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You’ve probably analyzed (and overanalyzed) everything happening inside your new baby’s body — but what about what’s going on it? Choosing a baby detergent can feel like a daunting game of guess and check, as many babies have sensitive skin and may be prone to cradle cap and eczema.
Good news! There are many options to choose from. And with a little research, you can find a solid choice for your baby’s unique needs.
While many parents opt to simply use whatever detergent their family uses, it can be worth considering a special baby detergent if you are worried about rashes, itchiness, or other concerns on your child’s skin.
It’s reported that at least 10 percent of children in the United States have eczema, and a third of those cases are said to be moderate to severe. So, it’s possible that you may be parenting a child who needs detergent that will help prevent additional flare-ups as a result of dyes, fragrance, and other chemicals.
A quick safety note
Be sure to keep all detergents and detergent pods away from babies, as they can be very harmful, and even deadly, if ingested. Pods can easily drop on the floor and be picked up by mobile little ones, so this roundup only includes liquid detergents for added safety.
When analyzing the baby-safe detergents available, we considered:
- ingredients, fragrance, dyes, additives
- doctor recommendations
- safety for babies
- consumer reviews
- $ = under $6
- $$ = $6–$10
- $$$ = $10–$15
- $$$$ = over $15
Regular detergents are technically safe for all family members, but babies tend to have more sensitive skin than adults. If you’re concerned about your baby’s skin, you can also add an extra rinse cycle to your current laundry process to get more detergent out of their clothes.
Dreft Stage 1: Newborn
Dreft (part of the P&G brand family) offers detergents specifically designed for your baby’s various stages, from newborn through active baby, and eventually to “family-friendly” (which may help prevent extra laundry sorting).
This company claims to be the number one pediatrician recommended brand — like many others — as Dreft’s detergent is labeled as hypoallergenic for sensitive baby skin.
While the reviews are generally solid in the skin care department, an overwhelming amount of parents have complained about a switch to a new, more “perfume-y” scent. So if you’re sensitive to smells, this product might not be for you.
Rockin’ Green Classic Rock Unscented
Rockin’ Green is a strong contender for anyone who is concerned about their baby’s reaction to dyes, fragrances, and chemicals — their enzyme blend formula is free of all of those things, which may make it an especially good fit for babies with eczema.
This fun brand has uniquely named products such as “dirty diaper,” which — you guessed it — is designed to remove the funky baby odors from cloth diapers, and a pre-soak treatment that includes “ammonia bouncer” to target and pesky pee-soaked clothes.
Most of the fans of this detergent use it for washing or soaking cloth diapers. But a handful of folks complain that in larger loads it takes an extra rinse cycle to get the detergent out, and that the product didn’t come with a scoop (reviewers recommend using a tablespoon if that happens).
While most laundry detergent will still have some type of smell, unscented types are free of added fragrance and perfumes, which can be irritating to babies’ skin. If you want clothes to have a noticeably pleasant scent, these types may not be for you, as the goal here is a neutral or complete lack of smell.
Seventh Generation Free & Clear
In addition to boasting 97 percent plant-based ingredients and 0 percent artificial fragrances, this detergent has excellent reviews from parents who are happy with its stain-removing properties.
Fans of this detergent say it lives up to its unscented claims and it’s concentrated enough that a little goes a long way. One mom even says, “It washes out even the grossest and toughest stains a baby can make.” Anyone who’s gasped at a stained onesie knows the value in that!
Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free and Clear
Baking soda is a wonder. You can use it to remove stains, deodorize the diaper pail, and keep your fridge smelling fresh — so why not use it in your laundry detergent?
A natural odor eliminator, baking soda is a key ingredient in this fragrance-free option from Arm & Hammer. Reviewers like that it’s labeled hypoallergenic for sensitive skin, yet strong enough to get out the toughest stains.
Reviewers don’t have many negative things to say about this detergent — in fact, most reviews mention that it’s as effective as more expensive brands and a better deal in terms of size.
