best baby laundry detergent

2021’s Best Baby Laundry Detergent [Gentle & Non-Toxic]

2021’s Best Baby Laundry Detergent [Gentle & Non-Toxic]

Every day is laundry day when you have a baby.

But because most laundry detergents are laden with harsh chemicals and fragrances, washing your baby’s duds along with everyone else’s isn't a great idea (think about what those detergents do to your clothes and skin, too).

The best baby laundry detergent is gentle on skin, clothes, and your laundry equipment, but tough on spit up, puree, and “omg what even IS that” stains.

TL;DR: Don’t want to go through all the options? Just grab some Charlie's Soap Fragrance Free Laundry Detergent. Scent, allergen, and irritant-free, it’s the best you’ll find.

Here’s a list of the best and most popular, sensitive skin, parent-approved baby detergents, rated.

Do You Really Need a Separate Detergent for Your Baby?

Babies have ridiculously sensitive skin. They just haven’t been exposed to the elements like we have. We’re more…”weathered”.

Add harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and dyes to the equation, and your baby could end up with a nasty rash.

Most detergents are packed with irritants (so you get a false sense of “clean” with the smell), those formulated specifically for babies are usually fragrance-free with simpler, gentler ingredients.

If you already use a gentle detergent, you don't need to buy a special detergent just for your baby’s clothes. But if you don’t, you might want to consider switching even for your own laundry. After all, consider what those irritants do to your clothes and skin, too.

How to Choose a Gentle Detergent

Here are the detergent criteria we use to rate and choose one for us:

Mildness
If it’s not perfume, brightener, bleach, and dye free, it doesn't touch Poppy's clothes. I also try to skip most powders, since they don't rinse out as easily as liquid and can leave tiny flakes of detergent in clothing fibers.

Efficiency
A laundry detergent has to be able to lift baby muck out of clothes. While I'm not above treating seriously soiled items with a skin-friendly stain remover first, I also have days when I just want to be able to toss my laundry in the machine and walk away.

Smell
Ok, just like everyone else, I adore a clean baby smell. “Clean” doesn't mean an explosion of spring flowers, just that clothes don’t smell like yesterday's blowout. Mild natural fragrance is a bonus (ie peppermint) but not a must-have.

Price
Given the sheer volume of laundry that babies generate, price matters. Most baby detergents cost more, but some are capable of washing significantly more, too. So even if I can't spot an immediate saving, I try to choose laundry detergents that’ll go the extra mile.

Still here? Fantastic. Let's tackle that dirty laundry!

10+ Baby Laundry Detergents


Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent

Mildness:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Efficiency:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Smell:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Average:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

This natural laundry detergent won us over with it’s gentle, plant-based formulation and powerful cleaning action. One bottle takes care of 96 HE loads, so a little goes a long way. I also love the mild natural fragrance, but if you prefer a completely unscented detergent, our next pick should be right up your alley.

Pros

  • Enzyme-based formulation effectively breaks down tough dirt and eliminates odors.
  • Hypoallergenic and free of chemicals, fragrance, sulfates, and bleach.
  • Created by doctors to safe and gentle on sensitive skin.
  • Suitable for the whole family, which means you’ll have one less thing to buy.
  • Leaves clothes feeling soft and smelling fresh — naturally.
  • Pump bottle can be used with one hand — a huge bonus when you’re juggling a baby and a pile of laundry!

Cons

  • The pump is prone to dripping, so be sure to place the bottle on rag or paper towel.
  • Exceptionally dirty and smelly loads might require an extra squirt or two.
Charlie's Soap Fragrance Free Laundry Detergent

Mildness:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Efficiency:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Smell:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Average:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Yes, it's a powder. No, it's not marketed as a “baby” laundry detergent. That doesn't doesn't detract from its reputation for being one of the very best laundry detergents for cloth diapers. This option is so good at cleaning diapers without damaging them that it comes highly recommended by a number of leading cloth diaper manufacturers. It doesn't contain any fragrance or harsh ingredients, and rinses out without leaving a residue. Cloth diapers are extremely sensitive and finicky so if it’s good enough for cloth, it’s good enough for clothes!

