Top 5 Baby Laundry Detergents

Messy baby
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There's a new addition to your house and for being so small, that little bundle of joy can create a mountain of laundry. 

The most important thing to remember about handling laundry for a baby is to wash everything before it comes in contact with baby's skin. Many fabrics have finishes that can irritate delicate skin. You can select a detergent touted as just for babies or any detergent without dyes or fragrance is safe to use. With the right detergent, baby's laundry can be washed with similar family laundry. The exception is diapers, which must be handled carefully and washed in a separate load.

Never use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets, which may irritate the baby’s skin due to the added dyes and perfume. Commercial fabric softeners also harm the flame-retardant treatment of children's sleepwear.

According to Cleveland Clinic pediatric dermatologist Joan Tamburro, DO:

A child who has skin problems may be more prone to laundry detergent reactions. A family history of atopic dermatitis (eczema) also may put your infant at higher risk.

Most detergent allergies do not appear right away and it may take up to a week to notice redness or itching for up to a week:

A quick way to tell if a rash is caused by detergent or something else is to check under your child’s diaper, where clothing doesn’t touch their skin. If the rash is there, it’s not caused by detergent. Also, detergent-triggered rashes are typically worse on arms and legs, where clothing is tighter and rubs more on the skin.
- Dr. Tamburro
  • 01 of 05

    all Free & Clear

    all detergents
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    While not officially designated as a baby laundry detergent, all® free clear laundry detergent is manufactured with no perfumes or dyes making it a good hypoallergenic choice for those with allergies or sensitive skin and for baby laundry.

    The formula offers the same detergent formula as regular all® with stain lifters or surfactants but is free of perfumes and clear of dyes. The liquid detergent can be used for pretreating stains and for all types of washable fabrics. It is effective in all water temperatures–cold, warm, hot and can be used in both high-efficiency (he) washers and standard washers.

    If you have young children or sensitive skin, but enjoy a lightly scented detergent, Sulfate Free all® fresh clean ESSENTIALS® is a good, moderately-priced laundry detergent for lightly soiled and normal laundry loads. For some individuals, sodium lauryl sulfate and other sulfates found in many detergents can irritate skin especially if a product contains high levels of concentration. When doing laundry, there is almost always a bit of residue left behind after washing fabric. Sulfate residue left in fabrics after washing can irritate sensitive skin.

  • 02 of 05

    Babyganics Detergent

    Courtesy of Babyganics

    Babyganics offers a product line ranging from disposable diapers to laundry detergent to fluoride-free toothpaste designed to be safe and gentle for babies and toddlers. The products are non-allergenic and plant-based making the formulas appropriate for anyone with sensitive skin.

    Babyganics offers two laundry detergent formulas 3X Fragrance-Free and 3X Lavender. Each product is available in mass marketing baby stores like Babies R Us or online.

    The detergents contain no optical brighteners, chlorine, phthalates, phosphates, artificial fragrances, or dyes. The products are safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers in all water temperatures. The liquid formula also makes it an appropriate pre-treater for stains before washing and for hand washing delicate items.

    Babyganics performed well when washing clothes that did not have heavy stains and on bed linens and towels. The clothes came out feeling soft and smelling fresh; it did not work as well on removing stains, though. While it does have protein and carbohydrate stain-removing enzymes, it did not remove the oil stains. Most babies don't eat lots of oily food! If you are using it for all of your family laundries keep a stain remover on hand.

  • 03 of 05

    Dreft Baby Detergent

    Dreft Detergent
    Courtesy of Dreft

    Dreft is a familiar brand and has been since it was introduced by Procter and Gamble in 1933 as a gentle detergent for fine fabrics. Since the 1950s, the marketing focus has been toward new mothers choosing Dreft for baby's laundry. Now, P&G is offering Dreft Stage One for Newborn and Dreft Stage Two for Active Baby as well as Dreft purtouch, a plant-based detergent.

    Dreft is hypoallergenic because it contains no dyes that are most often the culprit in skin irritation. It is safe to use in all washers and can also be used to hand wash delicate items and is safe for septic systems

    All formulas of Dreft do a good job for lightly soiled laundry and are appropriate for use on baby clothes and linens. For stained items, cleaning was a bit more hit and miss. Some stains came out with just a regular cycle through the washer. Others needed to be pretreated by rubbing a bit of Dreft detergent directly into the stain and allowing it to work for ten minutes or so before washing. Some heavy stains like feces stains on diaper covers need additional soaking or the use of other stain removers.

  • 04 of 05

    Ecos Baby Detergent

    Ecos detergent
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    Baby Ecos Laundry Detergent and Ecos Free and Clear are plant-based concentrated laundry detergents that can be used in all temperatures of water for all washable fabrics. They are safe to use in high-efficiency (he) and standard washers. 

    Baby Ecos Laundry Detergent is 100 percent biodegradable and free of 1,4-Dioxane, petrochemicals or formaldehyde. The lavender and chamomile scented variety contain N.O.P.-certified (National Organic Program - part of USDA) organic essential oils. Both carry the Safer Choice designation by the U.S. EPA. 

    Baby Ecos does a good job on day-to-day baby laundry with normal soil. The clothes came out feeling soft and smelling fresh. There was no need for an additional fabric softener and the clothes were static-free. Because the product uses a natural coconut oil, the towels felt soft to the touch but did not lose absorbency as they would with a commercial fabric softener added. While the clothes did have a scent of the fragrances, it was not overpowering.

    For tough stains use a bit of Baby Ecos liquid detergent to pre-treat by rubbing it into the stains and letting it work for about ten minutes before washing. 

    The bottles and caps are both clear and the cap is very easy to read. No more overdosing! One ounce is all that is needed for HE washers and two ounces for standard washers that use more water. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Honest Detergent

    Honest Detergents
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    Honest Laundry Detergent is a plant-based detergent that is safe to use in both regular and high-efficiency washers. The product contains no dyes or fragrances and is appropriate for baby laundry and all washable fabrics including wool and delicate fabrics like silk.

    For lightly soiled laundry Honest Laundry Detergent performed well and left the clothes feeling soft to the touch and free of any residue. However, to clean heavy stains, additional laundry boosters will need to be used. Honest Laundry Detergent does not contain enzymes that are necessary to get the best results in stain removal.

    Honest Laundry Detergent is not available in stores, so it must be purchased online but a monthly delivery schedule and money-saving bundles can be arranged on the website.