How to Wash Baby Clothes: A Guide

5 minute read

pregnant mama and dad folding and putting away baby clothes in baby room

There are many things we look forward to while preparing to welcome a new baby into our lives. But what we probably don’t daydream about is spending hours on our little one’s laundry—nor how often they’ll need a change of clothes in the first place. So many changes of clothes.

Luckily, we have some helpful tips that can make learning how to wash baby clothes a breeze—and turn that complicated washing process into something that’s second nature.

What’s the Best Way to Wash Newborn Clothes?

Their tiny nose is a mini version of yours, they have their grandmother’s eyes, and you could swear you just saw the same facial expression your partner makes. In other words, your baby is a living, breathing replica of you—so why would their clothes be any different?

As you might be looking for tips on how to clean baby bottles or how to clean baby toys, you might also be looking for tips on cleaning baby clothing. As it turns out, throwing those adorable onesies and mini pairs of denim into the wash with your own clothes may not be the best idea. And no, it’s not just because your favorite blouse could get caught in the crossfire of a baby blowout.

Dad holding up onesie with mom and baby in background with ECOS laundry sheets

To properly wash your baby’s clothes, you should:

  • Choose a milder detergent – Babies have sensitive skin, so it’s extremely important  to steer clear of detergents that use strong scents and harsh ingredients. Instead, choose a soft but effective detergent like our ECOS Hypoallergenic Detergent. Our formula is free of harsh chemicals, making it for your baby’s gentle skin.
  • Try to not use unnecessary products – Super-scented detergents and fabric softeners could cause an allergic reaction or make your baby’s skin prone to rashes. It’s best to stay away from softeners since they could bind to your baby’s clothes and cause irritation to their skin.
  • Look at labels – One way your baby’s clothes are similar to your own? The little tags in them contain loads of useful information—such as whether your little one’s clothes should go on a delicate spin cycle or be line-dried. Care labels can also tell you how to sort your baby’s clothes to ensure brights stay bright and whites stay white.

While doing your baby’s laundry is definitely different from doing your own, it’s not a completely foreign process. Follow the above tips, lean into your parental intuition, and you’ll do just fine.

Why Take Extra Care With Baby Clothes?

We’ve covered how to wash newborn clothes, but why is it necessary to spend the extra effort and time to wash your baby’s clothes separately?

While it would be easier to do all your laundry in one go, it’s worth it to wash your baby’s clothes properly. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and a baby’s skin is especially delicate. It can absorb the toxins and irritating chemicals present in more conventional detergents, causing negative health effects down the line, including anything from minor irritation to potentially serious long-term conditions such as dermatitis and asthma.

That makes properly washing your bundle of joy’s clothes more than just a (seemingly never-ending) chore but an important investment in their overall health. 

Moms and baby with laundry detergent bottle

Don’t Forget To Pre-Wash New Clothes

We know what you might be thinking: So, you’re telling me to make clean clothes even cleaner?

Not exactly. We’re certainly not trying to make more work for you, but some of those new-to-you clothes might not always be as clean as you think.

Pre-washing involves washing your baby’s new clothes before they wear them to eliminate any potential toxins or germs that might be clinging to the fabric.

That’s why it’s worth taking a couple of extra hours to pre-wash:

  • Right before you deliverRight after your baby is born, you’re going to have bigger things on your plate than washing clothes. But just because you may not have time to clean them doesn’t mean your baby won’t need lots of onesies. As a result, it’s a smart idea to pre-wash several weeks’ worth of clothes before your baby arrives to have them available when you need them.
  • If you plan to use secondhand clothes – While your cousin’s gift of hand-me-downs is adorable and thoughtful (not to mention helpful for your budget), you’ll need to clean those clothes before you can use them. You can’t be sure second-hand baby clothes are clean, meaning it’s best to err on the side of caution and wash them first.
  • After buying them Even though you might assume store-bought clothes are cleaner than second-hand ones, that’s not the case. Clothes you purchase from the store are equally capable of needing a wash, since they might contain toxins from manufacturing or have been exposed to various pests during their time in storage.

It’s generally a good rule of thumb to pre-wash any new clothes, no matter where they come from.

Using Liquid Laundry Detergent

Pro Tips for Proper Machine-Washing

You’ve managed to literally create a new life and are now responsible for raising a tiny (and so-far helpless) human being. Pressing a button on your washing machine should be no big deal, right?

You’ve been washing your own clothes for a while now, so you’ve pretty much got it all down to a science. But now that there’s a baby in the picture, you might need to consider adding a few more tricks to your tried-and-true routine.

Since we know you’re probably a little busy with all the baby care, we’ve already thought of them for you. To machine-wash your infant’s clothes like a seasoned pro:

  • Consider using a mesh bag for small items – Garment bags can cover more bases than simply protecting your favorite delicates. Keep itty-bitty socks and caps together in one place by dropping them into a mesh bag before pressing “Start.”
  • Don’t overfill your washing machine – Even if those little clothes create huge mountains by the end of the week, it won’t necessarily help to stuff them all in the washer at once. Overloading your machine may make it harder for soiled clothes to come out clean. Plus, the added stress on the machine itself could result in an even bigger problem down the line.
  • Use a slower spin speed Slow and steady could be the best approach when washing baby clothes. Just think of how tangled your hair got when your toddler thought it’d be fun to send the propeller of their toy airplane into the back of your head. Using a slower spin speed could help keep your baby’s clothes from getting just as wound up in knots.
  • Wash in cold water Washing baby clothes in cold water will help preserve them longer. Cold washes will keep the colors of the clothes intact, use less energy, and are better overall for the environment.

You might find these tips also make your life easier when it comes to that other baby laundry task we haven’t yet mentioned—all the tiny folding. Anything you can do to prevent tangles and undue wrinkles is something you’ll thank yourself for later.

Offer Your Baby the Best with ECOS

As a new parent, it can sometimes feel that every decision you need to make is absolutely critical. Peas or carrots? Pink or blue? Maisie or Michelle? Of course, options are nice to have, but ultimately they add to the list of choices you’ll need to make.

Take one of those decisions off your plate by trusting ECOS. Our plant-powered laundry detergent is irritant-free for your little one’s skin, minimizing the risk of allergic reactions and giving you more peace of mind.

It also delivers the effective clean you need, powering through heavy-duty stains while still being soft on the skin. Learn more about our complete line of safer cleaning products to keep your home safe and healthy.