Anita's is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Best Baby Detergent in 2023: Our Top Skin-Safe Picks

Best baby detergent

The most challenging cleaning jobs come in the smallest packages. Baby clothes face a barrage of stains, from spaghetti and spit-up to pee and full-blown blowouts. It takes a powerful cleaner to keep them fresh for another use, but it can’t be so harsh that it harms your child.

The ideal baby detergent strikes that difficult balance between being tough on stains and gentle on the skin. We’ve tested, researched, and reviewed the top options on the market to help you skip the trial and error and find the best product for your little one. From our findings, all Free & Clear emerged as the best combination of value, effectiveness, and practicality.

Of course, every family’s needs differ. Some of us want the budget-friendly option, and others demand versatility or pleasing scents. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the 18 best baby detergent options to suit your most pressing needs.

Our Top Picks for Best Baby Detergents

Best for Sensitive Skin: Tide Free & Gentle Laundry Detergent
Best Detergent Sheet: ECOS Laundry Detergent Sheets

At the end of this article, we share more details about how we tested, researched, and reviewed baby detergents and detergents in general for babies, as well as factors you should consider when deciding on the best detergent for your baby.

Best Baby Laundry Detergent in 2023

Best Overall: all with Stainlifters Free & Clear

All Free & Clear is an excellent starting point when you’re looking for the best laundry detergents for babies. It’s one of the top skin-safe options to fight stains and offers exceptional value for price-conscious shoppers.

All advertises itself as the #1 pediatrician and dermatologist-recommended brand. The hypoallergenic formula also distinguishes itself with National Eczema Association (NEA) recognition. Consisting of 99% bio-based ingredients, the detergent is free of harsh dyes and irritating fragrances. Although the clothes come out scent-free, there will be no question that they’re clean.


  • NEA Seal of Acceptance and EPA SaferChoice-certified
  • Removes 99% of common allergens
  • Effective in cold and hot water
  • Versatile and affordable
  • Hypoallergenic


  • Limited size options
  • Contains a few harsh ingredients*

*Sodium alkylbenzene sulfonate, among the key ingredients of this liquid laundry detergent, is a surfactant that is commonly used in many cleaning products. While it is effective at removing dirt and oils, it can also be irritating to the skin and eyes.

Best for Eczema: Honest Free & Clear Laundry Detergent

Honest does more with less in its free and clear detergent. Four enzyme cleaners and plant-based surfactants power the natural mix of stain and odor removers. The fragrance and dye-free solution attacks numerous organic stains your baby’s clothes will acquire during the day. The eco-safe hypoallergenic detergent is also NEA and Safer Choice-certified, specially formulated for extra-sensitive skin.


  • Four enzymatic organic stain removers
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Flexible for the family’s needs
  • NEA Seal of Acceptance


  • Not ideal for pretreating stains

Best Budget: Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent

Their clothes may be tiny, but cleaning a messy baby’s laundry can still get expensive. If you want to save a few bucks without missing out on skin-safe benefits, Arm & Hammer is one of the best baby detergents to try on your little one’s clothes. The dermatologist-tested hypoallergenic detergent gets top marks from SkinSAFE. Though it isn’t the most natural formula, you’ll appreciate its ability to tackle tougher stains and satisfy the whole family.


  • Affordably priced
  • 100% rating from SkinSAFE
  • Effective on stains and odors
  • Versatile enough for the entire family


  • Contains some harsh ingredients*

*There are a number of ingredients in this Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent that we found to be harsh. Among them, Sodium Hydroxide (1310-73-2) is considered the harshest. Also known as lye or caustic soda, it is a strong alkaline substance that can cause severe burns and eye damage. It’s used in a variety of industrial applications, including paper manufacturing, textile production, and the manufacture of soaps and detergents. In the context of laundry detergents, it’s typically used in small amounts to control pH and remove stains. However, in higher concentrations, it can be very dangerous.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Tide Free & Gentle Laundry Detergent

Tide has done nearly everything it can to prove its Free & Gentle laundry detergent is one of the best options for sensitive skin. The perfume and dye-free detergent earns several accolades, including:

  • 100% rating from SkinSAFE
  • NEA Seal of Acceptance
  • National Psoriasis Foundation recognition
  • EPA Safer Choice certification

Powerful enzymes and surfactants make Tide one of the toughest baby detergents against food, spit-up, and other organic stains. It’s gentle enough for family members of all ages. Although it isn’t as eco-safe as some of our other listed baby detergents, you’ll enjoy the classic stain-fighting power you expect from a Tide product.