Pros

  • Non-toxic, hypoallergenic, chemical, and paraben-free.
  • Leaves no residue and even removes build-up left behind by other laundry detergents.
  • Does a fantastic job of removing dirt and odors.
  • Zero fragrance — leaves clothes smelling like, well, clothes.

Cons

  • You need to reduce the amount of detergent to prevent white marks if you have an HE washing machine (is that really a con? I'm not sure).
  • It's powder in a packet, so expect a few spills.
Molly’s Suds Original Laundry Detergent Powder

Mildness:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Efficiency:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Smell:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Average:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Made with only 5 ingredients, the cleaning power of Molly’s Suds is astounding. This product is well rounded, and is insanely popular even for adult use.

Pros

  • Has an “A” rating from the Environmental Working Group.
  • No toxic ingredients.
  • Can be used in hard or soft water.

Cons

  • Peppermint oil can be a potential irritant for some.
Seventh Generation Baby Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Mildness:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Efficiency:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Smell:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Price:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Average:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Proof that dynamite comes in small packages, this super concentrated baby laundry detergent tackles just about any baby-related mess with its gentle, yet powerful plant-based formula. It does have a mild natural fragrance though, so if you prefer no scent at all, you might want to skip this one.

Pros

  • With 97% plant-based ingredients, its formulated to be tough on messes and gentle on skin.
  • Free of harsh chemicals, synthetic fragrances, brightens, and dyes.
  • Highly concentrated formula goes a long way, in spite of the small bottle.
  • Leaves a light, pleasant smell.

Cons

  • Scent dissipates quickly, which can be a bonus if you have a sensitive nose.
  • Bottle is alarmingly small, but remember — you don't need much.
Biokleen Baby Laundry Liquid

Mildness:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Efficiency:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Smell:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Price:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Average:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Are you all about protecting the environment? If so, this eco-friendly option should be right at home in your laundry room. More importantly, though, this baby laundry detergent is safe for even the most sensitive skin. Free of fragrance, enzymes, and nasty chemicals, this one is well worth a try if your baby seems to break out with even the most gentle laundry detergents.

Pros

  • Boasting a formula that’s entirely plant and mineral based, this baby detergent is free of nasty chemicals and irritants.
  • Ultra gentle ingredients are safe for sensitive skin.
  • Manufactured in a Natural Products Only Facility, so there’s no chance of contamination from undesirable substances.
  • Does a good job of cleaning clothes and cloth diapers.

Cons

  • The eco-friendly recycled cardboard packaging is nice idea, but it’s also prone to becoming damaged and leaking in transit.
  • All the plastic wrapped around the bottle for shipping kind of defeats the purpose of the cardboard packaging.
  • Heavily soiled items might need to be pre-treated.
 Rockin' Green Platinum Series Dirty Diaper Powdered Laundry Detergent

Mildness:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Efficiency:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Smell:3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
Price:3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
Average:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Great for cloth diapers (bet you didn't see that coming, right?), Rockin Green’s Dirty Diaper laundry detergent uses all natural ingredients and plant-based enzymes to break down dirt and eliminate odors WITHOUT irritating sensitive skin or damaging fabric fibers. It's also vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, and biodegradable, so you can rest easy knowing you're doing your bit for the environment.

Pros

  • Works incredibly well, even on tough stains and odors.
  • Contains no harsh chemicals, brighteners, synthetic fragrances, dyes, parabens, or sulfates.
  • Made with eco-friendly biodegradable ingredients.
  • Pleasant natural tea tree scent.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Natural tea tree scent is everyone's cup of tea…
Cleancult Non Toxic Laundry Detergent Pods

Mildness:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Efficiency:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Smell:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Price:2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)
Average:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Ideal for eczema-prone skin, these handy laundry pods are hypoallergenic and consist of high quality organic ingredients. They are pricey, but the cost might just be worth it for households with serious skin issues that flare up at the drop of a hat. Just remember to always store laundry pods in a safe place — kids can easily mistake them for candy.

Pros

  • Organic formula is free of nasty chemicals, fragrances, and dyes.
  • Suitable for sensitive skin and allergy sufferers.
  • Delivers heavy-duty cleaning performance thats comparable to other leading laundry detergent brands.
  • Leaves no smell or residue.

