mom putting halo sleepsack swaddle in laundry basket

After finding out they are pregnant, many moms start to gravitate toward the baby clothes section. We can’t blame them--there are a lot of stressful aspects of having a baby, but picking out cute baby clothes is something parents often enjoy!


Between shower gifts, hand-me-downs from family and friends, and doing your own shopping, it’s easy to build up quite the stock of clothes before your little one even arrives. If that’s the case, it can feel overwhelming looking at a pile of clothes to prepare.

But don’t stress! Washing baby clothes (and drying baby clothes, too) is something you can easily tackle before your little boy or girl makes their appearance. Here are some things to consider:

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mom putting sleepsack in washing machinemom putting sleepsack in washing machine

Choose a Detergent

Parents often wonder, “Should I be washing newborn clothes with the same detergent I wash my clothes with?” The short answer is: no.

Before you start washing, it’s important to find a detergent that can accommodate your newborn’s sensitive skin. Babies are born with delicate skin and are more prone to reacting to the chemicals found in many brands of laundry detergent. If possible, we suggest choosing a chemical-free detergent to limit the risk of reaction.

When shopping for a detergent, look for the specific made-for-baby brands like Dreft or Babyganics or for any type of detergent that is “free and clear”, preferably fragrance-free.

Choose a Detergent

Parents often wonder, “Should I be washing newborn clothes with the same detergent I wash my clothes with?” The short answer is: no.

Before you start washing, it’s important to find a detergent that can accommodate your newborn’s sensitive skin. Babies are born with delicate skin and are more prone to reacting to the chemicals found in many brands of laundry detergent. If possible, we suggest choosing a chemical-free detergent to limit the risk of reaction.

When shopping for a detergent, look for the specific made-for-baby brands like Dreft or Babyganics or for any type of detergent that is “free and clear”, preferably fragrance-free.

Even after the newborn stage, common skin issues such as eczema and cradle cap are easily irritated by chemicals. Keeping your laundry detergent free of additives such as synthetic fragrance will be helpful in keeping your baby comfortable. The safest choice of detergent will be:

Free of fragrance
Gentle
Contain no bleach
Contain no fabric softener

If you’re really worried about the chemicals in store-bought detergents, there are plenty of recipes out there to walk parents through making their own!

Washing New & Used Clothes

Regardless if your baby will be the first one to wear an outfit or if it’s a hand-me-down, you want to wash baby clothes before the first use. The truth is you have no idea what might have come into contact with the clothes before they reach you. To make sure the clothes are free of irritants, it’s best to wash all clothes prior to wearing them (preferably with baby detergent!).

Tips for the first wash:

Make sure to remove all tags and stickers from new clothes.

Check hand-me-downs for any stains that might need to be pre-soaked.

Read clothing labels carefully and adjust your laundry machine’s setting accordingly.

Do this around 4-6 weeks before the baby is due. This is close enough to the date so that the clothes aren’t sitting for months on end collecting dust. But it isn’t too close to your due date when you should be focusing on rest and preparing for birth.

Washing New & Used Clothes

Regardless if your baby will be the first one to wear an outfit or if it’s a hand-me-down, you want to wash baby clothes before the first use. The truth is you have no idea what might have come into contact with the clothes before they reach you. To make sure the clothes are free of irritants, it’s best to wash all clothes prior to wearing them (preferably with baby detergent!).

Tips for the first wash:

● Make sure to remove all tags and stickers from new clothes.

● Check hand-me-downs for any stains that might need to be pre-soaked.

● Read clothing labels carefully and adjust your laundry machine’s setting accordingly.

● Do this around 4-6 weeks before the baby is due. This is close enough to the date so that the clothes aren’t sitting for months on end collecting dust. But it isn’t too close to your due date when you should be focusing on rest and preparing for birth.

mom folding sleepsack before putting it awaymom folding sleepsack before putting it away

How to Get Stains Out of Baby Clothes

For being so dependent on others, babies manage to get themselves (and their clothes) regularly messy. Without a doubt, you will encounter tough stains, like poop, early on in your parenthood. When that happens, here are some suggestions to get those stains out:

Fast action is your friend. The sooner you can treat a stain after it’s made, the better.

Pre-soak all stained baby clothes in cool water. For some light stains like drool or breastmilk, water might be enough to remove the spots if you get it soaking quick enough.

While pre-soaking, you can use a soft-bristled brush and a drop of soak to gently work out the stain. Avoid harsh scrubbing because you’ll risk damaging the fabric.

For protein-based stains (breastmilk, formula, most food, feces, etc.), we suggest soaking in plain, cool water with an enzyme cleaner. If you are still able to see traces of the stain, we suggest applying an all-purpose stain remover before washing like normal.

For urine stains (yes, it will happen!), it’s best to pre-treat the clothing with a tablespoon of ammonia diluted in one cup of water. Before pre-treating, dab the ammonia-water mix in a small area first to make sure it will not impact the fabric’s color. Then, use a standard stain remover and wash like normal.

For oil-based stains (baby oil, creams, petroleum jelly), we recommend simply using a prewash stain removed and washing in the hottest water possible for that particular fabric. Since oil stains can seem to disappear when a piece of garment is wet, it is best to let the clothes air dry since heat drying can set the stain.

