Babies are magical little laundry pile makers. They drool, spit up, expertly leak through even the most secure of diapers, and manage to get their hands on any food or liquid in a five mile radius. Then, there’s bibs, changing pad liners, crib sheets, blankets, burp cloths, socks, towels, washcloths, plush toys, and various other little pieces parents will find themselves repetitively washing for their cute little mess maker.
At some point, most likely when mom or dad are sitting in the midst of piles of laundry as big as their kid’s pack n’ play, they’ll laugh at themselves for once imagining their little one spending an entire day in an adorable outfit they blissfully selected out of their pristine closet.
That’s because the reality is they’re lucky if the baby is still in the same outfit by lunch, and chances are it was picked out of a garbled pile still sitting on the glider in their nursery! That’s life with a baby.
After all, everyone loves to warn expectant parents when they first begin shopping for adorable baby clothes that young children go through approximately three to four outfits a day, and whether or not that turns out to be true for a new family, it does feel like the washing machine is always running.
There’s so much laundry to do after baby that it’s probably a good idea to some maintenance on the machine before baby’s arrival. That bad boy needs to be in primo shape, because it’s about to work harder and longer hours than it ever has before. Baby laundry is time consuming, and time is a scarcity with a newborn or small child in your care.
Thankfully, there are several tips and tricks that can help you to save both your garments and your sanity.
15 The Washing Machine Is Dirty!
To really get the most out of the baby laundry process, consider doing a thorough cleaning of the washing machine first. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to plan and prep for laundering a baby’s clothing, only to then do so in a machine that may be harboring bacteria, mold, or odor from the rest of the family’s items.
To thoroughly clean a washing machine, simply use baking soda and distilled white vinegar. You can make a paste with baking soda and water and thoroughly scrub down the drum. Don’t neglect the rubber liner, which many front loading machines include, as these have a tendency to collect mold inside the lip.
Use a paper towel soaked in vinegar to thoroughly clean in between these spaces. Once you’re done scrubbing, simply pour a cup of vinegar into the drum and run the empty washer on the hottest water setting possible. For top loading machines, start an empty cycle using hot water before you add the cup of vinegar. Try to repeat the same process once a month to maintain a fresh washing machine.
14 Prep And Prime Those Baby Stains
Properly pretreating any baby stain is very helpful in keeping them from setting in during the wash cycle. This extremely easy DIY laundry stain remover is truly a miracle worker. It works to get out stubborn stains from diaper blowouts, food spills, and even blood.
Simply mix together in a measuring cup one part original blue Dawn Dish Soap to two parts hydrogen peroxide and add some baking soda (one teaspoon should be enough). Pour this mixture into a jar or spray bottle to have on hand when you need it. Rub or spray onto any offending stain and leave for five minutes to an hour before washing.
A handy tip is to immediately pretreat any stain (such as a diaper blowout) and then leave the garment to soak in old bathwater, or a tub of standing water, that you periodically refresh every few days.
13 Carry And Use Laundry Wipes
So, the baby has eaten almost an entire serving of berry pure without spitting or drooling any of it onto their bib. Awesome! They start rejecting bites, and you assume they're all done so the bib comes off and it's time to nap. But, wait! They start protesting and opening their mouth like a starving, little bird.
You relent and give a few more spoonfuls only to watch it all dribble out and settle into the fabric of your favorite outfit. Stains. They are a sure thing, so your best bet is to be prepared ahead of time.
Another great way to stay ahead of the game in the baby laundry process is to attack stains with a wipe the minute they dare to appear. Packing disposable laundry wipes in the diaper bag, or keeping a supply in the trunk, is useful on the go when you can’t get to a sink or sprayer.
If laundry wipes aren’t an option, baby wipes are most likely within an arm’s reach most of the time, so use one. They’re effective and helpful until you can properly pretreat and wash. Another option is keeping a laundry pen such as Tide to Go closeby. They’re very effective at immediately removing a stain, so baby can keep rockin that adorable outfit while out and about instead of changing into the backup you packed.
12 Pick Laundry Products Carefully
There's just something that feels off about pouring strong, scented detergent into the wash with your tiny baby's clothing. The idea that those clothes will then be hugging their fragile little bodies. and overwhelming their little senses with their synthetic perfumes is not comforting.
Generally speaking, it’s okay to use regular detergent on baby laundry, but it’s best to stick to scent free or sensitive options like Tide Free and Clear. These detergents contain less, or no added fragrance, which can oftentimes be the culprit in irritating sensitive baby skin.
Consider looking for a natural detergent, which will still pack a powerful cleaning punch, while remaining as chemical free as possible. Natural detergents use plant based cleansers and tend to avoid chemical surfactants which are the most questionable of ingredients in other commercial brands. Another option is to always opt for an extra rinse cycle when washing your little one's laundry, since it will help to keep any laundry product from remaining on the clothes.
