We know how laundry feels like a full-time job when you’ve got a newborn. And you may be tempted to buy the cheapest detergent to save money, but not just any detergent will do. Babies have sensitive skin, and the slightest irritant can make them break out.
To help you prevent this misery, we’ve compared all the top brands to help you find the best baby laundry detergents for your child’s unique needs.
We’ve tested these products and listened to what hundreds of parents have had to say about them. We’re confident that any of these gentle detergents will be an excellent choice for your little one’s laundry.
- Plant-based, vegan ingredients
- Super affordable
- Developed by doctors
- For use in hot or cold water
- No harsh chemicals
- “A” rating from the EWG
- Recommended by pediatricians
- Developed specifically for babies
- Plant based
- Manufactured using green energy
- Fully biodegradable
- 97% natural ingredients
- Tested by dermatologists
- Concentrated formula
- Removes 99% of stains
- Most recommended by pediatricians
- Safe & effective for cloth diapers
- Rinses out completely
- Biodegradable and eco-friendly
- Safe for septic systems
- Certified USDA organic
- No added chemicals
- Safe for delicate skin
- Ultra cheap and fragrant
- Washing machine safe
- Hypoallergenic and gentle
Why Do I Need Baby Laundry Detergent?
Baby laundry detergents are created with fewer harsh chemicals than traditional laundry detergents.
Your baby’s skin is sensitive and not yet accustomed to many of the environmental irritants adults are exposed to every day. While regular laundry soaps will clean baby clothes, they can also leave a residue.
This residue doesn’t bother most of us, but it can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions for a baby.
The skin is the body’s largest organ, and babies’ skin is constantly coming into contact with laundered fabrics.
Some of these fabrics include:
- Crib sheets and blankets.
- Baby towels or face cloths.
- Swaddle blankets.
- Burp cloths.
- Cloth diapers.
If there are harmful chemical residues or irritants, they can easily be absorbed by your baby’s skin. Choosing a laundry detergent with minimal harmful chemicals or one specifically designed for babies can reduce their chance of chemical exposure or skin breakouts. If you’re up for it, you can even make your own homemade baby laundry detergent.
Can My Baby Have a Reaction to Detergent?
There are two types of skin reactions to detergent (1).
- Skin Irritation: This type of reaction occurs immediately after exposure to a product or material. It’s a red, itchy rash that disappears shortly after the irritant is removed.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This is an allergic reaction, meaning the body has an immune response to an allergen. It presents as a red itchy rash, but its appearance is not immediate. It can take up to a week for symptoms to develop as exposure to the irritant builds up over time.
Types of Baby Laundry Detergents
There are three main types of laundry detergents available — liquid, powder, or packs (pods).
They each have their benefits and drawbacks.
Liquid detergent is the most popular type, comprising 75 percent of all sales. They come in a bottle with a pouring spout or tap, and you use a plastic cup to measure the correct amount of product.
- Convenient to pre-treat.
- Good performance on greasy stains.
- Easy to use.
- Not environmentally friendly.
Powder detergents typically come in a cardboard box with a scoop.
- Environmentally friendly packaging.
- Better performance on ground-in stains.
- Still works in hard water.
- Difficult to pre-treat.
- Packaging is not durable.
Detergent packs (also known as “pods,” which is a trademarked term) are pre-measured portions of detergent that can be tossed directly into the washer before adding clothes.
- Little room for error (pre-measured).
- Effective performance.
- Attractive to children (poison risk).
How to Choose Laundry Detergent for Baby
When choosing a laundry detergent, consider the following:
Regular or High Efficiency
If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you need to make sure you choose a laundry detergent that’s approved for such use. Look for a “HE” designation on the front of the detergent package, indicating it’s safe to use in high-efficiency machines. HE detergents will not create as many suds and will rinse cleaner and prevent damage to your high-efficiency washing machine.
Fragrance- and Dye-Free
To eliminate potential irritants, choose a detergent with no added dyes or fragrances. These aren’t necessary to clean your baby’s clothes; they only add a pleasing aroma or color the detergent. They do nothing to increase the detergent’s cleaning power.
Brighteners are chemicals that remain in the fabric and absorb the UV from the sun to make the colors appear “brighter.” This is merely an aesthetic benefit and doesn’t affect the cleanliness of the clothes. To minimize chemical exposure, skip it.
