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When Should You Wash New Baby Clothes? That Nesting Instinct Will Tell You

In addition to decorating her room, one of my favorite items on my pre-baby-arrival list was to wash each one of the tiny outfits that would soon be worn by my new daughter. The colorful laundry pile was the sweetest stack of freshly washed clothes I had ever seen. (I know, I know. But how could I know explosive diapers would soon change that?) I purchased all-natural, fragrance-free detergent that would help avoid irritation and dutifully clipped tags from onesies. But when should you wash new baby clothes before your little one arrives? The truth is, there's no right time. As your due date approaches, nesting will kick in and a sudden urge to clean everything, including your baby's wardrobe, will commence. There are, however, a few pointers to keep in mind.

“It is important to remember that new babies have sensitive skin,” says Texas-based Dr. Eboni Hollier, who is board-certified in both general and developmental and behavioral pediatrics, in a Romper email interview. “As such, there are some general recommendations that may help to decrease the chances of your baby having a skin reaction related to how you launder her clothes.”

Hollier says it’s important to always wash all clothing and bedding prior to first use, and that goes for both new and previously owned (hand-me-down) items. Detergents should be fragrance and dye-free to decrease the risk of an allergic reaction, and make sure you don’t go overboard. Just “use the recommended amount of detergent as per the detergent label,” Hollier says.

In terms of proper care, Hollier recommends following care instructions on clothing labels and turning garments inside-out to avoid damage from zippers or other fasteners.

When your baby does arrive and proves her pooping-machine status, Hollier cautions that heavily soiled items should be washed separately. If your little one has a skin condition, such as eczema, then wash her clothes separate from other family members’ items.

“And do not use several types of detergent,” she says. “Should your baby have a skin reaction, this will help make it easy to figure out the potential cause.”

As for what clothing items you will need for your baby, the truth is that, while those little outfits are oh-so-cute, they are oh-so-not practical. From one mom to another, save those getups for special occasions, and arm yourself with onesies and sleepers galore. Your sanity will thank you.