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There are a few things you can guarantee when you become a parent. The first is that you will pretty much always be tired and the second is that your washing basket will always be full. Babies get through a considerable amount of clothes, not only outgrowing them rapidly, but requiring anything from two to five outfit changes a day.
With the majority of baby clothes being white or pale in colour, stains can also be frustratingly difficult to remove. From nappy explosions to weaning experiments, finding a laundry detergent that is strong enough to remove stains whilst being gentle on your baby’s skin can feel like quite a challenge.
Unlike some traditional washing detergents, those made for little ones are designed specifically for babies' sensitive skin and generally contain less harsh chemicals and residues. As a result, they can also help avoid unwanted skin irritation, allergies or eczema flare-ups. However, sometimes a standard detergent can do the job just as well, providing it's soft and gentle enough, and many Mumsnet users swear by brands like Fairy, Persil and Surecare for baby clothes.
With this in mind, choosing the right detergent to suit your child can be tricky, so we’ve thoroughly researched the wide range of laundry detergents on the market to help you decide. We've spent extensive time reviewing the bestseller rankings, independent awards, honest feedback from the Mumsnet forums and authentic online retailer reviews to bring you our definitive list of the top choices.
Here are the best laundry detergents for babies in 2022.
1. Best overall laundry detergent for babies: Fairy Non Bio Washing Liquid Gel
Price: £10 (for family pack) | Buy now from Amazon
“Always Fairy for us, it's the only one we use as I can't stand strong-smelling washing at all.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user HappyMummy12345)
“I’ve always used Fairy Non Bio for baby clothes.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Mamabearwhere)
Described as “huggably soft for sensitive skin”, Fairy Non Bio is a really popular choice on the Mumsnet forums, with lots of positive reviews that are reinforced by its five-star rating on Amazon. Available in a choice of two formats – either this gel or the Non Bio Pods – this is a laundry detergent that’s gentle enough for your baby’s sensitive skin, whilst offering the cleaning power to tackle the rest of the family’s laundry too.
With a subtle yet refreshing 'baby fresh' scent, Fairy Non Bio is free from harsh chemicals and perfumes that can lead to skin irritation. It’s also dermatologically tested and approved by the Skin Health Alliance, having recently been voted the UK’s number one brand for sensitive skin.
Providing a gentle yet effective clean, even at low temperatures, the gel comes in a 100% recyclable bottle with a clip-on dosing cap included, making it easy to use and simple to store.
- Size: 1.295 Litres
- Number of washes: 35
- Scent: Baby fresh
- Dermatologically tested for sensitive skin
- Effective at cool temperatures
- Choice of formats
2. Best budget laundry detergent for babies: Smol Laundry Capsules
Price: From £5.30 depending on subscription | Buy now from Smol
“I’ve been using them for years. The laundry pods are small enough for the box to be posted through the letterbox. Their packaging is plastic-free and you manage your deliveries online.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Warmduscher)
If you’re trying to be a savvy shopper and take control over your shopping bills, a Smol laundry subscription can offer both flexibility and value for money.
Unlike most laundry brands which are sold via supermarkets, Smol is only available online, cutting out the middleman in order to keep costs down. Smol delivers laundry pods straight to your door in sustainable, plastic-free and recyclable ‘letterbox’ packaging.
How often you receive your delivery is based on your personal washing routine, with the ability to cancel, pause or delay your delivery at any time. They also offer a free trial (nine washes) so you can try before you buy.
Whilst not made specifically for babies, Smol non-bio laundry detergent uses lower levels of added chemicals per wash when compared to the other capsule brands, making it a gentle option for the whole family. There is also a choice of fragrance or fragrance-free, the latter of which is more suited for sensitive skin.
- Size: Pack of 24 tablets
- Number of washes: 24
- Scent: Fragrance-free (fresh and clean also available)
- Subscription model
- Sustainable eco-friendly packaging
- Only available in pods
- Not available in supermarkets
3. Best laundry detergent for babies with sensitive skin: Nimble Laundry Lover
Price £16.96 (for a two-pack) | Buy now from Amazon
Another great option for babies and children with sensitive skin is Nimble Laundry Lover, which is available in a range of pack sizes including a handy travel sized bottle. Clinically tested and proven to be as mild as water, Nimble comes with a fresh yet allergen-free fragrance, with none of the harsh chemicals, enzymes or dyes that can cause skin irritation.
