The Do's and Don'ts about laundry washing when your baby has sensitive skin
Hi Nimble Friends!
At Nimble HQ, we receive often some questions from parents about our products effect on their little one's delicate skin. Parenting is hard enough and it goes to a whole new level of stress when your little one experiences some bad skin reactions.
Having sensitive skin can be very tricky to deal with: especially to identify what causes a flair-up (it may be a combination of things!). We've been so happy to hear that some of our products have helped families to reduce skin reactions of their bundle of joy, so we thought we would compile a simple list of things to do around washing and avoid if your little one has sensitive.
Please do feel free to comment or let us know if you have any questions or your tips to share!
🐣A small word first about baby skin
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 made this simple list of do’s and don’ts to help you navigate it.
1. Choose non-bio over bio
When a laundry detergent label says ‘bio’, it contains enzymes. And yes, you guessed it, ‘non-bio’ means it is 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 some ingredients are unnecessary when it comes to washing baby clothes with standard bio detergent.
Other things that you may see in bio detergent that may cause some skin irritations: optical brighteners, which are things that some manufacturer add to the detergent to make clothing look glossier and brighter after wash, dyes that they us eto create a “white colour” detergent even though the normal colour of a detergent should be more yellow-ish.
2. Prefer liquid detergent over powder
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.
But please note that the most important thing is to still make sure the formula has been developed for sensitive skin.
3. Wash separately the clothes between grown-ups and baby
When you come to think of it, your baby clothes won’t be in contact with a lot of external things, but your own clothes will! You might not realise it but you might be in contact with harsher chemicals, pollution or other hazardous material. So it may be on the safe side to keep things separate between your little one’s garments and yours. Not to mention that your baby will probably use a LOT of clothes and blankies, so you’ll probably find that you need to do some washes only for their clothes anyway!
Our Nimble hack: if your little one has sensitive skin, especially in the first 6 months, you may also want to wash your tops with the same sensitive detergent because your little one will be in contact with your fabrics.
4. Dry clothes in direct sunlight
This is easier said than done in winter times, but drying clothes in the sun is gentler on the fabric, and will reduce the moisture in the air that can build up inside the fabric. The only exception is when it’s the pollen season when you should keep your clothes inside if you don’t want to bring at home some unwanted allergens.
5. Wash regularly your washing machine (every 3 months)
Nothing smells better than clean and fresh laundry! So you don’t want to waste all your good efforts by neglecting your washing machine! Keeping a clean washing machine will ensure that there is no residues inside the machine that can cause skin irritation, and also will still works appropriately on stains. Not only will this help to keep your washing machine longer, but also not damage your clothes too!
Where do you start? our small checklist
- Don’t forget to clean every month the drawer, the door seal, the door, the filter, the descale drawer
- Check your manual to check if you have a cleaning mode
- Descale your machine using a quick empty hot wash with white vinegar or lemon juice instead of the laundry detergent.
- Between washes, keep the door open so it aerates and dries inside.
1. Put fabric softener directly on the laundry pile
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. But we would recommend to always put it on the drawer (in the section with a flower icon!) rather than inside the washing machine, because it may stain your fabric (adding a yellow-ish effect on your whites due to the waxy effect of a softener), and it may also reduce the efficacy of the detergent on stains. 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.
2. Use too much detergent
Because if you use too much, it won’t get your clothes cleaner. It will just add an unnecessary liquid that could leave more deposits on the fabric which can cause some irritations, and it will also damage faster your washing machine (resulting in having to change it faster).
For instance, you only need 40ml of our Laundry Lover for a 4-5 kg load.
3. Leave clothes inside washing machines for too long after
This may develop some odour forming (that dreaded damp smell!) plus it may cause some bacteria to proliferate within the fabric that can cause a flare-up.
4. Use strong fragrance
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 but may cause a flare-up for sensitive skin.
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.
We hope that these small tips will help you deal with the washing load with your little one.