For the lowest overall environmental impact, choose a plant-based product. While this doesn’t guarantee it won’t irritate your child’s skin (there are plenty of naturally-occurring things that cause allergic reactions), it does have a lower risk than synthetic products.
Liquid or Powder
It’s best to skip laundry packs or pods altogether due to the safety risk for small children. Choose a liquid or powder detergent based on your personal preference. Powders are cheaper and tend to perform better, but liquids are less bulky as they can be ultra-concentrated.
The Best Baby Laundry Detergents of 2022
These baby laundry detergents are the best on the market.
1. Puracy Natural Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent
Best Baby Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
This detergent will clean your clothes without any harsh additives or harmful chemicals. Doctors developed it, so it’s safe for those with sensitive skin or allergies. It doesn’t contain sulfates, chlorine, animal byproducts, allergens, or brighteners.
The gentle formula is plant-based and biodegradable, making it safe for both sewer and septic systems. Since it’s high-efficiency washing machine compatible, you can use it with any washer.
We love that this detergent is ultra-concentrated and contains enough soap for 96 loads in a handy 24-ounce pump bottle. Because of this, the price-per-load is super affordable compared to both natural and conventional laundry products.
- Plant-based and vegan.
- It has no allergens.
- Super affordable.
- It was developed by doctors.
- The plastic container is not environmentally friendly.
2. Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder
Best Baby Laundry Detergent for Hard Water
This detergent is both powerful and gentle. It only contains five ingredients and none of the harmful chemicals found in ordinary laundry soaps.
Certified vegan-friendly, it also contains organic peppermint essential oil to give the soap a pleasant scent, yet this rinses out, so the clothes don’t have an overpowering scent after washing.
It can be used in high-efficiency and traditional machines and is effective in both hot or cold water. Even better, it will still get your clothes clean (and rinse out completely) in hard water — and it only takes one tablespoon of detergent per load.
- Can be used in hard or soft water.
- Can be used in hot or cold water.
- It contains no harsh chemicals.
- Has an “A” rating from the EWG.
- Peppermint oil can be an irritant.
- The packaging has the potential to spill.
3. Dreft Stage 1 Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent
Best Hypoallergenic Baby Laundry Detergent
Dreft is a brand with 80 years of history behind it, along with the recommendations of thousands of pediatricians. It was developed with newborns in mind, knowing that their skin needs are different (and more sensitive) than those of adults.
This detergent is hypoallergenic and free of dyes. It has a light scent and has been clinically tested for effectiveness. It’s safe to use on cloth diapers, as long as they’re cotton or a poly/cotton blend.
- Recommended by pediatricians.
- Developed with babies in mind.
- The price per load is high.
- It contains potentially irritating surfactants.
- It has a scent.
4. ECOS Liquid Laundry Detergent
Best Natural Laundry Detergent for Baby
Not only can you feel good about having this detergent wash your child’s clothes, but you can feel good about the production process, too. It’s manufactured with 100 percent green energy, and the product bottle can be recycled when it’s empty.
The plant-based detergent works in high-efficiency and traditional washing machines. Plus, it’s made with cruelty-free, sustainable, biodegradable ingredients.
And since it’s got a built-in fabric softener, you don’t have to have an extra product on hand to keep your baby’s clothes as soft as possible.
- Plant-based and better for the environment.
- Manufactured using green energy.
- It uses renewable resources.
- It contains softeners, so it isn’t suitable for cloth diapers.
- It contains a fragrance, which some parents don’t like.
- The bottle is plastic.
5. Mrs. Meyer’s Baby Laundry Detergent
Best Liquid Laundry Detergent for Baby
The ingredients in this plant-based detergent are 97 percent natural. And while it’s packaged in a plastic bottle, the container is made from 25 percent recycled materials. It has a mild scent that comes from essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, so it won’t cause as much irritation.
Mrs. Meyer’s detergent was tested by dermatologists and found to be gentle on skin. And since it only takes one fluid ounce to get your laundry clean, one bottle will stretch for 64 loads — but this listing includes two bottles, so you won’t have to re-order for quite some time.
- 97 percent natural ingredients.
- Tested by dermatologists.
- It’s concentrated, so you don’t need a lot.
- Its price per load is on the higher side.
- It has a scent.
6. Dreft Pure Gentleness Baby Liquid Laundry Detergent
Best Baby Laundry Detergent for Eczema
Dreft has been trusted by new moms for years, but they upped their game with a plant-based product for babies who are particularly sensitive — and for moms who want peace of mind. This detergent is hypoallergenic and contains no dyes that can aggravate your baby’s skin.
