Having a baby is one of life’s greatest joys. But it’s normal for that joy to disappear sometimes when we need to do the 5th diaper change in one day. Or when vomit completely ruins their cute Easter outfit. Washing baby clothes correctly is crucial because, as parents, we have to do it often. And as parents, we have to do it well.
Stubborn stains can be even harder to get up when we don’t want to use strong and harsh chemicals that are in some store-bought detergents. That’s why we have come up with the ultimate guide on how to wash baby clothes from steps A to Z.
How to Wash Baby Clothes
Wondering what’s the best way to wash baby clothes? The honest answer? By hand with safe and natural products. Let’s take a look at what you need and how to do it.
What You Need to Wash Baby Clothes With
- A chemical free baby specific detergent or homemade option
- A large sink, bucket, or tub for soaking
- Drying rack or clothesline
- Garment bag
- Paper towels or microfiber cloths
Homemade Detergent Options
- Baking Soda
- Castile Soap
How to Hand Wash Baby Clothes
If you want to know how to remove stains from baby clothes through handwashing, then you have come to the right place. This is the safest way to wash your baby’s clothes, and it’s relatively easy. We love homemade detergent, but if you need to buy from the store, the best detergent for baby clothes is Puracy Natural Liquid Detergent. Scroll to check out some of our other recommendations as well.
Store-Bought Baby Detergents
Where to Buy
Seventh Generation Liquid Detergent
Tide Free and Gentle
Target, Pharmacies, Grocery Stores
Tip: Buying baby clothes that are white and bright look cute but show more stains. Buying clothes that have more patterns and are a little darker hides stains. If you are going to opt for lighter colors, just consider washing them more frequently.
- We need to start by learning how to separate baby clothes for washing. Let’s start with why this is important. When you mix your baby’s clothes with other household members’ clothing, you expose the risk of bacteria transfer. It’s better to keep the baby’s clothes completely separate from anyone else’s.
- Check out all the manufacturer’s labels inside the clothing in case it calls for any special washing instructions. Some materials like suede or velvet will respond differently than regular cotton. While your baby is probably not wearing a leather jacket, it’s important to know that certain materials require different cleaning care.
- After reviewing the care instructions, go around the clothing items and check for any fresh residue. This is poop, spit-up, baby formula, etc. If you find this, go ahead and blot it with paper towels or a reusable microfiber cloth that can be washed. Getting this up will avoid contaminating the water and is the best way on how to pre-wash baby clothes. Be sure not to scrub, as this will rub in the stain.
- In your sink or tub, rinse the clothes under cold water before hand washing them. This can help get rid of residue you missed. Cold water is key, as hot water may set the stain.
- Fill your sink, bucket, or tub with lukewarm water. Baby clothes are tiny and hot water will shrink them. Add in your homemade or store-bought laundry detergent. Place the clothes in to let them soak. After an hour, you can start hand washing them and working on the stains.
- Don’t throw your baby’s clothes in the dryer if you can avoid it. Instead, using a drying rack or a clothesline to air dry them will prevent them from shrinking. If it’s warm out, putting it in the sun on a slightly breezy day is the best recipe.
Using the Washing Machine
You may be wondering, can baby clothes be washed in the washing machine? Sometimes, we don’t have the time to let them soak and air dry. You can go ahead and use the washer and dryer, but it’s important to read the manufacturer’s label and follow these instructions.
- Repeat steps 1-3 in the handwashing section above. Then instead of soaking your clothes, you will throw them into the washing machine. But before you throw them in, use a garment back for tiny socks, hats, etc., so they don’t get lost or caught in the machine.
- Change your settings so that it’s on a gentle cycle and you are using cold water. Sometimes it may need a delicate cycle. Use this to keep your baby’s clothes from ripping or ruining.
- When the load comes out, check to see if the stains come out. More stubborn stains may need a dab of detergent put right on the stain. Then you can throw it for a second cycle to get it to come out.
