basket of clean baby clothes

Do you need to wash baby clothes before you wear them?

With hand-me-downs, it can be tempting to skip the wash, but you don’t know how long the clothes have been in storage collecting dust or possibly mildew, so it’s best to wash them anyway. And who knows, maybe those hand-me-downs weren’t washed before arriving in your hands? An icky thought, for sure. If there are any residual stains, you’ll want to be sure to attempt to remove them, if possible.

With brand-new baby clothes, washing is a major must. Before clothes arrive at a store, they are often stored in large warehouses and can be exposed to many different bugs and rodents. These pests can get in boxes and on baby clothes.

Baby clothes are also often sprayed with formaldehyde before being shipped; this is done to preserve the “fresh” look of the clothing. Chemicals are not something you want on your newborn’s sensitive skin. Washing new clothes will also soften them up and make them feel better on your baby’s delicate skin.

All babies should wear newly cleaned clothing that smells ultra-fresh, right? Baby laundry detergents like Dreft are gentle on babies’ skin, plus Dreft has a nice, subtle clean scent. Now, on to your feelings of being overwhelmed with the amount of baby laundry. I’ve got good news; you can actually do all the baby laundry with your family’s existing dirty clothes. The trick is to use unscented laundry detergent and include an extra rinse cycle. When you throw the clothes in the dryer, opt for dryer balls instead of fabric softener sheets. 

Washing your baby’s clothes is definitely something you want to do prior to your baby’s arrival because there will be little time to do it in those first few weeks. Wash a few batches of baby clothes each week, and it’ll all be fresh and clean and ready for when your baby arrives. If you need help, ask a friend to come over and have baby clothes wash-and-fold party. It’ll be fun looking through all the clothes, and the laundry will get done much faster with an extra hand.

You should definitely wash baby’s clothes, blankets and other washable items that will come in contact with her skin. It’s not necessary to do it before she’s born, but it’s a good idea to do it before she wears them. Why? Baby’s brand new birthday suit hasn’t toughened up yet. Her skin is sensitive, and the finish that’s put on new clothes to make them look cute enough for you to snatch up can irritate a baby’s virgin skin.

But it’s not enough to simply load all of the baby’s gear in the washer and toss in your favourite lavender-scented soap. You should be sure to use a gentle, baby-friendly detergent—one that doesn’t include dyes or perfumes (scents) since those can irritate the skin too. Whether you use a baby-specific detergent or a gentle everyday one that omits these potential irritants is up to you—either should do the trick—some moms double-rinse new baby gear. I didn’t, and my daughter never balked, but she surely would have if she had irritated skin. When drying gear, skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets too.

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Do I need to wash brand new baby clothes

Before clothes arrive at a shop, they are often stored in big old warehouses that may have a few different bugs and rodents knocking around. It’s a possibility that these pests might get into boxes and on top of the clothes.

Also, baby clothes are sometimes sprayed with formaldehyde before being shipped, to keep them preserved and looking fresh. Chemicals and pest paw prints are not something you want on your newborn’s sensitive skin!

Do I need to wash clean second-hand baby clothes?

We often get lots of hand-me-downs from friends and family or charity shop bargains that look brand new. It can be tempting to skip the wash, but you don’t know how long the clothes have been in storage. So even if they’re clean, it’s always best to give them a wash anyway, before use.

mother folding washing of baby clothes

How to Prepare to Wash your Baby’s Clothes?

The first step towards cleaning and disinfecting your child’s clothes is to understand how important washing your baby’s clothes for the first time is. Washing the child’s clothes for the first time requires preparation. Before you prepare your child’s clothes for a wash, it is important to remember that you must wash their clothes for the first time before they wear it and not after. This is because these clothes are exposed to a lot of harmful bacteria from before buying them to during the journey or even at home. Here are some things to keep in mind when washing your baby’s clothes:

  • Check the brand label for washing instructions. This will help you understand the material and the manner in which it can react to a wash.
  • Be wary about the kind of detergent used if you can help it use non-chemical laundry soap that is specially made for infants.
  • Pre-soak in water. If the material allows it, the pre-soak in hot water will kill a lot of the germs.
  • Wash the baby clothes separately. This way, the bacteria from the other clothes do not transfer to the baby’s clothes.
  • Soak in warm water after the wash. This ensures that the detergent and other allergenic bacteria are killed.
  • Dry in the sun or heat. Sunlight acts as a natural disinfectant. Ensure you dry your baby’s clothes in natural sunlight if possible, if not, ensure the clothes are dried in a clean, sterile room that has heat.

