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How to Wash Baby Clothes

How to Wash Baby Clothes

It's possible to keep your baby's clothes looking fresh, even in the face of spit-up, blowouts, and more. Get tips on washing baby clothes here.

It's a good thing that babies look cute in basically anything they wear, because they sure do change clothes often. (You would have multiple outfit changes, too, if you spit up after your meals!) As most parents soon realize, all of those tiny playsuits and sleep sacks pile up pretty quickly—which is why it's helpful to know how to wash baby clothes. These laundry pointers will help you keep your baby's wardrobe clean and fresh.

Should I wash my baby's new clothes?

When you find a too-cute outfit, it's so tempting to rip off the tags and put it directly on your baby for some adorable photos. But hold that thought!

Since babies, especially newborns, have sensitive skin, it's best to wash the clothes before your baby wears them. For one thing, most fabrics are treated with chemicals that could irritate your baby's sensitive skin; washing them reduces that risk. Plus, you don't know who may have handled the garments before you—or where they may have been sitting for months on end. Even if you're the lucky recipient of secondhand goods from a trusted friend or relative, a laundry cycle can make used garments feel new again.

How should I wash my baby's clothes?

Washing baby clothes is easy once you know what to do. First, read the care label to determine whether your baby's clothes need any special attention. For example, a delicately embroidered outfit may need to be washed by hand or dried on a line.

From there, it's a matter of taking a gentle approach. Since babies have very sensitive skin, think of the "best baby detergent" as the mildest laundry soap possible. You can use special detergents designed for baby laundry, but "grown-up" detergents are also suitable—just avoid those with dyes or perfumes, which can irritate a baby's skin or senses. Skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets, too; keeping it simple will minimize the chance of irritation.

What are signs of laundry rash in a baby?

If your baby's skin is red, bumpy, or dry, this may be a sign that their laundry detergent is causing irritation. Contact your pediatrician if this happens and consider changing to a fragrance- and dye-free detergent made for babies.

How to remove stains from baby clothes

Chances are, the moment you put your baby in a fresh white onesie…they're going to spit up or have a blowout in it. No big deal! Here's how to remove formula stains, breast milk stains, and poop stains from baby clothes.

  • First, remove as much of the spilled substance as possible. Brush it off, use a wipe, or shake it off.
  • Next, rinse the garment under cold running water.
  • Pre-treat protein stains (as in formula and breast milk) by soaking the garment in a solution of cool water and enzyme-based cleaner.
  • After washing, line-dry the garment in the sun to fade any yellowing.

More laundry tips for baby clothes

  • To keep tiny socks from getting lost, wash them in a mesh lingerie bag.
  • Fasten Velcro closures (as on bibs) before washing them; this will keep them from snagging other clothing.
  • After each wash, look at buttons and snaps to make sure they remain securely attached.

Whether you're dealing with baby laundry or the big stuff, life with a newborn is a little easier when you're prepared. For helpful checklists and to-dos, don't miss our planning resources for moms-to-be—and try to take some of the pressure off yourself while you're at it.