Ever heard the expression, “smooth as a baby’s bottom?”
Well, physiologically, babies really do have different – and softer – skin that take great care and consideration to maintain.
What we human adults know as "skin" isn’t fully formed until about the third trimester of pregnancy; thus, a baby’s outer covering takes almost the full nine months to finish developing.
By the time a baby is born, his skin has only been completely developed for an average of two months, and there are marked differences between a newborn baby’s skin and the tougher, thicker skin (literally) of his or her parents.
Something else that’s synonymous with babies is how messy they get. Stuff comes out of the top... and the bottom!
Spit-up, milk, pureed food, poop, etc. seem to come out of these adorable little beings in record amounts.
So here we have the conundrum of a baby whose skin needs special care and gentle grooming, with a disaster that only rivals a vindictive housecat in its ability to leave a messy mayhem in its wake.
The solution? Natural laundry detergent!
What is "natural" laundry detergent, exactly?
The best natural laundry detergent for babies is one that is tough on the stains that come just from having a small, precious being in the home (other than that vindictive housecat), but which is also formulated with special consideration for the sensitivity and the delicacy of babies’ skin – the biggest and most absorbent organ on their tiny little frames.
Studies show that babies are often exposed to harsh chemicals in the detergents and soaps that are safe for adults, which are quick to cause reactions and irritation on their extremely sensitive skin.
For babies who are already born with sensitive skin, the irritation of general soaps and detergents can be even worse, exacerbating their existing conditions and allergies.
But fear not, dear parents!
Our reviews of the best baby detergent are here, along with information on why it’s important to consider the needs of baby’s skin, how to care for baby’s skin, and what to look out for if you suspect that your baby already has sensitive skin that’s more prone to irritation.
Ingredients to avoid are phosphates, phthalates, synthetic dyes and fragrances.
Much debate has been sparked by the ingredient Borax which, technically, is a sodium product but can be an irritant. While none of the liquid detergents reviewed below are Borax-free, the percentage of Borax used in detergent for baby clothes is much lower than the percentage used in typical detergents used by most adults.
The safety of Borax use is still being investigated, but of all the ingredients to avoid, Borax is the least incriminating, again, unless your baby has an allergy or extremely sensitive skin already.
Before we get into the thick of things, check out the table below for a quick look at our top picks.
Quick comparison: Best natural laundry detergent for babies
Qualities we love
Buy it now
Babyganics 3x Baby
- Uses gentle,
Sun & Earth 2X
- Perfect for baby's
- Scent comes from essential oils and botanical extracts
- Super strong - 10x concentration
- 100% satisfaction guaranteed
Crystal Wash - Wash Balls -
- No detergent, perfume, chemicals or dyes
Let's take a closer look at the top contenders.
Babyganics 3x Baby Laundry Detergent
This frangrance-free formula is tough on spit-ups and other baby messes—as a concentrated formula, only 1 oz. per load is required—but it’s formulated from gentle, plant-based ingredients.
There aren’t any allergens included in the formula, which is also free of optical brighteners, chlorine, phthalates, phosphates, fragrances, and dyes.
Babyganics never tests on animals as part of its commitment to safe and healthy household products.
- 3x concentrated formula only requires 1oz. per load
- Tested by pediatricians and dermatologists
- Contains non-allergenic ingredient that's very effective on stains
- Does contain lavender, which might irritate some babies who are allergic or sensitive to the plant
Our favorite feature
We like that the formula has a natural scent of lavender in it! Lavendar has been shown to have a calming effect, and for babies who aren’t sensitive, it might help sooth them during their bedtime routine.
Sun & Earth 2X Concentrated Natural Laundry Detergent
This detergent has been specially formulated for babies, children, and even adults with sensitive skin and allergies in mind.
It works great on clothing and bedding, boasting no added dyes, perfumes, or preservatives.
We love the multipurpose use of this detergent! It works in hot or cold water, in high efficiency or in regular washers, and in hard or soft water.
Sun & Earth has a proven history of cruelty-free manufacturing, and is the first company to purchase 100% wind power, recycles its packaging materials at its factory, and only uses biodegradable and plant-derived ingredients.
The factory even boasts a full recycling program where the water is recouped to clean the batch-making tanks, making this one of the most natural and earth-friendly companies we’ve reviewed.
