The Ultimate Guide On How To Wash Baby Clothes

Ensuring your baby's clothes are clean can often feel like an uphill battle that might leave you wondering, "what is the best way to wash my baby's clothes?"

Do not stress over your baby's mountain of laundry, as we have put together the ultimate guide to washing baby clothes here. Tag along to learn some of the best ways to maintain your little ones' clothes.

parents with child doing the washing

Ensure You Are Using A Baby Laundry Detergent; What To Look For

You might be wondering which is the best detergent for baby clothes? And whether you can wash your newborn's clothes with regular detergent? Well, cleaning your baby's clothes should not be challenging, as long as you have the correct information, which is what we are delivering.

When looking for a baby laundry detergent, you must find the right one for your newborn. Baby detergents are in so many brands that it might be difficult for you to choose. BUT you can also use the regular laundry detergent, provided your little one does not have sensitive skin.

The one essential point you should never forget is that when choosing a baby laundry detergent, you must go for a non-biological detergent. This is mainly because your baby has very delicate and sensitive skin, which can irritate due to the stain-busting enzymes in biological detergents.

You might also want to stick to a fragrance-free option as some newborns can be sensitive to any products with scents. It is also essential to distinguish between fragrance-free from unscented products. Unscented products often have a masking fragrance that takes away the scent but can still irritate your newborn.

When washing baby clothes, you should also look for hypoallergenic and dye-free detergents. Harsh brighteners, or industrial-strength bleach, can trigger skin conditions like cradle cap or eczema in your newborn.

You should use a gentle, baby-friendly laundry detergent when washing your little ones' clothes. If you notice any skin irritation or rash on your baby's skin, you should consult your pediatrician for further guidance.

There is also the option of making your homemade detergent that most parents prefer. Making your baby detergent is preferable as you are sure of the chemicals that go into it. It is also a cheaper option compared to buying baby laundry detergents.

And just like other laundry products, there are also types of baby laundry detergents. They are:

  • Tablets: These are pre-portioned amounts of detergents that you pop into the machine when doing baby laundry.
  • Liquid: in the liquid detergents, you portion out and pour into the machine the right measure for the load you are doing.
  • Powder: the powder detergent is similar to the liquid detergent as you have to measure and then pour that specific amount into the machine.

Whichever baby detergent you choose, ensure that it is way above your little ones' reach on a high and safe shelf. This is because when consumed, it can be fatal. -advises the Quality Control Manager and trekking expert from Bookatrekking specializing in hiking in Austria.

How Much Laundry Detergent Do I Use?

When washing your baby's clothes, the amount of laundry detergent you should use per load will depend on many factors like the hardness of the water supply, the concentration of the detergent, the type of washing machine you are using, and the load of the clothes.

Using too much detergent does not mean your baby's clothes will become cleaner. If anything, the opposite might be true. If you want to know whether you are using too much detergent, look for these signs in your baby clothes:

  • Do they feel stiff and scratchy?
  • Are there traces of detergent residue left on your baby's clothes?
  • Does the laundry feel soapy or sticky?
  • Are your baby's colored clothes looking dull and the white clothes looking grey?
  • Is your high-efficiency washer smelling musty or foul?

When washing your newborn's clothes, there are instructions for the proper measurements. Follow this measurement on the bottle's label without eyeballing. Remember that too much detergent on your baby's clothes can lead to skin irritation.

Also, when using too much detergent, it might be hard for your machine to rinse out all the soap residue from the clothes and the machine. Ensure to follow the manufacturer's direction and only use the proper amount and type of detergent required.

Best Setting On Washing Machine For Baby Clothes

Always follow instructions on your baby garment care label on the inside part of the cloth. Some baby clothes will have it, and some will not. So, generally, delicate baby clothes (lacy dresses or layette items) are best when washed on a delicate/gentle cycle with other knits or undergarments. For any clothing with strings, remember first to put them in a mesh laundry as it helps avoid tangling. 

When washing your baby's clothes, always go for a cold water setting and a gentle wash cycle. This is because the cold water helps keep your baby's garment intact and soft. Hot water, on the ether hand, might cause your baby to clothes to shrink.

Picking the correct type of detergent is also essential. Powders tend to stick on your baby clothes, especially when you run a cold cycle. This residue might irritate your baby's sensitive skin. Liquid detergent is more ideal as it dissolves easily in water without leaving any residue compared to the powder one.

If your machine includes a cycle with extra rinses, it will be great for your baby clothes as you can always extra rinse to remove detergent traces in the clothing fibers. If you wash baby clothes separately, you can always run the cleaning cycle or an empty cycle at a high temperature with vinegar in the drum to remove any odors. This helps kill bacteria and creates a more hygienic environment for your baby's clothes.

What Temperature Should I Wash My Baby Clothes?

It is always very tempting to wash your baby's clothes at the highest temperature indicated on the baby care label. This should not be the case as it might shrink your baby's clothes. A temperature of 30-40 degrees is ideal for removing any lingering dust or dirt on your newborn's outfit.

