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10 Best Baby Laundry Detergents

Get baby’s clothes clean without irritating sensitive skin with the best baby detergents on the market.
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By Martina Garvey, E-Commerce Editor
Updated July 20, 2023
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If you thought you washed a lot of clothes before becoming a parent, hold onto your laundry basket. The average family accumulates 8 to 10 loads of laundry each week. And because newborns tend to have extra-sensitive skin, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you start washing baby’s clothes before they even arrive on the scene. With so much laundry in your near future, you may be wondering: What’s the best laundry detergent for babies? To help you out, we’ve put together this guide highlighting the best baby laundry detergents that’ll keep clothes clean and your newborn comfortable.

Do you Need Special Laundry Detergent for Baby Clothes?

The decision is entirely up to you. While some families choose to toss everyone’s dirty clothes into the washing machine in one go, it’s not always ideal. Standard laundry detergent contains chemicals and fragrances that can irritate baby’s delicate skin. And, if your little one is eczema-prone or has sensitive skin, chances are baby may react negatively to harsh detergents. Board-certified pediatric dermatologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Sheilagh Maguiness, MD, agrees that “a lot of the specific ‘baby’ labels on detergents are simple marketing tools,” but they’re still usually a reliable indicator that a detergent is safe for baby’s delicate skin.

You definitely aren’t obligated to purchase a detergent with “baby” in its name, especially as Maguiness says there are many fantastic laundry detergent options that are suitable for the entire family. Rather than focusing on marketing jargon, when it comes to baby-safe detergent, Mcguinness’ advice is to “look for one that is fragrance-free, dye-free, uses plant-based ingredients and has a hypoallergenic claim.” Using a baby laundry detergent for the whole family makes for less laundry-separating and takes into account that baby snuggles on your clothes as well.

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What to Look for in a Baby Laundry Detergent

The detergent aisle is chock-a-block with options and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed when trying to choose a laundry detergent that’s safe to use on newborn apparel. Checking the ingredient list for what the baby laundry detergent contains—and what it doesn’t—can help, but in doing so you may confuse yourself further. To help you on your search, we asked Maguiness to give us a run-down of what to look for in a baby detergent. So without further ado, here are a few qualifiers to consider when choosing the best baby detergent for your growing family:

  • Fragrance-free. Keep in mind that this isn’t the same as ‘unscented.’ Fragrance-free means the laundry detergent is free of all fragrance, while unscented means the fragrance has just been masked. With that said, if you do prefer a light scent and haven’t seen baby’s skin get irritated, then go for it. Just be sure to stop using fragranced detergent if baby starts having any reactions.
  • Plant-based. While it’s possible that a natural baby detergent can still irritate baby’s skin, it’s far less likely than with a chemical-laden one. Plant-based formulations “only use ingredients that are derived from plants rather than from petroleum-made, synthetic components,” notes Maguiness. Plus, plant-based products tend to be better for the environment than their chemical counterparts—something eco-conscious parents can rejoice in.
  • Dye-free. This type of detergent is formulated without the inclusion of synthetic or natural dyes used to give detergents a specific color or appearance.
  • No optical brighteners. Have you ever heard the catchphrase “makes whites whiter and brights brighter”? Optical brighteners are the chemicals that make clothes appear brighter. They don’t actually get clothes any cleaner, but they linger in fabrics and could cause irritation or a reaction.
  • Hypoallergenic. You’ve probably heard this word countless times before. This means the manufacturer has carried out rigorous product testing and claims the detergent causes fewer allergic reactions than those that aren’t labeled as such. But keep in mind, the FDA doesn’t regulate the use of the term “hypoallergenic,” so there’s no guarantee it’s the best laundry detergent for babies with sensitive skin.
  • Liquid or powder over pods. Baby laundry detergents come in liquid, powder or pod form. While the contents are typically the same, it’s best to buy a liquid or powder detergent for safety reasons. Brightly-colored pods “resemble candy and have frequently been reported to be ingested by children unknowingly, leading to symptoms such as coughing, choking, eye and skin irritation and even seizure, coma or death,” shares Maguiness. If you do use pods in your household, take special care to keep them in a tightly-sealed container high up and out of your child’s reach.

The Best Baby Laundry Detergents

Ready to take in the scent of fresh, stain-free onesies? Shop 12 expert-approved baby laundry detergents below.

Overall best baby detergent

Seventh Generation EasyDose Ultra Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent - Free & Clear
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • USDA certified biobased product (contains 99 percent plant-based ingredients)
  • A single squeeze of detergent is enough for one load of washing
  • Ultra-concentrated formula uses 50 percent less water and 60 percent less plastic packaging
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say their baby’s clothes could be a little softer post-wash
  • Detergent has a light, natural scent

First up on our list of safe baby detergents is Seventh Generation EasyDose Ultra Concentrated. This dye-free, hypoallergenic detergent contains 99 percent plant-based ingredients and zero chemical brighteners. The cleaning power comes from natural enzymes that work hard to wash baby’s duds. While some super-gentle baby laundry detergents lack the power to squash stains, Seventh Generation’s cleaner works great on milk spills, spit-up stains and even poop smears. Our favorite part of this wildly lauded baby laundry detergent, though, is its ultra concentrated formula: a single squeeze is all you need. For the perfect dose, simply turn over the bottle, give it a good, strong squeeze and a smart compression chamber dollops out the perfect amount of detergent every time. Genius!

