New parents have a lot to contend with. Babies are relatively fragile little beings and that means there’s a lot of specialized products which go into making sure that nothing hurts them, even regular detergents can be too much for their sensitive skin. Making sure you have the best baby detergent isn’t just a good idea, it’s pretty much mandatory.
For our money, we recommend using Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent which has a great cost per load, and balances hypoallergenic ingredients with great stain cutting power.
There are a lot of them out there though, so it’s hard to recommend a perfect one for everyone. We’ve gathered five of our favorites together and the information you need to make sure you’ve got a great way to clean baby clothes. So, let’s hop in and we’ll make those baby stains a thing of the past.
All of this can only point to one thing, Purex Baby Laundry Detergent is some of the best stuff around when you’re looking for a laundry detergent for younger children.
Top 5 Baby Detergents
|Purex Baby Liquid||50||Yes||Check Price|
|Dreft Stage 1||32||Yes||Check Price|
|Seventh Generation||106(53/bottle)||Yes||Check Price|
|Earth Friendly Products Baby Ecos||100||No||Check Price|
|Puracy Natural Liquid||96||No||Check Price|
1. Overall Baby Detergent
Purex Baby Liquid Laundry Detergent
Purex Baby is a perennial favorite, and for good reason. It has a clean, baby-powder like scent and cuts through stains better than almost any of the others which we had our reviewers tried. On top of that, the price per load is simply amazing.
It’s extremely hypoallergenic as well, with no added dyes or preservatives which can lead to skin irritation in younger children. It’s dermatologist-approved as well, with professionals in the skin care industry hajving no problem attaching their name to it.
The stain cutting power is also extremely impressive for how gentle it is. We had no complaints from those we sent it to when it came to handling the majority of stains, and you know that baby clothes really get put through their paces.
Indeed, many people found that it was suitable for all the clothes in the house and one reviewer with sensitive skin noted they’d already been using it for some time. It’s also HE machine safe.
Pros and Cons
- Great stain cutting power
- Most people loved the smell
- Excellent cost efficiency
- Extremely hypoallergenic
- Too strong of a scent for some
- Sometimes fails to remove milk scent from clothing
2. Runner Up for Best Baby Detergent
Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Hypoallergenic Liquid
The only reason that Dreft didn’t come in first place is because it’s rather expensive. Other than that it has a clean, smooth scent and it’s made specifically for HE washing machines. All of this adds up to make it one of the best modern baby detergents around.
It’s excellent at eliminating scents and slicing stains to shreds as well. Frankly, it’s pretty much a perfect detergent and it’s formulated specifically for newborns which means it’s also one of the safest detergents on the market.
It’s even suitable for cloth diapers if you opt to use them. Many of our reviewers switched over to this detergent entirely, although we’re sure that some switched back afterwards due to the high cost.
The cost is really the main drawback here, and the reason we don’t recommend it as the first line. It’s the best around across the spectrum, but it’s also more than twice the cost per load of our favorite.
That said, if you can foot the expense then you have a perfect solution with Dreft. There’s also a second stage which can be used once your baby starts crawling around and eating solid food, which makes it an excellent way to get your baby all the way through childhood.
Pros and Cons
- Fresh and easy scent
- Great stain cutting power
- Removes scents from clothing almost 100%
- Suitable for cloth diapers
- Not doctor approved
- High cost per load
3. Best Baby Detergent for Milk Stains
Seventh Generation Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent
Enzymatic solutions do one thing better than any other type of cleaner: they handle protein stains. In the first few months of a baby’s life milk stains are one of the major problems that are going to be hitting their clothing and this cleaner was simply the best around for taking care of them.
It does a more than passable job at handling others as well. We’d recommend switching once they hit the age where they’re eating baby food but in those first few months it’s good enough to save a lot of clothing from ending up with permanent stains.
It’s also relatively environmentally friendly, being created with 95% bio-sourced ingredients which is a big factor for some people. We wouldn’t go so far as to call it the greenest baby detergent but it’s not bad overall on that end.
Where Seventh Generation Baby Detergent really shines is in handling milk stains and other protein based problems. It’s not too bad at the rest either, but we recommend switching once the newborn stage is over for the best results.
Pros and Cons
- Enzymatic action is gentle on clothes and hard on milk stains
- 95% bio-sourced
- HE friendly
- Quite cheap per load
- Not good for all stains
- Tends to dull colors rather quickly
4. Most Eco-Friendly Baby Detergent
Earth Friendly Products Baby Ecos
It’s not the cheapest or the best of the various detergents which we used, but it’s more than passable for the most part and the fact that it’s super environmentally friendly made it shine in our eyes. In addition to being all-natural, it’s also surprisingly powerful.
This one also has the backing of dermatologists, so we have more than just anecdotal evidence that it’s exceedingly unlikely to cause an interaction with your baby’s skin. It’s also formulated to work with both standard and HE washing machines.