A plant-based baby non-bio laundry detergent that is made almost entirely from natural ingredients, Nimble offers effective stain removal of both poo and food stains, whilst remaining gentle on your baby’s sensitive skin.
It’s also suitable for both hand and machine washing, making it a quick and effective solution for washing everything from baby grows to bibs and bedding.
- Size: 1 litre (two-pack)
- Number of washes: 45 per bottle
- Scent: Baby blossom
- Suitable for hand and machine washing
- Plant-based ingredients
- No harsh chemicals
- Some may prefer a more obvious scent
4. Best laundry detergent for babies with eczema: Surecare Non Bio Fragrance Free Laundry Powder
Price: £13.27 | Buy now from Amazon
“It was the only one I could use to control DD's eczema. They make a fragrance-free fabric conditioner too!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user ElvisPresleySideburns)
“I wash his clothes in Surecare which is non-perfumed and advised for eczema.” (Tried and tested my Mumsnet user Tianna476)
If your baby or child is unfortunate enough to have allergies or skin conditions such as eczema, extra caution will be needed when selecting your bath and laundry products to ensure they are gentle on sensitive skin.
Traditional washing detergents often contain enzymes and perfumes that can cause irritation and flare-ups, which is not only incredibly uncomfortable, but can lead to a lot of sleepless nights.
Dermatologically tested and with a seal of approval from Allergy UK, Surecare is proven to be suitable for sensitive skin and eczema, containing no perfume or harsh chemicals, including no enzymes, acids or dyes.
Gentle doesn’t mean weak however – Surecare laundry detergent offers a formula that is gentle on fabrics yet effective at removing stains even at 30 degrees, so you wont need to repeat the wash cycle to see great cleaning results.
- Size: 1.625kg
- Number of washes: 25
- Scent: Fragrance-free
- Approved by Allergy UK
- More expensive per wash than other detergents
5. Best eco-friendly laundry detergent for babies: Ecover Non-bio Laundry Liquid
Price: £5.00 | Buy now from Amazon
“I love Ecover’s environmental ethos and the fact that their products are not tested on animals, plus the fresh scent is amazing and lingers on the fabric – it's lovely to get a nice whiff of it every now and then.” (Brand recommended by Mumsnet user Candyperfumegirl)
“I have three young kids and hard-to-get-out stains are part of daily life, but Ecover performed amazingly and left everything really clean and soft!" (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user BigGrannyPants)
Ecover is a popular brand on the Mumsnet forums, largely for it’s sustainable and eco-friendly credentials and their laundry detergent is no exception.
Made from natural, plant-based ingredients in a zero waste factory, Ecover’s Delicate Laundry Detergent is never tested on animals and comes in recycled plastic bottle which can be topped up from their 5L refills.
Suitable for sensitive skin, this detergent can not only tackle the most severe of nappy explosions, but it can prevent whites from greying too, helping keep your favourite baby grows white for longer.
- Size: 1.5L
- Number of washes: 17
- Scent: Lavender and Eucalyptus
- Sustainable and eco-friendly
- Refills available
- Fragrance can be strong
6. Best big-brand laundry detergent for babies: Persil Non Bio
Price £21.30 (for bulk 130 wash pack) | Buy now from Amazon
“My son suffers from eczema and we have found Persil Non Bio the best so we use that on everyone's clothes including newborn DD. No fabric conditioner required.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user OhToBeASeahorse)
Whilst bio detergents are renowned for their stain busting power, it’s generally recommended to opt for a non-bio with children, as these enzyme-free detergents are more gentle on sensitive skin.
Recognised by the British Skin Foundation, Persil Non Bio features dermatologically tested stain removers which are suitable for the whole family, meaning you won’t have to separate your wash loads or leave those dreaded stains to soak.
It's also available in a liquid and box of pods too, so you can choose the best format for you. While it's quite pricey initially, buying in bulk can save money in the long run, and also means you won't run out for a while.
- Size: 8.385kg
- Number of washes: 130
- Scent: Fresh
- Suitable for whole family
- Available in powder, liquid and pods
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- May prefer fragrance-free
7. Best fragrance-free laundry detergent for babies: Bio-D Concentrated Washing Powder
Price: £11.12 | Buy now from Amazon
“The only thing I use is Bio D. For scent, I sometimes add in essential oils but only if I can be bothered!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Bookworm19)
If you’re keen to use a fragrance-free laundry detergent and are comfortable using a powder, the Bio D Concentrated Washing Powder is a popular choice, especially when washing reusable nappies and liners.