Quantity: 23 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 66 loads per bottle

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Best stain remover for baby clothes

Puracy Natural Baby Stain Remover
Image: Puracy
What We Love
  • Plant-based formula
  • Hypoallergenic and cruelty-free
  • Works on all washable fabrics
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say the spray nozzle doesn’t mist so much as it squirts in a stream
  • For dried-in stains, the spray needs to soak for 8 plus hours before washing to be effective

Babies don’t do too much beyond eating, sleeping and pooping, but two out of three of these jobs tend to make a really big mess, resulting in multiple outfit changes a day. So having a go-to baby stain remover on hand to treat food blotches, spit-up spots and more is essential in those first few years. Enter: Puracy’s Natural Baby Stain Remover, a remarkable spot treatment that tackles fresh spills, stubborn stains and diaper mishaps alike. The convenient, easy-to-use spray bottle allows for precise targeting, minimizing product waste and letting parents spritz and go wherever their mini mess-makers lead. Just spray, toss and wash!

Quantity: 16 fl. oz. | Type: Spray | Loads: Up to 500 sprays per bottle

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Best cloth diaper detergent

Nellie’s Baby Laundry Soda
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Works in cold and warm washes
  • Many parents say that baby’s clothes get softer with each use
  • Budget-friendly (as little as 15 cents per load)
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say that the tin canister is tough to open
  • Doesn’t come with a measurement scoop

This unassuming, seemingly old-fashioned all-natural baby laundry detergent is a powerhouse at cleaning cloth diapers. In fact, it was one of the first baby detergents Maguiness name-checked when we asked for a list of her favorites. She noted that the family-owned company “really gives consideration to the environmental impact that laundry detergents can have while being gentle and offering fragrance-free options.” The Baby Laundry Soda is effective on cloth diapers, removes standard baby stains like milk, baby formula, spit up and poop and takes aim at any residue your previous detergent might have left behind. It’s hypoallergenic, biodegradable, non-toxic and is infused with sodium percarbonate for natural brightening. And, because it’s so concentrated, it’s a great value baby detergent too.

Quantity: 2.2 lbs. | Type: Powder | Loads: 80 loads per pack

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Best organic baby detergent

Honest Hypoallergenic Baby Laundry Detergent
Image: Honest
What We Love
  • Free from dyes, sulfates, optical brighteners and other potential irritants
  • USDA certified biobased product
  • Safe to use on eczema-prone skin
Things To Consider
  • Some users have reported mold in the top of the cap

Searching for an organic baby detergent? This option from Honest is our number one choice. Fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, it has all the qualities you’d want in a natural baby detergent. Plus, it’s been thoughtfully designed with sensitive skin of all ages in mind and even earned a seal of acceptance from The National Eczema Association. Best of all, the four stain-fighting enzymes in this powerfully gentle formula can be counted on to keep tiny clothes clean.

Quantity: 70 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 50 loads per bottle

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Best laundry detergent for babies with eczema

What We Love
  • Hypoallergenic and dye-free
  • Safe to use in any washing machine at any water temperature
  • Affordable price per load
Things To Consider
  • Stubborn stains will need to be pretreated
  • Contains sodium laureth sulfate, which Maguiness says is a harsh ingredient that can irritate the skin and lead to allergic contact dermatitis

All Free detergent isn’t officially a baby laundry detergent, but it might as well be. This formulation is hypoallergenic, dye- and perfume-free and gentle enough for delicate skin—especially if baby has eczema, a skin condition that can be aggravated by artificial fragrance and chemicals. It has received several seals and recognitions from organizations like the National Eczema Association and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so you can rest assured its a safe product. All Free easily lifts dirt and grime, without leaving any harsh residue behind.

Quantity: 141 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 94 loads per bottle

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Best sulfate-free baby detergent

Babyganics Fragrance Free Laundry Detergent
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Plant-based ingredients
  • Dermatologist tested and cruelty-free
  • Free from sulfates, optical brighteners, fragrance and dyes
Things To Consider
  • The screw top lid and measuring cup doesn’t have a spout, so pouring can get messy

The safest baby laundry detergent for little ones with sensitive skin may just be Babyganics. It’s a gentle, plant-based cleanser that’s free of chlorine, brighteners, phthalates, phosphates, artificial fragrances and dyes. The formula also doesn’t include sulfates, very common additives in detergents that do pull their weight when it comes to lifting stains, but sometimes at a staggering price (they’re proven skin and scalp irritants). Instead, this formula harnesses the natural cleaning power of plant enzymes. And yes, that ‘3x’ in the much-loved Babyganics name means that it’s triple concentrated, so you can use less detergent for each load and still get teeny-tiny clothes nice and clean.

