Both babies and parents reap tons of benefits from babywearing, but, as with everywhere else you take your baby, the dreaded mess will appear!
Like most moms, you want to look your best when you go out, so knowing how to tackle that huge grape juice stain on your favorite wrap can be a lifesaver.
It’s not just your baby, either! As with clothing, your carrier is something you wear, so it needs to be laundered occasionally.
As most baby wearers will know, however, carriers and wraps must be washed carefully — you can’t just toss them in with the sheets or socks.
One of the key points we want to begin with is this: never assume.
Even if other soft-structured carriers you’ve owned could go right into the washer, it doesn’t mean your current one can.
Even if your last wrap could be washed in warm water and dried with other items, it doesn’t mean your current one won’t shrink and become useless.
Double-check every time, and consult the Internet if all else fails.
Different manufacturers may even have varying instructions for each individual model due to fabric and construction, so never presume to know your carrier’s washing instructions based on past experience!
Soft-structured carriers are a super-popular pick with parents. They’re easy to use and often have additional features that make them more convenient.
Privacy panels allow mothers to breastfeed discreetly, convenient zippered pockets make storing items on the go a cinch, and sun and weather hoods keep a baby’s delicate head protected from the elements.
There are lots on the market, and, though some can be pricey, they’re safe, versatile, and adjustable.
Soft-structured carriers can be washed, and most (not all) can be directly put into the washing machine.
Using the dryer for carriers of this type is never recommended, as buckles and straps can be damaged, impacting the overall integrity of the carrier.
These carriers often have padding, which means that air drying can take a significant amount of time. Have a backup carrier ready for a few days after fully laundering your soft structured one, giving it sufficient time to dry.
Between washes, the best way to clean up soft structured carriers is with spot touch-ups. This lets you tackle stains and messes as they happen without taking the carrier out of commission for a lengthy period.
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How to wash soft structured carriers
- Spot cleaning: To spot clean, take some warm water mixed with a small amount of baby’s laundry detergent and use a washcloth to tackle small to medium-sized messes. This is how to clean baby carrier straps. Blot and air dry thoroughly.
- Laundering: Always look for manufacturer-instructions first. Typically, it’s best to wash the carrier on the delicate cycle in cold water with baby’s laundry detergent and air dry. Drying may take more than a day. Always avoid bleach, fabric softener, brightening detergents and heat drying.
Wraps and ring slings
A classic baby-wearing pick, parents have been wrapping babies for centuries. A woven wrap is a great way to provide a secure carry for babies and toddlers.
Although it requires a slight learning curve, once parents master tying the wrap, it feels like second nature.
It’s a carrier that’s versatile when it comes to carrying positions, making life easier and more comfortable for both wearers and babies.
They’re available in lots of different colors and fabrics, and, typically, not too expensive, so matching them to your personal style won’t break the bank.
Ring slings are similar to wraps in style and construction but can be easier to put on.
The only downside in comparison might be that they’re less versatile for carrying, though still a great pick that can be fashionable and just like a wrap to care for.
Because of the assortment of materials they’re made of, washing instructions can vary.
Manufacturers typically include washing instructions. If not, then knowing the fabric your wrap is made from should help you understand how to clean it while preserving its appearance and function.
Some wraps can be tumble-dried while others can’t. Unless your wrap comes with washing instructions that specifically indicate tumble drying, it’s best to avoid it.
Another good practice? Use a lingerie bag, especially if it’s getting thrown in with other items. It will help avoid tangling and achieve a more even, thorough wash for your wrap.
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How to wash wraps
- Spot cleaning: Unless it’s just a small spot, it’s usually easier and more effective to launder a wrap than spot clean. For fabrics like silk or cashmere that require dry cleaning, cold water with ultra-diluted, gentle detergent is the way to go.
- Laundering: As always, manufacturing instructions should be your first priority. If not present, laundering based on your wrap’s fabric is your best bet. For ring slings, always remove the ring before washing. If your wrap or sling not made of silk, cashmere or wool, your best bet is a cold water wash on the delicate cycle with baby’s laundry detergent. If it IS made of silk, cashmere or wool, please see our section on understanding fabric types for more information. As we mentioned, never tumble dry your wrap or sling unless the manufacturer approves it. Air drying will prevent shrinking and damage. Bleach, fabric softener and brightening detergents should be avoided.
Understanding fabric types and washability
What often determines how garments should be washed is their fabric. Some textiles are extremely forgiving, preserving their integrity and color through repeated washes.
Others are very delicate and must be handled in a specific way in order for them to keep their color, texture, and weave.
Generally, manufacturers outline what materials they use in the construction of their carriers. This should clearly inform you how to clean it.
Here are some key takeaways and washing instructions for four of the most common carrier fabric types.
- Super soft and fine wool made from pashmina or cashmere goats, often used in slings and wraps due to its comforting texture
- Because it’s a delicate animal fiber, it should NEVER be machine washed – spot clean or dry clean only.
If you absolutely have to clean it at home, hand wash gently in cold water and do not scrub, just swish it through the water
- To preserve the fabric’s integrity and appearance, ring it out gently by wrapping it in a towel; it must be air dried flat and never ironed.1How to Shop, Clean, and Care for Cashmere So It Lasts for Years
- Super cozy and warm, wool is durable, although caring for the fabric incorrectly can result in unsightly felting
- When washing at home, wool should be hand washed in cool water with gentle detergent
- It’s best to maintain the water temperature in order to preserve the fabric’s integrity
- Scrubbing to wash and ringing or twisting to dry can cause felting, so dab and press instead.23Washing Silk
- Easy to care for and a lot more forgiving than most other carrier fabrics
- You can spot clean or launder it without too much effort, and it generally costs less than other picks
- It’s generally a safe bet to wash it in cold water on the delicate cycle with mild detergent, then air dry
- You technically CAN tumble dry it, but we don’t recommend it – it’s a natural fiber, which means shrinkage is always a possibility4Best practices flow chart
- Check the manufacturer’s instructions
- If not present, consult the Internet or try to determine the fabric your carrier is made of
- If specialty fabric is used, aim for spot or dry cleaning
- If no specialty fabric is used, machine wash in cold water on the delicate cycle with mild detergent, then air dry
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Knowing how to wash your carrier properly can save you money and make life a lot easier. It can prevent you from causing accidental damage to an essential item that’s costly to replace.
You’ll also ooze confidence wearing your baby in public, knowing your carrier is clean, comfortable, and looking great!