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How to wash baby clothes

With your baby's sensitive skin, it's important to wash delicate baby clothes with care! Check out our tips for washing baby clothes for clean, soft results!


Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

removing banana stains from baby clothes
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Key Steps:

  • Using a fabric conditioner like Comfort Pure or Persil Non-Bio is ideal to use for your baby’s delicate skin – it will keep their clothes soft in order to avoid skin irritation. A fabric conditioner and a mild laundry detergent are the perfect duo to use for washing baby clothes on a regular basis. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.

  • There are also natural disinfectants like white vinegar, which can be added to your wash when cleaning baby clothes or used for pre-soaking.

Many parents agree that it’s a good idea to wash your baby’s clothes before they wear them, as the journey from factory to shop can expose them to all kinds of things! Just pop them in the wash with a gentle detergent – like Persil Non-Bio - and fabric conditioner like Comfort Pure.

A baby is a bundle of joy and delight – but at some point all parents find themselves thinking that their child creates a lot of stains for such a little person. This article explains how to sanitise baby clothes, helping you remove any number of different stains in a way that keeps your baby’s clothes soft and fresh.

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How to Disinfect Baby Clothes: Basic Tips

There is some general advice you’ll want to follow when washing baby clothes, whether you’re attacking a specific stain or just providing a general wash.

  • Always read the garment care tags first — As with all garments, you should follow the instructions provided by the clothing manufacturer. Baby sleepwear, in particular, is often flame resistant, and certain wash cycles and detergents can reduce the flame resistance of the fabric if you’re not careful.

  • Use mild products developed for sensitive skin — Harsh detergents can irritate your baby’s skin. Choose detergents that are gentle to fabrics and skin, such as Persil Non-Bio. The Persil site has more information on why a non-bio detergent may be best for your baby’s clothes. 

  • Treat all stains as soon as possible — The sooner you work on a stain, the easier it will be to remove.

  • Scoop or wipe away as much of the stain as possible before treating the fabric — This may not be pleasant if it’s excrement or vomit, but it’ll make the cleaning process much faster. Simply wipe off the offending substance, and then work on the fabric below.

  • Soak stained garments in cool water before attacking the stain — Cool water may be enough to get rid of simple stains like spittle or milk. If the stain is particularly stubborn, then pre-soaking is an easy way to loosen it before you use detergent.

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How to Remove Specific Stains from Baby Clothing

Proteins — This includes breast milk, formula, spit-up, and most food stains. Soak the garment first in cool water and then carefully pre-treat the stain with a dab of neat non-bio liquid detergent – just remember to follow the instructions on the label and test the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first to ensure colour integrity. Then launder the clothes as usual, following the instructions provided by the garment care tags.

Leaky Nappies — Dirty nappies are never pleasant, but are inevitable with babies. Excrement should be treated in the same way as any protein stain – see above – but you can try adding a few tablespoons of white distilled vinegar to the water when pre-soaking. For a urine stain, dilute one tablespoon of ammonia in one cup of water. Once again, test this solution first on a small, inconspicuous part of the garment to make sure it’s colourfast. If so, saturate the stain with ammonia solution, then apply either neat non-bio detergent or a specialised stain remover, and launder as usual. Never combine ammonia or vinegar with a product containing chlorine bleach as this can create a toxic gas.Oily, Greasy Stains — Baby oil, creams, and petroleum jelly can be easily treated. Once you remove any excess substance, cover the stained area with cornflour, talcum powder, or baking soda. This will absorb the oil. After 15 minutes, scrape this off, pre-treat as above, and launder as you usually would.

Fruit and Vegetable Stains — Spills involving juice or baby food often happen at the table. Flush these stains out of the cloth with cool water. If the mark remains, create a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water, and soak in this solution. Apply neat liquid non-bio detergent as a pre-treatment or use a stain remover, and launder.

How to Bleach Baby Clothes: Natural bleaches and cleaning solutions

Can you bleach baby clothes? Many parents avoid using bleach for fear of irritating their baby’s sensitive skin. If you don’t want to use bleach on your baby’s white clothing, you can use a good quality detergent like Persil to keep white clothing white for longer, or one of the solutions below.

Ammonia solution — This is a milder alternative to bleach for baby clothes. Mix one tablespoon of ammonia per 230 ml of water for treating stains, or add 60 ml to laundry cycle. Make sure never to mix ammonia with anything containing chlorine bleach, as this can cause a deadly chemical reaction.

Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda) — Mix a few spoonfuls of baking soda with water to create a paste, which you can use on stains. It’ll also help eliminate odours.

Borax — This water-soluble mineral has antibacterial and whitening properties. Just follow the directions on the label.

White distilled vinegar — This natural cleaning agent is great at removing odours, so add it to a pre-soak or include in a laundry cycle. It’ll brighten your white clothing.

For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.

Being a new parent is both exciting and exhausting — but the above tips will lighten your load a bit, so you can keep your baby’s clothing fresh and clean, no matter how many spills occur.

Originally published