This fragrance-free laundry powder comes in sustainable bulk pack sizes and offers effective stain removal even at low temperatures. Accredited by Allergy UK, it also comes with a hypoallergenic formula, which is soft and gentle even on the most sensitive skin.
With the dosage used depending on load size and how soiled your washing is, getting the perfect amount of detergent may be a case of practice makes perfect.
- Size: 2kg
- Number of washes: Unspecified
- Scent: Fragrance-free
- Large pack sizes
- Dosing may take a while to master
- Some reviews found increase in static
8. Best laundry detergent for cloth nappies: Bambino Mio Natural Nappy Cleanser
Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’ve invested in eco-friendly reusable cloth nappies for your baby, you’ll be keen to keep them clean and germ-free, removing stains without damaging fabrics or dulling bright colours.
Bambino Mio Natural Nappy Cleanser can be used both in the machine or for hand washing, as well as for spot wash treatments on more stubborn stains.
To protect your nappies, Bambino Mio contains no enzymes, bleaches or artificial brighteners that can be found in other cleansers. Most importantly, it contains antibacterial agents that freshen and remove odours even at low temperatures. Just bear in mind that you will have to buy another detergent for clothes too, so that's something to factor into the cost.
- Size: 750g
- Number of washes: Approx. 12
- Scent: Baby Fresh
- Ideal for stain removal treatment
- Protects colours and fabrics on reusable nappies
- Higher cost per standard wash
9. Best baby laundry detergent for stains: Napisan
Price: £9.98 (for two) | Buy now from Amazon
“A long soak in Napisan always works for me. You can find it in the baby aisle.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Cluelessgardener)
When it comes to removing the most stubborn poo or food stains, Napisan is a brand that is mentioned time and time again by Mumsnet users.
From freshening up whites to removing the results of the dreaded nappy explosion, Napisan is ideal for soaking whites and restoring them to their former glory, being tough on stains whilst killing 99.9% of bacteria.
Simply pop soiled clothes in a bowl with Napisan for a couple of hours and watch as the stains disappear or add to your normal machine wash at 30 degrees.
- Size: 1.6 kg
- Number of washes: Unspecified
- Scent: Fragrance-free
- Effective stain removal
- Removes germs and bacteria
10. Best natural laundry detergent for babies: Fysio Washing Powder for Newborns
Price £15.99 | Buy now from Amazon
If you're keen to use a laundry detergent made entirely from natural products, Fysio Washing Powder for Newborns is produced from natural olive oil, with chamomile, lavender and calendula and leaves clothes feeling super soft and fresh.
Dermatologically tested and ideal for sensitive, dry skin, or for those with skin allergies, this gentle laundry detergent is not only milder for babies' delicate skin, but suitable for the whole family too, particularly family members who are prone to get itchy from their normal detergent.
As well as removing dirt and bacteria, Fysio contains no harsh chemicals or bleach, allowing it to remove stains without greying whites or dulling bright colours.
- Size: 600 grams
- Number of washes: Unspecified
- Scent: Lavender
- Natural organic ingredients
- Won’t affect colours
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Only available as a powder
11. Best alternative to baby laundry detergent: EcoEgg Laundry Egg
Price £11.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“We use a EcoEgg for two main reasons: one, the cost and two, allergies. They are great, I’ve been using for two to three years without problems. We just add conditioner.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user AlteredHalfling)
If you prefer to avoid detergent and chemicals altogether, the EcoEgg Laundry Egg is a great alternative, completely removing the need for detergents.
Lasting up to 210 washes, this innovative egg is filled with powerful cleaning pellets that activate with the water in your machine - simply place on top of your wash load and run the machine as normal (even at cool temperatures).
Supported by Allergy UK and The National Eczema Society, EcoEgg can remove dirt and stains without any of the harsh chemicals or perfumes that can irritate sensitive skin. Claiming to offer the cleaning power as a traditional detergent, this is also a more eco-friendly and cost-effective way to wash your laundry. Despite this, some Mumsnetters felt more comfortable using a traditional detergent for cleaning.