But if we are talking about reusable nappies which are heavily soiled, the high temperatures might be ideal as it will help ensure all the bacteria have been removed from the stain during the cleaning process.

Although hot water is not recommended when washing baby clothes as it causes the clothing fiber to pill and is not ideal for all fabrics, you can still use the hottest temperature that the garment care label instructions recommend.

If you decide to follow the garments care instructions, then be keen on reviewing each item's label and make sure you know what the laundry symbols mean. And if you decide to use cold water on your baby clothes, use a detergent that is tough on baby stains, even in cold water.

Should I Pre-Wash Baby Clothes?

Any new clothing item for your newborn, whether purchased from the store or hand-me-down, should be washed before dressing your young one in it. You cannot know what might have come into contact with the clothes before you got them. Remember that your baby's skin is likely to become more irritated or develop a rash due to dust and dirt.

Also, did you know that most baby clothes, including newborns, are sprayed with chemicals such as optical brighteners to look new, crisp, bright, and unwrinkled in the store? This makes washing baby clothes before wearing an excellent idea to protect your little ones' sensitive skin.

Pre-washing baby clothes will help remove these toxic sprays from the fabric, therefore helping prevent the chemicals from coming into contact with your newborn's skin. 

When washing your newborn's new clothes, remember to check the clothing for stickers. Most stores add size stickers to clothing items. These stickers are easy to pull off before washing, but leaving the sticker on might leave a gooey residue. That is how to wash baby clothes the first time.

Can I Wash My Baby's Clothes With Other Clothing?

If your baby is using a different laundry detergent from the rest of the family, then you can wash her clothes separately from those of the rest. But if you change the entire household to the baby-safe detergent, all the clothes can be washed together.

If your primary purpose for isolating baby cloth is hygiene, you should remember that your baby is guaranteed to come into contact with your clothing. When holding and cuddling your baby, their skin touches your clothes.

You may also choose to wash your baby's items by themselves using a gentle-baby-friendly detergent.

There are also times that you should not wash your baby's clothes with other clothes. These are:

  • When someone in your household works with dangerous chemicals, it is best to err on the side of safety rather than expose your little one to irritants by mixing up clothes.
  • What detergent do you use? You might prefer heavily scented detergents that are likely too strong for your baby.
  • What other items you are also washing
  • How dirty baby clothes are throughout the day due to the pee and spit-up, which might be enough to do a load daily.
  • Your baby has eczema or super sensitive skin, which might make them require a special detergent.


Reasons To Opt For Baby Only Loads

It is generally advisable to wash your baby's clothes separately from the rest of the family, especially during the first 100 days, also known as the "fourth trimester ."And as you tackle your baby's enormous load of onesies, jumpers, and nappies, you probably got a lot of questions, most important: "how to wash newborn clothes"? And do you need to wash them separately?

The answer is- yes, you do. Here are the reasons why:

  • You use special baby detergents when washing your newborn's clothes. This is because babies have very delicate and sensitive skin, which the stain-busting enzymes in biological detergents can irritate.
  • Most of the baby's clothes must be pre-soaked in water before washing. Pre-soaking your baby's clothes before washing ensures that the stains that might have gotten to them are softer and easier to be removed. Reusable nappies with baby poop are examples of clothes that need to be pre-soaked. If the material of your baby's cloth allows it to pre-soak in hot water, the better as it helps kill many germs.
  • Baby clothes need to be soaked in warm water after the wash. Soaking in warm water after washing ensures that the laundry detergent and other allergenic bacteria are ultimately killed.
  • Most baby clothes should be washed at a temperature of between 30-40 degrees, while some adult cloth needs to be washed at 50 degrees and more which is too high and might affect your baby cloth's flame-resistant effectiveness.
  • Washing baby clothes separately helps you prevent your baby from bacteria that other family members' clothes might spread. A baby's skin is sensitive, and if a family member suffers from a skin ailment, the chances of your baby contracting it are higher if laundry is done together.
  • Most brand-level washing instructions in the material of your baby's cloth might differ from adult clothes. Remember, baby clothes are specially designed differently, unlike adult clothing. 
  • You should rinse the baby cloth twice to ensure the soap is entirely removed from the fabric and the bacteria is washed off. This might mean using lots of water if you mix baby cloth with the family.

Avoid Fabric Softeners

If you have a newborn, you might be wondering whether "you can use a fabric softener on baby clothes?" You might want to use a fabric softener due to the milk smell that the baby keeps burping after every feeding. The answer is NO. You should steer clear of fabric softeners when washing your baby and children's clothes as they can cause irritation and comprise the fabric's fire resistance qualities. 

Usually, baby clothes are treated with flame-resistant chemicals for safety in case of an emergency or accident. Using fabric softeners can affect this treatment's effectiveness, making the fabric more vulnerable to flames. This is because fabric softeners contain emulsifiers and alcohol ethoxylates, which are flammable.

