They may be tiny but somehow, babies manage to create a ton of laundry. All those onesies and sleepers require mild laundry detergent that is free and clear of fragrances or any additives that may possibly cause irritation. When in doubt, follow the instructions on the clothing’s label. Contact your physician if an allergic reaction occurs.
Soft and Cuddly
Soft is the name of the game when it comes to laundering baby clothes. The skin of a newborn baby is incredibly sensitive and can become easily irritated. For this reason, detergents that are free and clear of dyes and perfumes are usually recommended for washing baby clothes. You may even choose to use a soap that is labeled as safe for babies, though that is not necessarily required. As long as your tot does not have any reaction to the soap, such as a rash, you can use the same detergent for the entire family.
Everything that touches your baby’s skin should be washed before using, including all clothing, bedding and towels. Many manufacturers use chemicals to give new clothes a fresh and bright appearance, which helps them to look crisp and appealing on store shelves. Substances are also used to prevent mildew during shipping, especially when the products are coming from another country. These compounds can be irritating to anyone’s skin, but babies are especially prone to such solvents. Hand-me-downs should also be washed before wearing since you can’t really be sure when the items were last laundered and what they have come in contact with since.
The best laundry practices are to follow the instructions on the clothing’s tag for both washing and drying. Follow the same principle with the detergent. Use only the amount suggested in the instructions; overdoing the detergent can leave an itchy or stiff residue on the clothing.
Hand Wash Occasionally
Hand washing baby clothes is usually not practical since babies tend to go through a lot of clothes on any single day. However, if you do decide to hand wash your baby’s clothes on occasion, or if a particular sweater or dress requires hand washing, for example, the process is pretty simple. Fill a sink or tub with cool to lukewarm water and a teaspoon of detergent. Submerge the clothes into the soapy water and let them soak for 10 to 20 minutes. Swish the clothing around gently, but avoid rubbing or twisting, which can cause the sweater or dress to stretch or become damaged. Rinse the clothing in cool water until all detergent is removed. Gently squeeze out the water and lay the garments flat on a towel to dry.
Act Fast on Stains
Whether it’s food, spit up or diapers, having babies means having stains. Wiping the food or substance off the onesie or your blouse, as the case may be, as soon as possible can help to prevent a stain from setting in permanently. Pre-treat stains with stain remover and soak the item in cool water and detergent before washing, especially if it will not be laundered immediately. For tough stains, gently scrub the spot with a soft nylon brush and a couple drops of detergent. Avoid rubbing too hard or you may damage the fabric.
Sensitivity or Allergen?
It is possible for baby’s sensitive skin to develop an irritation or allergic reaction to a laundry detergent. An irritation, such as a red, itchy rash, will show up quickly after the clothing comes in contact with the skin. If the rash is due to an irritation, the problem will go away fairly soon after the garment is removed.
A rash due to detergent will show up on the parts of the body only where the clothing is touching the skin. Under the diaper, for example, should not be affected. Rinsing your tot’s clothing twice can sometimes solve the problem. If not, then switching detergents is best. An allergic reaction, such as dermatitis, will take longer to heal. Call or visit your pediatrician for diagnosis and treatment if the rash sticks around.
Avoid overloading the washing machine, which can interfere with the removal of baby’s body fluids and food.
Healthychildren.org: Cleaning Baby Clothes
Better Homes & Garden: How to Wash Clothes by Hand
Cleveland Clinic: Is Laundry Detergent Causing Your Child’s Skin Rash?