The Good Nursery is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Wash Baby Clothes and Remove Stains Like a Pro

How to Wash Baby Clothes

The monstrous pile of dirty baby clothes, soiled bibs, and poop-stained diapers…

They’re all the things we have to deal with every day. And, no matter how often we do the laundry, they always pile up.

BUT, we’re here to tell you that washing your baby’s clothes doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.

When your laundry basket gets full, here’s EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW on how to wash your baby clothes and remove all kinds of stains like a pro.

So, mommies, get your notepads ready! We’ll be spilling all the tea.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Detergent

First things first The right baby laundry detergent.

Before we get into the actual washing part, we’ll need to find the right formula that’s safe for babies to use. Because a baby’s skin is so sensitive, especially newborn skin, extra care is needed.

What should you use? A special baby detergent.

It’s specifically designed for newborns and infants with sensitive skin and eczema, making it the safest and best choice for a detergent.

What’s in it?

It’s a gentle formula that has less dye and no perfume additives than harsh detergents. It’s not damaging to a baby’s skin, and it doesn’t cause skin irritation. The best safe baby detergents come scent-free.

Can I Use Regular Detergent to Wash Baby’s Clothes?

STOP. Before you rush to your nearest supermarket, we’re sending you an early warning: You DON’T have to go overboard.

Yes, a baby detergent is the best when you want to wash your baby’s clothes, but it’s not only your only option.

If you’re on a budget and want to buy something that your entire household can use, then there’s no need to go to great lengths. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that most household laundry detergents are fine for babies without skin allergies.

(And no, this doesn’t include your beloved fabric softener.)

There are TONS of products available in the market, and even your regular detergent would do as long as they are:

  • Fragrance-Free
  • Does not contain bleach
  • No fabric softeners
  • No added colors
  • Is a gentle/mild detergent

If all the boxes tick, then it’s a baby-safe detergent. Your regular detergents (baby-safe, that is) are a great way to CUT BACK on expenses and keep your new baby safe.

Or, you can always try to make your own baby detergent using baking soda. With it, you can be 100% sure of the ingredients. Plus, it’s just way more affordable to do.

Remember, when you’re holding a newborn, those tiny fingers can cling to you everywhere ― your face, hair, and even clothes.

That’s why it’s never a bad idea to use baby-safe detergents for everyone’s laundry!

How to Wash Baby Clothes: Tips for Using the Washing Machine

Washing an infant’s clothes isn’t a complicated process. It’s much like doing your own laundry, but with extra precautions.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can do it using the washing machine ― no fuss, no headaches.

1. Check the Care Label 

Your baby’s clothes will (most of the time) come with a set of washing instructions, and note, they’re there for a reason.

Different organic fabrics for your baby clothes will mean a different set of instructions for each type.

Don’t treat it like Facebook‘s terms and agreements. Read and follow!

It’s the best way to prevent shrinking, color loss, and damage.

2. Separate Baby Clothes

It’s an unwritten rule among parents that baby clothes are washed separately from the rest of the household’s, especially if a family member works with harmful chemicals or is a doctor/nurse/any front-liner. (In this COVID19 pandemic, it’s better to be safe than sorry!)

You can sort your baby’s clothes by setting baby items apart according to washing temperatures and into smaller loads of white, dark, and light-colored clothing. 

Pro Tip: Always wash baby clothes BEFORE your clothing items. Washing machines are hotbeds for many harmful bacteria to linger and shift around.

3. Watch Out for Stains

And, of course, before we load all the baby stuff inside the washing machine, be sure to be on the lookout for any nasty stains.

Spit-up, vomit, poop, baby food, and even milk all soil your baby’s clothes and won’t easily come off with one wash. This is especially frustrating with baby bibs since they get stained the most. You might want to reconsider how many bibs you actually need for a reliable stock!

It’s better to get rid of them first by pre-soaking in hot water before throwing them into the load. Doing so softens the clothing item and preps it for the wash.

Pro Tip: You can add a small cup of liquid detergent with the water when you pre-soak.

For those with stained baby bibs, you might need MANY more baby bibs just in case

4. Measure Baby Detergent

For a regular-sized load of 12 to 15 pounds, you can use 1/4 to 1/3 cup of detergents, but ultimately it would depend on the size of your load.

Don’t fall into the dangers of using too much detergent.

5. Set the Appropriate Cycle and Temperature

Remember your washing instructions? Well, we need them to set the appropriate temperature of the machine:

  • If the label indicates “low tumble dry,” throw in low heat (less than 55 °C) to prevent the fabric from fraying and stretching.
  • For those without tags, use cold water in a gentle cycle to be safe.

When in doubt, you can never go wrong with cool water. Even though hot water (60°C & up) kills off bacteria, it wears and tears out your baby’s clothes faster.

Pro Tip: Add a mild disinfectant to the wash along with the detergent to boost cleaning powers.