It’s pretty powerful too, we found it made short work of the majority of stains and scents which hit clothing.
The only real issue that we can see is that it has a built-in fabric softener. While it didn’t come up with any of our reviewers it could certainly cause problems for exceptionally sensitive babies.
This was the best of the various green options out there by a long shot. It cleans just like more synthetic options and it makes short work of all but the toughest stains, paired with the proper pre-wash treatment it’ll be more than sufficient.
Pros and Cons
- All green ingredients
- Formulated for both standard and HE washing machines
- Cleans surprisingly well for a natural detergent
- Absolutely no scent
- May need some prewashing for hard stains
- Not good for set-in stains
5. Best Budget Baby Detergent
Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
While some people loved this stuff, we found that most of the products on our list performed better in the field… but this one comes in at an excellent price overall which made it stand out from the competition.
On top of that, it’s no slouch and it’s entirely scent-free and lacks the surprising amount of additives which even “hypoallergenic” laundry soaps seem to contain these days. It leaves no scent behind but it also seemed remarkably adept at stripping out the scents which sometimes remain in the wake of stains.
We recommend pre-treating your clothing if you’re going to use this one, but at a low cost and being extremely hypoallergenic it definitely ends up being a great product for the average household.
It lacks some of the “oomph” of our other favorites, but Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent is cheap and surprisingly effective.
Pros and Cons
- Great price
- Good at handling stains
- No scent
- No harsh additives at all
- Too gentle for set-in stains
- Contains borax, an environmental toxin
Why Use a Baby Detergent?
While it might be tempting to load everything at once and just use your regular detergent to avoid the hassle, baby detergents are pretty much a must for those who are washing baby clothing. You might be able to get away with a normal scent-free hypoallergenic detergent, but why risk it?
Babies have two factors which make it a good idea: sensitive skin is the primary reason many parents use for grabbing baby detergents, since scents and other ingredients present in regular laundry detergents can cause a rash in sensitive children even easier than adults with sensitive skin. Babies also have an unknown allergy profile, which means they might react badly to scented detergents.
If you insist on using a regular detergent you’ll want to opt for something which is scent-free and formulated for those with sensitive skin. If you’re concerned, then it’s best to consult with your pediatrician and if any symptoms emerge make sure to check in with the doctor immediately.
Finding the Ideal Baby Detergent
There might seem to be a lot to keep track of when you’re looking for a baby detergent, since you need to take so many factors into account. At the end of the day, however, if your detergent has all of the following then you’ll be good to go.
- Hypoallergenic-Unfortunately, many of the detergents which are merely labeled as hypoallergenic just mean “dye-free.” You also want to make sure there are no scents, softeners, or brighteners contained in the ingredients to avoid any possible allergic reactions.
- Tough on Stains-Babies and toddlers can be absolute messes. Food and formula fly everywhere, they spit up, sometimes diapers just can’t handle the impressive loads which are placed into them. That means a lot of tough stains to sort through for yuor detergent, which means that you need something which is able to handle pretty much any stain out there with ease.
- Doctor Approved-We looked specifically for this when we made our top picks. This is an important factor, pediatricians and dermatologists have the knowledge and experience to back up their approval and recommendations after all.
- Residue Free-Most people hate finding residue in their clothes if they over-use their soaps. That means you’ll want to ensure that you use a liquid for the most part, since even if you overload your washer with laundry soap, as a lot of people do it has less risk of leaving residues than powders.
- Not a Pod-Since there are reports of children eating pods, with disastrous consequences, we immediately decided to exclude any pod form of detergent from our list for babies. If you insist, then we recommend keeping them in a baby-proof cabinet in order to make sure the little ones are safe.
- Scents-We recommend going without scents, but if your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction to them then it’s really up to you on which scent to go with. Scented compounds are one of the most frequent causes of allergic reactions however, so steering clear is usually a good idea.
- Cost Efficiency-How much you’re spending per load is a big factor. We did our best to crunch the numbers for you, but keep in mind that baby detergents fluctuate in price just4 like everything else on the market so you may want to double check if you’re only looking at a couple cents worth of savings.
- High Efficiency Safe-HE appliances have hit the market in a big way in the last few years, and chances are that many of the people looking for baby detergents have them in their home. If you have one of these money-saving appliances, then you’re going to want to make sure the detergent you select is safe to use with them.
What Types of Ingredients Are in Baby Detergents?
For those who aren’t just willing to trust our recommendations… we don’t blame you. Without some knowledge, after all, we could recommend just about anything.
Fortunately, for those with inquisitive minds, we’ve broken down the primary types of ingredients which are used in detergents and some quick explanations of what they do:
The primary reason we use laundry detergents, instead of just slicing a bar of soap into the washing machine and calling it good, is surfactant compounds. These allow for penetration of water deeper into even tough textiles like denim.
