What are the safest laundry detergents for newborns? As a mom myself, I’ve been researching options that will be safe, both for my toddler and newborn AND for my washing machine!
One of my main research sources is the EWG, or Environmental Working Group. What does the EWG do? In part, it creates and updates a list of safe household products. Unfortunately, my favorite baby detergent for newborns, Dreft, scored an F in safety. I love Dreft because of its sweet smell (which I’ve associated with infants since I was a child myself) and the fact that it didn’t irritate my firstborn’s sensitive skin. So why did it score an F?
It appears that the EWG gave Dreft its lowest score mainly because it contains sodium borate. According to the EWG, S. Borate is of “high concern” because it can potentially effect the baby’s development, particularly the endocrine and reproductive systems. Sodium borate is of “low concern” for skin irritation/allergies/damage and respiratory effects. Dreft also contains several ingredients the EWG considers of “moderate” concern, such as ethanolamine. (Read the entire report on Dreft Liquid Detergent here.)
So, if we push aside what used to be the standard for newborn care, what’s left? I compiled a short list of 11 laundry detergents that:
- scored well with the EWG (each of these won an “A” rating) and,
- are compatible with modern high-efficiency washing machines.Some contain essential oils for fragrance, so if your child is sensitive, simply choose the unscented versions.
11 Safest Laundry Detergents for Newborns: the Short List
1. 365 Laundry Detergent (Powdered Version)
The 365 brand (Whole Foods) of powdered detergent has very few ingredients that could raise any concerns. Check out the report here.
While the Attitude brand hasn’t always been the best option, the ingredients now are considered safe. The only ingredient to raise slight concern is sodium coco-sulfate, which may cause respiratory difficulty at high levels. (The levels in this detergent are not high.) Can be around 52 cents a load!
The fragrance-free versions are the safest. But if you prefer that your baby’s clothing smell sweet to cover up the spit-up and diaper problems, Better Life also has scented versions (such as lavender grapefruit). The essential oils used in the scented versions are safe at low levels. If your baby has extremely sensitive skin or already-existent breathing problems, though, the essential oils may cause skin irritation or respiratory issues. (Here’s the report on the scented version.) Around 22 cents a load.
The few ingredients of “some” to “moderate” concern in Dapple tend to be of environmental only. (May not all be quickly biodegradable.) The detergent seems safe for babies. Very expensive when bought online but can be found more cheaply in-store.
5. Eco-Me Laundry Soap, Emma
The ingredients in this laundry detergent that raise concern are the essential oils added for fragrance. (Such as lavender and chamomile.)
Again, essential oils in the baby version could cause issues for babies who already have skin/respiratory difficulties.
All ingredients in this laundry powder are given an “A” rating by the EWG. There are scented versions, as well. These versions have the usual complications of potential reactions to essential oils. Meliora has very few ingredients, which appeals to those of us who love short ingredient lists that are readable. Does this detergent actually work? Most users say yes, although with the caveat that this product is not hypoallergenic. Approx. 14 cents per load, depending on where you buy it.
8. Ology 2X Laundry Liquid, Free & Clear
A few of the ingredients used for getting your clothes clean in this detergent could be of low concern. However, it still ranks as one of the safest laundry detergents.
Several of the ingredients in this detergent were rated a C. But, overall the 7th Generation Free and Clear got a good grade for safety. Read the report here. Can be around 27 cents a load. (Cheaper than Dreft unless you have a coupon.)
10. The Honest Co. Honest 4 in 1 Laundry Pods, Free & Clear
While many of the ingredients in these laundry pods from the Honest Co. weren’t given a great ranking, the main ingredients (which show up in the largest quantities) were safe. Here’s my honest 🙂 review of Honest diapers, in case you’re looking into several products from the Honest company.
The spearmint oil in this baby detergent was the main concern for potential difficulties. It’s an odd addition for an “unscented” detergent. However, it seems to be a fairly good detergent with a very short ingredient list. Can be around 27 cents per load.
There are additional brands of “clean” detergent, particularly from essential oil companies. These are available through dealers; I’m sure you have a friend who sells them. I don’t know price per load on most of them, however. Also, cost depends on whether you are a seller who can buy it at wholesale price or a buyer who is paying retail. (For example, Young Living’s Thieves laundry detergent retails at about 60 cents a load if you can get 64 loads of laundry out of 32 oz. Wholesale cost is quite a bit less.)
Why don’t I make my own laundry detergent? Aren’t homemade detergents the safest laundry detergents?
I’ve become concerned about soap buildup on clothing and in our lovely new washing machine! That’s why. (Google results of stripping clothes that have been washed with homemade detergents.) More power to those of you who choose to make your own and haven’t had problems with residue, though! 🙂 For those like me who have concerns about the homemade laundry detergents, I hope this list of safest laundry detergents was helpful. Let me know if you have positive/negative experiences with any of the detergents in the comments below!