For stains from fruits and vegetables, you have a few different options. First, try just rinsing the stain in cool water. Sometimes this will be enough to loosen and wash out the stain. You can also pre-soak the clothing in a 1-to-1 mix of rubbing alcohol and water before washing like normal. Finally, you can always try using a prewash stain remover before washing the clothes like normal.

For some of your baby’s items, like washcloths or burp towels, don’t stress yourself out trying to get every little stain out! These work just as well with a stain or two as long as they are clean.


Washing After the Baby Arrives

Newborns bring a lot of love to a family--and a lot of laundry! New parents will tell you that the dirty clothes pile gets big quickly with a new baby around. Parenthood brings on unique stresses, and we hope that washing and drying your baby’s clothes doesn’t become one of them!

To keep you sane, your laundry basket from overflowing, and your baby healthy, here is what we suggest:

Always read the label in case of special treatment. Some fabrics such as lace require different washing than cotton.

Get in the habit of doing “baby only” loads of laundry. Remember, their skin is extra sensitive. Couple that with developing immune system, washing their clothes separate from yours limits their exposure to bacteria or harmful chemicals from other laundry.

Always wash after wear. It’s not a secret--babies are messy. Drool, snot, and other fluids may not be visible, but it’s better to be safe and assume they are there!

Periodically wash your washer. While this might sound silly, washing machines can actually become breeding grounds for bacteria. About once a month, we suggest running an empty cycle using a natural household product such as vinegar.

Use a laundry mesh bag for small baby clothes items like socks. This will save you the trouble of having to dig around for lost socks!

Make sure to fasten any hooks or loop-fabric fasteners to keep clothes from snagging in the machine and ripping.

mom wrapping baby in freshly cleaned halo swaddlemom wrapping baby in freshly cleaned halo swaddle

When in doubt on what setting to use, wash baby clothes in cold water using the gentle cycle. This will still clean the clothes while at the same time preventing shrinking or color bleeding.

momchecking on baby sleeping in bedside bassinet in ideal temp halo swaddlemomchecking on baby sleeping in bedside bassinet in ideal temp halo swaddle

Washing After the Baby Arrives

Newborns bring a lot of love to a family--and a lot of laundry! New parents will tell you that the dirty clothes pile gets big quickly with a new baby around. Parenthood brings on unique stresses, and we hope that washing and drying your baby’s clothes doesn’t become one of them!

To keep you sane, your laundry basket from overflowing, and your baby healthy, here is what we suggest:

● Always read the label in case of special treatment. Some fabrics such as lace require different washing than cotton.

● Get in the habit of doing “baby only” loads of laundry. Remember, their skin is extra sensitive. Couple that with developing immune system, washing their clothes separate from yours limits their exposure to bacteria or harmful chemicals from other laundry.

● Always wash after wear. It’s not a secret--babies are messy. Drool, snot, and other fluids may not be visible, but it’s better to be safe and assume they are there!

● Periodically wash your washer. While this might sound silly, washing machines can actually become breeding grounds for bacteria. About once a month, we suggest running an empty cycle using a natural household product such as vinegar.

● Use a laundry mesh bag for small baby clothes items like socks. This will save you the trouble of having to dig around for lost socks!

● Make sure to fasten any hooks or loop-fabric fasteners to keep clothes from snagging in the machine and ripping.

● When in doubt on what setting to use, wash baby clothes in cold water using the gentle cycle. This will still clean the clothes while at the same time preventing shrinking or color bleeding.

What About Drying Baby Clothes?

halo sleepsacks organized on a shelfhalo sleepsacks organized on a shelf

We haven’t forgotten about drying! Once your washing machine has done its job, it’s time for you to dry baby clothes. This part of the process can be low-key, but here are some of our suggestions that prioritize your baby’s health and comfort:

Avoid dryer sheets or fabric softeners. Like with detergent, the chemicals in these products can easily irritate your new baby’s sensitive skin.

Stick to low heat. While high-heat drying might get the job done quicker, it’ a lot more likely to damage clothes. If you have any special or delicate clothes (like a dress with lace), it’s best to air on the a side of caution and hang dry.

To help with static and wrinkles, consider using a wool dryer ball. These are a great chemical-free alternative to dryer sheets. Washing baby clothes doesn’t need to be complicated! Take time to get a system in place to wash and dry your baby’s clothes safely, so that you can spend more time bonding with your little one!

We haven’t forgotten about drying! Once your washing machine has done its job, it’s time for you to dry baby clothes. This part of the process can be low-key, but here are some of our suggestions that prioritize your baby’s health and comfort:

● Avoid dryer sheets or fabric softeners. Like with detergent, the chemicals in these products can easily irritate your new baby’s sensitive skin.

● Stick to low heat. While high-heat drying might get the job done quicker, it’ a lot more likely to damage clothes. If you have any special or delicate clothes (like a dress with lace), it’s best to air on the a side of caution and hang dry.

● To help with static and wrinkles, consider using a wool dryer ball. These are a great chemical-free alternative to dryer sheets. Washing baby clothes doesn’t need to be complicated! Take time to get a system in place to wash and dry your baby’s clothes safely, so that you can spend more time bonding with your little one!

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