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11 Best Baby Laundry Detergents

Get baby’s clothes clean without irritating sensitive skin with the best baby detergent on the market.
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profile picture of Holly Pevzner
Contributing Writer
Updated
September 26, 2022
baby laundry basket and baby laundry detergent
Image: July Ko | Shutterstock
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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 detergents that’ll keep clothes clean and your newborn comfortable.

Do I Need Special Laundry Detergent for Baby Clothes?

The decision is entirely up to you. While some families choose to toss everyone’s dirty clothes in the washing machine in one go, using the same laundry detergent for all isn’t ideal. Standard laundry detergent contains chemicals and fragrances that can irritate baby’s delicate skin. And, if you’re eczema-prone or have sensitive skin, chances are baby may react negatively to harsh detergents. Instead of buying baby detergent though, some parents buy special family laundry detergent—one that’s hypoallergenic and chemical- and fragrance-free. This makes for less laundry-separating and takes into account that baby snuggles on your clothes as well.

How to Choose the Best Baby Laundry Detergent

Check the ingredient list for what the baby laundry detergent contains—and what it doesn’t. Here are some specifics to keep an eye out for when choosing the best baby detergent for your growing family:

Fragrance-free. This isn’t the same as unscented. Fragrance-free means the baby laundry detergent is free of all fragrance. Unscented means the fragrance has been masked. (That said, if you prefer a light scent—and baby’s skin doesn’t get irritated—go for it.)

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Plant-based or chemical-free. 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. Bonus: Plant-based products are best for the environment.

No brighteners. These are chemicals that make colors appear brighter. They don’t actually get clothes any cleaner, but they linger in fabrics and could cause irritation or a reaction.

Hypoallergenic. This means the manufacturer 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.

Best Baby Detergents

Ready to take in the scent of fresh, stain-free onesies? Shop our top 11 choices when scouting out the best baby laundry detergent for your family’s needs.

Best Baby Detergent for Fighting Stains

Seventh Generation Baby Natural Free & Clear Laundry Detergent, 45 fl oz
Seventh Generation Baby Natural Free Clear Laundry Detergent
Image: Target
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Target | $9.49

This non-toxic, biodegradable, hypoallergenic product contains 96 percent plant-based ingredients and zero chemical brighteners. So what does it have? Powerful natural enzymes that work hard to clean baby’s duds. While some super-gentle infant laundry detergents lack the power to squash stains, Seventh Generation’s cleaner works great on milk spills, spit-up stains and even poop smears (it’ll happen). It’s not fragrance-free, but the light scent is derived from plant-based essential oils and botanical extracts. For added peace of mind: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded this baby detergent a Safer Choice designation.

Best Organic Baby Detergent

Honest Hypoallergenic Baby Laundry Detergent, 70 oz
Honest Hypoallergenic Baby Laundry Detergent
Image: Honest

Searching for an organic baby detergent? This option 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. The four stain-fighting enzymes in this powerfully gentle formula can be counted on to keep tiny clothes clean.

Best Baby Detergent for Eczema

All Free Clear Liquid Concentrated Laundry Concentrated Detergent, 141 oz
All Free Clear Liquid Concentrated Laundry Concentrated Detergent
Image: Target

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. In fact, this is the only laundry detergent recommended by the National Eczema Association. All Free easily lifts dirt and grime, without the harshness. (You’ll still need to pretreat super-stubborn stains, though.)

Best Baby Detergent Pods

Dropps Sensitive Skin Unscented Laundry Detergent Pods, 64 pods
Dropps Sensitive Skin Unscented Laundry Detergent Pods
Image: Dropps

Hypoallergenic and plant-based, these concentrated pods are free of dyes, fragrance, chlorine, phosphates and brighteners. And when you’ve got a stack of laundry in front of you and baby on your hip, you can’t beat the convenience of a one-handed, pre-measured drop-in Dropp. They’re even certified by the EPAas a Safer Choice for their special chemical formulation. But always keep safety top of mind: Between 2012 and 2013, over 700 children aged 5 and under were hospitalized or harmed because they ingested a laundry pod. If these convenient cleaners are your family’s go-to, keep them in an air-tight, hard-to-open container and high on a shelf, out of a child’s reach.

Best Classic Baby Detergent

Dreft Stage 1: Newborn HEC Liquid Detergent, 50 oz
Dreft Stage 1: Newborn HEC Liquid Detergen
Image: Target

You’ve heard of Dreft. We all have. It’s long been touted as the top choice among pediatricians for babies with sensitive skin, and it’s been successfully (and gently) cleaning onesies for almost 90 years. This gentle laundry detergent for babies is also great for hand-washing delicates. While it’s hypoallergenic and dye-free, it does have that yummy, mild baby detergent scent, so if you’re searching for a fragrance-free option, keep looking. An added bonus for eco-minded caregivers: Dreft’s packaging is made from 25 percent or more recycled plastic.

Best Sulfate-Free Baby Detergent

Babyganics Fragrance Free Laundry Detergent, 60 oz
Babyganics Fragrance Free Laundry Detergent
Image: Amazon

The safest baby laundry detergent for little ones with sensitive skin may just be Babyganics. It’s a gentle, plant-based clothes cleaner that’s free of chlorine, brighteners, phthalates, phosphates, artificial fragrances and dyes. Its formula also doesn’t include sulfates, a very common additive in detergents that’s a proven skin and scalp irritant. While this isn’t a powerhouse at removing caked-on stains (be sure to pre-treat!), Babyganics is triple concentrated, so you can use less detergent for each load and still get teeny-tiny clothes nice and clean.

Best Value Baby Detergent

Arm & Hammer Baby Laundry Detergent, 118.1 oz
Arm & Hammer Baby Laundry Detergent
Image: Amazon

Looking for a baby detergent that will 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 75 loads, and its cuddly clean scent is sure to make you want to snuggle with baby for even longer. What’s more, its 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.

Best Scented Baby Detergent

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Laundry Detergent – Baby Blossom, 64 oz
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Laundry Detergent – Baby Blossom
Image: Amazon

Best Name-Brand Baby Detergent

Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent, 92 oz
Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent
Image: Target

Tide has been a laundry room go-to for generations; and while there’s no specific Tide detergent for baby clothes, this one can fit 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 petroleum-based cleaning agents), which is great news for diaper blowouts. Bonus: 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.

Best Baby Detergent for Cloth Diapers

Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder, 128 oz
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
Image: Target

This unassuming, seemingly old-fashioned natural baby laundry detergent is a powerhouse at cleaning cloth diapers. Charlie’s was originally formulated as an industrial cleaner, so it really gets the poop out, and it removes any residue your previous detergent left behind on clothes. Amazingly, it’s tough yet gentle, hitting all of the baby-friendly notes. It’s hypoallergenic, biodegradable, non-toxic and chemical- and parabens-free. Don’t be fooled by the lack of scent—it is, in fact, fragrance-free, and baby’s clothes, sheets and towels will emerge from the washer completely odorless. And because it’s so concentrated, it’s a great value baby detergent too.

Best Baby Detergent for the Whole Family

Method Free + Clear Laundry Detergent, 53.5 fl oz

We love that Method 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—and comes in a handy pump form. This Method product 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.

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