Is Dreft detergent safe for babies?

Tiny bodysuits, adorable rompers, beautiful bonnets…there’s no denying that baby clothes are cute, and dressing your little one can be a pretty fun part of being a parent, especially during those early baby and toddler years.

But, reality check: those charming baby clothes are also going to get charmingly dirty. Between spit up and food stains and everything in between, keeping your baby’s clothes clean is no small feat. You’ll need the best baby detergent to get the job done, but one that’s also safe on baby’s soft, sensitive skin. So what’s a parent to do?

We’re turning to the experts—a husband and wife dermatologist + pediatrician duo—for the lowdown on all things baby detergent, including what’s safe, what’s not and what you should be looking for when selecting the best baby laundry detergent.

In this article:

Do You Need Baby Detergent?

“Babies have highly sensitive skin, especially since their skin and immune system are not fully mature. Their skin can react to various chemicals present in detergents,” says Dr. Zain Husain, MD, FAAD and founder of New Jersey Dermatology and Aesthetics Center.

So should you use a detergent that’s specifically made for washing baby clothes? Or are there more generic options that might work? Board-certified pediatrician Dr. Amna Husain, MD, FAAP, and founder of Pure Direct Pediatrics breaks it down.

“While many detergents label themselves as ‘baby friendly,’ she says, “in reality, they won’t do a good job of actually getting your child’s clothes clean.”

So while it’s definitely OK to use a baby detergent if it works for you, Dr. Husain says it’s also safe to use the same detergent you’re using on your own clothes to keep things simple. But there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.

What Is the Best Laundry Detergent for Babies?

According to Dr. Husain, keep an eye out for these things when you’re selecting a detergent for your baby—and for your whole family.

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Dye-free
  • Plant-based (Not necessary, but recommended as they tend to be less irritating than most chemical-based detergents.)

She also notes the difference between fragrance-free and unscented detergents.

“Fragrance-free is not the same as unscented,” she says. “Unscented means that the fragrance has been masked, but is still present in the detergent.”

As for what to avoid, Dr. Husain discourages the use of:

  • Brighteners (they can lead to skin irritation)
  • Industrial-strength bleach solutions (Household bleach, when used correctly, is fine.)
  • Laundry pods

Laundry pods, although convenient, aren’t a safe option for households with babies, since the packets are easy to drop, misplace or accidentally leave in baby’s reach.

“Unfortunately, these are becoming a source of poison and toxicity in young children who are attracted by the bright colors,” Dr. Husain says. “The detergent in single-use laundry packets is very concentrated, so even a small amount can be harmful.” She recommends sticking with traditional powder or liquid detergent until your children are at least 5-6 years old.

Here are our Babylist top picks for best baby detergents.

Best Affordable Baby Detergent

It’s definitely possible to get all the benefits of a baby-safe detergent without spending a ton. All Free Clear is 2x concentrated, which means a little goes a long way. The formula is 100% free of dyes and perfumes and is hypoallergenic, all at a great price point.

Best Natural Baby Detergent

The plant-based formula in Puracy may be free of lots of things (harsh chemicals, perfumes, phosphates, allergens and more), but according to lots of parents, it still performs well on tough baby and kid stains. It’s ultra-concentrated, so you’ll get 96 HE loads from one 24-ounce bottle, and it’s never tested on animals.

Best Baby Detergent for Cloth Diapers

Dermatologist recommended and free of dyes, perfumes and phosphates, this hypoallergenic detergent from Tide is one of the most popular picks for cloth-diapering families. It doesn’t lack in stain-fighting capabilities and is a safe choice for baby’s sensitive new skin. (It’s great for the whole family’s laundry, too.)

Want a deep-dive into how to wash cloth diapers? Fluff Love University has you covered.

Best Baby Detergent for Sensitive Skin

Just right for baby’s sensitive skin, Seventh Generation Free & Clear is made from plant-based ingredients and free of dyes, fragrances and brighteners but still gets the job done tackling tough stains. It works in both HE and standard machines at all washing temperatures, and it’s also safe for septic systems.

Best Eco-Friendly Baby Detergent

This ECOS laundry detergent isn’t baby-specific but is a solid choice if you’re looking for an eco-friendly plant-powered cleaner that can handle tough stains. It’s ultra-concentrated and made without dyes, brighteners, parabens, phosphates or phthalates, and it’s hypoallergenic for sensitive skin. It’s also made in a carbon neutral factory using 100% renewable energy. It works in any water temperature and features a mild scent.

Safe and Effective

Many baby-only detergents struggle with stain removal, but that’s not the case with Babyganics. Formulated with plant and enzyme-based cleaning power—but without sulfates—a small amount of this detergent does a great job on baby’s dirty bibs, bodysuits and more. Parents love the concentrated formula and that it doesn’t leave behind a scent on baby’s clothes.

Best Baby Detergent Sheets

Laundry sheets—pre-measured, dehydrated sheets of detergent that dissolve in your washing machine— save space and are a more eco-friendly choice than bulky plastic jugs that take hundreds of years to decompose. These fragrance-free sheets are designed for powerful cleaning at any water temperature. Just be sure to keep them far out of reach of tiny hands.

Best Classic Baby Detergent

Dreft baby detergent has been around for over 80 years—there’s a good chance your parents washed your baby clothes in it. The hypoallergenic stage one formula is designed specifically for newborn’s delicate clothes (and skin) and the detergent works in both regular and HE washers. Dreft does have a distinct scent, and it’s one that not all parents love, so you’ll want to keep that in mind.

Best Biodegradable Baby Detergent

If you’re already a fan of the garden-inspired scents in Mrs. Meyers’ other cleaning products then it’s worth checking out this baby-specific laundry detergent. This concentrated formula is biodegradable and made from plant-derived cleaning ingredients along with stain-fighting enzymes and essential oils. The baby blossom scent features aromas of spring wildflowers, apple and mint and each bottle can tackle up to 64 loads of laundry.

What is the safest laundry detergent for babies?

The 6 Best Gentle Baby Laundry Detergents..
Seventh Generation Baby Baby Natural Laundry Detergent..
Babyganics 3x Laundry Detergent..
Mrs. Meyer's Baby Laundry Detergent..
grab green Newborn Laundry Detergent Pods..
grab green Baby Laundry Detergent Pods..
Grove Co. Ultra-Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent (33 loads).

Should you use Dreft for baby?

Absolutely. Dreft has been tested on 100% cotton and cotton/polyester blends, and we can say for sure that it is safe to use on all fabrics. We have also clinically tested Dreft to be gentle on your baby's skin, making Dreft a great choice for any cloth diapers.

Does Dreft detergent have chemicals?

While most of the ingredients in Dreft are standard for laundry detergents, there are four chemicals found in Dreft that may be of concern. Propylene Glycol is used in literally thousands of everyday items. However, there has been significant debate over whether or not this ingredient is actually safe.

What laundry detergent is best for newborns?

Healthline Parenthood's picks of the best baby laundry detergents.
Rockin' Green Classic Rock Unscented Laundry Detergent..
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent..
Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear Detergent..
all Free Clear Liquid Detergent..
Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent..