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Why should you prewash your baby’s clothes?

Your little one’s arrival is imminent. You’ve been cleaning every nook and cranny in your home, setting up the nursery, and trying to make sure that everything is ready for the birth of your baby. But, do you have to pre-wash your baby’s clothes? 

Why is it important to pre-wash your baby’s clothes?

Parents who believe pre-washing is necessary are generally concerned about the possible exposure of chemicals, irritants, and germs from clothes to the baby’s skin. There’s no way of knowing where clothes have been.

Brand new clothes, for example, are often stored in warehouses where they can be exposed to all sorts of bugs and rodents. In addition, many clothing manufacturers treat baby clothes with formaldehyde to preserve color and texture during shipping. Darker colored clothing is also often coated in azo-aniline dyes, which can wear off of polyester, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers before washing.  As for hand-me-downs, you won’t know for sure how long the clothes have been in storage collecting dust or even mildew?

Whatever the case, you want to keep your baby’s sensitive skin protected by opting to pre-wash their clothes. Besides getting rid of dust, chemicals, and other potential irritants, pre-washing will also soften up clothes and make them feel better on your baby’s skin.

Can I skip the pre-wash?

The last couple of weeks before your baby’s arrival can be an overwhelming period filled with panic over whether you’re ready for this new phase of life. So, does pre-washing clothes have to be one of the things you worry about. Well, not necessarily.

If you’re not worried about skin irritation, then you can choose not to pre-wash. Even though there are cases of babies reacting, it is generally mild. You’ll be able to tell if your cutie is reacting if they start to develop red, bumpy, or itchy patches on the skin upon wearing clothes that haven’t been pre-laundered.

Whether you opt to pre-wash or skip the step is entirely up to you. That said, if you notice that your baby is experiencing skin irritation, you’ll know to pre-launder the rest of their outfits. 

How long before your baby’s arrival should you pre-wash clothes?

You might be wondering when is the right time to wash your little one’s clothes. As long as you don’t have a whole load of laundry to pre-wash before you have your baby, it’s up to you to decide when to wash. To make things easier, you may want to wash a few batches of baby clothes each week, so that you’ll have plenty of clean and fresh clothes by the time you have your bundle of joy.

How to go about pre-washing your baby’s clothes

Doing laundry is a pretty straightforward task for most people, but when it comes to your baby’s items, you need to be more intentional. Here are some tips on how to wash your baby’s clothes:

1. Prepare the clothes

    Always start by reading the manufacturer’s labels so that you know the settings to use on your washing machine. If you’re hand washing, reading labels is still important so that you know whether to use cold or hot water, for example.

    Sort the items according to color, and then secure buttons, zippers, snaps, hooks, and other closures to prevent them from becoming loose. Finally, turn the clothes inside out. Wash baby socks, bibs, and other small items in a mesh bag so that you don’t end up losing them before your little one even gets to wear them.

    2. Select a detergent

    Many standard detergents use dyes, perfumes, and other chemicals to make them more appealing and give your clothes that “fresh” scent. Many of them are not suitable for your little one’s sensitive skin. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should seek out the highest quality laundry detergent specifically made for use on baby clothes. In fact, health experts say that you can get away with using unscented laundry detergent as long as your baby doesn’t have allergies or hypersensitive skin. If you have concerns, talk to your pediatrician. 

    It’s worth noting that a liquid detergent might be more suitable than powder formulas. This is because they typically rinse out more completely than powders, which tend to leave behind flakes that might be irritable to an infant’s skin.

    3. Washing and drying

    Carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions, toss your baby’s clothes in the machine for a wash. Choose to use a gentle-to-normal setting (remember, this is the first wash), and include an extra rinse cycle. Even though the clothes might have dye or chemical residue, you won’t likely have to deal with hard-to-remove stains or a build-up of dirt that would need a harder wash, unless the manufacturer’s instructions say so.

    Other items that may require pre-washing

    1. Blankets and swaddle cloths

      Wash blankets and swaddle cloths using the gentle cycle on the cold setting of your washing machine. 

      2. Stuffed animals

      To clean your baby’s favorite cuddle buddy, start by placing it in a mesh laundry bag for extra protection. Wash on a gentle setting, and then hang to dry.

      3. Teething toys

      Teething toys are constantly in your baby’s mouth, which is why it’s important that you pre-wash them. Here are cleaning steps to follow:

      • Soak the toys in a bowl of clean, hot water
      • Add a bit of mild dishwashing liquid soap to the water and allow the toys to soak for a few minutes.
      • Remove the toys from the bowl and rinse them under running water. Dry them with a clean, soft cloth.

      Final thoughts

      Some parents may consider pre-washing baby clothes to be an unnecessary task, arguing that exposing your little one to germs helps to build immunity. Other parents would rather skip the possibility of their baby having a skin reaction to irritants, therefore opting to pre-wash to have peace of mind. The reality is there’s no way to tell if your baby’s skin will be particularly safe or if they will be fine if you skip pre-washing. Ultimately, do what you think is best for you and your child.

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