Can I Use Regular Laundry Detergent For Baby Clothes?

Can I Use Regular Laundry Detergent For Baby Clothes

One day while shopping, I came across something new to me, laundry detergent for washing baby clothes! I was told why we should use baby clothing detergents and why it’s bad to use the regular ones to wash our baby’s clothing. It got me thinking, was I doing it wrong all this while? So I did some research!

So, can I use regular laundry detergent for baby clothes? Yes, you can use regular laundry detergents to wash your baby’s clothes but avoid using scented detergents as it can irritate your baby’s skin. Regular detergents are usually scented, so if your baby develops rashes, try switching to unscented ones. Unscented regular detergents are preferred for washing baby clothes.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to choose a proper regular laundry detergent for your baby’s clothes. After reading this you’ll be able to make some informed decisions and have a peace of mind.

Things To Know When Using Regular Laundry Detergent

If your baby is fine, no skin irritation or rashes, you can continue to use what you’re using as usual. But if your baby does have skin problems, you need to be picky about what type of regular detergent you use. There are 2 types of detergents, powdered and liquid. The liquid option is the better one because it rinses out more thoroughly compared to the powdered version. Powdered detergents can leave flakes one the clothes and irritate your baby’s skin. Next, avoid detergents containing these things.

  • Contains dye
  • Contains perfume, scents, fragrances
  • Contains brighteners.

Detergents that contain dyes. Dye serves no purpose in cleaning clothes but can cause skin irritation. Look out for dye-free detergents when purchasing 1, they should be written on the product. Here is an example from Amazon. They are advertising that it has 0% dye, fragrances, and artificial brighteners.

Scented detergents. There’s a common perception that good smelling detergents clean better. That’s not true! The nicer the smell, the heavier the scent, the more likely it will irritate your baby’s skin. If your baby is getting skin rashes or developing eczema, try switching to unscented detergents, it may solve the problem. A side tip, scented lotions, soap, and the likes have the same bad effects.

Detergents that contain brighteners. Brighteners make your clothing appear whiter, but it doesn’t actually make it any cleaner. Brighteners are made to stick to the clothes even after a good rinse cycle, and when your baby sweats, it will get onto their skin and cause irritation. It also causes colors to fade faster, especially dark color clothes. Some brands may call it whiteners, in the end, it’s all added chemicals so avoid detergents that use brighteners!

I did some research to find what options we have, I could only find 2 brands that clearly states that they don’t use dyes, scents or brighteners though, some don’t mention they do or do not use brighteners. You can check them out on Amazon by clicking the brand name below, those are the ones I checked.

Seventh Generation Free & ClearNoNoNo
Sun & Earth Unscented Natural Laundry DetergentNoNoNo
Tide Free & GentleNoNoDoesn't Say
Puracy Natural Liquid DetergentNoNoDoesn't Say
All Free ClearNoNoDoesn't Say

Most skin-friendly detergents have the word Hypoallergenic, look out for that word to narrow down your options when shopping. It’s basically a word to describe items that are less likely to cause allergic reactions, at least that’s what the manufacturer claims.

Benefits Of Using Regular Laundry Detergent

I’ve only been using regular detergents for my family, including for washing our baby’s clothes. Partly because it never occurred to me that there were baby laundry detergents, but also because there are other benefits to it.

Keeping the cost low. Baby laundry detergents are not strong enough for washing adult clothes, so you need to buy one separately just for your baby. A baby laundry detergent typically costs around $13, so it may be a good idea to save it up for something else your baby really needs.

Time-saving. If you’re struggling because you don’t have enough time to wash your baby’s clothes separately, this is an excellent way to save some. You can wash all your clothes together with your baby’s and put them to dry at the same time!

Saving a little space. We all know how it is, when children come into our lives, suddenly the things in our home multiply! More toys, more clothes, more diapers and so on. Don’t add more detergent bottles to the list. Sure, it’s just an extra bottle or 2 if you get the baby detergents, but people who live in small houses appreciate the extra space. Besides, a little extra here and there, and you end up with clutter.