Draft claims this product will remove 99 percent of food stains, so you won’t have to worry too much when your little one insists on self-feeding. It will work in high-efficiency or regular machines, but you’ll need to pay attention to how much you add to the load to ensure it cleans thoroughly.
- Removes 99 percent of stains.
- Contains no questionable dyes.
- It’s the brand most recommended by pediatricians.
- Hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin.
- Only 65 percent plant-based.
- It’s not very concentrated, making more plastic packaging waste.
- The price-per-load is high.
7. Rockin’ Green Classic Rock Detergent
Best Baby Laundry Detergent for Diapers
We know how important it is to choose the best detergent for cloth diapers, and after hours of research, this is the brand we recommend. It works as promised — rinsing out completely, not clogging the fibers, and getting the diapers completely clean.
It can also be used in either hot or cold water, depending on the care instructions of the fabrics you’re laundering. It’s biodegradable and contains no fillers, dyes, or brighteners, which can all cause skin irritation on your little one’s bum. Plus, it’s plant based and cruelty free.
- Safe and effective for cloth diapers.
- It rinses out completely.
- Contains no brighteners.
- It will not work as well in hard water.
- The bag spills easily.
8. Grab Green Natural 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent
Best Powdered Baby Laundry Detergent
This hypoallergenic powder detergent is safe for septic systems, and you can use it in any washing machine. It’s also effective at cleaning your baby’s clothes in either hot or cold water.
It’s non-toxic and contains no phosphates, chlorine, brighteners, or dyes that can act as irritants. A nice perk is that it’s cruelty-free, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly. And the formula is derived entirely from plant-and-mineral-based ingredients.
- Safe for septic systems.
- It has a strong fragrance.
- Flimsy plastic packaging tears and leaks easily.
9. Seventh Generation Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent
Best Organic Baby Laundry Detergent
Mama, it doesn’t get more natural than this. This detergent is made from botanical ingredients, so you can rest assured that only a pure and hypoallergenic formula is used on every fabric that touches your baby’s delicate skin.
This concentrated liquid contains zero chemicals or additives, which means it’s safe to use — especially on cloth diapers.
About 96% of this detergent’s ingredients have stain-fighting power from the biobased formulation. Seventh Generation is serious about their climate-friendly pledge, and they use recyclable materials in their packaging. They are appropriate for both HE and regular machines, and one package lasts for up to 53 washes.
- Completely organic.
- There are no added chemicals.
- Safe for HE and regular machines.
- All-natural detergent packaged in a recyclable container.
- Many users don’t like the detergent’s scent.
10. Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent for Baby
Best Smelling Laundry Detergent for Babies
Dermatologists have tested this Purex detergent to ensure it is safe for your baby’s sensitive skin. It’s hypoallergenic and contains no added dyes that may cause rashes or other breakouts.
You can use it in any washing machine, and the price-per-load makes it an exceptional value for any family looking for a safe but budget-friendly detergent for their little one.
- Ultra-cheap product.
- Pleasantly scented.
- You can use it in any washing machine.
- Hypoallergenic and gentle.
- It contains surfactants, which are potential irritants.
- Using the included measuring cap can be messy.
- It isn’t a natural product.
Types of Irritants in Laundry Detergent
Many studies have been conducted on laundry detergents and their potential toxicity to users. Unfortunately, unless you have an advanced degree in chemistry, it’s nearly impossible to figure out what may or may not cause an issue.
This is because:
- Many ingredients are trade secrets, so they aren’t listed on the packaging.
- Some hazards are environmental and build up over time.
- Some of the chemicals released are the result of interactions between individual ingredients.
- The chemicals go by many different names, so a potential “harmful ingredient list” would be several pages long.
Furthermore, it’s easy to find conflicting information. If you look up recipes for homemade laundry detergent (arguably the most “natural” way to ensure there are no mysterious ingredients in your soap), they almost all include borax. However, the Environmental Working Group (a well-respected authority on evaluating the toxicity of various products) cautions against using borax (3).
Trying to make a safe and healthy decision for your family can be overwhelming when good information is so difficult to come by.
However, here are some things you can do to minimize your exposure to potential toxins and irritants if they’re of concern to you.
- Purchase products free from dyes and fragrances.
- Avoid products that say they include “brighteners.”
- Choose plant-based products.
- Choose biodegradable detergents.