Are you concerned about the chemicals in laundry detergent becoming an irritant to your new baby’s skin? Wondering if homemade or DIY detergents are a better option?
You aren’t the only new mom who has spent hours worrying about how to clean the baby’s clothes. And you’re right to be concerned!
Baby skin is thinner and more sensitive than an adult’s, and their delicate skin has less resistance to bacteria (1). To help protect it, you should make sure your baby’s laundry detergent is mild, but packs enough cleaning power.
What’s Different About Baby Detergent?
If you take a look at the ingredients list on your bottle of detergent, you will see a lot of big words, like sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate. Many of those same ingredients will also be found in your baby laundry detergent brands as well.
So, if the ingredient list is kind of the same, why do you need a separate laundry detergent for your baby? The short answer is that you don’t.
Let’s face it, your baby is going to come into contact with your clothes a lot. Washing your clothes and the baby’s clothes separately isn’t really necessary. However, what you should do is should 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 make it easier for the baby’s delicate skin to handle, but your own skin can appreciate it too.
The 3 Keys to Good Baby Laundry Detergent
We’ve established your baby needs the switch to a milder baby detergent, but how do you choose one? Well, there are plenty of reviews to be found, but nearly every mother has her own preference. It comes down to your personal choices, but just remember to look for these three things:
- Gentle formula: It’s fairly common for babies to have skin allergies or eczema (2). You want to find a baby laundry detergent that is known to be gentle and not cause any flare-ups on sensitive skin.
- Natural, non-toxic ingredients: Check what’s in a product before you purchase, and make sure 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 (3).
- Cleaning power: Your baby is going to get all kinds of gross things on their clothes — be prepared for lots of throw-up and poop. Plus, if you’re going to wash your clothes in the same detergent as well, 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.
Making Your Own Baby Laundry Detergent
The best way to know exactly what’s in your baby laundry detergent is to make it yourself. Choosing to wash with a homemade detergent means you can control every aspect of the cleaning agent. This is a particularly good choice if your baby has skin allergies or is sensitive.
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 own baby laundry detergent is the cost. Making your own cleaning supplies may end up being substantially cheaper than purchasing the same items at the store.
Common DIY Ingredients (and Where to Find Them)
While each of the homemade baby laundry detergent recipes will have their own special combination, there are some common ingredients. Here 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. It can be found at Walmart, Lowe’s, 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 the Family Dollar store, all stock Borax.
- Essential oils: You’ll want to make sure they are all-natural if you’re using these. You can find Washing Soda.
- 15 ounces of Bar Soap.
- Chop the soap into small cubes, or use a cheese grater to shave it.
- Add the chopped/grated soap and washing soda to a food processor and blend until you have a fine powder.
- Store the detergent in a clean container.
Using Your Homemade Detergent
For each load of laundry, you will use two tablespoons of 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.
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.
Now that we know what makes a good laundry detergent for your baby (and for you), let’s take a look at some of the top baby detergents on the market, to help you during these busy periods.
Dreft baby laundry detergent has been around since 1933 (4).
It can be found on the shelves of nearly every major grocery store or drug store and comes in age-based formulas. While it claims to have a gentle formula, and many mothers agree, it is lightly scented.
Babyganics 3x baby detergent is just one of many Babyganics products. The company strives to use as many “biobased” ingredients as possible (5). The detergent is fragrance-free, made with plant-derived ingredients, and safe for cloth diapers.
3. 7th Generation
The concentrated baby detergent, made by 7th Generation, is a USDA certified biobased product. It’s made with a lot of 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 ingredients derived from plants to help clean the clothing and fight stains. It’s scented, although with essential oils, not chemical fragrances.
Making Your Choice
It may seem like every aspect of parenting comes with difficult choices — breastmilk or formula, homemade detergent or store-bought.
Yet, worrying about these choices simply means you love your baby and want the best for them. It means you are being a good mom!
Like so many of the choices in parenthood, when it comes to laundry detergent, it’s ultimately up to you. You know what’s best for your baby, and it may take a bit of trial and error to figure it out. That’s okay too.
Try out our homemade baby laundry detergent and make your own customized version. You’ll soon find the right combination that gets the puke stains out, cleans the clothes well, and doesn’t irritate your little one’s skin.