Mini-Guide to washing baby clothes: all your questions answered!
Here at Nimble, we’re here to talk about the ins and outs of parenting in all its glory. If we’re coming clean about real-life parenting, we can’t avoid the topic of chores (can anyone relate with the never-ending pile of clothes?)
Did you know that on average, a UK family goes through 5 laundry washes per week? And in the first year of baby, it can go as high as 4 washes just for baby garments? There’s no denying that as parents we’re spending a tremendous amount of time washing and folding clothes.
So we had a look at the most common questions people have asked us about baby laundry (rest assured, we asked ourselves these questions too!)… Hopefully, this will bust one myth or two about laundry washing!
If you have more unanswered questions, please answer with your comments and we’ll come back to you!
First things first…Do I really need baby detergent?
Do you really need to use different products to wash your baby’s clothes? We get this question a LOT. We think the answer is yes, but not entirely!
While the entire range is safe enough to use with your baby, we also recommend our detergent for you!
You don’t need to buy different laundry detergents that will fill up your cupboard. One bottle of Non-Bio liquid detergent for the whole family should be enough, just like Nimble’s Laundry Lover 😊.
OK, so that deals with the ‘no’ part of our answer.
But, what about the ‘yes’ part?
We do believe that some of the traditional detergents using strong ingredients in their formula’s, may be unsuitable for baby’s delicate skin, which is why you may want to change your detergent around your little one.
And the logical next question is…
What’s the difference between my baby’s skin and mine?
We find this is something that may surprise a few people: baby skin is made up of much smaller cells than adult skin, and the collagen fibres are thinner too! Did you know that the epidermis of a baby’s skin can be up to 20% thinner than our own?
This means that your baby’s skin is more susceptible to getting dry and irritated. In other words, your baby’s skin absorbs substances much more easily than a grown-up’s does.
The skin’s purpose overall is to act as a barrier, and the fact that your baby’s skin is thinner makes it easy to see why the things we use on their clothes need to be as gentle as possible. Products with harsh chemicals in their ingredient list are more likely to weaken the precious skin barrier, resulting in inflammations and allergies.
Of course, every family is different, and the risk of flare-up can vary from one to another. But to limit some risks of skin reaction, we always suggest looking for “sensitive detergent” or “baby detergent” or “non-bio detergent” that doesn’t contain 30+ ingredients!
Bio vs non-bio
When a laundry detergent label says ‘bio’, it contains enzymes. And yes, you guessed it, ‘non-bio’ means it's without enzymes. But why does this matter? What do enzymes do? And why are we told not to use bio detergents for baby’s clothes?
Enzymes are basically additional ingredients that manufacturers put in to have a stronger stain-removing power. In essence, enzymes are not harmful, but they become a problem when it gets trapped and deposited in the fibres of your baby’s clothes. They can potentially irritate a baby’s skin or even a full-grown adult with sensitive skin. However, if your detergent is already formulated well, these enzymes are not necessary anymore. There’s only so many things that a child will touch in their first few years, so we believe that there’s a lot of unnecessary ingredients when it comes to washing baby clothes with standard bio detergent.
The case of optical brighteners
Most, if not all laundry detergents contain optical brighteners. These things essentially deposit a layer on fabrics to make them appear brighter to the eye by making light bounce off strongly. Like magic, a dingy-looking white cloth can look dazzling white when loaded with optical brighteners.
Similar to the enzymes, these optical brighteners are not bad, but they become a problem when it touches and rubs the baby’s skin or even an adult with sensitive skin. You’re probably already seeing a pattern here. Anything deposited on the fabrics could be an irritant, so it’s best to avoid them. But there’s perhaps one more ingredient that gets deposited that you may not be aware of...
What temperature is right?
While washing baby clothes at the highest temperature might be tempting, 30 or 40 degrees are absolutely fine to remove any lingering dust or dirt. It’s also a lot kinder to the environment and your power bill!
The only exception here will be if the item is heavily soiled (for instance in the case of reusable nappies) as a higher temperature can help ensure all bacteria is removed in the cleaning process.
Should I use a fabric softener for baby clothes?
For the first wash, a fabric softener is not always necessary; however, as you may already know by now, these clothes will spend a lot of time in your washing machine!
A fabric softener can help prevent the fabric from becoming itchy for your little one’s skin. Once again, check the label before using, as some baby clothes have a flame-resistant coating that can be damaged.
Like your baby detergent, look out for products that are specifically designed for sensitive skin. This is why we created ‘Nimble Cuddle Lover’, a gentle baby fabric softener made with rapeseed and contains no harsh chemicals or allergens.
What’s best between powder or liquid when it comes to baby detergent?
Given a choice, we would recommend using liquid detergents rather than powder for baby clothing. Liquid detergents are gentler on fabrics (thinking about the deposit a powder can leave behind) and could help keep your baby clothes looking new for longer. The only exception is for washing reusable nappies where a powder can be necessary to get rid of tougher stains.
But please note that the most important thing is to still make sure the formula has been developed for sensitive skin.
Fragrance or no fragrance?
That’s a tricky one. Fragrance in laundry detergents does get left behind on clothes.
As we always say, less is more when it comes to detergents and cleaning products and having a fragrance won’t improve the efficacy of the detergent.
Still, we understand that the fragrant smell of newly washed laundry brings so much delight in this otherwise seemingly thankless chore, so we don’t want to take this simple joy away from you! We would advise that you look for laundry detergents with an allergen-free fragrance.
Fragrance in detergent can be made up of hundreds of individual ingredients blended, and some of these ingredients can irritate when present in high amounts. This is why you should always look for the “allergen-free” mention 😊
Should I use a specific detergent for reusable nappies?
We’re getting down and real. If you’re a reusable nappy parent, you’ll know that poo and pee are another level of stain to deal with: because of the odour and the stickiness, you want to make sure that all bacteria are removed properly especially because they will be in close contact with your little one’s sensitive skin.
This is why we’ve created a non-bio detergent powder that is specially formulated to fight pee and poo stains without having to use extra boosters that will remain on fabrics. It is like all our other products made from plant-based ingredients and free from skin-irritating ingredients, but it completely dissolves in the wash, leaving no residues on the nappies
Our extra Nimble washing hack: Drawer or drum you ask - We vote drum! Simply pour the powder into a dosing cap then place it directly in the drum of your washing machine.
Final checks before starting?
Maybe one that we sometimes forget but checking the garment care labels to see if there are any special washing instructions is always a good idea. For example, some items may need to be hand-washed or washed in cold water only. And don't forget to separate darker colours from whites!