  • Powerful stain and odor removal
  • Numerous skin-safe certifications
  • Versatile for the whole family
  • Eco-friendly packaging available
  • Effective in all water temperatures
  • Hypoallergenic


  • Contains some harsh ingredients*

*Sodium C10-16 Alkylbenzenesulfonate is considered a harsh ingredient. It is a surfactant that is commonly used in many cleaning products. While it is effective at removing dirt and oils, it can also be irritating to the skin and eyes.

Best Natural: Attitude Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent

Attitude Laundry Detergent may be expensive, but you’ll have difficulty finding a more eco-friendly option for your baby’s clothes. The plant-based product incorporates skin-safe, biodegradable surfactants for extra gentle cleaning power.

Several invigorating scent options are available alongside Attitude’s fragrance-free formula. The vegan, cruelty-free product line proudly touts the brand’s eco-conscious efforts. Each version sports the UL ECOLOGO and receives the best ratings from EWG, proving their safety for your baby’s health and the environment.


  • Multiple scent options
  • Hypoallergenic
  • High-quality, natural cleaning agents
  • Formulated for cold water
  • Top EWG ranking and ECOLOGO certification


  • Clothes may come out feeling rough
  • Relatively expensive

Best Biodegradable: BioKleen Free & Clear Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent

BioKleen is a trusted brand for environmentally friendly cleaning around the home. And its free and clear laundry detergent offers a near-perfect blend of power and safety. Plant-based surfactants back the biodegradable formula’s stain-busting might. Promoting its Safer Choice certification, the fragrance and dye-free detergent is as good for the planet as it is for your baby’s skin.

With its 3X concentration, BioKleen’s formula demands less product with each load. While I listed the free and clear option as the best laundry detergent in the line, you can also get great value from citrus or lavender options. Free of artificial perfumes and dyes, they offer a skin-safe and invigorating fragrance fresh from the washer.


  • Biodegradable ingredients
  • 3X concentration
  • Plant-based cleaners tackle stains and odors
  • Hypoallergenic


  • Tough stains may need pretreating

Best Detergent Sheet: ECOS Laundry Detergent Sheets

The sheet that earned a spot as one of the top septic-safe laundry detergents is also one of the best baby detergents. The liquidless product couldn’t be easier to use. All you need is to toss a square in the machine. From there, plant-based cleaners work hard to make your baby’s clothes feel soft, look clean, and smell great.

ECOS vies to stay as safe for the planet as it does for your skin. It uses plastic-free packaging for its 100% vegan products, letting you know you’re making a sustainable choice. As with pod options, the sheet’s PVA binder doesn’t dissolve well in cold water. But because of its hypoallergenic ingredients, it shouldn’t cause any irritation, even if it leaves a little residue behind.


  • Plant-based surfactants and enzymes
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Easy to use
  • Plastic-free packaging
  • Scented and unscented options


  • Doesn’t dissolve easily in cold water
  • Contains some harsh ingredients*

*Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a surfactant that is commonly used in many cleaning products. While it is effective at removing dirt and oils, it can also be irritating to the skin and eyes.

Best Pods: Grab Green Baby Laundry Detergent Pods

Grab Green’s Baby Detergent Pods are our favorite infant-centric choice among the best laundry pods. They specifically target common baby stains like food, dirt, and grass with natural ingredients. You never have to worry about dyes, brighteners, phosphates, sulfates, or other irritants harming your baby’s skin. Choose between a fragrance-free option or two delightful essential oil-based scents.

