Those little onesies and tiny socks that comprise baby's wardrobe are beyond adorable. Not so cute? A laundry bin overflowing with a dizzying array of spit-up encrusted, milk-spilled outfit changes.
Every new parent has been there: When the time comes to tackle that mountain of baby laundry, you're faced with a tricky toss up. On the one hand, you want to make sure each load gets thoroughly cleaned; but on the other, you don't want to risk exposing baby's sensitive skin to the chemicals found in conventional cleaners.
Before you reach for the detergent, read these six tips for the safest ways to clean baby's clothes:
1. Always wash clothes before baby wears them for the first time
If washing clothes before they're actually used seems excessive, consider this: Research has revealed that most non-organic clothing is sprayed with chemicals like formaldehyde before being shipped from the storage warehouse. Retailers do this to keep garments looking fresh pressed, but formaldehyde is on our list of toxic items to avoid in your home—in other words, it's not exactly something you'd want to swaddle baby in! Plus, washing new clothes will make the fibers softer and more comfy on baby's delicate skin.
Planning to dress baby in some hand-me-downs? Remember that you don't know how long the garments have been packed away in boxes, or whether their (very generous!) donor washed them in detergent that's suitable for a newborn's delicate skin. So be sure to wash any secondhand outfits, too.
The best time to wash baby's clothes is when you're waiting for her to arrive (because once she does, laundry is going to be the last thing on your mind). You may even find this clothes prep to be a natural part of the nesting process.
2. Spot treat stains before washing baby clothes
Once baby starts wearing those clothes you've pre-washed for him, things are gonna get dirty—fast. For best results, tend to spills and accidents as quickly as possible.
As a first step, treat stains with Puracy Natural Stain Remover. Our proprietary blend of plant-based cleansers will gently lift stains ranging from grass and berries to sweat, blood, oil, and tomato sauce—in other words, pretty much anything that baby life throws your way.
Of course, with everything that comes along during the first few months of parenthood, it's all but physically impossible to tackle every stain. For tips on getting out milk, formula, food, and spit up after the fact, check out our guide to removing baby stains from clothes.
3. Use an extremely gentle laundry detergent on baby clothes
During the first 12 months of a baby's life, his epidermis is still developing. This means anything that comes into contact with his delicate skin should be free of irritants, like dyes and fragrances, which could cause a reaction. We recommend extra label scrutiny if your child has eczema, because this all-too-common skin condition can flare up when baby's skin is exposed to the harsh ingredients often found in conventional lotions and soaps.
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Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent was specially developed for individuals with sensitive skin, so it's also safe for washing baby clothes. And at a 10X concentration, it's the most concentrated laundry detergent on the market. As a result, you only need 1/4 oz per load, so our detergent will see you through plenty of emergency laundry days.
You can save time and utility costs by washing all of your household laundry together. So long as you stick with a natural, hypoallergenic detergent that you're certain won't irritate baby's skin, baby's clothes will be fine when washed with your family's.
4. Line dry baby's laundry in the sun, if possible
Worried about bacteria building up in damp clothes? Sunlight is a natural disinfectant. And as we've written about before, it's also a natural way to lighten clothes without bleach. If the weather allows, line-dry your laundry to effortlessly revive any baby garments that need a color or whitening boost.
For tumble drying, skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets.
5. Notes on laundering cloth diapers
Cloth diapers require a special wash, separate from the rest of baby's clothes. After you've deposited solids and liquids from the diaper, run a warm main wash with detergent. Select the “Extra Rinse” option to ensure all residue has been eliminated.
Be careful not to use too much detergent on cotton diapers—this can wear down the material. And if you're in the process of switching over to a natural detergent (or if you go back and forth between natural and conventional), run a few extra rinses to make sure no residue is left over; the buildup of different cleansing agents may give baby a rash.
6. Notes on laundering delicate or vintage baby clothes
Heirloom items are a wonderful way to keep family traditions alive—but they can be tricky to wash.
First, make sure the garment is up to being immersed in water—if it smells off (e.g., musty or mildew-y) seek professional help from an eco-friendly dry cleaner. If the garment smells okay, soak it in cool water (use a nylon net to support it). Use a gentle soap or detergent to treat small stains, and let air —preferably in the sun, which will help lift any lingering odors.
Bottom line: When it comes to doing laundry for baby, the best route is often the simplest. Stick to a natural, hypoallergenic laundry detergent; line-dry when possible; and keep an eye on baby's skin to make sure she's not developing a reaction to any of the products you use. Happy washing!