Every household has different laundry habits, and preferences for how they wash their clothes. With the arrival of a new little one, you may find your laundry routine changed. But, with everything else going on, do you really need to separate baby clothes?
You should wash your baby’s clothes separately from your own, at least for the first year. While it may be inconvenient, it is important to use a gentle baby-friendly detergent on your little one’s clothes. You may also want to use bleach, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets on your laundry, but they should all be avoided on baby clothes.
Keep reading to find out more about when to wash baby clothes separately, what products you can use, and why many families choose to use natural products.
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Should you really separate baby clothes before washing?
There are several reasons why it can be a good idea to separate out your baby’s clothing from the rest of the family’s laundry.
Many babies are sensitive to the dyes, fragrances, and other harsh chemical ingredients present in traditional laundry detergents. For this reason, many parents choose to use a special gentle detergent for washing baby clothes, and their usual laundry products for the rest of the family.
If you are using cloth diapers and/or cloth wipes, there is a real benefit to washing these items separately. Running a separate load for your diapering laundry is just a smart idea due to soiled diapers, the risk of staining, and possibly odors. In addition, many parents use separate laundry products for a cloth diaper load such as vinegar to remove odors or special cloth diaper detergent.
Many families like to separate out each individual family member’s laundry to save time running loads and sorting out clothing after it comes out of the dryer. This can be more convenient for busy families, especially in the first months after the arrival of a new baby.
While combining everyone’s clothes may seem more efficient, it can also take twice as much time to sort everyone’s clothing before putting it away. Washing everyone’s clothes separately also cuts down on running unnecessary loads just because one family member needs a certain pair of jeans, or you want to use a favorite onesie for a special outing.
New babies generate tons of laundry, due to spit-up, diaper blowouts, and other spills that require frequent clothing changes and the washing of blankets, burp cloths, bibs, and other items. You may find that your laundry loads seem to separate themselves as you run almost daily loads to accommodate your newborn’s clothing and accessories.
How long do you have to wash baby clothes separately?
Babies have soft, sensitive skin, and baby detergent is formulated to be milder and contain fewer chemicals and other potential irritants than regular detergent. Baby detergent is often fragrance-free (although some are lightly scented) and dye-free, and hypoallergenic, which makes it much less likely that a baby’s skin would be irritated by it.
While your baby’s skin is unique, it is typically safe to transition away from a baby detergent around their first birthday. If your baby has especially sensitive skin, is allergy-prone, or has a skin condition such as eczema, you may want to continue using the gentler detergent for longer.
Check out my complete resource on how to tell if it’s time to start washing your baby’s laundry with yours.
Should you separate baby clothes by color?
Even if you don’t always do it (guilty!), you know that you should be washing your whites and colors separately, but what about your baby’s clothes?
Just like your clothes, separating out your baby’s clothes into at least dark colors and light colors can help them last longer and stay vibrant. This is especially true the first time you wash them, as darker colors can run and stain lighter colored clothes.
Do you use fabric softener on baby clothes?
You should avoid using fabric softener, including those marketed as being gentle enough for babies when you’re washing your little one’s clothes. The extra chemicals, scents, and dyes in fabric softeners can irritate your little one’s skin.
In addition, fabric softeners reduce the flame resistance of clothing that has been treated with flame-resistant chemicals, as many baby clothes are. Therefore, many experts recommend avoiding the use of fabric softeners for baby clothes.
Tip: If you want to soften your baby’s clothes, try using vinegar, baking soda, or plain old sunshine.
Do you use dryer sheets with baby clothes?
Many parents prefer not to use dryer sheets with baby clothes either, especially to prevent eczema and skin irritation.
A pack of reusable wool dryer balls can provide the perfect all-natural alternative. Dryer balls can help reduce drying time and can even help soften the fabric.
Check out this article to learn more about why you shouldn’t use dryer sheets on baby clothes?