Ask G

Ask G: Washing detergents

Which detergents are safe for my baby?

I’m about to have a baby, so I’m expecting to be doing a lot more more washing. What should I look for in detergents? I want something that’s OK for sensitive skin, but I want it to actually work, too!
- Natasha, Tea Tree Gully, SA.

Washing detergent


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Pure soap flakes or one of the green laundry products (Aware, Earth Choice, Orange Power, ecostore, etc) are usually gentle enough for sensitive skin. Favour fragrance-free products and make sure you choose the right product and dose size for your machine, be it a top loader or front loader. Soap flakes and powders can be easier to use if you pre-dissolve them. Remember that using ‘twice as much’ does NOT mean ‘twice as clean’ and your wash is more likely to leave residue detergent in the fabric, even after rinsing. Extra rinse cycles, though using more water, can help with particularly sensitive skin. You might want to do separate washes for baby things.

It’s a good idea to spot-treat stains with a green stain remover (see ‘Ask Tanya’ in issue 37) rather than using a more chemically intensive detergent for the whole wash. Simple detergents and thorough drying will make your clothes hygienically clean. While bleaches and optical brighteners can make washing look cleaner, they add to the environmental impact of the detergent you’ve used and they can irritate sensitive skin.