These compounds then emulsify within the clothing, causing the soil, food, and other stains to be separated from the individual threads of the clothing in question. They also “trap” the lifted particles within their emulsifications, causing them to not be reabsorbed by the clothing as the water level goes down at the end of a wash cycle.
Alkaline compounds are basically the original soap, one of the orginal uses of lye was in high dilution to clean clothing and hair after all.
Alkaline solutions can break up things which wouldn’t break up with only a surfactant, but too alkaline of a solution and you can also harm the clothing which is being washed.
These chemicals cause the smells we tend to associate with laundry soap. The problem is that there are hundreds of compounds which can be unlabeled except as fragrances. Some of these chemicals can also be rather hazardous in high concentrations.
On the other hand, it would appear that serious reactions to fragrances are also pretty rare, so you may be fine with using a scented detergent. We still think it’s better to be safe than sorry, however.
Fabric softeners help to keep fabrics nice and supple when they’re applied. This is generally a good thing, and they can even be purchased separately, but with babies it’s kind of an unknown. Fabric softeners work by being deposited in the textile they’re washing, which means that they have a greater incidence of allergic reactions than many compounds out there.
We recommend not using a detergent with fabric softeners for young children due to this.
Basically, optical enhancers make your clothes look brighter by depositing a layer of particles on the clothing which increase the light reflected from them.
If you’ve been following along, you can already see how this is going to cause problems. You want to avoid any detergents which leave particles behind on the clothing, since these can potentially cause skin irritation and other problems.
What Are The Signs I Need To Use a Baby Detergent?
The primary reaction which can occur in children is known as contact dermatitis. This will result in a rash some time after the initial exposure to whatever particles the child in question is allergic to. It can take up to a week to manifest and is more serious than just plain irritation.
Irritation will tend to manifest quickly, and disappear quickly once the offending substance is removed from their clothing.
We’re still pretty sure it’s better to just make sure you use a hypoallergenic detergent from the start however. You can usually transition within a few years.
If the parents have allergic reactions to detergents, then it’s pretty likely the child will as well, so keep that in mind when you’re selecting your baby detergent in order to ensure you make the right choice form the outset.
Best Practices for Washing Baby Clothes
There’s a little bit more to baby clothing than just throwing them on your kid.
One of the first things any new parent should do is wash brand new clothing before putting it on their child. This can help to remove any irritating compounds which might be left behind from dyes and other materials during the manufacturing process.
Since babies have a tendency to go through so many outfits in a single day and get some serious stains going on, you’ll want to make sure that you know how to pre-treat stains.
It’s a pretty simple process, but it can require you to act relatively quickly:
- Place the clothing in cold water as soon as you can.
- Use an appropriate pre-laundry treatment for the type of stain it is. The three types of stains are protein(treated with enzymes), tannin-based(treated with polar solvents) and oil-based(non-polar solvents) and while the best pre-treatments can handle all three most handle some better than others.
- Rinse extremely well with cold water, and don’t dry the clothing until you’re sure the stain is gone. This is important for any clothing, but it’s doubly important for children who may be sensitive to the solvents used in treating stains.
If you’re working with delicate items then it’s best to use the most mild chemicals you can in order to treat them. Many families have vintage baby clothing or other garments which have been passed down through the family for some time.
You should also make sure to air dry any garments which are particularly delicate. Much of the damage which occurs to clothing over time is done through friction in the drum of a drier.
For the most part, however, you won’t be dealing with the heavy stains which your children are going to get into in four or five years. Grass stains and the like are, thankfully, a bit in the future when your child’s skin has toughened up enough to handle the stronger treatments needed for these stains.
For particularly stubborn stains, some people have taken to leaving the clothing in the sun. It can damage pigments, but UV radiation is remarkably efficient at handling sweat stains and other stubborn discoloration which occurs.
Since babies go through so many outfits on most days, we recommend doing the following:
- Keep a bucket of cold water in the laundry room, you can place stained garments there immediately after changing the baby.
- Wash clothing as soon as you have a load ready, but be sure to rinse them thoroughly if you used an initial pre-treatment compound.
- Check the clothing thoroughly for any kind of residue before you put them on your baby, especially if you’re using a new detergent.
Basically, you can make cleaning baby clothes a lot easier if you’re mindful about the whole affair and careful to ensure that you’ve got the right treatments and detergents in the first place.
While they may not be necessary for all children, it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. Especially since contact dermatitis can take awhile to show up, so you can’t assume a detergent is safe for your child until you’ve been using it for a week or so.
So, pick up the best baby detergent today and you’ll be able to stand confident that your child isn’t going to experience any sort of irritation or other issues from their clothing and you’ll be able to rest easier knowing at least one problem is taken care of.