How To Wash Baby Clothes

August 18, 2023

So, you’ve just welcomed a little bundle of joy into your life and you’re surrounded by heaps of adorable, tiny clothes. Exciting, right? But amidst all the cuteness, you’re probably wondering how to keep those delicate fabrics clean and fresh. Well, look no further because this article is here to guide you through the process of washing baby clothes. From understanding the fabric care labels to choosing the right detergent, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to ensure your little one’s clothes stay soft, cozy, and free from stains.

How To Wash Baby Clothes

Sorting Baby Clothes

When it comes to washing baby clothes, the first step is to sort them properly. This helps ensure that colors don’t bleed, fabrics don’t get damaged, and dirty clothes are treated separately. Start by separating the clothes based on their color. This prevents any chance of color transfer during the wash. Light-colored clothes should be washed separately from dark-colored ones to maintain their brightness.

After sorting by color, it’s essential to separate the baby clothes based on their fabric type. Delicate fabrics, such as cotton or linen, require gentler washing compared to sturdier materials like denim. By separating the clothes based on fabric type, you can adjust your washing method and ensure that each garment is treated appropriately.

Lastly, it’s important to separate the baby clothes based on their level of dirtiness. This helps in determining the appropriate washing cycle and ensures that heavily soiled clothes are given the attention they need. By treating heavily stained or dirty clothes separately, you’ll be able to pre-treat stains and give them extra care before washing the entire load.

Pre-Treating Stains

Baby clothes are prone to stains, whether it’s from spit-up, food, or diaper blowouts. To ensure that these stains don’t become permanent, it’s best to pre-treat them before washing. The first step in pre-treating stains is to identify them. This can be done by inspecting the clothes under good lighting. Once you’ve identified the stain, it’s time to treat it.

There are various baby-safe stain remover products available in the market that are specifically designed to tackle common baby stains. These products are formulated to be gentle on delicate fabrics while effectively removing stains. Follow the instructions provided with the stain remover and apply it directly to the stain, allowing it to penetrate the fabric and break down the stain. After pre-treating the stains, you can proceed to wash the clothes as usual.

Choosing the Right Detergent

Selecting the right detergent for washing baby clothes is crucial to ensure the safety and comfort of your little one. It’s recommended to opt for a mild and fragrance-free detergent specifically formulated for infants. These detergents are free from harsh chemicals and irritants that can be harmful to your baby’s sensitive skin. Look for detergents that are labeled as hypoallergenic to minimize the risk of any allergic reactions.

When choosing a detergent, it’s essential to avoid fabric softeners and bleach. Fabric softeners can leave a residue on the clothes that may cause skin irritation, while bleach can damage delicate fabrics and fade colors. Instead, focus on finding a detergent that is gentle yet effective in cleaning your baby’s clothes. Reading reviews or seeking recommendations from other parents can help you make an informed decision.

Washing Machine Settings

Once you have sorted the baby clothes, treated any stains, and selected the appropriate detergent, it’s time to set up your washing machine correctly. To ensure gentle and thorough cleaning, use the delicate or gentle cycle on your washing machine. This cycle is designed to be less aggressive, preventing damage to your baby’s clothes while effectively removing dirt and stains.

In terms of water temperature, using cold or warm water is generally recommended for washing baby clothes. Cold water helps preserve the colors and prevents shrinking, while warm water can aid in removing stains and bacteria. Avoid using hot water, as it can damage delicate fabrics and cause shrinkage.

When it comes to detergent, remember that less is more. Using too much detergent can leave residue on the clothes, which may irritate your baby’s skin. Follow the recommended dosage on the detergent’s packaging, keeping in mind that baby clothes are smaller and require less detergent compared to regular laundry loads.

How To Wash Baby Clothes

Hand Washing Baby Clothes

While using a washing machine is convenient, there may be times when hand washing is necessary or preferred. Hand washing can be gentler on delicate fabrics and allows for more control over the washing process. Here’s how you can hand wash your baby’s clothes:

  1. Fill a clean basin or sink with warm water. Ensure that the water is not too hot, as it can damage the fabric.
  2. Add a small amount of detergent specifically designed for baby clothes. Follow the instructions on the detergent’s packaging to determine the appropriate amount.
  3. Gently submerge the clothes in the water, making sure that each item is fully saturated.
  4. Using your hands, gently agitate the clothes in a swirling motion. This helps loosen dirt and stains.
  5. Pay special attention to any stained areas and gently scrub them using your fingertips or a soft brush. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously, as this can damage the fabric.
  6. Once the clothes have been washed, drain the soapy water and rinse them thoroughly with clean water until no soap remains.
  7. Gently squeeze out excess water from the clothes, being careful not to wring or twist them, as this can distort their shape.
  8. Finally, lay the clothes flat on a clean towel and roll the towel up, pressing gently to absorb excess moisture.
  9. Hang or lay the clothes flat to air dry.

