When to Stop Using Baby Detergent (for example Dreft) – FULL Guide

red clip and hanging clothes

Normal detergent can be rough on a baby’s soft skin and many parents choose to wash their little one’s stuff with milder detergent. Laundry days with a baby in the house can seem endless when doing separate washes.

Here’s the Answer to When to Stop Using Baby Detergent

Parents are advised to use baby detergent during their little one’s first year. You can switch over to regular detergent soon after your baby’s first birthday but keep an eye out for any reactions such as itchy, scaly, or red skin. If you notice a skin reaction then try organic detergent. 

Do You Really Need Baby Detergent?

Newborns and babies in their first year have soft, sensitive skin making them more prone to allergic reactions and skin rashes when exposed to chemicals, too much sunshine, and heat. Potential skin irritants can be found in bath soaps, body lotion, clothing, and laundry detergent.

If you wash your baby’s clothes in regular detergent you’ll be exposing your little one to harsh chemicals, dyes, and fragrances which can cause an allergic reaction, eczema, or nasty skin rashes. If there’s a history of eczema in the family, then it’s also a good idea to stick to baby detergent in the first year or so of your baby’s life. 

What is the Difference Between Baby Laundry Detergent and Regular?

Ingredients in regular detergent often include harsh chemicals, dyes, fragrances, and other additives which can potentially irritate your baby’s skin. On the other hand, manufacturers of baby detergent use a formula that contains fewer chemicals: they have no dyes, and they are often fragrance-free. 

Regular detergent also contains:

  • Powerful stain removers
  • Cleanser ingredients
  • Bleach
  • Fabric softeners
  • Brighteners

Check the packaging for a list of ingredients. The longer the list, the more chemicals there are in the detergent.The following ingredients can also be the cause of skin irritants:

  • Chlorine
  • Phthalates
  • Phosphates

Is Regular Laundry Detergent OK for Babies?

While baby detergent is highly recommended for smaller babies, many families do add their little one’s clothing to the family wash using regular laundry detergent. Experts do recommend using a regular liquid detergent (rather than in powder form) as it’s easier to rinse most traces of the soap out of the clothes. 

The key to deciding if you should use regular laundry detergent for baby clothes is watching how your baby reacts. If she or he starts to develop allergies, eczema, or dermatitis, then the first step is to stop using regular detergent. By switching to baby detergent, you can see if your baby’s unpleasant skin conditions start to clear up.  

How to Know if Baby is Allergic to Detergent

The first sign of your baby being allergic to laundry detergent is a bad skin rash or redness. Your baby may develop hives or even get dry, scaly skin. Most often, skin reactions caused by detergent show up on the arms and legs where the clothing is tighter. 

However, these same symptoms may also present when your baby has an allergic reaction to the formula she’s drinking. Another cause for nasty skin reactions could be your baby’s bath soap or lotion. 

To determine if your baby is allergic to regular detergent, wash one or two items with normal soap. If your baby reacts negatively when she wears that item, assume she may be allergic to regular detergent. The next step is to experiment with baby detergent. If there’s an improvement in her skin condition, you can safely say that she’s allergic to regular detergent.

How to Wash Baby Clothes Without Detergent (Alternatives)

The best way to wash baby clothes without detergent is to use a product specifically formulated to clean clothing while protecting your little one’s sensitive skin. Some parents use vinegar to wash baby clothes because it’s a natural disinfectant and it’s safe for baby skin. You can also use your washing machine’s cycle without detergent and simply wash clothes with water. 

On the other hand, there are all-natural detergents that don’t contain soap. These detergents are plant-based. An ideal product to use is Rebel Green Baby Detergent

You could also make your own DIY chemical-free detergent at home. Watch this video to find out how.

When Can I Stop Using Dreft?

The best time to stop using Dreft is after your baby’s first birthday. However, if your baby continues to battle with regular detergent, you may need to consider staying with Dreft until she is older. If she suffers from eczema, you may need to stay with Dreft or another milder detergent.

What is Dreft detergent good for?

