How do tiny little creatures create such an enormous pile of laundry? Before I had my first kid, I only had to do three, maybe four loads of laundry per week — including linens. When the baby came, it seemed like I was washing at least one load per day. The hamper was constantly overflowing with onesies, blankets, burp cloths, bibs, rompers, and those tiny little socks that would get gobbled up by the dryer. Laundry was taking over my life and I reached out to my seasoned friends to ask how often I should wash my baby's clothes.
What I learned is that there are generally two schools of thought when it comes to baby laundry:
- Wash one load daily because it can be done quickly and won't pile up.
- Wash everything once per week so that you only have to spend one day dealing with laundry.
Unlike adults, who typically wear one or two outfits per day (and can even wear certain pieces more than one time before washing,) babies often spit up, drool, have diaper leaks, or worse, the dreaded blow out. It's not uncommon to change their clothes up to five times in a single day, and rare for anything to be clean enough to wear again.
Parents who recommend washing daily suggest that it is easier to tackle a small load at the end of the day than several larger loads all at once. The American Academy of Pediatrics noted that because fabric softeners and soap flakes can strip away the flame-retardant properties of sleepwear, babies' items should be washed separately using milder detergents. Tossing in the baby clothes in the wash throughout the week will mean you can quickly tackle a couple of loads of grown-up clothes at any point, and not feel as though an entire day was ruined by laundry. Additionally, some babies have smaller wardrobes, and washing daily can guarantee that there is always a fresh outfit or blanket ready to go.
Parents who do laundry just once per week have their own compelling reasoning. Some families don't have their own washer and dryer, and it's not practical to visit the laundromat on a daily basis. Even if you do own a washer and dryer, washing just once per week will save water and electricity because you're not running half-empty machines. Parents who wash daily tend to toss all of the day's laundry into one load without sorting whites or colors which can leave lighter clothes looking dingy. Baby Gaga recommended using color-catching sheets if you aren't sorting your laundry, or whenever you wash a new item whose color may bleed. If your baby's clothing has tough stains, you can also use the days leading up to laundry day to pretreat or soak the items. MarthaStewart.com noted that stains that soak for some time in water are more likely to come out in the wash.
Ultimately, how often you wash your baby's clothes is a personal decision that depends strictly on what works best with your resources and schedule.