8 Best Baby Detergents of 2021
Best Baby Detergent of 2021
February 8, 2021

Best Baby Detergent of 2021

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What to look for—and what to avoid—when choosing a laundry detergent for your little one.Best Baby Detergent of 2021

Tiny bodysuits, adorable rompers, beautiful bonnets…there’s no denying that baby clothes are cute, and dressing your little one can be a pretty fun part of being a parent, especially during those early baby and toddler years.

But, reality check: those charming baby clothes are also going to get charmingly dirty. Between spit up and food stains and everything in between, keeping your baby’s clothes clean is no small feat. You’ll need a detergent that gets the job done, but that’s also safe on baby’s soft, sensitive skin. So what’s a parent to do?

We’re turning to the experts—a husband and wife dermatologist + pediatrician duo—for the lowdown on all things baby detergent, including what’s safe, what’s not and what you should be looking for when selecting a baby detergent.

In this article:

Do You Need Baby Detergent?

“Babies have highly sensitive skin, especially since their skin and immune system are not fully mature. Their skin can react to various chemicals present in detergents,” says Dr. Zain Husain, MD, FAAD and founder of New Jersey Dermatology and Aesthetics Center.

So should you use a detergent that’s specifically made for washing baby clothes? Or are there more generic options that might work? Board-certified pediatrician Dr. Amna Husain, MD, FAAP, and founder of Pure Direct Pediatrics breaks it down.

“While many detergents label themselves as ‘baby friendly,’ she says, “in reality, they won’t do a good job of actually getting your child’s clothes clean.”

So while it’s definitely OK to use a baby detergent if it works for you, Dr. Husain says it’s also safe to use the same detergent you’re using on your own clothes to keep things simple. But there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.

What to Look for in a Baby Detergent

According to Dr. Husain, keep an eye out for these things when you’re selecting a detergent for your baby—and for your whole family.

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Dye-free
  • Plant-based (Not necessary, but recommended as they tend to be less irritating than most chemical-based detergents.)

She also notes the difference between fragrance-free and unscented detergents.

“Fragrance-free is not the same as unscented,” she says. “Unscented means that the fragrance has been masked, but is still present in the detergent.”

As for what to avoid, Dr. Husain discourages the use of:

  • Brighteners (they can lead to skin irritation)
  • Industrial-strength bleach solutions (Household bleach, when used correctly, is fine.)
  • Laundry pods

Laundry pods, although convenient, aren’t a safe option for households with babies, since the packets are easy to drop, misplace or accidentally leave in baby’s reach.

“Unfortunately, these are becoming a source of poison and toxicity in young children who are attracted by the bright colors,” Dr. Husain says. “The detergent in single-use laundry packets is very concentrated, so even a small amount can be harmful.” She recommends sticking with traditional powder or liquid detergent until your children are at least 5-6 years old.

Here are our Babylist top picks for best baby detergents.

For the Whole Family

Dermatologist recommended and free of dyes, perfumes and phosphates, this hypoallergenic detergent from Tide is a great choice for baby and for your whole family. It doesn’t lack in stain-fighting capabilities but is still a safe choice for baby’s sensitive new skin. Prefer a purely plant-based option? Check out Tide PurClean Plant Based detergent.

All Natural

The plant-based formula in Puracy may be free of lots of things (harsh chemicals, perfumes, phosphates, allergens and more), but according to lots of parents, it still performs well on tough baby and kid stains. It’s ultra-concentrated, so you’ll get 96 HE loads from one 24-ounce bottle, and it’s never tested on animals.


It’s definitely possible to get all the benefits of a baby-safe detergent without spending a ton. All Free Clear is 2x concentrated, which means a little goes a long way. The formula is 100% free of dyes and perfumes and is hypoallergenic, all at a great price point.

Safe for Sensitive Skin

Just right for baby’s sensitive skin, Seventh Generation Free & Clear is made from plant-based ingredients and free of dyes, fragrances and brighteners but still gets the job done tackling tough stains. It works in both HE and standard machines at all washing temperatures, and it’s also safe for septic systems.

Plant-Powered Clean

This ECOS laundry detergent isn’t baby-specific but is a solid choice if you’re looking for a plant-powered cleaner that can handle tough stains.It’s ultra-concentrated and made without dyes, brighteners, parabens, phosphates or phthalates, and it’s hypoallergenic for sensitive skin. It works in any water temperature and features a mild scent.

Safe and Effective

Many baby-only detergents struggle with stain removal, but that’s not the case with Babyganics. Formulated with plant and enzyme-based cleaning power—but without sulfates—a small amount of this detergent does a great job on baby’s dirty bibs, bodysuits and more. Parents love the concentrated formula and that it doesn’t leave behind a scent on baby’s clothes.

Biodegradable + Natural Scent

If you’re already a fan of the garden-inspired scents in Mrs. Meyers’ other cleaning products then it’s worth checking out this baby-specific laundry detergent. This concentrated formula is biodegradable and made from plant-derived cleaning ingredients along with stain-fighting enzymes and essential oils. The baby blossom scent features aromas of spring wildflowers, apple and mint and each bottle can tackle up to 64 loads of laundry.

Classic Pick

Dreft baby detergent has been around for over 80 years—there’s a good chance your parents washed your baby clothes in it. The hypoallergenic stage one formula is designed specifically for newborn’s delicate clothes (and skin) and the detergent works in both regular and HE washers. Dreft does have a distinct scent, and it’s one that not all parents love, so you’ll want to keep that in mind.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and the Babylist Health Advisory Board.