Some washers and dryers will have a lingerie or undergarment rack section. This is perfect for baby clothes because they are just as delicate.
Can I put my baby’s clothes in the dryer?
It’s best to put the baby clothes on a drying rack, but you can throw them in the dryer if you need a quicker solution. 100% cotton is likely to shrink with a hot dryer, and since this is what baby clothes are mostly made up of, it’s certainly a risk.
When you throw them in a dryer, opt for a gentle or delicate cycle under cool settings. Keep it on for a minimal time with just your baby clothes. Throwing other clothes in can take longer drying times.
Tips For Drying Baby Clothes
- Never fold and put away baby clothes when they are damp. This creates mildew and mold on the clothes, which is harmful to any human and especially babies.
- When air drying clothes, keep them away from areas that are exposed to allergens. If it is high pollen season, dry the clothes inside versus outside. If you have pets, keep the clothes away from the ground where pet dander and hair may be able to reach them.
- Avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets. They contain several harmful chemicals and toxins that are skin and lung irritants.
- Regularly cleaning out your dryer vents both in the washing machine and in a home that has central air is key. This keeps dust from blowing out and collecting on our baby clothes and in the air.
Getting Your Washing Done Before The Baby Comes
Something that most people forget due to the chaoticness of bringing a child into the world, is washing the baby’s clothes for the first time. Putting on new clothes without being washed first has risks. Let’s talk about it.
When to wash baby clothes before birth
Surprisingly enough, there is such a thing as washing the baby’s clothes too early. When you wash them early, and they sit around, you run the risk of them collecting dust and irritating the newborn’s skin, nose, and eyes.
It’s recommended that you wash the clothes no earlier than 4-6 weeks before the baby’s arrival. Anything between that and the baby’s birth is also fine. But the closer you get, the more tasks you have on your plate.
Should I wash baby clothes before use?
Absolutely. Here are some of the risks that can occur if you don’t wash new clothing for your baby.
- Chemicals that have come into contact with the clothing during the manufacturer’s process can irritate your baby’s skin.
- Bacteria and viruses get on the clothes from other shoppers while they are in the store.
- The material can be scratchy and softens after the first wash.
Washing baby clothes is pretty straightforward. But there can be a lot of questions about the process and what to use. That’s why we have dedicated this section to answering your frequently asked questions.
How do you wash baby clothes for the first time?
The best way to do this is to use a combined method between handwashing and the washing machine on a gentle sick. You don’t have to worry about stains since that hasn’t occurred yet. But some parents think that because the clothes don’t have stains, they don’t need a thorough washing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You can skip the soaking stage but go ahead and run it through the process to get the chemicals off.
Are 30 to 32 weeks too early to wash baby clothes?
Yes. The latest you should wash your baby’s clothes should be no later than 4-6 weeks. When you allow the clothes to collect dust, you can end up irritating the baby’s skin, eyes, and nose. This can create respiratory problems in an infant.
What temperature to wash baby clothes
The best temperature to wash your baby’s clothes is always cool water. The exception to this is when there are oils that are hard to get out. But hot water can shrink the clothes, so you must check the manufacturer’s label before going through with this method.
Is it a big deal if my baby’s clothes shrink?
You may be thinking, what’s the big deal if the clothes get a little bit snug? The truth is it can cause many problems. For starters, tight clothes could be the reason your newborn is fussy and crying. Adults don’t like overly tight clothes, so why would your baby?
This can also cause a circulation issue if they are truly too tight. Making sure that your baby’s clothes fit comfortably is key. That’s why washing them with the right ingredients, and the right process is important.
What About Cleaning a Baby Car Seat Fabric?
You will want to follow the same general guidelines when you are cleaning a car seat. The tricky thing is that you are not able to throw the fabric in the wash or soak it. That’s why blotting, using a healthy detergent, and handwashing are helpful. Here is a full guide to cleaning your car seat when things start to get messy.