Although we generally don’t recommend pods around children, Grab Green does an excellent job of taking life with kids into account. The Bitrex-coated pods are tough to swallow and less toxic than standard detergents. And while pods are already effortless, Grab Green makes them even more hassle-free by including an easy-open velcro seal on the package.


  • Naturally derived cleaning agents
  • Essential oil-based scents
  • Easy-to-use product and package
  • Bitrex-coated for child safety


  • Pods may not fully dissolve
  • Smell dissipates quickly

Best Powder: Molly’s Suds Baby Laundry Detergent Powder

Molly’s Suds keeps the approach simple in its scented and unscented laundry powders. Its Baby Laundry Powder omits harsh dyes, brighteners, and chemical irritants. The formula offers peace of mind by using only a handful of plant-derived stain fighters.

The vegan detergent’s targeted enzymatic cleaners bolster the concentrated formula. A delicate natural shea butter aroma is the finishing touch, leaving your baby’s clothes smelling as clean as they look. Unfortunately, some find the powder too abrasive, causing fading and pilling. You may need to test and check for changes to your baby’s laundry to see how it affects the fabric.


  • All-natural cleaners and fragrance
  • Limited ingredients
  • Zero skin-irritating additives
  • Includes enzyme-based stain removers
  • Concentrated formula for more loads


  • Aroma is hit-or-miss
  • May be harsh on fabrics

Best for Cloth Diapers: Tide Free & Gentle Powdered Laundry Detergent

From personal experience, I agree with most parents about the virtues of Tide powder for cloth diapers. It’s economical, easy to use, and one of the most effective options for the challenging poop and pee stains that define the pre-potty training period. 

While I always stuck to the standard Tide powder, the Free & Gentle powder formula doesn’t lose much other than a few abrasive ingredients. It’s a better choice for anyone worried about skin sensitivity and still holds up well against the original. 

The hypoallergenic laundry detergent uses the same enzymes and surfactant combo that makes its liquid counterpart effective against stains. As a bonus, the powdered version adds sodium percarbonate, the foundation of oxygen bleach that adds stain-busting power for cleaner, odor-free diapers.


  • Tough on stains and odors
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Biodegradable ingredients


  • Not ideal for cold water
  • Carries a mild scent

Best Scented: Noodle & Boo Ultra-Safe Laundry Detergent

Noodle & Boo Ultra-Safe Laundry Detergent isn’t the cheapest baby detergent, but you’ll be glad to pay a little extra for the delightful scent. The hypoallergenic detergent uses biodegradable ingredients, forgoing sulfates, dyes, and other toxic elements. Instead, you’ll find plant-based cleaners and enzymes to remove stains and replace odors with the charming Creme Douce scent.


  • Plant-based surfactants and enzymes
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Pleasant Creme Douce scent
  • Cruelty-free, vegan, and eco-friendly


  • Relatively expensive

Best Unscented: Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent Free & Clear

Seventh Generation’s Free & Clear laundry detergent gives you plenty to feel good about, whether you’re concerned for the environment or your baby’s skin. The hypoallergenic detergent primarily uses plant-based ingredients, including a triple-enzyme blend to fight a broad spectrum of organic baby stains. Plus, it’s Leaping Bunny and EPA Safer Choice-certified, emphasizing the company’s commitment to ethical operations.

The key drawbacks are synthetic preservatives that could be irritating if you hand wash baby clothes. Otherwise, it’s a versatile liquid detergent the entire family can enjoy. Effective in all wash temperatures, it leaves clothes, sheets, and other baby laundry feeling soft against the skin and smelling fresh.


  • Triple-enzyme stain-fighting formula
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Eco-safe, primarily plant-based
  • Leaping Bunny and EPA Safer Choice-certified


  • Contains synthetic preservatives

Best Sulfate-Free: Rockin’ Green Baby Cloth Diaper Detergent

Despite the name, Rockin’ Green Baby Cloth Diaper Detergent isn’t strong enough to earn my top pick for the best cloth diaper detergent. But it’s a perfect everyday solution for your baby’s clothes.

The list of ingredients Rockin’ Green uses is pleasantly easy to understand. Oxygen bleach and biodegradable enzymes and surfactants anchor the all-natural cleaning solution. The formula is specially targeted toward the toughest baby stains and odors, delivering efficiency without harsh additives. 


  • Plant-derived enzymes and biodegradable surfactants
  • Hypoallergenic
  • All-natural ingredients


  • Top loaders require more detergent
  • Poor EWG rating

Best for Fighting Stains: Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10X Free Liquid Laundry Detergent

You can consider Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10X the ultimate stain-fighting upgrade to the Free & Gentle line. Like the standard Free & Gentle detergent, this high-powered cleaner receives perfect marks from SkinSAFE, the NEA, and the NPF. Though it isn’t designed as a baby detergent, the heavy-duty solution is one of the best for tackling tough stains while staying safe on delicate skin. 

Tide’s fragrance-free formula will keep your baby’s clothes clean and soft while treating the entire family to fresher laundry. The potent blend of surfactants and enzymatic stain fighters dig deep to remove hidden soil, never losing performance regardless of the water temperature or machine type.


  • Powerful concentrated stain removers
  • Suitable for the whole family
  • NEA, NPF, and SkinSAFE certifications
  • Hypoallergenic, free of dyes and perfumes


  • Not as eco-safe as other baby detergents

Baby Detergent Buying Guide

What Are the Most Important Ingredients to Consider?

Specialty detergents with a baby-friendly label are an obvious choice for many parents. But you can also look for free and clear formulas without fragrances and dyes, two common skin irritants in a baby laundry detergent, or laundry detergents in general. Although it doesn’t have a specific definition, any product using the term “hypoallergenic” will usually be gentle enough for your baby’s clothes.

Finding the best baby detergent is more about knowing what to avoid than what to include. Alongside artificial fragrances and dyes, the following ingredients could irritate sensitive skin:

  • Optical brighteners
  • Anionic surfactants (e.g., sulfates)
  • Preservatives (e.g., isothiazolinone)
  • Bleaches

For skin-safe stain removers, look for ingredients like enzymes (e.g., protease, lipase) and sustainable surfactants. Popular plant-based cleaners include glucosides, sodium oleate, and potassium cocoate. You may have to experiment with a few brands if one is too harsh on your infant’s sensitive skin or ineffective in tackling tough stains.

Note: Researching baby detergent ingredients is even more crucial if you hand wash baby clothes. Washing machines are typically efficient in removing detergent residue, especially if you double the rinse cycle. By contrast, hand washing often leaves enough laundry detergent behind to affect babies with sensitive skin. For those garments needing an extra-delicate touch, check for natural components in the mildest formulas.

How to Choose the Best Baby Laundry Detergent

Sorting through the many baby laundry detergent options is confusing when you don’t set priorities. While I can’t tell you how to make your decisions, here are a few critical points to consider:

  • Review certifications. Look for industry labels indicating less irritating, more eco-friendly ingredients.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals. Watch out for artificial fragrances, dyes, fabric softeners, bleaches, sulfates, brighteners, or preservatives. Research unknown ingredients to weed out any that might irritate sensitive skin.
  • Opt for hypoallergenic laundry detergent. A hypoallergenic label generally means it uses more baby-friendly ingredients.
  • Consider the entire family. Save money and trouble with a powerful free and clear formula to handle the whole family’s laundry needs.
  • Think about the scent. Sometimes, a fresh smell makes all the difference, so don’t be afraid to test out a scented laundry detergent.
  • Choose a liquid laundry detergent. Liquid detergents rinse out easier than powders, making them less likely to aggravate your baby’s skin.
  • Skip the pods whenever possible. Many pods contain Bitrex and other off-putting coatings to stop children from accidentally eating them. But if you want to keep things simple and safe, the better choice is liquid laundry detergent.
  • Check the price. Look at the cost per load and fluid ounce to get the best bang for your buck.
  • Choose the smallest size to start. Unsure about whether you’re choosing the best baby detergent for your child? Buy the smallest, cheapest size to give it a test run.

