The Safest Baby Laundry Detergents

I never would have realized how important the type of laundry detergent we used in our home was until I had kids. As a mom of three, I seem to constantly be running a load of laundry, and I have found that it is not simply buying the cheapest bottle of baby laundry detergent that smells good. Let me share with you some of what I have learned. 

How Moms Shop For Laundry Detergent

I used to love the smell of laundry fresh out of the dryer. The smell of the laundry detergent and fabric softener was something I found a bit comforting with warm clothes. Then I had kids and started to understand that what I associated with comfort could actually be dangerous for my little ones.

Here are some of the things that I’ve learned when it comes to shopping for the right detergent for my family.

Be careful of “fragrance.”

First, does anyone really know what the word fragrance means on an ingredient list, and is it something I should be concerned with? The jury is still out on this, depending on who you talk to and their particular bias. However, I was shocked when I learned what the term actually meant. 

When it comes to cosmetics (things applied to the body) and home goods, a “fragrance” is a legal term used collectively for a combination of over 3,000 different chemicals. There is a lobbying group that has put together some great information about what is included in the fragrance ingredient. If nothing else, this is great information just to be aware of. Check out the information at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Understand your chemicals and what you need.

Beyond being aware of the fragrance, there are a slew of other chemicals included in laundry detergent. But what is the big deal, right? I mean the chemicals are going into the water and onto the clothes, not even touching my skin, right? Unfortunately, all these chemicals leave a residue behind. If they did not, I would never have that comfy feeling from the smell of the laundry coming out of the dryer. This residue then does what is called “off gassing,” or it evaporates as you are wearing the clothes. As the clothes warm-up, so do the chemicals, and the process speeds up. This is then passed through the body, primarily through the skin (a permeable membrane) and the respiratory system. I am not going to go through all the chemicals right now, but again, just want to raise your awareness. If you do want to dig deeper into this, I highly recommend the free app Think Dirty, which will give you a list of chemicals in your laundry detergent and why that chemical may be of concern.

That said, it depends on what you need to get out of your laundry detergent. Some people are more concerned about the chemical makeup of their cleaning products and are willing to sacrifice some of how the product may perform while others are more concerned about how effective the product is.  

So, determine how much “umph” you need in your laundry detergent, and then as you look through these options, use that to help guide you to decide what will work best for you. Keep in mind, there likely is not a perfect solution that is entirely safe and does a tremendous job, so know what your priorities are.

How to tell if your kids are tolerating it.

Finally, just watch how your kids and family are tolerating their clothes and the chemicals on them. Here are some signs, provided by Healthline.com that may make you want to switch up your laundry routine:

  • Red, blotchy skin
  • Constant itching or squirminess
  • Dried out skin
  • Bumps
  • Blisters
  • Burning
  • Swelling

If you have decided it is time to take a new look at your detergent, here are some of the ones I have used, and my thoughts around them. 

#1
Babyganics Fragrance Free Baby Laundry Detergent

Babyganics brand is marketed to families who are already concerned over chemicals and prefer organic options whenever possible. Promoted as a plant-based alternative that is fragrance-free and free of some of the hot button chemicals like sulfates. It is a concentrated formula, so despite its small package, it actually lasts quite a while. Even with the small amount used, it is quite powerful at removing typical stains from infant clothing.

Pros

  • Fragrance free.
  • Free of sulfates, phosphates, and phthalates.
  • It is high efficiency machine compatible.
  • Non-allergenic formula.
  • It is highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way.
  • Has nearly no aroma.

Cons

  • Still contains some chemicals that may be of concern, such as sodium tetraborate.  


#2
Mama Bear Gentle Biobased Laundry Detergent

I wasn’t really sure about this one being I don’t have a lot of experience with Amazon brand products, but I decided to give it a try. I was initially attracted to this product because of claims of a 95% biobased formulation, and that it is free of artificial fragrance, dye, and phthalates. The significantly lower price was also something that was very attractive and part of why I gave it a try.

Pros

  • Lower cost option for bio-based detergent.
  • USDA Certified 95% bio-based formula
  • Compatible with high-efficiency machines.
  • Gets the smells out and leaves nothing behind.

Cons

  • May need to soak or use a spot stain detergent to get out heavy stains.  


#3
Seventh Generation Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent

Seventh Generation is another brand marketed to people who are concerned about chemicals and want to use more plant-based products in their home. They have gone beyond the mere claims printed on a label where so many products stop and have sought certifications from government agencies to put legitimacy behind their claims.

Pros

  • Certified by the FDA as a biobased product, 95% of the formula coming from renewable plant sources.
  • EPA Safer Choice Certified.
  • Compatible with both high efficiency and traditional washing machines.
  • Free of synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals.
  • Has a remarkable “0” rating from Think Dirty, meaning it is considered as safe as water.

Cons

  • Does not seem to work well for lifting set or heavy stains.
  • Slightly more expensive


#4
Earth Friendly Products Baby Ecos Free and Clear Disney Laundry Detergent

Earth Friendly is another great brand marketed as products that are generally safe and plant-based. This brand is widely available at local stores, and always seems to be in demand, not just the baby products, so I thought it might be worth trying. Overall, it is about what you would expect from a chemically sensitive product. There are still a couple of chemicals I like to be careful of personally, but not nearly what there is in regular detergents. 

Pros

  • Is compatible with both high efficiency and standard washing machines.
  • Scent is light and not overpowering.
  • Marketed as having a built-in fabric softener.
  • Dermatologist tested as hypoallergenic.
  • EPA Safer Choice Certified.
  • Free of phosphates, chlorine, dyes, and petroleum derived chemicals.

Cons

  • Still contains methylisothiazolinone, which is a known skin irritant.
  • Not the greatest at stain removal.


#5
Deft Stage 1 Hypoallergenic Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent

Dreft is probably one of the best-known baby laundry detergents on the market, having served moms for over 80 years. Dreft is marketed as being recommended by paediatricians and is often enclosed in “newborn welcome packages” from hospitals and stores. Because it has been around so long, there are a lot of moms who swear by it because it was used by their parents, or someone they know, who uses it and loves it. 

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic formulation
  • Is compatible with high-efficiency machines.
  • Special formulation for newborns that is supposed to be gentle.
  • Scent reminds me of that “comfy” feeling from laundry.
  • Does contain some concerning ingredients, including fragrance.
  • Does not seem to be as effective on stain removal as other options.
  • Scent can be a bit overpowering.

Cons

  • Contains some concerning ingredients, including fragrance.
  • Does not seem to be as effective on stain removal as other options.
  • Scent can be a bit overpowering.  


So What Is My Preference?

So after looking at all of this, what is it I actually prefer to use in my house? After trying all of these options, we still prefer the Babyganics brand. Overall, it is the most chemically safe while still offering the stain lifting power I need with three little ones running around the house. I also love the fact that it does not leave our clothes with a strong scent related to the detergent. Another plus is that my kids have all responded well to it with no reactions that I have been able to attribute to the soap. I hope you like it as much as we have!

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