How to Hand Wash your Baby’s Clothes?

It is highly recommended that you hand wash your baby’s clothes rather than washing it in a washing machine. Most of you might be asking yourself how to wash newborn baby clothes? Here are a few easy steps to make sure you properly hand wash those baby clothes:

Disinfect and clean your hands

Remember, the human hand is a source of bacteria, before handling your baby’s clothes sanitize and wash your hands thoroughly.

Measure the temperature of the water

While washing baby clothes, it is essential to check the water temperature. If you hand wash clothes in extreme heat, it could alter the integrity of your baby’s clothes, causing rips and tears. Additionally, extreme heat may cause you to burn your hands.

Use eco-friendly, non-chemical detergent

Remember, your body is extremely different from that of your newborn’s. Using regular detergents could damage your baby’s skin, cause allergic reactions and maybe even cut your baby’s skin. Ensure you use a detergent that is cleared for baby skin, making it non-chemical and eco-friendly is an additional safety measure.

Some parents might feel compelled to seek out the best baby laundry detergent specifically for their infant’s clothes. But health experts say that isn’t necessary, as long as your baby doesn’t have allergies or very sensitive skin. If you have questions, talk to your pediatrician. (It’s okay, you aren’t the first—and definitely won’t be the last—parent to ask about baby laundry detergent.) Washing your infant’s clothes in regular liquid detergent with the rest of the family’s laundry should not be a problem. A liquid detergent may be preferable. Liquid detergents typically rinse out more completely than powders, which can leave behind flakes that may irritate an infant’s skin.

If you’re concerned that regular detergent may be too harsh, first wash one or two baby items in the detergent. After your baby wears the clothing, check his skin for irritation or note whether your infant is acting uncomfortable or itchy. If that’s the case, the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin will have no dyes or perfumes. If that doesn’t work, double-rinsing clothing or using baby laundry soap until your baby is at least one year old may help.

Next to the baby laundry detergent selection, you’ll likely find a whole host of baby fabric softeners, and baby clothes stain removers and more. Read the labels, assess your baby’s skin sensitivity, and decide if baby-specific laundry items are right for you.

baby amongst washed clothes and clothing line

Soak before and after the wash

Bacteria can build up before a wash, to ensure you kill most bacteria, soak your baby’s clothes in hot water before a wash for 30 minutes, wash and finally soak in warm water after the wash.

Dry the baby clothes

It is extremely important that you make sure that your baby’s clothes are completely dry. Dry in sunlight if possible but do not put damp clothes on your baby as it can cause fungal infections.

Tips to Machine Wash your Baby’s Clothes

While it is recommended that you hand wash your baby’s clothes, it can be time consuming and exhausting. For the parents who aren’t able to hand wash their baby’s clothes here are a few tips to machine wash your baby’s clothes.

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Wash the baby’s clothes before you wash yours

Washing machines can be a hotbed of bacteria, to avoid some of the bacteria from your clothes shifting to theirs, ensure the baby’s clothes are washed first.

Pre-soak with soap

A great way of ensuring that the clothes run a full cycle is by taking a bucket of water at the temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, adding a half cup of baby’s detergent and soaking it in there for half an hour before adding it to the machine.

Use the rinse option twice

To ensure the soap is fully removed from the fabric and the bacteria is washed off, run the rinse cycle two times. Once with the soap in the washing machine and another time with no soap or detergent, the second spin and rinse cycle should only be with water.

Remember, it is always helpful to ask your doctor how to wash baby clothes in the washing machine for more references and guidelines.