Quantity: 60 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 60 loads per bottle

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Best scented baby detergent

ATTITUDE’s Soothing Chamomile Baby Laundry Detergent
Image: ATTITUDE
What We Love
Things To Consider
  • Larger bottles are offered on the website, but sell out quickly
  • Higher price per load than other detergents

Next up on our list is a safe choice for parents looking for a lightly-scented laundry detergent that won’t irritate sensitive skin. ATTITUDE’s Soothing Chamomile Baby Detergent is hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested and formulated with plant-based ingredients, making it gentle enough for most skin types. While the detergent comes in a few other scents (including Pear Nectar and Sweet Lullaby), we’re big fans of the subtle and soothing chamomile formula. With that said if baby does have an adverse reaction you can always switch to ATTITUDE’S unscented baby detergent. The brand gets bonus points, too, for its commitment to sustainability—the plant-based products are ensconced in innovative, low-waste packaging.

Quantity: 35.5 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 35 loads per bottle

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Best name-brand baby detergent

Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Free from fragrance and dyes
  • Affordable price per laundry load
Things To Consider
  • This formula wasn’t designed for sensitive baby skin
  • Detergent isn’t made from plant-based ingredients

Tide has been a laundry room staple for generations; and while there’s no specific Tide detergent for baby clothes, this one fits the bill. Tide Free & Gentle is hypoallergenic and free of dyes, perfumes, brighteners, chlorine and phosphates. At the same time, it’s managed to hold onto the cleaning power of the original (just without the reaction-prone petroleum-based cleaning agents), which is great news for diaper blowouts. What’s more, this baby laundry detergent is recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation and the National Eczema Association, so it’s ideal for other family members with sensitive skin as well.

Quantity: 92 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 64 loads per bottle

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Best budget-friendly baby detergent

Arm & Hammer Baby Laundry Detergent
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Free from dyes, phosphates, brighteners and parabens
  • Meets EPA ‘Safer Choice’ product standards
Things To Consider
  • Contains artificial fragrances
  • Some parents say the bottle leaks

Looking for a baby detergent that’ll keep clothes super-soft and squeaky-clean without breaking the bank? Then you’ll surely love Arm & Hammer’s economy-sized clothes cleaner. Even though it’s under $10, this baby-safe laundry detergent will last for up to 77 loads of washing, and its classic, cuddly clean scent is sure to make you want to snuggle with baby for even longer. What’s more, the hypoallergenic formula can be trusted to take on tough stains from milk, fruits and other foods that will inevitably end up on baby’s clothes.

Quantity: 100.5 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 77 loads per bottle

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Best baby detergent for the whole family

Method Free + Clear Laundry Detergent
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Plant-based ingredients
  • Hypoallergenic and biodegradable
  • Free from synthetic fragrances and dyes
Things To Consider
  • Extremely concentrated, so you won’t want to overdo it
  • Detergent has a light natural scent

Last up we have a laundry detergent that truly works for the whole family (many of our editors can vouch for that!). We love that Method’s Free + Clear formula has no dyes or perfumes, and that it’s derived from plants, making it one of the best laundry detergents for babies with sensitive skin. But what gets us even more excited is that the family-friendly detergent is perfect for all laundry (think: bibs, bedding, stuffed animals and clothing). It comes in a handy pump bottle and is super-concentrated, so you get a lot of laundry out of a little detergent (two pumps for a small load, four for medium, six for a big load of wash). Better yet, it’s an easy spot-cleaner, making laundry chores that much simpler.

Quantity: 53.5 fl. oz. | Type: Liquid | Loads: 66 loads per bottle

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How We Chose the Best Baby Laundry Detergents

We get it—the number of laundry detergents on the market is huge and once you throw the term “baby-friendly” into the conversation, things only get more challenging. To streamline your decision-making process, our goal is to do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We do this by considering a list of criteria when sourcing baby laundry detergents, including formula type and concentration, value, eco-friendliness and, last but not least, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a gentle and effective way to clean baby’s soiled clothes.

We referenced safe laundry room guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and compared notes with a board-certified pediatric dermatologist (who also happens to be a parent of two busy boys) to determine what to look for and avoid in baby laundry detergent. We also read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these household cleaning products work for families, never considering anything less than an average four-star rating.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

Sources

Sheilagh Maguiness, MD, FAAD is a board-certified pediatric dermatologist and Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She’s also a mom and co-founder of skincare brand Stryke Club, now available nationwide at Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters and Amazon.

American Academy of Pediatrics, Cleaning Baby Clothes, November 2009

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Hypoallergenic" Cosmetics, February 2022

America’s Poison Centers, Laundry Detergent Packets

American Academy of Pediatrics, Laundry Room and Detergent Safety, June 2019

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