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Baby detergent: how to choose it?

Is it useful to switch to a special baby detergent for his clothes?

Hard to ignore the information. With free samples from maternity, advertisements, pure packaging with the effigy of babies, you have been warned: the skin of your newborn, fragile and sensitive, deserves adapted and quality products, to be protected. It is true that baby’s delicate skin can be reactive, and suffer redness, irritation and eczema, to which particular attention must be paid. However, should we rush on a special baby detergent without asking questions? The answer is not so obvious. “It’s not a question I’ve ever asked myself as a dermatologist,” says Dr. Fabienne Keller, dermatologist in Strasbourg. Especially since the price of these detergents must be three times higher than the others, whereas what matters is in the components washing product and in the way of washing clothes baby, not in the “baby” label given “.

Indeed, if many baby detergents rightly pride themselves on not including irritating products or avoiding endocrine disruptors, this is also the case for many classic detergents today. As for the only mention “baby”, it is not enough either to ensure the purity of a cleansing product.

What are the components to favor or avoid? What products to wash clothes?

Baby or classic detergent, the important thing is to look at the components, the ingredients that can be harmful for the ultra-sensitive skin of your infant.

The hypoallergenic label

The mention “hypoallergenic” is important, since it ensures that the detergent has been subjected to dermatological tests for evaluate the allergenic power of certain components. Beware, however, of the elements of language: “special sensitive skin” or even “dermatologically tested”, do not mean that a detergent is ” hypoallergenic “. The mention must be written and visible in full. It should also not only concern the perfume, but the laundry itself.


For baby’s sensitive skin, it is also better to keep an eye on the presence or not in the ingredients, of conservatives potentially allergenic, such as benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (also called MIT) which replace parabens, or even the preservative methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCIT) – banned in leave-on cosmetic hygiene products since 2017 (source 1). In short, for a detergent best suited to baby, do without compounds ending with “isothiazolinone “. “I don’t think we should be naive on the subject, all the same, evokes the dermatologist. These preservatives have now been replaced by others that are healthier…until proven otherwise. Better to stay informed. »

Towards a more natural detergent

Finally, for a detergent that respects the fragile skin of your babies, just like yours, keep it simple: favor detergents composed of washing agents of natural origin and without perfume of synthesis. But for Dr. Keller, there is no need to go to all the points of sale in search of the rare pearl: “The best thing is still to do as simple as possible, with a detergent that you are satisfied with, a good wash at the right temperature and above all, good rinsing and adequate drying, to avoid bacteria”.

Should we buy an organic, ecological detergent?

There are many parents today, aware of environmental issues, who are also asking themselves the question of organic, even in the laundry. Often more expensive to buy, ecological or biological detergents have the advantage of limit hazardous substances in their composition, whether for the skin or for their impact on the environment. It is by meeting certain requirement criteria that they obtain the Ecolabel certified by the European Union, or the label Ecocert. With less petrochemicals and more biodegradability, organic laundry detergent, if it is a hypoallergenic detergent, seems to be a good choice for baby clothes.

The dermatologist, who has observed several trends during her career, nevertheless has a reservation: “ The question of price can also come into play. Yes, we will say that the organic detergents are good for the whole family, but I prefer that we use a classic detergent that rinses well, which we use every day, rather than skimping on washes because the can is good more expensive in ecological version “.

What about homemade detergents based on Marseille soap or essential oils?

There are also countless sites and books that now offer homemade detergent recipes, based on flakes of Marseille soap for example, which are increasingly appealing to parents looking for naturalness. Simple to make with just a few ingredients (Marseille soap, baking soda, soda crystals, etc.), these homemade detergents have the advantage of not containing no preservatives or disruptorsendocrine. So you know everything in your container. Dr. Keller nevertheless remains cautious and not very attracted by this option: “These are, in fact, products that will not be not toxic for a baby. On the other hand, Marseille soap is a particularly aggressive and drying, not necessarily suitable for baby, if it is not well rinsed. As for essential oils, they are quite simply contraindicated in small children”.

Which softener to choose for baby?

L’softeneror fabric softener, is not an essential element for washing baby’s linen… but it allows you to make your clothes, nappies and its towels, much softerx. “We have never demonstrated an allergy to a fabric softener,” recalls Dr. Keller. On the other hand, baby’s delicate skin can be perfectly irritated by poorly rinsed laundry or a too rough towel. I am therefore not at all against the idea of ​​using a fabric softener, and/or the dryer! To stay with natural products, however, you can opt for the white vinegar solution, directly poured into the drum or the detergent compartment of your machine.

Whatever detergent is chosen, industrial, organic or homemade, the most important thing to avoid allergies and irritations seems to be to wash baby clothes properly. “Taking care of your baby’s skin is above all a matter of common sense, which also involves effective washing… and lots of clear water “recalls the dermatologist. To do this, follow these tips:

  • Wash baby’s new clothes before wearing them. A “preventive” wash will have the effect ofremove any color and toxic substance, while giving it a fresh scent (or no scent, if you prefer).
  • Opt for a long rinse cyclein order to be sure that, whatever the washing product, nothing remains in the fibers of the fabric in contact with the baby’s skin.
  • Use the right dose of laundry. To wash better, we often tend to have a little heavy hand. However, this is not necessary.
  • Dry properly. Once clean, dry the baby clothes in the dryer to eliminate as many bacteria as possible (under the effect of heat) and make your laundry extra soft. You can also opt for air dryingbut in any case, put away his belongings only once perfectly dry.
  • Finally, carry out regular maintenance of your machine.

At what temperature should you wash baby clothes?

The washing temperature depends on the clothes to be cleaned. Small shirts or dresses, worn for a few hours and unstained, can go with the laundry of the whole family, at 30°. On the other hand, for soiled laundry, bodysuits, underwear, etc., only a detergent at 60° eliminates the bacteria present. Heavily soiled bedding, bibs and towels can also withstand wash at 90°.