Monday, May 14, 2012

The care and feeding of baby carriers

When it comes to baby items, one will inevitably ask the question, "How do I wash it?"  Baby carriers especially are in the direct line of fire when it comes to bodily functions both high and low, and concerned caregivers should know how to wash and care for them.

Before I get into the specifics, I will note that all brand-new baby carriers will have care instructions packaged within.  After all, the companies don't want the customers to damage the carrier in some way, making it unsafe. So, in addition to checking your carriers for safety, always read the care instructions.

Soft Structured Carriers

Carriers such as the Ergo can be put in the washing machine on delicate and hung to dry, but for the most part, stick with spot-cleaning or hand washing.  For large messes, put the carrier in a garment bag, then set the washer on a cold delicate or cold hand wash cycle.  Hang to dry.  Use a gentle detergent, preferably one without dyes or perfumes.

Mei Tais

Padded mei tais may be treated the same way as soft structured carriers.  Unpadded mei tais may be spot-cleaned, hand washed, or put in the washing machine on a cold delicate cycle.  Mei tais also benefit from a garment bag because the straps can be long and may twist and pull during the spin cycle, putting stress on the stitching of the carrier.  Air dry or tumble dry low or hang to dry.

Pouches, Ring Slings, and Wraps

Many pouches are made of 100% cotton or fleece, so wash them on cold and lay them out or hang them to dry.  If you don't mind a bit of shrinkage, then they can be dried on low.  Things get more complicated with ring slings and wraps, however.  Ring slings, like wraps, are often made of textile blends such as hemp, linen, or silk and cotton.  Adjust your care regimen accordingly.

If your ring sling is 100% cotton, it can go in the wash, either in a garment bag or loose, on the gentlest cycle.  Hang the ring sling up to dry, or, if the care instructions allow, put it in the dryer on delicate or air fluff.  Wraps can simply be tossed into the washer.  Both hemp and linen can be washed on warm and dried on low.  Hemp and linen are very durable fibers and they can be treated more roughly, but to keep them in the best condition, use lower temperatures for all carriers.

Silk must be washed on delicate on cold and laid out to dry.  Avoid drying in direct sunlight.  An indoor drying rack works beautifully for silk, and it dries very quickly.

Wool must be hand washed gently in cool with wool wash.  Avoid hard agitation while washing, because wool will felt under the right circumstances.  Some washing machines have a wool setting; hand washing is still preferable, especially for wraps with a higher wool content.  Wool wraps are best washed by filling a washtub or bathtub with lukewarm water and slowly swishing the wrap through the soapy water.

Types of Detergent

The kind of detergent you use to wash the carrier does have an impact on its functionality and its longevity.  Choose detergents without harsh chemicals, and preferably without optical brighteners.  Most wrap brands recommend liquid detergent instead of powdered.  However, many washers nowadays come with a separate powder tray, the contents of which get mixed into water before being dispersed into the washer.  If your washer doesn't have that function, dissolve powdered detergent in hot water before adding it to the load.

Enzymatic cleaners are useful for those greasy breastmilk or formula stains.  There are detergents with enzymes already in them.  To the best of my knowledge, there are no rules against using detergents with enzymes, but for the cautious, regular Dawn works well to combat stains.

Didymos warns against using any kind of fabric softener on their wraps.  Other wrap brands will differ.


Mei tais, SSCs, and ring slings can be stored on hangers while not in use.  Keep them out of reach of pets and away from areas that may have strong odors.  Wraps are often folded, but take care not to fold the same way every single time.  Long-term folding along the same crease can and will weaken the wrap at that point.  This is the reason why it is recommended to iron wraps occasionally.  Store wraps out of direct sunlight.

If there are any other questions, please leave a comment below!