Tips for Using Baby Laundry Detergent

When you’re trying to protect your child’s skin, choosing a high-quality baby detergent is only a fraction of the battle. Execution is essential, and your little one’s clothing usually gives you more to consider on laundry day. Here are a few tips for keeping your baby’s sensitive skin safe:

  • Add an extra rinse cycle to remove every bit of lingering laundry detergent
  • Only use the recommended amount of detergent (or even a little less)
  • Pretreat tough baby stains with dish liquid or another wet cleaning solution and wash as soon as possible
  • Do not overfill the washing machine, as it will prevent thorough cleaning
  • Use OxiClean in the washing machine or as a presoak for smelly, soiled baby clothes and cloth diapers
  • Don’t put clothes in the dryer unless you’re sure any glaring stains are gone
  • Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, especially with cloth diapers
  • Sun-dry faintly stained clothing and diapers to bleach out any remaining blemishes


Is Baby Detergent Necessary?

Babies often need gentler detergents because their skin doesn’t protect like an adult’s. During development, the epidermis’s relatively thin barrier layers, the stratum corneum, are more susceptible to deterioration and moisture loss. Traditional laundry detergents could raise a baby’s skin pH, dry it out, and cause it to degrade. Damaged layers can readily invite allergens and other irritants to ignite issues like eczema or infections.

With that said, you may not need a special baby laundry detergent to keep your baby comfortable. Using liquid detergents and doing extra rinses will ensure most of the cleaning ingredients wash away in the machine.

Wash an article of your baby’s clothes with ordinary detergent to see whether your child has skin irritation or an allergic reaction. From there, you can determine if you need something milder. 

While choosing the best laundry detergent is crucial, emollients can also improve skin function and condition. You can further reduce the risk of eczema and irritation with the proper skin care routine. If your child has tender skin, talk with their doctor about how to improve softness and moisture control.

At What Age Can You Wash Baby Clothes in Regular Detergent?

A baby’s delicate skin thickens and toughens for 3–4 years. You’ll generally want to use mild laundry detergents for at least the first 6–12 months. 

As all children develop at different rates, it will take some experimentation to find out when yours can handle regular laundry detergent. Sensitive skin also persists to some degree through adulthood in over 50% of men and women. You may find that a gentler option is the best product for the long term, especially if sensitive skin runs in the family.

Can You Use Regular Detergent on Baby Clothing?

In general, mild baby laundry detergents are the best choice for infants. Still, you shouldn’t fret if you have to use a standard product. You may even discover your baby doesn’t react negatively to your ordinary laundry detergent. And for practicality, it makes sense to stick with one solution for the whole house.

I’m all for using gentler free and clear solutions for babies. But infants and toddlers can also throw relatively intense stains at you in high volumes. If you can save money and get better cleaning power, you’ll make the chore much more bearable. And when you can do it without damaging your baby’s skin or igniting allergies, there’s no reason to forgo your usual detergent. 

Discuss potential issues with your pediatrician and explore ways to protect your child. Test your baby’s clothes with your preferred product to see how they react. If you get the desired results without irritation, you’re good to go. 

Is Powder or Liquid Detergent Better for Babies?

Liquid laundry detergent is usually the better choice for washing baby clothes because it’s easier to remove. You can use it in hot or cold water without worrying about it hanging around on fabrics. Powdered laundry detergent can clump and leave a residue, often irritating sensitive skin.

The Final Verdict

With its well-rounded benefits, all Free & Clear is our choice for the top baby laundry detergent in 2023. The hypoallergenic formula is affordable, effective, and versatile. You’ll save money and effort with one solution to suit every family member and their various cleaning challenges.

By the same token, Tide Free & Gentle products are worth a try. The powder is an excellent option to remove smelly cloth diaper stains while staying sensitive to your baby’s delicate skin. And when you need something even gentler, you won’t run out of viable alternatives. Follow these reviews and tips for choosing the best detergent for babies to make laundry day less aggravating for you and your little one.


Noah Hoit