Cons

  • Super expensive for a meager 18 loads.
  • Laundry detergent pods can seem enticing to toddlers and little kids.
  • Packaging seal could be more robust.
Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent

Mildness:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Efficiency:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Smell:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Price:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Average:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

It's a little pricier than most, but this popular baby laundry detergent has a loyal following who swear by its gentle cleaning power. With a dermatologist tested formula that’s plant-based, fragrance, dye, and brightener-free, its suitable for most babies. However, it does contain small amounts of the decidedly dodgy preservative, Methylisothiazolinone — dubbed 2013’s allergen of the year, so if your little one has super sensitive skin, you might want to give this one a miss.

Pros

  • Offers a largely chemical-free formulation that doesn't seem to spark any sort of reaction in most babies.
  • Plant-based cleansers and enzymes effectively remove dirt and odors.
  • Leaves absolutely no fragrance on clothes.

Cons

  • Although the concentration is low, I'd like it a lot more if it didn't contain Methylisothiazolinone at all.
  • Set in stains need to be pre-treated.
  • An actual handle instead of just an indentation would make the bottle easier to grip.
Dropps HE Baby Laundry Detergent Packs

Mildness:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Efficiency:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
Smell:2 out of 5 stars (2.0 / 5)
Price:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Average:3.4 out of 5 stars (3.4 / 5)

Convenience meets baby-friendly mildness in these EPA Safer Choice approved laundry detergent pods. With a plant-based formula that's hypoallergenic and non-toxic, it's easy on delicate skin, but it doesn't pull any punches when it comes to busting stains and odors. If you're looking for a hassle-free laundry detergent for the whole family, this is a solid choice.

Pros

  • Gentle, hypoallergenic formula is perfect for sensitive skin.
  • Cleans even heavily soiled clothes and diapers and leaves them feeling soft.
  • Pods are easy to use and great for travel.

Cons

  • Produces loads of suds and might require an extra rinse in HE machines.
  • Some users report noticing a faint fragrance.
  • Pods can be risky in homes with small children who might mistake them for candy.
All Free and Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent

Mildness:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
Efficiency:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Smell:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Price:3.2 out of 5 stars (3.2 / 5)
Average:3.4 out of 5 stars (3.4 / 5)

It might not be all-natural or even formulated specifically for babies, but this gentle laundry detergent is easily one of the best mainstream options available for sensitive skin — and one of the most affordable too. Recommended by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians, it's safe for delicate skin and delivers reliable cleaning action.

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic formula is perfume and dye-free.
  • A top choice among medical professionals.
  • Suitable for the whole family.

Cons

  • Tough stains will require some special attention.
  • The bottles are on the small side.
  • More expensive online than on supermarket shelves.
  • Can leave clothes feeling a little rough.
 Dreft Stage 1 Newborn Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent

Mildness:2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
Efficiency:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Smell:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Price:2 out of 5 stars (2.0 / 5)
Average:3.1 out of 5 stars (3.1 / 5)

The ingredients aren't nearly as mild as others on our list, but that doesn't stop dermatologists from recommending it or thousands of satisfied parents from using it. A hypoallergenic formulation with 65% plant-based ingredients means its still much milder than standard laundry detergent, but if you or your baby are sensitive to synthetic fragrances, you’ll want to avoid this laundry detergent.

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic formula is gentle enough for most babies.
  • Highly effective at removing dirt and odors.
  • If there was an “essence of baby” it would smell like this.

Cons

  • Contains chemicals and synthetic fragrances which may irritate sensitive or eczema-prone skin.
  • Some feel the fragrance is overwhelming.
  • Expensive considering the size of the bottles.

And there you go. 10 baby laundry detergents that are gentle on delicate skin and tough enough to handle whatever your nugget dishes out.

Remember that babies with super sensitive skin can sometimes react to natural (and seemingly harmless) ingredients, so don't be afraid to shop around if a “clean” baby laundry detergent doesn't agree with your baby.

If irritation occurs on your little one’s face, hands, forearms, or other areas that frequently rest against you, consider switching your detergent too — your baby could be reacting to chemicals and irritants embedded in the fibers of your clothes.

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