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How to Make DIY Homemade Baby Laundry Detergent

Medically Reviewed by Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
Updated
Save money and protect your baby's skin with homemade laundry detergent.

Are you concerned about the chemicals in laundry detergent irritating your new baby’s skin? Are you wondering if homemade or DIY detergents are a better option?

You aren’t the only new mom who has spent too much time worrying about how to clean your baby’s clothes. Our concern led to researching the best homemade baby laundry detergent recipes so we could feel good about the products nearest our little one’s skin.

We’ll explain what we learned about baby skin and detergents and share the gentle recipe we now use to clean not just baby clothes but our own laundry too. It works great, and it’s super easy to make!

We’ll also share our recommendations for the best gentle laundry detergents on the market.



What’s Different About Baby Detergent?

If you look at the ingredient list on your detergent bottle, you will see a lot of big words, like sodium dodecyl benzenesulfonate. You will also find many of those ingredients in your baby laundry detergent brands.

So, if the ingredient list is the same, why do you need a separate laundry detergent for your baby? The short answer is: you don’t.

Your baby will frequently come into contact with your clothes. It’s unnecessary to wash your clothes separately from your baby’s clothes. However, it’s best to switch to a baby detergent for both your clothes and your baby’s.

Detergent that is specially formulated for babies is milder, contains less harsh chemicals, and is usually fragrance and dye-free. These changes are easier on your baby’s delicate skin, but your skin appreciates it too.

The 3 Keys to Making a Good Baby Laundry Detergent

You can find plenty of baby laundry detergent reviews, but nearly every person has their preference. It comes down to your personal choice, but look for these three things:

  • Gentle formula: It’s common for babies to have skin allergies or eczema (1). You want to find a baby laundry detergent known to be gentle and not cause any flare-ups on sensitive skin.
  • Natural, non-toxic ingredients: Check what’s in a product before purchasing it, and ensure the detergent is made from non-toxic ingredients. Want to double-check or make sure you understand the ingredient list? There are websites to help you discover what’s in your products (2).
  • Cleaning power: Your baby will get all kinds of gross things on their clothes, so be prepared for lots of throw-up and poop. Plus, if you’re going to wash your clothes in the same detergent, it needs to get things clean.

If you’re using cloth diapers, you also need to consider how well the detergent will clean them. Some can leave a build-up on those diapers, making them less absorbent — which is the exact opposite of what you want in a diaper.

How to Make Your Own Baby Laundry Detergent

The best way to know exactly what’s in your baby laundry detergent is to make it yourself. Washing with a homemade detergent means you can control every aspect of the cleaning agent. This is an excellent choice if your baby has skin allergies or sensitivities.

Finding a recipe for homemade baby laundry detergent isn’t difficult. A Pinterest search will pull up enough recipes to make a new formula each year until your baby goes to college!

Another great thing about making your baby laundry detergent is the cost. It’s often substantially cheaper to make your own cleaning supplies than to purchase those items at the store.

Common DIY Ingredients (and Where to Find Them)

While each homemade baby laundry detergent recipe will have its own unique combination, there are some common ingredients. These are the ingredients often used in DIY recipes and the places where you are most likely to find them:

  • Washing soda: Also called soda ash. You can find it at Walmart, Lowe’s, and many grocery stores.
  • Pure castile soap: Comes in a bar or liquid form. This is available from Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods.
  • Borax: Target, Walmart, and even Family Dollar all stock borax powder.
  • Baking soda: You can purchase baking soda at any grocery store.
  • Essential oils: You can find these at most natural stores or online. Look for all-natural blends.

Best Homemade Baby Laundry Detergent Recipe

This recipe is the best one we’ve found for getting clothes and household laundry super clean while still being gentle enough for our little ones’ skin.

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces bar soap (we recommend castile soap, Zote, or Sunlight)
  • 1 1/2 cups borax
  • 2 3/4 cups of washing soda
  • 1 cup baking soda

Instructions:

  1. Chop the soap into small cubes, or use a cheese grater to shave it.
  2. Add the chopped/grated soap and washing soda to a food processor and blend until you have a fine powder.
  3. Mix in borax and baking soda.
  4. Store the detergent in a clean container.

Using Your Homemade Detergent

For each load of laundry, you will use two tablespoons of powdered detergent (or three for heavily soiled loads). For high-efficiency washers or when washing in cold water, dissolve the detergent in hot water before adding it to the machine.

For a homemade liquid version of this baby detergent, check out this video:

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What to Purchase if You Don’t Want to DIY

Being a mom can be hard work. You don’t always have the time to make your own detergent, so you may want to purchase some as a backup.

These are our favorite non-homemade baby laundry detergents to help you during these busy periods.

1. Dreft

Product Image of the Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Hypoallergenic Baby Laundry Detergent Liquid Soap (HE),...

Dreft baby laundry detergent has been around since 1933.

It can be found on the shelves of nearly every major grocery store or drug store in the U.S. and comes in age-based formulas. While it claims to have a gentle formula, and many mothers agree, it is lightly scented.

2. Babyganics

Product Image of the Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent, Fragrance Free, 60oz, Packaging May Vary

Babyganics 3x baby detergent is just one of many Babyganics products. The company strives to use as many “biobased” ingredients as possible. The detergent is fragrance-free, made with plant-derived ingredients, and safe for cloth diapers.

3. 7th Generation

Product Image of the Seventh Generation Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent, Fresh Scent, 40 Fl Oz,...

This concentrated baby detergent made by 7th Generation is a USDA-certified biobased product. It has many natural ingredients, but it does have a mild scent. The scents are derived from natural ingredients but may still be an irritant for babies with sensitive skin.

4. Mrs. Meyers

Mrs. Meyer’s baby laundry detergent is another popular choice for parents. It uses plant-derived ingredients to help clean clothing and fight stains. It’s scented with essential oils, not chemical fragrances.


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Headshot of Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Medically Reviewed by

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC is a cardiology nurse and freelance medical writer. Katelyn has 8 years of nursing experience inpatient and outpatient, primarily medical-surgical and cardiac. After having two children she has a passion for Women’s Health and Lactation teaching and support.