How and when to wash newborn baby clothes

Pregnant woman folding clean baby clothes

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule on the best time in pregnancy to wash baby clothes, the expert consensus is that all baby clothes should always be washed before they’re worn. Newborns have sensitive skin and it’s not known who has handled bub’s clothing before you purchased it.

Here are some simple steps to follow before you start washing:

  • Read the washing instructions on the label – some things like swaddles and sleeping bags have specific washing methods.
  • Choose the right laundry detergent. Go for something lightly scented, or not scented at all. There are specific ‘sensitive’ detergents, but the experts say just regular laundry detergent is fine.
  • Pop tiny socks and singlets into laundry bags so that they don’t get lost in the wash.
  • It’s a good idea to wash newborn clothes separately from other clothes, just to keep the chances of dirt from other clothing settling on them and possibly causing irritation.
  • Most experts agree that there’s no need to use fabric softener or dryer sheets on baby clothes.

Which washing powder is best for baby clothes

We asked our huge community of mums about which laundry detergent they are using to wash baby’s clothes and if you click the link below you can read the comments on Facebook.

When to wash baby clothes

wash baby clothes before bub arrives - the final checklist

The nesting instinct kicks in pretty early for some mums, and by mid-pregnancy, they’re itching to get those baby clothes washed, folded and neatly tucked away in the drawers and wardrobes. But is there such a thing as washing them too early? Will that fresh, just washed smell and feel fade before bub arrives?

Generally, that fresh-just-washed smell should last a good couple of weeks, maybe even up to a month or more. It all depends on how the clothes are stored, and if they have access to air movement. It’s really difficult to pinpoint a timeline, so if you’re concerned about the clothes being a little stale when your bundle arrives, it’s best to wash them as close to your due date as possible.

We asked the mums in our Facebook Pregnancy Groups when they started washing all their baby’s clothes and this is what they said …

“I’ve just done mine, mainly because I packed my hospital bag. I’m almost 32 weeks. Everyone has said I’ll probably wash them again when I start nesting properly.” – Ashlee

“I’m nearly 23 weeks and I’ve washed all mine and all of babies wraps and blankets. I’ll rewash them another couple of times out of boredom and nesting before he’s here.” – Georgia

I was 31 weeks on Thursday and it’s all done, folded and put away in her room.” – Kelly

“I’m 31 weeks today and am doing it at the moment. Have all the nappies hanging out to dry.” – Hayley

“I’ve washed mine. Am 24 weeks. I know in the third trimester I’m going to get tired as hell and not want to do anything. So have smashed out most things already.” – Giverny

“I’ve started washing, I’m 27 weeks tomorrow.” – Tamika

“Last pregnancy I washed them once I started maternity leave … so around 34 weeks.” – Katie

“I’m 29 weeks and wash them today. I couldn’t wait any longer.” – Laura

“By 23 weeks I had everything washed, including all blankets and bedding etc. Glad I did because I’m 31 weeks and no energy to do anything (twin pregnancy).” – Jacqueline

“I just started at 31 weeks on the terry-towelling nappies and face washers but have twins so there is so much to wash and dry in this damp weather and maybe not a lot of time to go. It took me about two hours just to remove tags last night from all their new clothes.” – Jess

“I washed all my babies clothes, wraps and blankets at about 20ish weeks and I’ve just gone through another phase of nesting and washed it all again at 27-28 weeks. I’ll probably end up washing them again.” – Hollie

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