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Washing Baby Clothes: All Your Questions, Answered!

Blog post in partnership with Nimble – the worry-free cleaning brand for little explorers.

Here at Mamamade, we’re no strangers to the highs and lows of parenting. While weaning can be amazing, it can also be a mess - nobody quite prepares you for the never-ending pile of washing that comes along with it !

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 reach as high as 4 washes just for baby garments 🤯? As parents, we’re spending A LOT of time washing clothes, so we wanted to make sure we were doing it right.

We chatted to our friends from Nimble to answer all the questions you may have wondered about baby laundry (and a those you haven’t even thought of yet)!

🧺 First things first…Do you really need baby detergent?

So, 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 that 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 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 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 a full-grown 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.

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 😊.

💧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!

Thank you so much to the team at Nimble this helpful crash-course in all things baby laundry!

We love using Nimble’s plant-based, allergen, and cruelty-free products to help baby-proof our cleaning routine. That’s why we’re sharing the love by offering you an exclusive discount on Nimble’s website to top up your cleaning essentials: 25% off the whole website using the code: MAMAMADE25. You can thank us later!

If there is anything else you’d like to ask the Nimble team, please comment below and they’ll be happy to answer!

Love, Sophie & Team Mamamade x

About Nimble – stress-free cleaning.

Because being a parent is a messy business, Nimble has created a range of house cleaning products that are specially developed for safe usage around young ones. This means no harsh chemicals, allergens or skin-irritating ingredients. Just the power of plants to be gentle on skin and get the job done!

Nimble available online, and in store at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Amazon.

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