Allergens, or allergy-producing substances, affect people differently. But just because something says “hypoallergenic” on the label doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s allergy-free for you — in fact,
That being said, if a label claims a product is hypoallergenic, you can generally assume that the brand has gone out of its way to eliminate the more common allergens from their formula. As always, if you have a specific allergy, it’s best to read the full ingredient list instead of going off the label.
all Free Clear
This detergent claims to remove 99 percent of common allergens residing on clothes, such as dog, cat, tree and pollen allergens. And reviewers seem to agree — many folks with sensitive skin or kiddos prone to rashes claim that this is their go-to detergent.
Much like the Arm & Hammer detergent above, there’s not much negative feedback to report. Just remember that if you or your little one has a specific, known allergy, check the ingredient list before choosing this detergent for your family.
Tide Free & Gentle
Tide has been a go-to well-known brand for some time, and this hypo-allergenic, dye- and perfume-free version seems to not disappoint. It’s also recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation as a safe detergent for sensitive skin.
And this detergent is a crowd pleaser if you’re washing more than just baby’s clothes. One reviewer on Tide’s site says, “With over six people living in my house, between sensitive skin, the desire not to smell flowery, the desire to just have clean clothes, the free & gentle has helped us find a happy medium.”
Two truths: Babies aren’t cheap, and they require a lot of laundry. Choosing to not drop $30+ every time you need a new bottle of detergent does not make you a bad parent. These budget-sensitive options will also do the trick.
Purex for Baby
Hypoallergenic and dye-free, this detergent holds up as a solid choice for those on a budget, costing around $.07 per load. While this may not be your top choice if you have a child with a sensitivity to fragrances, or moderate to severe eczema, it will work just fine as a sensitive formula for babies.
Fans of Purex say it does the dirtiest jobs as well as more expensive brands and most folks love the scent — although some parents have complained that the smell has changed recently.
Up&Up Free + Clear Laundry Detergent
Target lovers will be happy to know that Up&Up, the Target brand, has the same perks as other name brands without the price tag. It’s free of dyes and perfumes, and reviewers with sensitive skin say it works well for them.
A few reviewers were unhappy with the (lack of) cleaning power of this detergent, but the overall consensus was that it does the job. So if you prefer unscented detergents, this is a solid option. Plus, at less than $6 for a 64 loads, the price is right.
While most baby detergents are already hypoallergenic and dye-free, if you are an Earth-loving mama, these options take extra steps to consider the environment and use plant-based formulas.
If eco-friendliness is top of mind, this is a great option for a detergent that is both plant-based and still relatively gentle on the wallet. (It’s no deal like Purex, but for a plant-based product it’s not bad!)
Puracy Natural is made from organic ingredients that are safer for the environment and may be less potent on baby’s skin, earning it an A rating with the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Fans of this detergent say that despite its smaller bottle, it’s extremely concentrated so it does last a while. A few reviewers note that this does the job for everyday washing, but isn’t the best choice for removing serious stains.
Thieves Laundry Soap
Thieves is better known for essential oils than detergents, but this formula’s citrusy scent and safety claims have parents hooked. If you’re looking for a truly natural option, Thieves is free from dyes, petrochemicals, formaldehyde, phosphates, synthetic perfume, and optical brighteners.
Based on the reviews, this brand has some truly loyal customers. But while this option might make some folks feel good about using all-natural products on their child’s skin, it may be an overly pricey option for others.
Since babies can have sensitive skin, a safe bet is to look for words such as dye-free, scent- or fragrance-free, and chemical-free when shopping. It’s also wise to run all clothes through a wash cycle before wearing for the first time to remove irritating substances from the clothes themselves.
In the end, the most important things to consider when choosing a baby detergent are your baby’s unique needs and your family’s budget and lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with using the same detergent for the whole family, or buying your baby their own detergent if that feels right.