Removing Fabric Softener from Baby Clothes

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Dear Home Ec 101,
OK, Heather, help me out here! I’m about to have a baby, and while I’m loving all the hand-me-downs we’ve gotten, but I’m at my wit’s end trying to get the stench of fabric softener out of them. 🙁 I have really severe skin allergies, and all the laundry soap I use is non-scented, and I use vinegar for softener. I’m pretty sure that all the allergy-causing chemicals are out of them, because I can handle them just fine, but they still SMELL like fabric softener and fabric softener smells gross to me.

how to remove fabric softener

Heather says:

Part of the problem may actually be that you are still pregnant.

Pregnant women are often much more sensitive to odors than non-preggos. Seriously, if you think about it, it makes evolutionary sense. If you’re more sensitive to the smell of bad meat, you’re not going to eat it and put the baby at risk. Isn’t biology marvelous? When I was pregnant, I couldn’t handle the smell of cooking poultry. Heck, thinking about it can STILL make my stomach flip and I haven’t been in that condition in 5 years.

That said, since you’ve already gone the acidic route, it’s time to go the basic route. Yep, we’re back to chemistry in the laundry room. Give the clothing another wash, but this time with Borax. Adding borax to the wash water will raise the pH and improve the solubility of some of those molecules clinging to the baby clothes. Additionally, wash the clothing in the hottest water tolerated by the fabric.

how to launder unusual items
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If you can, allow the clothing to dry outside, unless the pollen count is really high or you’re not allowed to have a clothesline. The sunlight and fresh air will do wonders, too. Or hang the clothing outside in the fresh air for a few hours and THEN wash with borax before drying in the dryer. The order is up to you.

Good luck and congratulations!

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3 thoughts on “Removing Fabric Softener from Baby Clothes”

  1. Thanks, Heather! I didn’t even think about Borax, even though there’s a box right there on the washer! I’ll give that a try! 🙂

  2. Liquid fabric softener makes clothing feel soft and helps to prevent static cling. But when fabric softener is spilled on clothes it can leave greasy stains on the fabric.mudpie baby clothes


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