One of the most popular detergents to use for washing baby clothes is Dreft Baby Detergent. It contains no dyes which is often the reason your baby develops nasty skin conditions. All Dreft detergents can be used in both standard and high-efficiency washers. While this detergent is mild enough to use for washing baby clothing, sheets, or the many baby washcloths, and towels, it’s an expensive product. 

You can pick between the following products:

When Can I Start Using Regular Detergent for My Baby Clothes?

If there’s no history of eczema in your family, you can start using a regular detergent for your baby clothes from birth. However, consider doing the following:

  • Washing the baby clothes separately from the rest of the family.
  • Using a liquid detergent that rinses out better than a powder laundry soap.
  • Watch closely for any skin rashes or allergic reactions.

If you’ve decided to only use baby detergent from day one, then consider using regular detergent after your baby’s first birthday. This way you can have peace of mind your baby’s skin is more resilient. However, if you wish to transition sooner, start experimenting when your baby is six months old

How to Switch (slowly) to a Regular Laundry Detergent

When you decide it’s time to switch over from baby detergent, start transitioning slowly. This can be done by washing one or two of your baby’s clothes in regular detergent to see how she reacts. If she responds well, then add a few more of her items to the next family wash. 

It may take a few days to a week before your baby shows any reaction, so make sure you don’t rush the transition from baby to regular detergent. If you notice your baby’s skin starting to go red or developing rashes a week after wearing an item washed in regular detergent, consider changing the brand or going back to baby detergent for a while longer. 

What Regular Laundry Detergent is Good for Babies?

There are many other laundry detergents available on the market which are good for babies. One such product is Honest Laundry Detergent which is a plant-based soap. It’s made with a hypoallergenic formula and doesn’t include synthetic fragrances. It also uses food-grade preservatives. This detergent has been formulated for both adults and babies with eczema and sensitive skin. It’s also been awarded the USDA certification as a biobased product. 

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent is another product that is hypoallergenic and formulated for delicate skins. The detergent is both fragrant and dye-free. It’s 96% plant-based with a USDA certification and EPA Safer Choice label. 

Another regular laundry detergent that is good for babies is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Detergent. This product is made with plant-derived ingredients and essential oils for a light fragrance. It doesn’t include parabens and phthalates, optical brighteners, and artificial coloring. 


I accidentally washed baby clothes in regular detergent. What can I do?

If you’ve washed your baby’s clothes with the family wash using regular detergent then separate it from the load when you remove it from the washer. Place the baby clothes back in the machine and run a rinse wash to thoroughly remove any traces of the regular detergent. 

Can I use baby detergent on my clothes?

Baby detergent can be used on your clothes. However, if you want to remove stubborn stains the milder detergent may not be strong enough. You can rub baby detergent into stains 10 minutes before a wash to remove the stains or use a stain-remover in the wash. 

Can I use Tide (pods) on baby clothes?

All Tide Free & Gentle products don’t include any dyes, fragrances, or harsh chemicals. Both Tide pods and Tide liquid detergents are safe to use on baby clothes. This brand has been recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation and National Eczema Association as a safe detergent for both adults and babies with sensitive skin. 

Can I use Gain on baby clothes?

Some Gain detergents are 65% plant-based. They don’t include dyes, phosphates, or brighteners but they do include fragrance ingredients. If your baby reacts to these scents, then you won’t be able to use Gain when washing your baby’s clothes.

Can you use Dreft on regular clothes?

Deft is formulated to work on all types of fabric such as cotton and polyester. Additionally, if you have contact dermatitis it might be ideal to use baby detergent such as Deft to clean regular clothing. This is because baby detergents are best for people with sensitive skin. 

Wrap Up

If your family has a history of allergies or eczema, it’s advisable to use baby detergent in the first year of your baby’s life. This way you can minimize any risk of your baby developing an allergic reaction or developing nasty skin rashes whenever she wears her clothes. Baby detergent is formulated to be hypoallergenic, is often plant-based, and doesn’t include harsh chemicals. 

However, once your baby passes her first birthday, you can consider switching to regular detergent. By transitioning slowly from baby to regular detergent, you’ll be able to determine if it’s safe to put your infant’s clothes in the same wash as the rest of the family.

And once you wash your clothes, you might be wondering if you can tumble-dry such baby clothes?

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