I had a customer ask me recently about the best way to wash soiled baby clothes and sheets.
Now, with baby’s sensitive skin, you want to use only the mildest, most natural products you can find. But because you also want clothes and sheets to be really clean, the products you use have to actually be good at getting rid of dirt and stains. And because babies are good at blowouts and sicking up, you want it to be hygienic as well.
So is it a choice between harsh detergents and baby laundry powder? Not any more.
What sort of laundry detergent should you use for baby clothes?
Natural cleaning products used to have a bad reputation. But today’s products are just as good as the mainstream ones. Ecostore, for example, are independently tested and benchmarked against market leaders to ensure excellent performance.
Using a laundry product that contains enzymes can help break down stains, including protein and fat based stains.
Lots of people choose a baby version of laundry powder. They’re mostly fragrance free and perceived to be milder. You definitely don’t want to expose baby skin to fragrances and toxic chemicals. Check the label to make sure there’s no fragrances if you want to use the same detergent for the whole family.
Personally, I feel as long as you’re using a good quality natural detergent with plant based ingredients, that’s fine. No need for a special baby laundry product, as long as it’s unscented.
Laundry liquid or laundry powder? If you’re washing in cold water, it might be a good idea to choose a laundry liquid. If you’re using cold water, the powder may not always dissolve completely, leaving residues. Laundry liquid doesn’t have this problem. And you can always pre-dissolve your washing powder in a jar of warm water before you add it to your laundry if you prefer powder.
Hot or cold water?
Make sure you check the laundry labels first. Washing in cold water is better for the environment, as you’re not using energy to heat the water. And you won’t get as much damage from shrinking, fading or bleeding colours.
We used to think that you had to wash clothes in hot water to get them clean. People used to boil their clothes! But today’s washing machines with their mechanical actions don’t need a hot water wash. And laundry detergents are ever more efficient at cleaning in cold water, so wash in cold wherever you can.
If you’re dealing with a baby blowout, you’ll need to do a warm/hot wash to kill bacteria. Check the laundry label, and wash at the highest temperature you can.
If you’re washing cloth nappies, you might want to read this article I wrote on getting your cloth nappies clean and bright.
The best way I’ve found to wash soiled baby clothes is to use the Ecostore Laundry Soaker and Stain Remover. It’s an oxygen based stain remover and you can either use it to soak, or just to add to your wash to keep clothes brighter. I love Ecostore because the powerful formula really gets rid of tough stains and makes your whites look whiter. It’s free from synthetic perfumes, phosphates, optical brighteners, and other nasties, which reduces the chances of allergic reactions and protects delicate skin. Ecostore is also suitable for septic tanks and greywater.
Washing stained clothes in hot or warm water will set stains, so soak them first in cold water with a stain remover. Then do a cold water wash.
After washing, hang the clothes and sheets out in the sun to give them a natural bleaching. It’s a great, environmentally friendly way of removing stains.
Tips for washing soiled baby clothes
– Check the fabric tag to see whether you can wash in warm or cold water.
– Wash heavily soiled items separately to baby’s clothes and sheets.
– Make sure the detergent is completely dissolved before adding your laundry in.
– Don’t add the laundry soaker directly to the garments – dissolve and soak in cold water, or add it to the wash.
– Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Too little laundry powder and your clothes won’t be clean. Too much laundry powder and it could leave residue on clothes.
– If you’re using fabric softener, look for one with no synthetic fragrance.
– Wash all baby clothing, sheets, and other items that will touch your baby’s skin before first use, whether it’s new or a hand-me-down. Remember that the journey from factory to your home has exposed the items to all sorts of icky things.
– See if you can wash your baby’s clothes with the rest of the family’s by throwing an article of clothing or two in with a load and watching what happens when your little one wears them. If it makes him itchy or you see any change in his skin, continue washing his clothes and sheets separately.
How do you get baby’s clothes nice and clean? We’d love to hear your laundry tips in the comments below.
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