6. Patiently Wait

A good 30-45 minutes will do the trick. In the meantime, you can catch some zzzs or do chores. Better yet, spend time with your babies. Just don’t forget to set the alarm.

7. Rinse Baby Clothes

Run baby clothing through a second rinse cycle. This makes sure the fabric is thoroughly washed and cleaned ― and that no remaining detergent or soap is left to irritate YOUR baby’s skin.

Pro Tip: SKIP THE FABRIC SOFTENER. We repeat. DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER. They contain chemicals not suitable for many young children!

How to Wash Your Baby’s Clothes Without Shrinking

While a washing machine does an excellent job of cleaning a baby’s clothes, it can, however, shrink, fray, or even stretch out the fabric, which happens pretty often.

So, what’s the best way to wash your baby’s clothes without shrinking?

  • Avoid warm water in a rinse cycle. The best temperature for washing a baby’s clothes is a cold wash cycle because cool water is less harsh on clothing.
  • Tumble dry. Yes, baby clothes can also shrink in the dryer, and your dryer setting plays a huge role. The trick is to tumble-dry baby’s clothes in low heat.
  • Use front-loading washer/high-efficiency washer. They tend to be gentler on clothes.
  • Hand wash clothing items. Especially for clothes that come with embellishments and sparkles (think of ballerina tutus and pretty dresses!)

How to Hand Wash Your Baby’s Clothes

“Is hand washing the better option?” Many parents ask.

Well, it’s definitely more eco-friendly since it uses less electricity compared to a washer, and the fact that your hands are gentler on the clothing itself.

How to do it?

Fill a tub of cold or room temperature, throw in a small amount of baby laundry detergent (chemicals-free BTW), and without any fabric softener, let it bubble, soak, and hang dry!

When Do I Hand Wash?

When the label says it!

Hand washing clothes is too time-consuming to do every day.

Just imagine…

After taking care of your new baby, feeding him, putting him to sleep after throwing a tantrum, you still have to wash all his stained clothes.

Now, that’s just too much!

We’ve never been so glad for technology! It’s best to leave the task of handwashing for the most delicate piece of clothing.

The Dos and Don’ts of Washing Baby Clothes

  • Don’t: Use fabric softener, dryer sheets, or cleaning products with chemicals to wash baby clothes.
  • Do: Use baby-safe liquid detergents. (Note: Liquid detergents typically rinse out better than powder detergents that leave behind flakes that can irritate a baby’s skin)
  • Don’t: Wash baby clothes with everyone else’s clothing items.
  • Do: Make the best out of a baby-only load and wash your baby’s clothes separately. Baby clothes come with unique stains, and you don’t want any of that near your things.
  • Don’t: Mix cloth diapers with clothes, blankets, and essentials.
  • Do: Sort out laundry according to light to dark colors. Place all small clothing items such as baby socks and mittens inside a mesh bag so that nothing is forgotten and absolutely no adult socks get thrown into the mix.
  • Don’t: Wear new clothes, hand-me-downs, or use blankets without washing. Some infants can develop a rash.
  • Do: Prewash and pre-soak baby clothes using the same method as above.

How to Get Rid of Stubborn Stains

Spit-up, diaper leaks, milk spills, you name it.

Here are different techniques to get rid of stains from baby clothes.

Poop

One of the biggest problems for a new parent is dealing with diaper blowouts. They’re stinky, nasty, and plain stubborn!

The best way to deal with it is to soak the item in warm water and pre-treat it with lemon juice.

After 10 to 15 minutes, it’s ready to be washed with your favorite disinfectant baby detergent.

The same technique applies to organic cloth baby diapers, so don’t forget about those!

Protein Stains

Icky yellow marks from spit-up and breast milk can be treated like poop stains: Using lemon juice!

But for gunks that wouldn’t just go away, it’s time to pour club soda and scrub the stain away with a toothbrush.

Baby Oil

Pre-wash the baby oil with a stain remover with the hottest water.

Fruit & Vegetable Juice

For the most obstinate fruit and vegetable stains, use the concoction of white vinegar and water. The trick is to treat them while they’re still fresh.

Keeping Up with Baby Laundry

Congrats! You’re almost set. Just remember to wash all baby items at least once a week and have one load ready every day.

That includes ALL baby clothes from different brands and different fabrics.

Babies go through many wardrobe changes in a day ― it’ll make you tear out your hair in frustration!

And You’re All Clean…

Just like that, a new parent can easily keep up with their baby’s laundry.

We hope this article helped you with all your baby clothes problems!


Changelog:

July 22, 2021 – updated interlinking, updated external links

About the author

angelica-graham

A few years ago, Angelica found out about all the plastic and toxic ingredients that got into most children’s products. And this worried her to no end. Because of this, she began to research what the best ingredients and materials were for children and made it her mission to share this information with other mothers.