Wash Me Gently: Keeping Little Bed Clothes Clean Without All The Nasties

As any parent knows, toddlers are miniature tornadoes of energy, creativity, and mess. From the moment they wake up, they joyfully leave a trail of crumbs, smudges, and spills in their wake. And it’s tempting to think that the mess-making might take a break overnight, but that’s not always the case. All sorts of accidents can happen in the wee hours (no pun intended!) that need your attention. There is just a never-ending parade of clothes, toys and other odds and ends lining up to be washed, and your little one’s bedding joins in the procession from time to time too. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right approach and a few clever tricks, you can keep your toddler's bedding looking and smelling fresh without resorting to harsh chemicals.

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How to keep your toddler’s bedding fresh and clean

Night-time accidents

Let’s get down to business here, when we talk about washing toddler bedding, what we’re really dealing with is bodily fluids. The sheets and blankets can be whipped off and thrown into a hot wash along with the wet pyjamas moments after you are pulled from your own bed. But when the mattress needs cleaning, we need to get a bit creative.

Begin by blotting the area to remove as much moisture as possible. What we mean here is to get a fluffy, pale-coloured towel and press it into the wet patch over and over again. Don’t rub back and forth, as this can move the liquid deeper into the mattress. Swap to a dry part of the towel after a few blots, to get as much liquid out as you can. Then, mix equal parts white vinegar and water, and spray the solution onto the stain. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before blotting again. Finish by sprinkling baking soda over the area and letting it dry completely before vacuuming up the residue.

We know this doesn’t sound like fun in the middle of the night, but getting to it before the stain has dried gives you a much greater chance at success. And for real peace of mind, if you can, give your mattress a little time sunbathing so the UV rays can kill any last remaining bugs.

Now that we’ve got a strategy for messes that happen overnight, we’d also better think about what to do when your cheeky little tot has a spill in the daytime. Sneaking a snack into their bedroom? You bet some will get spilt on the bed. Or perhaps you have a little artist on your hands who’s decided their decor could do with a little livening up.

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Food and drink spills

If you’re not able to get the stained item into the washing machine, start by blotting the area with a clean cloth to soak up as much as possible. Next, apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the stain, letting it sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing or blotting with clean water. Baking soda not only helps lift the stain but also neutralises odours. For yellow, orange, red or brown coloured stains, you’ll be amazed at what the sun can do. Heave that mattress out into the sunshine and within an hour the stain will have magically vanished.

Art supplies

Crayons, markers, and paint can transform a pristine set of sheets into a canvas of chaos. For crayon marks, place a paper towel over the stain and gently iron it on a low setting. The heat will transfer the wax to the paper towel. For washable markers and paints, a simple solution of dish soap and water should do the trick. Dab (don’t rub) the stain with the soapy water, and then rinse with clean water.

Dirt or mud

When the mess comes from outside, heading back outside could be just the way to tackle it! What we actually mean here, is leave the mud alone until it is completely dry then vacuum or brush it off. In many cases, that’s the end of the story, but if some mess persists, dabbing with soapy water then with clean water should sort it out.

Baby bodysuits & playsuits in pink, white, oatmeal, stripes & yellow shoes in rattan laundry basket

Low-Tox Laundry Alternatives

While commercial stain removers are effective, they often contain harsh chemicals that aren’t ideal for toddler bedding and delicate toddler skin. Thankfully, there are plenty of natural alternatives that are both gentle and effective.

White vinegar

As we’ve mentioned a few times, it’s a powerhouse in the world of natural cleaning. White vinegar is great for deodorising and stain removal. Adding a cup of white vinegar to your washing machine's rinse cycle can help keep your toddler's bedding soft and fresh.

Baking soda

This versatile ingredient is fantastic for lifting stains and neutralising odours. Adding half a cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent can boost its cleaning power and leave fabrics smelling fresh.

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Castile soap

Made from olive oil, castile soap is a mild yet effective cleaner that can tackle a variety of stains. Pre-treat stains by applying a small amount of castile soap directly to the fabric and gently scrubbing with a soft brush.

Lemon juice

The natural bleaching properties of lemon juice make it perfect for brightening whites. Combine lemon juice with a bit of salt to create a paste, and apply it to stubborn stains. Let the paste sit in the sun for an extra bleaching boost before washing as usual.

Children sweatshirts, t-shirts & dress in gingham, in wool, linen, muslin fabric, on clothing rack

A little note on the regular wash routine:

Even for those lucky enough to have made it through the week without some kind of mess-splosion, the bedding eventually needs cleaning. Regular washing prevents a buildup of dirt, sweat, and allergens. And for your little ones, always use a gentle, fragrance-free detergent to avoid irritating sensitive skin. In addition to regular washing, it's a good idea to invest in a waterproof mattress protector. This can help guard against night-time accidents and spills, extending the life of the mattress and making clean-up a breeze. And speaking of breezes, air out your toddler's bedding in the sunshine whenever possible. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and can help keep fabrics smelling fresh and feeling crisp.

By incorporating these stain-fighting tips and low-tox cleaning measures, you can ensure that your toddler's bedding stays fresh, clean, and comfortable, providing them with the best possible environment for rest and rejuvenation. Happy laundering!

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Hi, I’m Paulina the owner and creator of Organic Zoo. A children’s clothing business inspired by the freedom of my childhood and the simple joy of living with less.

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