One thing we’ve learned in our time at Home Hacks after testing hundreds of laundry detergents is that no detergent removes every single stain – but every detergent gets something out.
It is for this reason that laundry detergents are some of the most frequently-tested products in the Home Hacks Cleaning Lab: it’s probably one the unique cleaning essentials that almost everyone uses. Add to that the fact that there are constantly new products coming into the market and boom – a recipe for a constant stream of new tests.
All laundry detergents do claim that they whiten whites, remove stains, brighten colors and generally revitalize clothes – but it’s difficult to really know what’s going on and see what works best. That’s why we put them through a rigorous number of tests in our lab. Here are our top laundry detergent picks for sensitive & babies in 2021 to tackle every kind of mess, based on our testing.
When you add the complexity of a detergent that is optimized for sensitive skin & babies, it makes testing even more important. In our experience, here are the things to look for in a detergent that claims to be good for sensitive skin & babies:
- Fragrance-free – note that fragrance-free is not the same as unscented. Unscented means that the fragrance has been masked, but is still present in the detergent
- Brightener-free (they can lead to skin irritation)
- Industrial-strength bleach free (household bleach, when used correctly, is okay)
- Plant-based (Not necessary, but recommended as they tend to be less irritating than most chemical-based detergents.)
The biggest thing is that you want natural ingredients when possible and to avoid hard additives (i.e., fragrance, dyes, and brighteners) as these can irritate the skin. However, a lot of detergents for “sensitive skin” don’t actually do as good of a job at getting the dirt and grime out of your clothes.
We tested dozens of detergents and here is the final list that we came up with.
1) Best Overall Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin – Sensitive Skin Detergent by Shop SBLY, $18 for 45 tablets ($0.4 per load)
This is a relatively new brand, but trust us, it works. In all of our testing, we found that this detergent was the best for combatting stains, dirt, and grease. This detergent earned a perfect score by removing chocolate, gravy, grass and more from polyester, cotton, and even linen.
And on top of that, it is made of all plant based ingredients, unscented, hypoallergenic and free from dyes and brighteners. This detergent, because it is so great for sensitive skin and plant based, is also great for babies.
We love that it comes with a super cute tin can to store the tablets (and the bag that the tablets come in is also made from a compostable material). The tin can also has an effective baby safe cover, so you can rest easy knowing your baby won’t have access to the soap.
It’s hard to beat the convenience of tablets, and this one was great.
2) Best Liquid Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin – Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent, $29.96 for 64 loads, ($0.45 per load)
This lavender-scented soap cleans with stain-fighting enzymes that don’t irritate the skin.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is always a solid choice for natural and gentle household products. Mrs. Meyer’s concentrated liquid laundry detergent is made from plant-derived ingredients, including stain-fighting enzymes to effectively clean fabrics without irritating your skin.
This biodegradable laundry detergent has a light lavender scent, which comes from natural oils. Mrs. Meyer’s has an entire line of lavender products if you want to carry the fresh scent throughout your home. We might avoid this detergent for babies because it does contain a scent.
3) Best Budget Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin – Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear, $7.45 for ~100 loads ($0.07 per load)
This is our pick for the best budget laundry detergent for sensitive skin – coming in at $0.07 per load, it is a great option to get the most loads of laundry for your dollar. It claims to be free from dyes and perfumes, is dermatologist tested, and is hypoallergenic.
However, we did see some reviews that the detergent has a bad smell – some reviewers did claim that it smells like old rubber. You should also be careful when ordering detergent online because it often leaks and can leave a mess on your porch.
4) Best Premium Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin –Tangent GC Hypoallergenic Detergent without Perfume, $32 (~$1 per load)
This hypoallergenic detergent is made without perfume and works pretty well – it only contains four ingredients (none of which are fragrances or perfumes). With a blend of plant-derived surfactants, this natural laundry soap is ideal for sensitive skin. It’s also a cruelty-free and fossil-free product.
Our primary issue with this detergent was that it doesn’t quite remove the dirt as well as other products that we tested, but it does a decent job. This detergent is probably one of the best ones for babies because it is made of so few ingredients.
5) Best Classic Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin – Tide Purclean Plant Based Honey Lavender Detergent, $22,88 ($0.72 per load)
When it comes to laundry soap, Tide is a household name. But the brand’s Purclean Plant Based Detergent is nothing like the famous dark blue liquid. While it does have a light honey lavender scent, this product contains 65-percent plant-based ingredients and no chlorine, dyes, brightening agents, or phosphates.
Best of all, it’s easy on the skin yet still just as powerful at cleaning your clothes as the original formula. Also, this detergent is made at a zero-waste manufacturing site that uses electricity from 100-percent renewable wind power.
However, some users do complain that there are bubbles left in the washer at the end of the cycle. And one user did say that her baby broke out in hives after using this product (but it’s hard to confirm if it was really this product that caused it).