How to Wash Baby Clothes

New parents will find themselves spending a lot of time washing an endless pile of baby clothes. You can cut down on that time AND keep baby clothes looking and smelling fresh with these tips for baby laundry care.

Washing Baby Clothes

It’s a good idea to wash baby clothes before they are worn the first time since you don’t know what they have come in contact with prior to landing on the rack at the store.

You Will Need:

  • Washing machine
  • Dryer or line to air dry
  • Dreft or other gentle laundry detergent

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Check clothing labels for special care instructions before washing.
  2. Separate clothing by color to avoid color fade and bleeding.
  3. Use the warmest water you can (following the clothes label instructions) to fill the machine.
  4. Add detergent to water.
  5. Add baby clothes, taking care not to overfill.
  6. Begin wash cycle.
  7. Soap residue can irritate some baby’s sensitive skin. Run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all soap has been removed.
  8. Hang to line dry or put in the dryer soon after wash is finished.

Removing Baby Food Stains

Fresh food spills will likely come out with regular washing. If you are not able to rinse and wash clothes immediately, follow these steps.

You Will Need:

  • Spray ‘n Wash or other stain remover
  • Dreft or other gentle laundry detergent
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer or line to air dry

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Pre treat stains with Spray ‘n Wash following label directions.
  2. Use the warmest water that clothing label indicates acceptable to fill the machine.
  3. Add detergent to the water.
  4. Add baby clothes. Do not overfill.
  5. Begin wash cycle.
  6. After wash cycle, check to be sure that stain is gone before drying. If stain is still there, repeat the process before allowing the item to dry.

Removing Body Fluids

Diaper stains can be particularly difficult to remove. For best results, treat and wash clothing before the stain dries.

You Will Need:

  • OxiClean Baby Stain Remover spray
  • Toothbrush
  • Dreft or other gentle laundry detergent
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer or line to air dry

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Spray the stain immediately with OxiClean Baby Stain Remover. Make sure the stain is saturated.
  2. Use the toothbrush to scrub the OxiClean into the stain.
  3. Allow to sit for five minutes.
  4. Fill washing machine with warmest water allowed according to clothing label.
  5. Add laundry detergent.
  6. Put clothing in and begin wash cycle.
  7. When washing is finished, make sure that stains are removed before drying.
  8. If stain remains, repeat steps as necessary.

Removing Odors

Odors can be particularly difficult to remove and may linger long after stains are gone. Follow these steps to help get rid of them for good.

You Will Need:

Steps to Take:

  1. Fill the washing machine with water, following cleaning instructions on the label.
  2. Add Clorox 2 for Colors Free and Clear Color Safe Bleach
  3. Add clothing, taking care not to overfill.
  4. Run wash cycle.
  5. Dry clothes as soon as wash cycle has completed.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Remove stains when they are fresh for best results.
  • Keep a small bottle of stain remover on hand to treat clothes when you aren’t near a washing machine or when washing is impractical.
  • Avoid drying clothes until the stains have been removed. Heat will set the stain.


  1. Baby and toddler clothes are the WORST to wash. To remove dried food and drink stains, get Soft Scrub with Bleach and a battery operated toothbrush. Apply a teaspoon to a tablespoon-sized amount of Soft Scrub with Bleach to the stain and scrub with the toothbrush. Rinse it out and wash as usual. Do NOT use this technique on delicate or colored fabrics.

  2. I’ve always used Dreft.

  3. If baby clothes are stained with formula or food stains and you can’t get them out with pre-wash, try this: Fill the kitchen sink with 1 cup dishwasher soap, 1 cup bleach, and add the hottest water you can get from the faucet until the sink is about half full. Mix it up really well with a long plastic spoon or the handle of a brush or something because the water is hot! Put the stained clothes in the water and let soak for 15 minutes or so. Rinse in cold water and see if the stains are gone. If they aren’t, soak some more. Wash in the washing machine with Dreft or whatever laundry soap you use. You will be amazed! I use this on whites and colored clothes and haven’t had anything ruined yet. I figure if it’s really stained, it’s already ruined, so you might as well try this before you throw it away. I have bought cute things at a yard sales for next to nothing because they were stained, then worked my magic on them when I got home! I have 9 children, 6 grandchildren and have had 30+ foster children, so I KNOW STAINS! Haha! Good luck!

  4. They recommend Dreft.

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