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Baby Laundry


What laundry detergent should I use?

Baby skin is more sensitive than adult skin. When choosing a detergent, it is best to pick one that is free of fragrance or color to prevent a rash or an allergic reaction. There are special detergents you can buy for baby clothes, but any detergent that is free from perfumes or dyes will work. Also, avoid using fabric softener, bleach, or dryer sheets. Look at the tags on the clothing for special washing instructions. The fragrances in fabric softeners can also affect the fire retardant chemicals added to baby sleepwear.

Do I need to wash baby clothes separately?

No. You can wash baby clothes along with other family clothing. However, cloth diapers should be washed separately from all clothing. Use hot water and be sure to double rinse each load.

Diaper covers can be washed with your regular laundry, but make sure you fasten all Velcro tabs together before washing. Air dry diaper covers so they do not melt in the dryer.

Wash all baby clothes and diapers before you use them. Look at the label on the clothing for special washing instructions (hand wash, dry clean only, and wash separately). Before you switch detergents, wash one item in the new detergent to see if it causes a rash of allergic reaction. If your baby develops a skin irritation, then consider a milder detergent.

How do I remove stains?

Wipe or rinse off as much of the substance as possible (spit-up, formula, baby food, or poop while still fresh). Baby wipes are good for removing things that may cause stains. Use cold water to remove a stain. Hot water can set a stain. If the stain doesn't come out, soak it for 30 minutes or longer in cold water and detergent, then wash. You can also use stain removers from the store.

How do I wash cloth diapers?

Keep a covered diaper pail near your changing table. Store soiled diapers in a diaper pail until you are ready to wash them. Some people prefer to soak the diapers in the pail before washing (wet pail method), while others prefer the dry pail method.

Wet pail method: Put a solution of warm water and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of baking soda in the diaper pail. Rinse all poopy diapers out in the toilet before putting them in the pail. This will help remove stains and make the washing easier. Before washing, drain the excess liquid into the toilet. After dumping the diapers into the washer, rinse out the pail. Make sure to keep your pail covered and locked for safety.

Dry pail method: Put a washable liner in your diaper pail. Shake or scrape off any poop into the toilet, put the diaper into the pail, and sprinkle the diaper with baking soda. When you are ready to wash, dump the diapers out of the liner and into the washer. Turn the liner inside out and wash it with the diapers.

Washing and drying

Wash diapers separately and use 1/4 cup of detergent (less than you use for a regular load.)

First, wash the diapers in cold water (with cold rinse) to help prevent stains from setting.

Wash the diapers again using about another 1/4 cup detergent and a hot water wash/cold water rinse cycle. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse. The vinegar will get rid of detergent residue, make the diapers soft, and leave them smelling fresh.

Do not use bleach or fabric softener. Bleach shortens the life of the diaper. Fabric softener can make the diapers less absorbent.

Dry the diapers in the dryer or, if you can, hang the diapers outside to dry. This helps bleach and disinfect them.


Written by Kate Capage.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-08-26
Last reviewed: 2010-05-27

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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