bottle can be used for up to 12 wash loads and it's suitable for washing at between 20°C to 90°C.
Amazon review: "No smell so it's perfect for baby clothes. I'll definitely buy it again."
Best washing powder for baby's clothes
If you're after the best baby washing powder, this is the one for you. The Bambino Mio is an environmentally friendly laundry detergent suitable for sensitive skin. It can be used on whites, darks and coloured laundry. It's very effective for washing at low temperatures. It's free-from nasties such as dyes, enzymes, optical brighteners and perfumes as it's made from plant and mineral-based ingredients. It's also eco-friendly and is not tested on animals, so you'll be doing your bit for the environment.
Amazon review: "I have been using this powder ever since my baby boy was born, 11 months now. It has good washing results, not strongly perfumed, which I prefer. Sometimes the powder doesn't dissolve completely."
Best for fine fabrics
The Ecover delicate laundry liquid is suitable for fine fabrics, silks and woollens. It was designed to preserve the softness of delicate fibres and protect their colour. It also cares for skin thanks to its plant-based ingredients. It contains no petrochemical-based ingredients, is not tested on animals and the bottle and label are 100% recyclable.
Amazon review: "I've been struggling to find a good eco-friendly laundry detergent for delicate fabrics (silk, lace etc). This product did not fault at all, and very pleased with the result and cost."
Best eco-friendly detergent
This is an Amazon's Choice product, and 1.5 litres is good for 50 washes. It's made from renewable plant extracts. Besides being a laundry detergent, it's also a fabric conditioner. This product is free from any nasty ingredients that can be harmful to your baby's skin.
Amazon review: "This eco friendly laundry product works well, does what it says it will, and I thoroughly recommend. It combines cleansing with conditioning very effectively. It won't tackle really stubborn stains, for which a stain remover is necessary, but for everyday laundry, it is fine and kind to the planet too."
Best for sensitive skin
Laundry Lover is a washing detergent made from naturally derived ingredients, making it gentle on sensitive skin, and free from enzymes that can irritate the skin, optical brighteners and dyes. The allergen-free unique formula is tough on everyday stains without using harsh chemicals. It leaves your baby's clothes smelling fresh and clean.
Tested by Sophie Knight, mum to Eli (2): "This detergent has a lovely, subtle smell - fresh like a fabric conditioner. It got rid of little stains brilliantly, even without an additional stain remover, although with something like berry juice I still used a stain product as well. It left my little boy's clothes lovely and soft, smelling fresh for several days. It's great to use a detergent that you know is designed for children's skin."
How to choose the best baby laundry products
The things to take into consideration when choosing baby laundry products to keep your mind at ease are whether these items are hypoallergenic, cost-efficient, dermatologist/paediatrician recommended and residue-free.
How to wash your baby clothes
Once you've chosen the right baby laundry products, you can usually just put all of your baby clothes and washable items in the washing machine as normal. Some harsher stains, however, might need to be pre-treated. Try baking soda or lemon juice for a natural way to remove stains. Also, baby bubble bath can soften stains and make them easier to remove in the washing machine.
However tempting, don't overload your washing machine. If your washing machine offers it, always select the “hand-wash” setting or the “gentle” cycle to keep clothes in great condition. When drying, chose the option for delicate clothing. Another important tip is to read the labels before washing any clothing and, for maximum efficiency, separate clothes by colour, material or level of dirtiness.
How to wash reusable baby nappies
To wash reusable baby nappies, you first need to remove the waste. You'll then need to fill a bucket with warm water and baby bubble bath or baking soda and soak the nappies to remove the stains (these might require light scrubbing). When the waste has been cleared, they can then be placed in the washing machine. Wash separately.
Did our top picks help you make your choice? Let us know via social media! We'd love to hear from you!
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