Home Home Remedies
Lauren CahnUpdated: Jun. 30, 2021
Medically reviewed by Jessica Wu, MD
What's gentle enough to use to cleanse your baby's tender hair and skin but strong enough to wash your couch? Why, baby shampoo! Who knew?
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Not just for babies
Baby shampoo is obviously great for babies. You can lather up their hair and the no-tears formula means bath time is a happy affair. But this gentle parenting favorite has lots of uses in and out of the tub. From cleaning your eyelids to washing your floor, you’ll find lots of jobs for this versatile shampoo.
Wash your face
If baby shampoo is gentle enough for your baby’s scalp, then it stands to reason it would be gentle enough for your skin. Dermatologists often recommend that people with eczema (seborrheic dermatitis) use baby shampoo to wash their face every day. Need more tips? Here are 13 ways you’re washing your face wrong.
Ouchless adhesive bandage removal
“Just rip off the Band-Aid,” they say. But if you’re not brave enough (and who really is?), you can rub a drop of baby shampoo onto the adhesive, and it should curl right up off your skin. A dab of baby shampoo also helps remove any leftover cream or ointment under the bandage. (Check out this genius Band-Aid hack next time you get an awkward injury.)
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images
Clear your sinuses
A neti pot can help keep your sinuses clear and eliminate snoring, but if you add a drop of baby shampoo (a half teaspoon to 8 ounces of saltwater), it can help you get over a sinus infection, according to Mas Takashima, MD, director of the Sinus Center at Baylor University. “We tell our children to wash their hands with soap, not with plain water, in order to clean bacteria from their hands. The same concept is being used in the sinuses,” Dr. Takashima says in a news release. But be sure to check with your doctor first, and follow these safety tips whenever you use a neti pot.
Treat minor eye inflammations
Got red, itchy eyelids? You could have blepharitis, which is a common eye disorder often caused by bacteria, according to the National Eye Institute. Symptoms include itching, redness, burning, tearing, and crusting on the eyelids upon waking. Treatment involves keeping eyelids clean and free of crusts. Apply a warm compress to loosen the crust, then gently scrub your lids with a mixture of water and baby shampoo. (Here are 12 signs you need to visit an eye doctor.)
Clean costume jewelry
Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth, right? So it wasn’t surprising to me when my jeweler recommended cleaning my engagement ring by boiling it in a mixture of baby shampoo and water. But did you know you can also use baby shampoo to clean costume jewelry, which is notoriously less durable than diamonds? Simply mix together one drop of baby shampoo and water, and apply with a Q-tip or a soft toothbrush, suggests jewelry manufacturer Stella and Dot. Then rinse with cool water and dry thoroughly. (Here’s why you should never use Q-tips to clean your ears.)
Mop the floor
If you’re trying to reduce your use of harsh chemicals when cleaning your house, consider using baby shampoo. Many flooring and cleaning companies suggest using baby shampoo as an option for cleaning laminate floors. Try a mix of 1 to 2 tablespoons per gallon of water. It’s gentle, but it helps remove oils, and it rinses clean, without residue. (Here are 16 home-cleaning tips straight from the CDC.)
Clean and maintain your leather furniture and other items
There are lots of leather cleaners available for your furniture, shoes, and handbags. But in many cases, they might not need a special solution. Try a drop of baby shampoo mixed in warm water applied with a damp, not soaking wet, cloth. Then simply buff it off until it’s dry. “Good old baby shampoo mixed in warm water is a fine leather cleaner,” say the experts at Saddleback Leather Co. (Here’s how many calories you burn during common cleaning chores.)
Clean your leather jacket
Your leather jacket doesn’t want to be subjected to harsh cleaners any more than your leather furniture does. As with your leather furniture, simply dissolve a bit of baby shampoo in water, wipe it on the leather with a soft, damp cloth, and dry with a soft, dry cloth.
Handwash hosiery and other delicates
It stands to reason if your hose and other delicates call for mild soap, then what could be milder than baby shampoo? A gentle detergent like baby shampoo is good for your clothes—and the environment—when washing anything by hand, says the Sierra Club. Learn what scary germs could be lurking in your clothes right now.
Hand wash cashmere
Cashmere is from the fine, soft underlayer or undercoat of hair from certain types of goat. So if baby shampoo is gentle enough for baby’s hair, then why not for your cashmere sweater? Simply hand wash with baby shampoo and lay flat to dry.
Lina Bruins / EyeEm/Getty Images
Go ahead and wash all the wool things
If it’s gentle enough for cashmere, then it’s gentle enough for all of your wool items, right? Right. Simply wash your woolens the way you’d wash your cashmere.
Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock
Unstick a zipper
Got a stuck zipper? Try putting a drop of baby shampoo on a cotton swab, then dab it on the zipper. As long as the zipper’s not broken, the shampoo will help the zipper run smoothly and the shampoo will rinse out in the wash.
Aleksandr Zotov/Getty Images
Shampoo your dog (in a pinch)
You’d think that if shampoo is gentle enough for a baby that it’s gentle enough for your four-legged best friend. But dog skin and human skin have different Ph balances, according to the American Kennel Club. Using a human shampoo—even a gentle one—can be too strong for a dog’s skin, making it more vulnerable to bacteria and parasites. It can also make him itchy. That said, if your dog rolled in something gross and it’s an emergency, a gentle baby shampoo is an OK option. Your own shampoo might work if it has soothing ingredients like oatmeal and aloe vera. (Here’s why it feels so good to look into your dog’s eyes.)
Wash your makeup brushes
Dirty makeup brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria. This can hurt your health and complexion by triggering acne breakouts and rashes, says the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Dirty brushes can also spread a serious infection caused by E. coli or a Staph or fungal infection.
To keep your skin safe, the AAD recommends washing your brushes every seven to 10 days in a mixture of water and gentle shampoo. Only wash and rinse the tips. Squeeze out extra moisture, then lay them flat to dry. (Don’t miss these 31 secrets the beauty industry doesn’t want you to know.)
Make washable paint for fun kiddie baths
Tub toys are loads of fun, but sometimes kids just want to make a colorful mess in the bath. Just a drop of food coloring and a bit of cornstarch added to baby shampoo, and you have bathtub paints for your kids. How much easier does cleanup get than when you use soap-based paint? (Be aware of these 10 products it’s never safe to use on your baby.)
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “Bloating”
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Sleep Apnea”
- University of Utah Health: “Seborrheic Dermatitis”
- Health Information Translations: “Burn Care”
- Baylor College of Medicine: “New ways to flush out sinus infections”
- National Eye Institute: “Blepharitis”
- Stella and Dot: “How to Clean Your Jewelry”
- Maid Brigade: “How to Clean Laminate Floors”
- Saddleback Leather Co: “How to Clean Your Leather”
- Sierra Club: “A Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Your Clothes by Hand”
- Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute: “Facts About Cashmere, Camel and Wool”
- Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things, Reader’s Digest, 2019
- American Kennel Club: “Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?”
- American Academy of Dermatology: “How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes”
Medically reviewed by Jessica Wu, MD, on June 25, 2020
Originally Published: June 10, 2020
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers health, fitness, yoga, and lifestyle, among other topics. An author of crime fiction, Lauren's book The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.