How to Wash Second-Hand Baby Clothes

It could be you’re a new parent or a repeat one who’s received some hand-me-downs. Or maybe you’ve hit the thrift store, hoping to undercut expensive newborn or infant clothing. First, however, is keeping everything clean for the better health of your child, which means learning how to wash second-hand baby clothes.

There are special considerations regarding the cleaning of second-hand baby clothes, including safety and hygiene ones. Use kind-to-infant detergents to thoroughly machine or hand wash all pre-loved pieces, essentially countering any adverse reactions for your child.

You can’t afford to compromise your little one’s sensitive skin, respiratory system, or vulnerability to various infections. As such, take matters into your hands by copying the tips I will give you on how to wash second-hand baby clothes.

Why Would I Need to Wash Second-Hand Baby Clothes Yet They Appear Clean?

I know mums who’ll wash every garment, utensil, or toy, even swanky new ones. That’s before letting it come into contact with their child, which is undoubtedly an excellent principle. Besides saving you tons of worry or medical bills, extra hygiene translates to stellar health for your baby. Second-hand baby clothes will help you keep up without breaking the bank, particularly for a mum with a little prince or princess to care for.

You’ll receive used baby clothes as they are, possibly pre-cleaned, dried, and folded. However, you have no idea the type of detergents or chemicals they’ve been treated with. Thrift store purchases, especially, can be carriers of parasites like lice and even infections. Since used garments have originated outside your home, it’s best to assume they don’t match up to the germ-free environment you’ve created for your child.

Indeed, your baby may not have sensitive skin, or the garments are from a trusted relation or friend whose hygienic level you’re aware of. But play it safe and wash used clothes to eliminate any harmful irritants, harsh chemicals, and residue coliform.

What to Check for Before Washing Second-Hand Baby Clothes

Infants need clothing due to numerous spills, bodily functions that sometimes run wild, or keeping warm against cold weather. Your little darling will mow through one outfit after another. Unless you have time for daily washes, it can prove hectic to keep up with infant clothing demands.

Second-hand clothing comes in many forms. Some you may buy in thrift shops, charity outlets, or online, while others are gifts from your mothering support circle of friends or relatives. Many mums harbor these pre-cherished pieces as a just-in-case, while others exchange used garments when one has a new baby. Besides holding these garments in suspicion for housing residue chemicals, enzyme detergents, or bacteria, ensure you know each item’s wash requirements.

Look out for the care instructions tag on every second-hand garment is. That’ll let you know at what temperatures to clean the item and the detergent type recommended for the fabric material. A garment’s guidelines label can also state the size for fit purposes and whether you should wash the clothing separately, tumble-dried, or ironed.

If safety guidelines are missing or have been faded by washing, it’s best to hand-wash the used piece. During this inspection, you’ll notice any stains on the garments, as well as holes, tears, and other characteristics of well-used babywear. Smelling second-hand clothing can also help to pick out any unpleasant smell that indicates the presence of mold.

Will Washing Second-Hand Baby Clothes in Hot Water Kill Bacteria?

Depending on each garment’s care instructions, you can wash second-hand baby clothes at average temperatures using a gentle detergent. A common misconception is that hot water for washing garments is sufficient to kill microbes. However, that’s a job better done with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.

High heat damages some fabrics, such as silk, wool, and nylon. If you’ve got to use warm water, wash used clothing for your child at between 86° to 104° Fahrenheit. That’s the best temperature for detergents, stain removers, or bacteria and mold eliminators to work.

You can add some white vinegar to the water, which helps obliterate harmful microbes. That’s whether you’ll hand or machine wash your baby’s clothes. The used garments could be stained, possibly because the giver is unaware of how to remove stains from baby clothes, pre-soak them with a tablespoon or two of baking soda.

You’ll then wash normally with non-biological detergent, and where you’re blessed with clear skies, sun-dry to bleach out any remaining stain.

How Should I Wash Second-Hand Baby Clothes?

While subjective to each garment care instructions, washing your second-hand baby clothes involves either machine or hand washing items separately. Use natural or gentle products, making sure that none contains chlorine bleach or enzymatic proteins.

Avoid trusting an item just because it’s labeled hypoallergenic, as they’re rarely regulated, and they can’t guarantee your baby’s safety.

Washing second-hand baby clothes will involve;

  • Separating whites and garments of color
  • Pre-soaking stained items with a natural stain remover
  • Hand washing delicate fabrics with some coliform killing white vinegar
  • Machine washing at cool temperatures with added baking soda
  • Double rinsing to rid of treatment additives like hydrogen peroxide
  • Tumble or air drying to release detergent and storage smells

All baby clothes are made from delicate fibers, whether they are new or second-hand. Give special care to hand-me-downs or thrift shop buys, especially when machine washing. Your baby’s used items can include small clothing pieces like mittens, hats, or socks, and you can place them in a mesh bag as they’re prone to get separated.


Sun-drying your second-hand baby clothes after washing works towards eliminating residual bacterial or mold. Your light-colored and white used garments will also get ultraviolet light bleaching, helping you to evade bleach or other chemical whiteners.

Once you’ve washed your baby’s hand me downs, dress your tot and check their skin later to see if there are signs of a rash, inflammation, or irritation. You can repeat the above washing process, but use a different detergent this time, preferably a milder one. During the last rinse, a spritz of lemon juice is sufficient to deal with any coliform or microbes lingering on the used garment.