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How to know if you can mix baby clothes with regular laundry

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

mother pulling baby clothes out of a laundry hamper

You might be wondering if it's safe to mix baby clothes with the regular laundry. The answer is "it depends". Here is the full guide for how to know if you need to wash baby clothes separately.

If you must mix laundry, make sure to use baby laundry detergent

We'll get to the question of mixing the laundry in just a second, but understand that if you do mix baby laundry with regular laundry, the entire load needs to be done with baby safe laundry detergent.

Babies have delicate skin so it's always best to use a baby detergent on any laundry that contains baby clothes (regardless of whether you choose to add regular items of adult clothing to the same load). I've written separately about baby detergents and cheaper skin-safe alternatives.

Situations where it's safe to mix baby laundry with regular adult laundry

Assuming you're using a baby detergent on the entire load, there are some situations where it's safe to mix baby laundry with your normal household laundry.

  • If you're not using stain removers on any of the clothing
  • If no-one in the family comes in contact with harsh chemicals in the course of their work or hobbies - you may be surprised how often this comes up, even if you think this doesn't apply to you (see next section)

Situations where it's NOT safe to mix baby laundry with other laundry

Adult clothing that has been exposed to harsh chemicals is the number one reason where you don't want to mix it with baby laundry. Even though the washing machine will wash these chemicals out, they will still come in contact with the baby clothing while they're in the load of laundry together. You don't want this, because you can never be sure that 100% of the chemical is completely washed out by the end of the load. Baby's skin is much more sensitive and delicate than those of older kids or adults. A chemical that might be non-toxic to most people can be really bad for baby even in tiny amounts.

You might think this doesn't apply to you - but think again. It's not just chemical plant workers, agricultural workers, or lab scientists that need to be concerned about this. Even if you've done yard work applying lawn fertilizer or a pesticide, those clothes should never be washed in the same load as baby's laundry.

Besides your workplace and hobbies, think about your spouse's exposure to harsh chemicals in their workplace and hobbies. Ask your spouse about this if you're unsure.

If you are able to safely mix baby laundry with the adult laundry, use a second rinse cycle if you're not already. This helps ensure you don't get buildup of the laundry detergent on the clothes.

It may be cheaper to do the baby laundry separately

If you have a washer and dryer in your home and don't need to go to a laundromat to do laundry, it will be likely cheaper to keep your baby laundry separate. This is because you get to save money on your detergent. Baby laundry detergent tends to be more expensive than regular laundry detergent. So you'll save money if you can use the cheaper laundry detergent on the adult laundry, instead of having to use baby laundry detergent for everything.

If budget is a big concern, you might also like to look at my cost breakdown of making your own laundry detergent.

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