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- Best for babies with sensitive skin or eczema: Rockin’ Green Classic Rock Unscented Laundry Detergent
- Best unscented: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent and Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear Detergent
- Best hypoallergenic: all Free Clear Liquid Detergent and Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent
- Best for your budget: Purex Baby Liquid Laundry Detergent and Up&Up Free + Clear Laundry Detergent
- Best all-natural detergent: Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent
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, fragrances, or other chemicals.
A quick safety note
Be sure to keep all detergents and detergent pods away from babies, as they can be very harmful, 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
Best for babies with sensitive skin or eczema
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.
Rockin’ Green is a strong contender for anyone who is concerned about their baby’s reaction to dyes, fragrances, and chemicals — their enzyme-free 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 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).
- enzyme-free, hypoallergenic, and plant-based formula
- has specific variations for hard water, workout clothing, and tough kid stains
- higher cost
- powder-style detergent possibly requiring an extra rinse to get all the detergent out
Best unscented baby laundry detergent
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.
In addition to boasting 97 percent plant-based ingredients and no 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!
- 97 percent plant-based ingredients (US Department of Agriculture certified product)
- affordably priced
- concentrated, so a little can go a long way
- reports of a smell on clothing after using
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.
- lots of product for your money
- hypoallergenic and free of fragrance
- known brand
- doesn’t always ship perfectly according to some, so you may want to buy in stores instead of online
Best hypoallergenic baby laundry detergent
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 its formula. As always, if you have a specific allergy, it’s best to read the full ingredient list instead of going off the label.
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 allergy, check the ingredient list before choosing this detergent for your family.
- available at a lot of stores
- neutral scent
- reports that the design of the bottle could result in messy pours
Tide has been a go-to brand for some time, and this hypoallergenic, dye-free, and perfume-free version seems to not disappoint. It’s also recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation as a safe detergent for sensitive skin.
This detergent is a crowd-pleaser if you’re washing more than just baby’s clothes. One reviewer on Tide’s website 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.”
- well-known brand
- seals of approval from the National Psoriasis Foundation and the National Eczema Association
- able to remove tough stains
- complaints that liquid can run down the bottle if you use the cap to measure/pour
- some of the ingredients might irritate your skin
Best for your budget
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.
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.
- many reviewers love the smell
- fragrance may not be suitable for infants with sensitive skin
- some reviewers claim scent has changed recently
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 consensus was that it does the job. If you prefer unscented detergents, this is a solid option. Plus, at less than $6 for 64 loads, the price is right.
- no dyes and perfumes
- works in regular and high efficiency washing machines
- sold exclusively at Target
- might not get out the toughest of stains
Best all-natural detergent
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.
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.
- 96 loads from one 24-ounce bottle (that’s some impressive concentration power!)
- no phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, animal by-products, chlorine, perfumes, gluten, tree nut-based ingredients, or dyes
- A rating from the Environmental Working Group
- hard to carry without a handle and the pump can drip
- more expensive than some other options
Feeling a little overwhelmed with the number of baby laundry detergent options available? Need some help determining the right one for you and your baby?
Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you choose the right detergent for your family:
- Avoid dyes and fragrances. These can potentially irritate your little one’s skin. Usually, a quick look at the ingredients listed on the packaging will tell you if there are any, but every once in a while, you may need to do some digging.
- Look for a hypoallergenic option. Some babies, especially those with eczema, may be sensitive to allergens in laundry detergents. A hypoallergenic option will have fewer potential triggers.
- Consider a liquid option. Liquid detergents tend to rinse out easier and leave less powder and flakes behind that might irritate your little one’s skin.
- Don’t forget to check the price! Baby laundry detergent can add up, so you’ll want to make sure that whatever option you choose fits in your budget. (Don’t forget to look for sales and coupons, too!)
Do I need a special laundry detergent for my baby?
Not necessarily. Your baby’s skin may be totally fine if their clothing is washed with whatever detergent the rest of the family is using. If you’re worried about rashes or they have more sensitive skin prone to conditions like eczema, it might be worth considering a special detergent.
Is it better to get an unscented detergent for my baby?
While some babies are fine with a scented detergent, it can be irritating for babies with sensitive skin. Some parents prefer an unscented detergent as it’s one less potential trigger to worry about.
Is it better to use liquid or powder detergent?
Liquid detergents typically rinse out easier leaving less powder and flakes behind. Because of this, a liquid detergent may be preferable if your baby has sensitive skin.
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 for you.