- A product that's good for people, pets and the planet
- Works exceptionally well
- 2x concentration is the lowest we’ve reviewed
Our favorite feature
Sun & Earth make their products in three “scent” types – Unscented, Lavender, and Light Citrus. We like the calming effects of lavender oil and the fresh scent of citrus oils, but we also like the option of a completely unscented variety for very sensitive skin.
Seventh Generation Natural Baby Laundry Detergent
The fresh scents are derived from 100% essential oils and botanical extracts. No synthetic fragrances, dyes, or artificial brighteners in this formula. It's also a 95% USDA certified bio-based product.
The quadruple-enzyme formula is hardworking against all baby stains and messes, including milk, spit-up, pureed fruits, diaper disasters, and the like, and won’t leave any residue on fabrics.
It's designed for both standard and high-energy efficient machines, a feature we love!
- 4x concentration makes it one of the most powerful, and therefore, cost-effective detergents we’ve reviewed
- Also one of the strongest detergents with its quadruple enzyme stain fighting
- Not the most green and natural detergent reviewed here
Our favorite feature
This is definitely one detergent that delivers on its stain-fighting promise! Perfect for that baby who likes to eat his rainbow... and leave a mess of it, too!
Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
This is a 10x concentrated laundry detergent, created by doctors for babies, children, and skin allergy sufferers, and it’s in a pump-top bottle. Each high-efficiency load only requires two pumps.
This safe formula is made without harsh chemicals like phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, chlorines, perfumes, dyes, and allergens. The extremely effective enzyme formula makes it perfect for baby spills and messes, including formula, pureed food, and messy diapers, milk, and spit-up.
What's more, it's safe on all clothes like delicates, darks, microfiber towels, cloth diapers, and septic systems.
- 10x concentrate is the most effective of those covered here
- Made in the USA
- - 100% satisfaction guaranteed
- Standard machines require twice the amount of detergent
Our favorite feature
Call us lazy, but the pump-top is pretty awesome. It solves the age-old question – what to do with the dripping detergent cup and lid as it pours excess detergent back into the bottle? This detergent offers the convenience of never measuring, like the pods, but the gentleness and safety your little ones deserve.
Crystal Wash - Wash Balls - Laundry Detergent Alternative
These laundry balls use antibiotic minerals that combine with water to develop bioceramics that clean laundry by disinfecting and sanitizing.
The crystals inside the ball change the pH of the water, turning it alkaline, and this change is what is supposed to clean your clothes. These laundry balls look like the next revolutionary ‘detergent alternative.’
Lasting for a thousand loads of laundry, they're all natural and contain no detergents, dyes, chemicals or perfumes, so they're good for the environment—and your little one!
They've proven to be as effective as laundry detergent, yet they are better for sensitive skin and gentle on your baby's clothing.
- Revolutionary bioceramic technology promises to replace laundry detergent and save you hundreds of dollars.
- No worries about added any kind of chemical whatsoever – the most natural and safest option
- A hefty price if you’re skeptical and “want to try it out”
- No softener qualities
Our favorite feature
If you’re hooked on them, they can save you hundreds of dollars by working on all kinds of fabrics and colors, and promise to work just as well as your favorite detergent at cleaning and refreshing clothes without fading them out.
Baby laundry detergents deliver a solution for having “good, clean fun” while cleaning up the messes that were anything but good or clean.
Babies’ skin is sensitive and requires extra care, which these formulas are careful to consider.
Harsher “adult” chemicals can pose a risk for irritation, at best, and hormone manipulation, at worst. The skin is the body’s most absorbent, and largest, organ, and detergents that clean the clothes and bedding that go on babies’ bodies deserve as much consideration as the food that goes in their mouths.
You’ll also notice that none of the above detergents reviewed were in “pods,” or those ever-increasingly-popular packets of pre-measured laundry detergent that are popping up on grocery shelves.
While effective for my own gym and running clothes and for my boyfriend’s extremely muddy garb after his ten-mile hikes, take care if you have any small children in the house when considering if it’s really worth the extra seconds you save by not having to measure out your liquid detergent. These pods have been linked to increasing numbers of accidental burns and poisonings in small children, and we can’t completely blame the kids. The pods look like colorful, fun candy or toy packets that you can pop and play and paint with, but are anything but entertainment.
So cheers to you and your babies’ “good, clean fun,” and be sure to check with your pediatrician with any questions you may have.