Caring for Your Carriers
Along with safety and techniques for using your carrier, knowing how to properly wash and care for all your baby carriers is important. Whether you received a carrier brand new from the manufacturer or second hand from a buy/sell/trade site, washing your carrier when you get it is always good practice.
In this blog we will be going over:
- Laundry symbols
- General guidelines for different fiber care
- Safe detergents and stain removers
- How to wash other types of carriers
- Breaking in carriers
- Folding and storing
- Fixing flaws
All carriers will come with care tags that explain how they should be washed, dried and ironed. If you are not used to reading laundry care symbols they might seem confusing. Here is a chart that shows many of the symbols that you might come across:
These symbols will be able to tell you exactly how your specific baby carrier should be washed. When in doubt always refer back to these instructions.
General Guidelines for Different Fiber Care
In case your carrier didn’t come with a tag or you just need a general guideline for how to care for different fibers, here is a chart showing many different popular fibers:
|Fiber Care||Wash Intructions||Dry Instructions||Ironing||Special Notes|
|Cotton||Cold or warm on normal or gentle cycle, low spin||Line dry or tumble dry low||Steam iron on cotton setting||Can be prone to some shrinking
|Linen||Cold or warm on normal or gentle cycle, low spin (especially important as linen can be prone to shifting)||Line dry or tumble dry low||Steam iron when not completely dry.||Prone to perma-creasing, which ironing can help prevent. Not usually prone to much shrinking.
|Hemp||Warm or hot temperature on normal or gentle cycle.||Tumble dry low or medium|
(hemp softens with heat but high heat could cause shrinkage)
|Steam iron||Prone to shrinking
|Tencel||Initial wash with warm water, subsequent washes in cold water on gentle cycle, no spin||Air dry or tumble dry low.||Iron on wool setting, warm.||Some tencel has been known to get pilly but that is just a habit of the fiber.
|Wool||Lukewarm water and hand wash only||Air dry flat||Iron on wool setting with steam||Use only wool wash.
Sudden temperature changes can cause felting
Wool is very delicate while wet, never wring out or spin in washer.
|Silk||Lukewarm water (hot water shrinks the silk and cold water reduces the luster of the fibers) Hand wash or use hand wash cycle, no spin||Hang dry out of direct sunlight (which can cause discoloration)||Low heat, no steam. Do not spray with water while ironing.||Use only detergents for delicates/silk/wool
Bamboo viscose is handwash only while natural bamboo can be washed on gentle cycle.
|Air dry flat, bamboo can shrink more than other fibers||Iron on low or medium temperatures.||Never be washed for longer than 40 minutes.
Use only detergents for delicates/silk/wool
Note: Whenever you are washing a carrier that has a blend of fibers you always want to wash according to the most delicate fiber.
Safe Detergents and Stain Removers
Look for liquid detergents free of optical brighteners and softeners. Wool and silk wraps are protein fibers and will require a special enzyme free detergent meant for delicates.
Liquid detergents are recommended for washing carriers because most powder detergents contain fillers that do not dissolve completely. These particles can get trapped in hollow fibers (such as linen and hemp) as they swell in the wash. Once dry, the fibers shrink again but the solid filler particles do not and can damage the wrap from inside out.
The reason we try to avoid optical brighteners is because they include a variety of chemicals, some of which have been shown to irritate skin allergies for some people. In woven wraps they cause spotty discoloration, usually bleach-like or marbling, and/or a bluish-green hue.
We also try to avoid fabric softeners. Fabric softeners work by coating the fibers. This leaves behind a residue that can build up over time and damage the fibers. It can also cause the wrap to be slippery. Dryer sheets work in a similar fashion and leave behind a residue. Dryer balls are a great wrap safe alternative. As a bonus, dryer balls tumbling around with a wrap can help with the breaking in process!
Here is a list of detergents that are recommended for washing baby carriers:
- All Free & Clear from Military Commissary ONLY (will have dog tags and say optical brightener free). All Free & Clear purchased elsewhere will contain optical brighteners and not be suitable for woven wraps.
