In April, our Babywearing 102 is Baby Carrier Care and Laundering! Thanks to Katie for this great blogpost:
There are a few standout moments in life when we realize just how much has changed once children enter our lives. I distinctly remember a rare moment browsing for clothing for myself, finding something I loved, and checking the laundry care tag. Dry clean only. In that moment I realized that with the mix of food, bodily fluids, and unknown substances routinely covering my clothing, the practicality of my fashion choices changed forever.
When we enter the world of babywearing, different carrier options and how to care for each of them can be overwhelming. This month we’re going to work on breaking down the perplexity of carrier care and laundering so you can get on with living life with the little ones you love!
We receive a lot of questions about the first washing of brand new carriers, as well as the topic of breaking them in. Most manufacturers recommend washing before wear, but it’s best to refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual for specific directions. Woven wraps in particular generally require a pre-washing to set and tighten the weave because they arrive in loom state, and that also provides the benefit of softening it prior to the first wear.
For woven wraps, there are a variety of methods to soften and break in a new wrap in order to encourage desirable wrapping qualities. They may include ironing, braiding, making a hammock for your older child to sit in, or folding and sitting on it. Whatever you choose, be mindful of anything that could encourage pulls or damage the fibers in any way. I’ve found that the best method of breaking in a woven wrap is to use it often!
Buckle carriers can sometimes arrive with stiff webbing and difficult to slide buckles. Frequent use will help soften the webbing and make adjustments easier. Like a good pair of jeans, any type of fabric generally becomes softer with use.
Inspection and repair
Inspection of your baby carrier prior to use is an integral part of ensuring safe condition. Unseen damage can worsen with wear and in some cases has the potential to lead to carrier failure. Buckle carriers should be inspected around the seams for loose or broken stitching, fraying or holes in the body, torn webbing, or broken buckles.
Inspect your woven wraps for threads that have pulled free from the weave. Either loops of thread known as “pulls” or threads that have been cut or broken. Pulls can be woven back into the weave of the wrap with the use of a tapestry needle. Depending on the severity of a broken thread, it can be possible to tie them off and continue to use the wrap.
While wearing, you can help keep your carrier in good condition by being mindful of anything that could potentially cause damage. Mei Tai tails can be tied up to shorten them. Many buckle carriers include loops of elastic at the end of the webbing to roll, shorten, and secure it.
Like all things, baby carriers aren’t intended to be used forever and can become worn over time. Catastrophic damage (hello new puppy) may render the carrier unusable and prevent it from being repaired or replaced by the manufacturer, so it’s best to contact them in such a situation to determine what your next course of action should be. In some cases, the carrier will need to be retired and replaced with something new.
For this post, I’m going to discuss the laundry instructions we recommend and use for our lending library carriers. We recommend using a detergent appropriate for the carrier’s fiber blend that is free of optical brighteners and scents. Fabric softener, bleach, and bleach alternative should be avoided as they can damage fabric. Recommended liquid detergents include Soap nuts, Country Save, Rockin Green, Seventh Generation Free and Clear, and Ecos Free and Clear or detergents you would use for cloth diapers. For spot stain removal, Buncha Farmers Stain Stick or Dawn dish soap are recommended for treating specific areas of concern.
Soft structured carriers should be placed inside of a pillowcase and washed on warm on the gentle cycle before hanging to dry. A ring sling can be placed inside of a pillowcase or the rings may be inserted inside of a sock to keep them from banging around inside your washing machine, and should be washed and dried according to the fiber blend. Mei tais should be washed inside of a pillowcase and hung to dry. Wraps should be washed according to fiber blend. Washing according to fiber blend is as follows:
Cotton – Gentle cycle on warm with low spin. Tumble dry on warm.
Linen – Gentle cycle on warm with low spin. Tumble dry on low.
Silk – Gentle cycle on warm with no spin. Hang to dry and avoid direct sunlight.
Hemp – Normal cycle on hot with low spin. Tumble dry on warm.
Bamboo – Handwash cold, hang to dry.
Wool – Wool requires handwashing with special laundry detergent. I recommend using Eucalan. It should be minimally agitated in tepid water and lay flat to dry. For an excellent wool washing graphic, see this blog post by Marsupial Mamas Here.
For further washing instructions of borrowed carriers from our lending library, please see this helpful document here.
It’s true that I may have entered a phase of my life where I’m not wearing dry clean only apparel anymore, but on the bright side that just means I’ve graduated to the big, wide, wonderful world of baby carriers! For further insight on carrier maintenance and laundering, please join us during the Babywearing 102 portion of our meetings for the month of April!