- Size: 16 x 20cm egg
- Number of washes: Up to 210
- Scent: Fragrance-free
- Gentle on sensitive skin
- It can feel strange not to be using a detergent
- Some reviewers did not like the lack of scent
Is baby laundry detergent necessary?
Babies have very new and delicate skin, so whilst you do not have to use a specific baby laundry detergent, many parents choose to do so for peace of mind and reassurance.
Traditional laundry detergents are more likely to contain harsh chemicals and the perfumes and residue left on clothes after washing can also cause irritation on sensitive skin. Baby laundry detergents are generally milder, free from chemicals and often fragrance-free or mildly scented.
If you do prefer to use the same laundry detergent for the whole family, it is recommended to opt for a non-bio option which is free from biological enzymes, making it a more gentle option for babies and children.
How often should you wash baby clothes?
Whereas adults may wish to wear an item of clothing multiple times, it is recommended that you wash your baby’s clothes after every wear in order to avoid picking up dirt or dust that could irritate their skin. With visible stains a fairly frequent occurrence, the chances are you will want to do this anyway.
At what age should you stop using baby detergent?
Normally by the time they reach a year old your baby will be less sensitive to some of the irritants that can be found in traditional laundry detergents. It’s not an exact science however and if your baby has sensitive skin, allergies or eczema, you may wish to continue using a milder, gentle detergent for longer or separate out their clothes from the rest of the family.
What are the different types of baby laundry detergent?
Baby laundry detergents come in a variety of types including powder, tabs, pods and liquid gels. Which type works best for you and your family will often be down to personal preference.
Powders tend to be more complicated when it comes to dosing, whereas liquids often come with a measuring cup or cap included. Tabs and pods are the easiest to use but, as with all laundry detergents, need to be kept out of reach of children due to their appealing bright and colourful appearance. Many brands now offer child safety locks on packaging as an extra precaution.
What to consider when choosing baby washing detergent
There are clearly a wide range of laundry detergents to choose from, so you need to consider the following when choosing the right one for your baby's clothes:
- Skin conditions or allergies: Does your child have sensitive skin, eczema or allergies? Some baby laundry detergents are targeted specifically at those with sensitive skin and offer a more mild and gentle clean.
- Fragrance: Perfumes and fragrances can be quite a personal thing – some people love the fresh baby scent, whilst others find it overbearing and strong. Some prefer a scent to show the clothes are clean, whilst others would prefer a fragrance-free option. Fragrance-free detergents are less likely to cause skin irritation, so this is something to bear in mind if you or your children are prone to dry or itchy skin.
- Environmental impact: How important are the brand's eco-friendly credentials? Does the detergent use plant-based ingredients? How sustainable is the packaging and can it be recycled? Are refills available?
- Type of detergent: What type of detergent do you prefer - liquid, powder or pods? Are hand washing options important to you, or are you looking for machine detergents only?
- Cost: How much are you willing to spend? Some of the more eco-friendly or sensitive detergents require you to pay a little more, whereas the mainstream non-bio brands are more likely to be included in online deals and offers.
- Number of washes per bottle: Package size is important, as cheaper bottles may offer less washes per pack. You may want to work out the cost per wash to check value for money.
What is the best laundry detergent for babies?
None of us want to spend more time than necessary washing our baby’s clothes, so when finding the best laundry detergent for babies, we considered not only how gentle they were on skin, but also how effective they were at removing stains. We also considered pack size, value for money and sustainability.
Our winner was Fairy Non Bio, a trusted brand with a huge number of positive reviews on both the Mumsnet forums and retailer sites. It’s suitable for the whole family, so there's no need to separate out clothes before washing and is tough on stains, even at cool temperatures.
How we chose our recommendations
We all want the best for our baby, so picking the perfect baby laundry detergent to tackle stains whilst protecting their delicate skin can be quite a big task.
To ensure we were confident with our recommendations, we thoroughly investigated online reviews, parent recommendations and tried and tested experiences on retailer sites such as Amazon, Boots, and leading supermarkets. Mumsnet users love a good laundry chat, so we combed through the forums, looking for detergents that real parents have used and rated.
We researched the pros and cons of each detergent in terms of sensitivity, stain removal performance, cost and its environmental impact. We also looked out for any products which were poorly rated or reviewed as ineffective in customer feedback.
Finally, we weighed up which products were most suited to effectively washing baby clothes to bring you our definitive list of recommendations.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.