Drying Baby Clothes

After washing, it’s important to dry baby clothes properly to maintain their shape and prevent any potential damage. Air drying is the preferred method for drying baby clothes, as it is the gentlest option. Here are a few tips to follow when air drying baby clothes:

  • Hang the clothes in a shaded area to avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Sunlight can fade colors and potentially damage delicate fabrics.
  • Use a clothesline or drying rack to hang the clothes. This allows them to air dry evenly and helps preserve their shape.
  • Avoid hanging clothes directly on metal or wooden hangers as they can leave marks and distort the clothing.
  • Shake out the clothes gently before hanging them to remove any excess water and minimize wrinkles.

Keep in mind that some items, such as woolens or delicate knits, may require flat drying instead of hanging. Lay these items flat on a clean, dry towel or a drying rack, reshaping them if necessary, and allow them to air dry completely.

Ironing and Steaming

Ironing baby clothes can help keep them wrinkle-free and looking neat, but it’s important to take precautions to avoid any damage. Here are some tips for ironing baby clothes:

  • Set your iron to a low heat setting to prevent scorching or burning the fabric.
  • Always use a protective cloth, such as a cotton handkerchief or a thin cotton towel, between the iron and the clothes. This provides a barrier and prevents direct contact with the hot iron.
  • Iron in gentle, smooth strokes, following the garment’s natural seams and avoiding fast, back-and-forth movements.
  • Pay extra attention to any embroidered or delicate details, ironing around them rather than directly on them.

If you prefer to avoid using a traditional iron, consider steaming as an alternative. A garment steamer can effectively remove wrinkles without direct contact with the fabric. Hold the steamer a few inches away from the clothes and move it up and down, allowing the steam to penetrate the fabric and relax the fibers.

Folding and Storing

Once the baby clothes are clean, dry, and wrinkle-free, it’s time to fold and store them properly. Here are some tips to help you maximize storage space and keep the clothes organized:

  • Sort the clothes by size and type. This makes it easier to find what you need when dressing your baby and prevents any confusion.
  • Fold the clothes neatly to reduce wrinkles and optimize storage space. Use a consistent folding method, such as folding in thirds or rolling, to maintain uniformity and make the clothes stack or fit into drawers more efficiently.
  • Consider using storage containers or drawers specifically designed for baby clothes. These help keep the clothes organized and protected from dust or pests.
  • Label the storage containers or drawers to easily identify the contents. This can save time and make it more convenient for other caregivers or family members assisting with dressing the baby.

Washing Special Baby Items

In addition to regular baby clothes, there are specific items that require special care when washing. Here’s how to clean some commonly used baby items:

  • Cleaning blankets and swaddles: Check the care label for specific washing instructions. Most blankets and swaddles can be machine washed using a gentle cycle. It’s best to wash them separately from other clothes to avoid tangles. Use a mild detergent, and avoid using fabric softeners, as they can reduce the absorbency of the fabric. Air drying is recommended to maintain the softness and shape of the blankets.
  • Washing baby shoes and booties: If the baby shoes or booties are machine washable, place them in a mesh laundry bag to protect them during the wash cycle. Use a gentle or delicate cycle, and ensure that any Velcro or other closures are secured to prevent any damage. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the materials. It’s best to air dry them to maintain their shape.
  • Sanitizing toys and teethers: Many baby toys and teethers can be cleaned with warm, soapy water. Use a mild detergent and thoroughly wash the toys, paying attention to any crevices or hard-to-reach areas. Rinse them well to remove any soap residue. For toys that are safe for the dishwasher, place them on the top rack and run a gentle cycle. Alternatively, sanitizing wipes or sprays specifically designed for toys can be used to sanitize them without water. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and sanitizing these items.

Additional Tips and Safety Precautions

To ensure the highest level of cleanliness and safety for your baby’s clothes, here are some additional tips and safety precautions to keep in mind:

  • Wash new clothes before use: Even if the clothes are brand new, it’s advisable to wash them before your baby wears them. This helps remove any potential irritants or chemicals that may be present from the manufacturing and storage process.
  • Check labels for laundry instructions: Different fabrics and clothing brands may have specific washing instructions. Always read and follow the care labels attached to the clothes. These labels provide important information on water temperature, washing methods, and other care instructions.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals: Baby skin is delicate and sensitive, so it’s important to avoid using harsh chemicals when washing their clothes. Stick to mild and baby-friendly detergents to minimize the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions. Additionally, avoid using bleach or other strong cleaning agents, as they can damage the fabrics and potentially harm your baby.

By following these guidelines, you can confidently wash your baby’s clothes, ensuring both cleanliness and safety. Remember, taking proper care of their clothes helps keep your little one comfortable and happy, while also extending the lifespan of their adorable outfits.

Sandra McNeil, PhD.
Sandra McNeil, PhD.

Sandra has over 13 years of experience as a child psychologist, both as a practitioner and researcher. She has a Bachelor's in child psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and then she did her master's in Psychology in Education (focused on Children & Families) at Columbia University, NY. She has been writing for health and child-related publications for over 5 years now.

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