If you are worried about your baby's cloth becoming hard because of not using a fabric softener, do not be. To make your baby's cloth soft, put the clothes on a very gentle, delicate, or wool setting cycle. This is because the spin at the wool setting is less vigorous and will not completely dry off your baby's clothes.

Wash them at a low temperature with a mild non-bio detergent ( non-bio works well at temperatures as low as 20 degrees). Let your baby clothes dry out naturally to avoid using a tumbler dryer. This helps the clothes stay soft without the use of a fabric softener.

How Often Should I Wash Baby Clothes?

How often you wash your baby's clothes depends on how fast your little one can create an enormous pile of laundry. The obvious answer is that once your newborn has worn something, it needs to be washed before they can wear it again.

This is mainly because clothes can carry germs ( that are obviously not visible to your naked eye), and you also most probably do not want to re-use anything with stains that are mainly from:

  • Blowouts
  • Diaper leaks
  • Drool
  • Milk spills
  • Spit ups

That said, you can either decide to have two main approaches when wondering "how to wash baby clothes?". They are:

  • small, frequent loads 
  • Batching ( once per week load)

Small Frequent Loads

Do you hate large pile-ups of work that might make you freak out? Then that is the benefit of washing baby clothes every other day, so you will not have to handle a massive laundry backup.

And as babies are messy, the chances of you running out on their burp cloths, onesies, and outfits are very low as they will always be there when you need them.

Small frequent loads are also not time-consuming as compared to batching. In this approach, you will spend less time sitting, washing, drying, and folding your baby's clothes.

All that glitters is not gold; though this approach promises less time doing your baby laundry, it might also start to feel like laundry is your entire life, especially if you are one to hate monotony.

Batching (once per week)

Alternatively to washing your baby's clothes every day, you can save up your baby's clothes for a while ( probably a week ) and commit a couple of hours to knock the whole batch out at once, probably on a Saturday.

While this alternative might work, its downside is that you will have a significant backup by the end of the week and may run low on essential items. Also, it is time-consuming compared to the frequent small loads. On the flip side, you will not be doing laundry daily.

Drying Baby's Clothes

Drying your baby clothes is no different than drying your other family clothes if you are "wondering how to dry baby clothes”. But in the case of lacy dresses and sweaters, you should dry them by laying them flat. 

Do not look at your little ones' clothes and assume they will dry quickly because of their size. They take longer to dry than adult clothes because of their decreased surface area. If you are tumble drying and want them to dry quickly, you can toss a dry towel in to tumble with your baby clothes.

Line drying your baby's clothes is more advised as the sunlight has germ-busting properties and might help make white clothes whiter.


clothes pegged on drying rack outside


Folding Versus Hanging


lady folding baby clothes


Do you ever look at your baby cloth and wonder if you should hang or fold them? Well, how you choose to store them after laundering is absolutely up to you.

If you decide to hang them, you should purchase the baby-sized hangers, BUT on clothes like onesies and socks, you can toss them in the drawer. Or you might decide to fold them as they will not wrinkle due to their small size.

How To Remove Stain

With your little one, stains will happen. The number one rule in handling stains is treating them as soon as it happens ( if at all that is possible!) This is how to handle them:

baby with food on mouth and top


Protein-Based Stains

These stains are among the most challenging stains to remove but not impossible. You need to use a detergent or stain remover with enzymes to remove this type of stain. You can also opt for oxygen-color-safe bleaches.

Pre-soak the stained fabric with an enzyme cleaner in cold to lukewarm water as these stains set when exposed to heat. Use a paper towel to remove the stain, and if it involves solids, use a blunt knife. Then machine wash the garment.

Urine Stains

For urine stains, rinse the garment in cold water and soak it for 15 minutes. Then select a warm cycle as it helps eliminate any bad smells. Spray some lemon juice directly on the stain before laundering and let it dry in the sun. You can also opt to use baking soda paste by rubbing it on the stained surface.

Baby Oil Stains

When handling baby oil stains, pre-treat the area with the stain with grease-busting dish soap before laundering. You can also scrub the affected area with a toothbrush to ensure the dish soap penetrates the fabric, lifting the oil.

Stains From Fruits And Vegetables

For fruits and vegetable stains, create your water and vinegar mixture. Apply this mixture to the stain and allow it to sit for ten minutes. You can then wash your baby's clothes as you usually would.

Additional Tips And Precautions

  • If you wash your baby's laundry separately, always start with the baby's load
  • Always run the cycle two times.
  • Can you use drier sheets on baby clothes? NO
  • Read your baby's clothes washing instructions carefully for material integrity purposes
  • Stay off chemical detergents
  • Do not use fabric softeners on your baby clothes
  • Wash baby's nappies separately from their other clothes


Although your newborn is a pea-sized nut, you will be surprised at how many clothes they can get through within a day. It is, therefore, best to be aware of the correct way to wash and handle their clothes, as a newborn's skin is far more sensitive than yours.

We hope you will find the advice and tips above helpful as you thrive with your bundle of joy.

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