Easier to carry. If you use the laundromat, you understand that carrying both types of detergent is a problem, the clothes are heavy as it is and you can really reduce the weight by just bringing the regular one. Choose the right regular detergent and wash all your family’s clothes in one go. Speaking of laundromats, you may not know if the detergent provided is suitable for your baby’s skin. Choose the right detergent as shown above and carry it to the laundromat.

Are Fabric Softeners Safe To Use?

Softeners, they are such a lovely invention! They make our clothes and towels softer, fluffier and smell nicer! But if you’ve read until this point, the part about smelling nicer might have triggered some alarms.

Softeners are often scented, some quite heavily because we all love our clothing smelling fresh and nice, it sells! But they are bad for the skin, especially to our baby’s. Sometimes it’s not the detergent that’s the problem, it’s the softener!

This is how softeners work in short. They cover your clothes with a thin coating that prevents static from building up and makes the clothes soft. These coatings will stick onto the clothes even after a full rinse cycle, they are made to stay. This layer of coating can often cause skin irritation. If you wonder why your towels are not absorbing as well as before, that’s also because this coating makes the fabric less absorbent over time.

I love softeners, I really do! But alas, I’ve stopped using them after knowing about the bad side of it, especially the effects it has on my baby. There’s a good side to this though, I get to save some money and space, and it’s better for everyone in the family.

When Do I Need To Use A Baby Laundry Detergent?

Although the regular laundry detergents do a good job, I can still see a reason to use the baby one.

Severe skin irritation. If your baby has severe skin irritation and you have tried the regular detergents following the guide I wrote above, you may want to switch to the baby detergents. They contain fewer irritants and can be the answer you need.

That is really the only reason why I feel there’s a need to use a baby laundry detergent. If you really need it, I’ve come across some brands with good feedback on Amazon, you can check them out below.

Your Washing Machine Matters Too

No matter how good your detergent is, if you have never cleaned your washing machine, it’s going to cause a lot of problems for you. Your baby and family members can mysteriously start getting skin rashes or worse, eczema. If the last time you washed your washing machine was a few months ago, you need to start cleaning it now. Washing machines should be cleaned monthly if you use it regularly.

Modern washing machines have a built-in function to wash the drum. if your washing machine has that setting, put in a washing machine cleaner and start it with that setting, your washer will take care of the rest. Here’s one from Amazon if you’re not sure what it is.

This setting only cleans the drum, you still need to clean the other areas. Try to flip the rubber seal. If you’ve never cleaned it, it will likely be black by now and difficult to clean, mold and mildew can easily grow there and cause your washer to smell bad! Use a cloth, put some washer detergent and start scrubbing!

If your washing machine does not have a built-in function, you can start the washer empty, set it to the longest cycle and use the hottest water setting. Some people use baking soda but I just buy the washing machine cleaner and put it in. Works the same for front load and top load washers. Feel free to do it more than once, then repeat this every month.

You really must examine your washing machine before looking at the detergents. A dirty washing machine will cause all types of problems for your baby’s skin.

When our boy started developing rashes we looked high and low for anything that can cause it, brought him to the doctor, almost wanted to have him checked for things he is allergic to, until we got a flash of brilliance that his skin issues may be caused by the washing machine.

After cleaning it properly, his skin condition improved! In our case, the regular detergent we used was fine for him, but the condition of the washing machine gave his skin problems.

Related Questions

Can I use bleach on my baby’s clothes? Yes, household bleach is safe to use, it’s unlikely to cause skin problems for your baby. You can find them off the shelve in any fabric section in stores. Stay away from industrial bleach though, they are not meant for regular clothes.


James & Esther have been married for three years, have a baby boy named Nathan. Esther has a diploma in early childhood education and has been taking care of babies and toddlers since her early teens. She was a kindergarten and school teacher for many years, but today, she is a full-time mom taking care of Nathan at home while furthering her studies in early childhood education.

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