How to Wash Baby Clothes and Remove Stains

How to Wash Baby Clothes

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

You'll get a lot of advice as a new parent, but how to wash baby clothes often isn't part of the information onslaught. If you want your baby's clothes to look and smell as sweet and fresh as your little one, baby laundry is a skill you'll want to master quickly. Do you need special detergent? What's the best baby clothes stain remover? These tips will help you keep those baby clothes in tip-top shape.

Wash Before Wearing

It's unlikely that your baby would be seriously harmed by new, unwashed clothes, but skin irritation or allergy could make your baby uncomfortable. Babies can be sensitive to sizing; a finish on new clothes that keeps them looking nice in the store. During shipping, those new clothes also could have come into contact with dirt, bugs, or rodents. Washing before showing off baby's coming home outfit or any other tiny ensemble is a good idea.

special laundry detergent for baby clothing

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Keeping up With Baby Laundry

Babies can go through many outfits a day. There are two schools of thought on keeping up with the endless clothing changes and baby laundry piles. The first is buying baby clothes in larger quantities so you can change baby's outfit several times per day and still have enough wardrobe options for the next few days. The second is to buy fewer clothes and wash all of your baby's outfits several times each week. Choose the option that best fits your budget and your schedule.

Basic Stain Removal

Pre-treating stains help keep your baby clothes looking like new. Formula, diaper accidents, and brightly colored baby food can be difficult to remove, but taking time to work on the stains before washing should improve your success rate. If stained clothing will sit for a while, try using a paste-type pretreatment that can sit on the fabric for up to a week. Otherwise, a spray-on stain treatment or laundry additive should handle most stains. Another common tactic is soaking stained clothes in some detergent and warm water before washing.

using a paste on stained clothing

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Removing Stubborn Stains

For stains that don't respond to basic treatment, you'll need a more aggressive approach. There's no perfect baby stain remover that works for every family, though. Making a paste of OxiClean and spray stain remover, soaking in a mixture of very hot water and OxiClean, and using enzyme-packed Era detergent to pre-treat stains are all common suggestions. Some moms have an unusual stain-fighting tactic: buy all white baby clothes and wash them with bleach.

Use the Sun

Many people don't know about this amazing, natural, and free stain remover. It's always good to use fewer chemicals on your baby's clothes, right? If you have stains that just don't want to budge, try letting the sun remove them. This trick is often used by cloth diapering families to get rid of lingering stains on diapers, but it also works on other baby clothes. An hour or two in the sun works to make stains less noticeable or helps them go away entirely.

When you take old baby clothes out of storage for a new baby, spots where breastmilk or formula previously spilled onto the clothes can darken over time, making yellowish stains. Fortunately, the sun bleaching method is very effective at removing milk stains.

It's best to lay the clothes flat in the sun so that the area with the stain gets the maximum sun exposure. However, hanging the items on a clothesline so that they face the sun is also effective. Delicate baby clothes could deteriorate in the sun, so use caution with fragile fabrics. Some colors could fade in the sun, too, so you may want to cover parts of the outfit that aren't being stain treated, if possible.