- Allens Naturally Laundry Detergent Liquid
- BabyGanics Loads of Love 3X*
- Bio-Kleen Laundry Liquid
- Charlie’s Soap Liquid
- Citra Suds Liquid 2x
- Country Save Liquid
- Dapple Baby Liquid Detergent*
- Eco-Max Liquid
- Ecos Free & Clear
- Ecover Liquid
- Green Works*
- Honest Company liquid detergent
- Mountain Green
- Mrs. Meyer’s detergents*
- Seventh Generation*
- Soap Nuts
- Thirsties Super Wash*
- Ecover Delicate
- Unicorn Fibre Wash
*contains enzymes– not recommended for washing silk or wool.
When it comes to stains the best advice is to not let the stain dry before you can treat it. If necessary add water to keep it wet. Most of the time a normal wash will do the trick but realistically there will be times when a stain slips by our watchful eye and won’t be spotted until after it’s been washed and dried. Some products you can use to spot treat stains are:
- Dish soap (Some contain enzymes and can be harsh on fibers if using long term)
- Buncha Farmers Stain Stick
- Rubbing alcohol for ink stains
- Hydrogen peroxide for organic stains
Taking good care of a wrap and preserving its lifespan will help with future resale of the wrap. It is well worth the investment to use products to help keep your carriers in the best condition.
How to Wash Other Types of Carriers
Washing carriers with straps, rings and buckles can seem intimidating at first but a few tricks will help make washing easy and stress free.
Soft Structured Carriers: Loosen all the webbing and make sure all the buckles are connected. Place the entire carrier inside a pillowcase or net laundry bag and then wash according to manufacturer recommendation. Placing the carrier in a pillowcase helps prevent the straps from getting tangled up and keeps the buckles from banging against the inside of the washer.
Mei Tai: Wash the same as you would a soft structured carrier by placing the carrier inside a pillowcase or net laundry bag to help the prevent the straps from getting tangled up. Wash according to fiber content and manufacturer recommendation.
Ring Sling: Unthread the rings and use a pair of socks to slip over the rings to help keep them from banging around inside the washer.
How to Break in Your Baby Carrier
The biggest thing that will help break in any type of carrier is constant use. The more you use/wear a carrier the softer it will become. Some added tips on how to break in carriers are:
- Sitting on them
- Sleeping on them
- Letting kids play with them
Braiding wraps and slings
Using sling rings for wraps and ring slings
Running wrap through a knot
Pretty much any activity that engages and helps break down the fibers so that they soften up.
Here is a link to our periscope broadcast with all the above information we talked about:
Folding and Storing
We all love having a beautiful stash shot to share and keeping your carriers organized and stored nicely will help extend the lifespan of the carriers, as well as prevent perma-creasing in some fibers.
Wraps can be folded or rolled up
Ring slings work great on coat racks
Soft structured carriers and mei tais can be rolled up and clipped/tied closed for easy storage.
This video shows our periscope broadcast of how we folded various types of carriers:
Here are some additional videos to help show you ways to fold each of your carriers:
Double sided fold for woven wraps:
Soft Structured Carrier:
Sometimes just from normal wearing you’ll come across a flaw that will need to be fixed.
With woven wraps you can come across “pulls”. A pull is when thread(s) have snagged on something and can get pulled out from the rest of the weave. They look like small loops sticking out from the rest of the fabric. Most tend to be small but sometimes they can be long and take quite a bit of time to work back into the wrap.
How to fix a pull:
Sometimes the pulls turn into broken threads if they aren’t fixed right away. A few broken threads alone do not make a wrap unsafe but they are something that will need to be fixed to make sure the broken threads don’t turn into holes in the wrap.
How to fix a broken thread:
With any buckle type carrier sometimes the buckles can become flipped backwards on the webbing. Some carriers are designed so that the buckles have the ability to easily be flipped around for different ways to wear the carrier. But for brands that aren’t made with that function, flipping the buckle can be a struggle.
Here is a video that helps show how to easily flip the buckle without having to unthread the webbing (shown with a car seat belt buckle but the same method applies):
Here is our Periscope Broadcast going over all of these issues:
We hope this information will help you the next time you need to wash and care for your carriers. Happy babywearing!