After all, the clothes and items you wash will be in close contact with your baby, and often in their mouths (think blankets, stuffed animals, etc.) so a quality detergent is a great choice.
11 Color Catchers For New Clothes
Your baby used to have six, sparkling white onesies. However, now they are all various shades of mottled grey, pink, or blue. It's understandable, they're just isn't time to separate colors appropriately and use the right temperature water to prevent colors from bleeding. Even more importantly, there's just something reassuring about washing babies clothing in hot water. Maybe it's the poop stains and stuck-on food bits, but hot water seems best.
Color catchers are disposable sheets which can be thrown into the wash to help absorb any color dye that may leak and stain other lighter fabrics. They’re especially useful in allowing a large, mixed variety of clothes to be washed together in any temperature water.
Keep in mind that new clothes, which have never been washed before, are most likely to stain other fabrics with their fresh dyes, so be extra careful to include a color catcher sheet when washing items for the first time. Save money and sheets by cutting them in half if the loads being washed are smaller, or are comprised mostly of baby’s small items.
10 Use A Portable Hamper
Having a hamper that travels easily from room to room can be a huge help. Sometimes, simply finding the time to escape to the baby’s room in order to sort dirty laundry, or prepare a load, is a real task in and of itself. The baby is crying, the phone is ringing, and you're waiting for the delivery guy with your desperately needed midnight order of diapers.
Not only do you have to separate colors and wash types, but you then have to lug laundry, with baby socks escaping like crazy, to the washer and avoid the temptation to dump it all in random spots throughout the house when the baby's crying reaches a fever pitch.
It's a real challenge sometimes, just look at the random piles of laundry in any new mom's home, and you'll begin to appreciate the convenience of a clothes hamper that easily moves with you. If the hamper can be quickly brought from room to room, it’s easier to multitask.
Mom or dad can sort, or separate, while the baby stays engaged in whatever activity is working for the moment, instead of having to hope the baby will cooperate in a change of scenery. After all, don’t mess with success.
9 Get A Diaper Sprayer
Okay, so every new mom has a dirty little secret in regards to the sanitation level of her kitchen. At one point in time, when her little one was a few days or weeks old, she rinsed a poopy butt down in her kitchen sink.
Trust us. It's gross, but it happens, because babies are incredible little diaper exploders, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Instead of contaminating the kitchen sink, consider another convenient device that's really growing in popularity with the rise in number of parents choosing to cloth diaper.
A diaper sprayer, which is essentially a hand held spraying device that attaches to your toilet, can be very useful in handling the biggest of messes before placing them in your washing machine. Spraying the majority of a diaper spill off of any clothes into the toilet is far more sanitary than resorting to using the kitchen sink.
Hey, don't feel bad; we've all done it a time or two out of desperation. When pressed for time, it’s tempting to handle messes quickly, but it’s definitely best to avoid potentially contaminating space that might be used for food preparation, or other family purposes before you’ve had the chance to sanitize it. With a sprayer, the mess goes right where it needs to, and that's down the drain and out of sight.
8 Skip The Fabric Softener
Fabric softener has been a staple in the laundry process for decades. It’s touted for its ability to keeps clothes smelling fresh, static free, and soft, but in reality, it’s chalk full of chemicals and potentially irritating preservatives.
When laundering baby items, it’s best to forego the traditional softener and use a natural version instead. In fact, you only need to read the list of ingredients on a standard bottle of fabric softener to seriously wonder if the benefits are worth the hard to pronounce chemicals and synthetic additives we're freely pouring into our machines.
Distilled white vinegar poured into the fabric softener dispenser alone is an excellent option for softening and removing any odors. The vinegar helps to both disinfect and neutralize any odors, which makes it amazing for use in baby's laundry, especially cloth diaper loads. Once dried, the clothes will not smell of vinegar at all and will be quite fresh.
If a slight scent is prefered, consider adding a few drops of essential oil to the vinegar such as lavender, grapefruit, or orange.
7 Use A Mesh Bag As A Sock Saver
Finding a random baby sock in a strange place is as common as drool and spit up in a parent's home. It's a certainty. They're stuck down deep in the recesses of the couch, one is probably in the bushes out back, another on the top shelf in the pantry, and more than a few are with the dog's toys. Keeping them together is a small miracle, but there is a handy way to give yourself a fighting chance.
Mesh laundry bags, also commonly referred to as lingerie bags, since they are very handy in keeping bras and underwear from getting stuck to other garments, are very helpful when it comes to baby’s laundry too! Use one to collect all of the baby’s tiny socks, headbands, or other small pieces that are prone to getting lost in the wash process.
You can also use them to wash reusable breast shields, since they too tend to get stuck in the seal of front loading washers and dryers or get separated from their mate.
