Who knew that one tiny person could create so much laundry? In the first months of having our baby home it felt like our laundry machines were constantly running and our power and water bills were a true reflection of this.
Baby laundry itself is really not all that different from adult laundry, the true difference is in the person wearing it. Babies tend to create a lot of organic stains and have very sensitive skin. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way to keep clothes looking great, save time and a little money.
As mentioned baby's skin is sensitive, to what degree depends on your baby. I happen to have an extremely sensitive baby so that meant Ivory Snow for everything until I became wise to other brands producing a similar product at a better price. Look for: dye free, no or low fragrance in any brand - my brand of choice is Purex Baby. If your baby is not terribly sensitive you can use the same detergent that you use for your clothes, just use half the amount and be sure to double rinse.
Get a Lingerie Bag
With a front load washer and dryer, I constantly was losing socks and accessories and had them turning up a few loads later stuck to our towels or sheets. Spend the $5 and get one of those mesh lingerie bags. When doing baby's laundry put all tiny things in the bag when washing and drying this will save you time and frustration.
Do Not Soften or Bleach
When washing for baby although tempting to make everything soft, fluffy and static free - do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets, these leave a residue that can build up on your baby's clothes making them harder to clean and causing their skin to react. Similarly, do not bleach although with all of the little stains on those white onesies it is tempting there is a better alternative discussed below in Stains.
The First Wash
For your first baby, everything is new, so while you sit removing tags and stickers sort the clothes into darks and lights the way you would with your own laundry. Wash each load of laundry separately to allow darks to bleed. If you do this in future there will be no need to separate laundry on an ongoing basis.
Without the use of bleach or harsh chemicals it is possible to get out some of the nasty stains baby can leave behind. The trick is Hydrogen peroxide. You can pick up a large bottle from most pharmacies for under $5 and it is safe enough to use on the skin to clean out a wound so diluted it is a safe on baby's clothes. Simply add 1/4 of a cup to your wash and allow clothes to soak in this by interrupting the cycle as soon as your wash basin is full. I often will do this in the evening allowing the laundry to soak over night and in the morning pop the machine back on and my whites will be bright and stains vanished.
Fill Your Loads
It takes a lot of baby clothes to fill our machine and we do not have the option of a "small," "medium," or "large" setting. After a few months of constant washing I realized I was running our machines so often because are baby was a barfer and we had plenty of clothes for her but would run out of spit-up cloths every day or two. Instead of washing so often, I went out and bought two 12 packs of burp pads to add to our 12 and voila - laundry could be done every three days instead of every second and when I put a load in it was now a full one.