How can you Disinfect Baby’s Clothes?

It is important not just to wash but disinfect your baby’s clothes, here are a few ways you can disinfect your baby’s clothes.

The first step in disinfecting your baby’s clothes is to identify and pre-clean potential stains. This is extremely important considering that most stains are protein-based like meat or breast milk, and that protein attracts the most dangerous kinds of bacteria. This must be done before you soak it. Ensure you scrub the stains with a disinfectant baby detergent that can be found in most pharmacies.

Scrape off any drool, snot and other bodily fluid. This is because, like protein stains, the bodily fluid is full of harmful bacteria. This can also be a breeding ground for bacteria that got your baby sick in the past. Scrub thoroughly with a detergent that has disinfectant and is baby safe. Do this before you pre-soak your baby’s clothes.

Pre-soak with white wine vinegar. White wine vinegar is a proven disinfectant that is natural. Remember to add a cap or two of white wine vinegar with a bucket of water and then soak clothes for 30 minutes before putting it in the wash.

In general, treat stains while they are fresh, making sure to remove as much of the staining substance as possible before laundering.

For proteins (including formula, breast milk, spit-up, most food stains, and yup, poop): Soak stains in cool water using a product containing enzymes. If that doesn’t work, try an all-purpose stain remover and launder normally.

For urine: Removing a urine stain requires a two-step process. Dilute one tablespoon of ammonia in 1 cup of water, and use it to treat the area. Remember to dab the mixture in a small area first to make sure the garment is colourfast. Use a stain-removal product and launder normally. Remember to never mix bleach with vinegar or ammonia. The combination creates toxic fumes that can be hazardous to you and your family.

For baby oil: Use a prewash stain remover. After checking the care instructions, wash in the hottest water that is safe for the garment. Let the garment air dry to ensure the stain has been removed. (Oil stains may seem to disappear when a garment is wet, and heat drying may set the stain.)

For fruits and vegetables: Three methods can be effective at removing these stains. Rinse the stain in cool water. Or place the garment in a 1-to-1 combination of rubbing alcohol and water, and wash normally. The third option is to use a prewash stain remover, followed by laundering, for more stubborn stains. If that does not remove the stain, soak the garment in a mixture of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water.

What about those poor pieces that are beyond rescue? Don’t stress. Sure, it’s frustrating to have a stain you just can’t tackle, especially when it’s on that adorable outfit you were waiting to show off, and it didn’t even make it out the door. Some items like baby washcloths, burp cloths, and plain cotton shirts make great rags for cleaning. But for items beyond use, check out clothing recycling programs.

happy mother and baby sitting in front of washing machine

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Precautions to take while Washing Infant’s Clothes

It is extremely important to understand that you need to take some major precautions before and while washing your infant’s clothes. Here are a few precautions to take while washing them:

  • Do not use fabric softeners during a baby’s wash
  • Don’t use drying paper with chemicals to dry your clothes
  • Stay off chemical detergents
  • Wash the baby’s nappies separately from their clothes
  • Dry clothes in the sunlight
  • In case of skin allergies, consult your doctor on special requirements when washing your child’s clothes
  • Read the clothes washing instructions carefully for material integrity purposes
  • Do not use strong fragrance products during the wash

In general, I recommend that new clothes be washed before children wear them, especially if the clothing will be in direct contact with the skin. This is because multiple people have handled the clothes before being brought home, and it’s impossible to know what has touched the fabric. In addition, certain dyes in the fabric may leave a residue on the skin or rub off on other clothing. Also, products may have been sprayed onto the clothes to keep them fresh.

Some clothes are treated with chemicals to prevent the growth of certain bacteria. They may cause allergic reactions on the skin, especially in areas of friction or sweating. In addition, these chemicals can irritate the eyes, nose and breathing passages. While the United States places limits on the number of preservatives that may be used on clothing, other countries have been known to allow higher levels.

Children tend to be more sensitive than adults to chemical irritants, so for clothes that are difficult to wash, it may be a good idea to try to air them out prior to wearing. Also, you may want to have the child wear light undergarments beneath them.

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