When it's time to run a load, simply throw in the entire bag. With this handy tip, you can also avoid small socks getting lodged in the liners of front loading washing machines, which results in them skipping the spin dry process and remaining soaking wet at the end of a wash.
6 Fold And Sort Into A Basket ASAP
Who hasn’t hurriedly thrown a pile of clean laundry somewhere in their home after removing it from the dryer, only to eye it resentfully for a day or maybe even three, because there just isn’t time to fold and return it to the appropriate drawers and closets?
This is bound to happen from time to time, but if you use a laundry basket to empty the dryer, and take it immediately to an area in the house where you can fold and organize while still caring for baby, you’ll be much more likely to promptly get it handled and save yourself the wrinkled clothes while you’re at it.
The portability of the basket and having everything folded will double the chances that you’ll keep nursery drawers tidy and organized...plus, baby will love playing in the basket. Just don't be surprised if they want to nap in there too.
5 Fasten The Bibs Before Washing Them
Every new parent has probably found themselves surprised at one point or another by the amount of things they have to wash with a small baby in the home. There's so much more than just clothes and towels.
Bibs are one of the items that require almost constant cleaning, and this one might seem simple, but after a few loads of neglecting a little detail like this, one is likely to realize it’s pretty helpful and convenient to take care of at the start. The velcro included on many traditional bibs and baby items is notorious for latching on to other items bouncing around in the washing machine.
That bond only seems to get stronger in the dryer when heat is added to the mix. All of this results in ripping and grabbing at items that have become one when it’s time to sort and fold. To avoid potentially damaging material, fasten bibs and buttons prior to washing. You'll save yourself time during folding and sorting and keep your clothes in better condition all around.
4 Sunshine The Natural Bleach
So, you pretreated and washed that poop-stained onesie, but you can still make out the faint yellow of a stain. It might not be visible to the average person, but you know it's there, and it's unacceptable!
The sun is a powerful stain fading expert. Just think of its effect on color in general when items are left exposed for long periods of time. They fade under its powerful rays. Use this to your advantage if you have a stubborn stain on any laundry item, but especially those adorable baby outfits.
Pretreat and wash the item, then either hang dry in full sun, or place flat in a sunny area. This is effective on even the worst stain offenders, and a bonus is the fresh and natural scent of hang drying lasts longer than that of a traditional run through the dryer.
Plus, there's something nice about knowing the laundry was in full sunshine to dry. Studies have shown that sun drying is also effective in killing bacteria. Major bonus. Just be sure to allow it to fully dry in the sun, and bring into the house before any moisture or fog has a chance to wet clothes.
3 Set A Timer For The Laundry
Parents are typically multitasking throughout the majority of any given day. So, it’s not difficult to imagine why a load of laundry might end up sitting for hours in the machine once it’s done, and maybe even remain there overnight. The bad news is chances are the load now smells musty and must be rewashed, using even more water and energy.
To prevent this, consider starting a timer on your cell phone, which you’ll be more likely to hear and respond to, even if you’re out of earshot of the machine. Many parents turn off the audible signal various machines offer to signal the end of a load in hopes of preventing any premature ends to naps, or disruption to sleeping little ones, but this can backfire.
Using a timer that is more convenient and difficult to ignore improves the odds that the load will actually get switched out in a timely manner.
2 Dry Towel To Soak Up Moisture
So, grandma is on her way, and the adorable outfit she gifted to baby is still sitting soaking wet in the washing machine since you forgot to switch out the laundry between feedings and diaper changes. Don't worry, this time saving trick is sure to save the day.
To speed up the dry time of a load of baby clothes, or any laundry for that matter, consider adding a clean dry towel to the dryer when you run it. The towel will help to immediately absorb excess moisture and act as a physical softener as well.
This is especially helpful if you’re in a rush and waiting on a load, or if you’re interested in trying to save money by reducing your energy and gas bills in the instance of a gas dryer. As a bonus, grab that towel to remove baby from the bath for an extra cozy and warm snuggle session.
1 Use Essential Oils To Freshen Laundry
Getting rid of synthetic fragrances and perfumes in baby laundry is a great first step. But, many moms still enjoy a slight smell to their fresh laundry. This is perfectly understandable and still possible. We just have to look to essential oils, which have grown significantly in their popularity in recent years, as a natural option to scenting items.
Many report really enjoying adding them to their laundry routine in various ways. Consider adding a few drops to a clean scrap of cloth, which you then use in the dryer to naturally scent your clothes, or natural wool dryer balls can be scented with oils to soften and scent.
Alternatively, you can add a few drops to distilled white vinegar used as a fabric softener. The smell of the vinegar will dissipate as clothes dry, but the essential oil fragrance will remain. Popular choices for scent include: lavender, grapefruit, orange, and bergamot. Essential oils are naturally antimicrobial and their clean, lasting scents are generally mild and rarely irritating to even the most sensitive skin.