BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Laundering Baby Clothes
Berkeley Parents Network >
Laundering Baby Clothes
I am expecting our first child in a month. I would like to learn how
people do their laundry with baby clothes. There are expensive,
specially-for-baby brands of detergents (Dreft, Ivory snow) that people
recommended, and that probabily means doing baby laundry separately and
spending even more $$.. I wonder if the dye-free, perfume-free detergent
(maybe plus one more rinse cycle) would also work for baby's delicate
How about fabric softeners and dryer sheets?
My son, now three years old had severe eczema. We were very careful to
only use detergents without fragrance or dyes. Tide and Cheer both have
products that worked well for us. For the dryer we did the same - we
use Bounce without fragrance. I have washed our clothes together and
everything held up well.
We washed our clothes separately from the baby clothes for about a week. We
have always used detergent with no perfumes or dyes, so that was never an
issue. I understand that using fabric softener on cloth diapers and diaper
wraps makes them less absorbent.
What worked well for us was washing once with a dye-free,
perfume-free detergent, then running the clothes through
the full wash cycle again with no detergent.
We had no problems with baby's skin. I think the extra
rinse is important, as I've often noticed suds on the
clothes if I open the washer right after the regular
cycle is done. The soap isn't thoroughly rinsed out of
the clothes in the regular cycle (at least with my
I did what you've already suggested - dye-free, perfume-free detergent
with an extra rinse - when my daughter was a baby and it seemed to work
fine. Although I had purchased Ivory, I found out later that you can't
use it on sleepwear for baby/children since it is a soap and will remove
the flame retardants.
As for softeners/dryer sheets - I never used them because the fragrance
just seemed to chemically to me. I didn't want that next to the baby.
We don't use fabric softeners for a variety of reasons. But we found that
our daughter's skin responded best to the dye- and perfume-free mainstream
detergent (All or Arm & Hammer, etc.). Everything else, including all the
expensive guilt-marketed baby stuff, gave her a rash.
Laundry soap for babies: For my own and my daughter's clothes, I use plain
old unscented Trader Joe's laundry detergent. It's cheap and concentrated
so a box or bottle (comes in powder or liquid) lasts a long time. I'm
allergic to almost all scents in brand-name products, and the smell of
talcum powder literally makes me gag and gives me a headache, so I avoid
most "baby" products. The clothes come out smelling and looking fine to me,
and when time and weather permit, I dry them on the line outside rather
than in the dryer, and then they smell super, though they might not be as soft.
I never did my baby's laundry separately, but I've always used Dye-Free,
perfume-free detergent for my own sensitive skin. It seems to work just
fine, and I haven't ever done a second rinse.
We have used Tide Free with for our child's clothes since she was born.
(She is now almost 20 months old). We wash all of the family's clothes
together, and have not had a problem with this method. Good luck, Gail
I do a separate load of baby clothes, sheets, towels, etc. every week,
all colors and fabrics together, with Dreft and warm water, and it has
worked out fine. My son does not have problems with his skin, so I
probably could use scent- and dye-free Tide or the like, but have not as
yet. Such products are very harsh, however, so I would want to do at
least one *warm* rinse. The other detergent we have used, both for
ourselves and the kid, is an environmentally friendly liquid laundry
product, Ecover, that we get at Whole Foods or the Berkeley Bowl. It
comes in several sizes, including a biggish plastic bottle, and is fine
for baby clothes. It is not a particularly "budget" product, however.
I prefer to do the kid's wash separately, so that I can better control
what he's exposed to, and it's not a problem to collect one load over
the course of 4-7 days. As to dryer sheets and fabric softeners - I
think those are a big waste of money and that you'd be better served
buying the milder soap or detergent. Have fun.
Many babies are sensetive to the perfume and dyes in detergents.
Believe it or not, Dreft has fragrance and even though some babies are
ok with that, our pediatric dermetologist recommended All Free and
Clear as a better option. Absoutely NO FABRIC SOFTNER OR DRYER SHEET.
Even adults should really not use them if they have any sensetivities.
I was allergic to them though I did not find that out till this year.
Suddenly all my allergies disappered when I stopped using them.
Downey makes a "downey free" but why bother?? If you want to talk
some more, email me.
About washing baby clothes: I've been washing all of my daughter's (9 1/2
mos) clothes with regular detergent (Tide, usually) since she was born. I
did one load after she got home with Tide and tried the clothes on her,
keeping an eye out for reactions, and had no problem. This has worked for
pretty much all of the other moms that I know. I'd say give it a shot
before going out and investing in all the special detergents. At least
that way, if you do have to use them, you'll know it's because that's what
your baby needs. Good luck!
Regarding detergent and baby clothes.
Not all babies have sensitive skin. I have always washed both my kids
clothes with our clothes and with our regular detergent, Arm and Hammer
scent free, and it has never been a problem. We don't use any fabric
softeners though. But some of my friends babies skin are more sensitive,
and they use special detergent. Hopefully you won't have to.
I have had no problems washing my baby's clothes with perfume-free, dye-free
detergents; All, Tide, and Arm and Hammer all work, without even an extra
rinse cycle. (I don't use much soap, since it's not as tough the clothes
have ground-in dirt or anything.) She's five months old now, and we've been
doing this since she was bornwith no sign of any allergic reaction. Your
baby's skin may be more prone to irritation, but otherwise I see no reason
to spend the extra money on Dreft etc.
Couldn't tell you about fabric softeners and dryer sheets, though, 'cause I
don't use either.
One more point about fabric softeners that wasn't made by responders so
far--the allergy doctor at Kaiser who treats my toddler for excema pointed
that IF I choose to use a fabric softener, it should be the kind I put in
the washing machine, not the sheets one adds to the clothes in the dryer,
which work by coating the clothes (with a wax, I think) and is definitely
going to contact the skin, even if it is scent-free. The fabric softener in
the washer is less likely to be right on the surface of the cloth in contact
with skin--it either penetrates into the fibers or is rinsed out or
both--can't remember that part of the explanation.
We were both grad students when our son (almost 3) was born, and we
didn't have time to do separate laundry, so I decided to use the
all free (perfume-free, dye-free (unfortunately not also expense
free!)) soap and it worked great.
Be sure to wash all new clothes before the baby wears them too.
I was happy that this worked since several people in my family
have severe skin allergies, so I was on the look-out for any
this page was last updated: May 15, 2006
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network