Kids are messy creatures and lots of daily life happens while wearing a baby carrier. It’s unavoidable that at some point you’ll end up having to wash a carrier. Knowing how to properly clean a carrier is important – incorrect care can damage the carrier or shorten it’s lifespan – but the process can also be intimidating. We’ve put together a guide to walk you through the process and make things as easy as possible.
Step 1: Decode your carrier’s care label
Most likely, your carrier will have a label with laundry symbols telling you exactly how the manufacturer suggests caring for it. The chart below translates what those symbols actually mean.
If your carrier doesn’t have a label, check the manufacturer’s website for care instructions. If no wash information is available from the manufacturer, you use the chart below, put together by BWI of Kitsap Peninsula.
|Fiber||Wash Instructions||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
If your carrier is a blend of fabrics, wash according to the directions for the most delicate fiber.
Step 2: Pick the Right Detergent
Now that you know how to wash your carrier, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it with the right detergent. It is recommended to use a liquid detergent free of optical brighteners and softeners. Wool and silk wraps require a special enzyme-free detergent for delicates.
Here is a list of recommended detergents for washing 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.
If you need to spot-clean a stain, try using:
- 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
Step 3: Best Practice Tips & Tricks
Now that you know how to wash the carrier and what to wash it with, you’re ready to go – but a few more tips will make the washing process a little more gently on your carriers.
For Soft Structured/Buckle Carriers: Loosen all the webbing and clip all buckles. Remove any removable pieces like hoods or support belts. Place the carrier in a pillowcase or bag for delicates to wash to keep things from getting tangled or banging around too much.
For Mei Tais: Place the carrier in a pillowcase or bag for delicates to wash to keep things from getting tangled.
For Ring Slings: Unthread the carrier and use a pair of socks to slip over the rings to keep them from banging around.
This is how we recommend washing carriers – both your personal carriers and those from our lending libraries. If you have an additional questions about washing a lending library carrier, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: Caring for Your Carriers by Babywearing International of Kitsap Peninsula, The Proper Care and Use of Baby Carriers by Babywearers of the Midlands, What’s the best way to wash my baby sling or baby carrier? by QuirkyBaby Blog