How to wash baby carrier properly & carefully

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As a mom who loves babywearing, keeping your carrier clean is so important. But with so many different types of baby carriers out there, knowing the best washing methods can get confusing.

Should you machine wash? Spot clean? What temperature is the water? Do you need a gentle detergent?

I’ll walk through all the details in this article so you can keep your baby carriers fresh & learn how to wash baby carrier properly & carefully and ready for all that sweet cuddling! Read on for tips on washing various carrier fabrics, cleaning out messes, and mistakes to avoid.

Why it’s Essential to Wash Baby Carriers

Before jumping into the nitty-gritty details, let me quickly explain why properly washing baby carriers matters so much. As you know, babies spit up, drool, and have blowouts. All that ends up right on your carrier next to the baby’s face. Not fun! Even if you don’t see stains, bacteria accumulate in fabric over time. And since baby carriers hug your little one so close, you want them as clean as possible.

Regular washing removes:

  • Germs that can cause illnesses
  • Allergens that could trigger reactions
  • Drool, food, and other sticky messes
  • Smells (both from accidents and when carriers get sweaty)

So while it might be tempting to skip cleaning, don’t do it! A few extra wash cycles will give your baby the freshest, healthiest ride.

Key Things to Consider When Washing Baby Carriers

What’s the carrier made of? That’s the biggest factor in choosing wash methods. Read labels to see if it’s 100% cotton, a cotton blend, wool, linen, silk, or synthetic materials. Instructions are below for each.

Does the baby carrier have any special parts? Things like buckles, padding, structured panels, or wrap ties need a gentle touch. We’ll talk about care for accessories too.

What’s the best way to prevent shrinkage or damage? Several mistakes ruin baby carriers, like high-heat drying or bleaching. We’ll go over how to wash while avoiding common pitfalls.

Let’s dive in! I’ll share my top tips for washing all kinds of baby carriers…

Instructions for Different Baby Carrier Fabrics

100% cotton carriers

These soft, structured carriers, wraps, and ring slings are usually machine wash-friendly.

  • Machine wash cold with a mild powder or liquid baby detergent.
  • If heavily soiled, do an extra rinse cycle.
  • Tumble dry low (removes moisture to prevent mildew).
  • To limit shrinkage, air-dry instead.

If machine washing isn’t possible, hand wash in cold water using a small amount of gentle detergent.

Cotton Blend Carriers

Many wraps or slings mix cotton with silk, wool, linen, or synthetic fabrics. The blend impacts cleaning methods.

  • Check the tag to see if it’s machine washable.
  • When hand-washing, use cold water and delicate wash cycles.
  • Lay flat to air-dry (no direct heat) to prevent damage.

Pay attention to any delicate fabrics in the blend, like silk or wool. Those may need special handling.

Linen and Hemp Carriers

Natural fiber wraps and slings made of linen or hemp need lots of gentleness as the fibers are very delicate.

  • Always hand-wash in cold water.
  • Use a tiny bit of soap, then rinse multiple times.
  • Don’t wring or twist to get water out.
  • Lay perfectly flat on a towel to air dry.

Tip: Adding a splash of white vinegar during rinses helps soften fibers.

Wool Carriers

Lanolin-rich wool is naturally stain- and odor-resistant. But spills still need wiping up.

  • For stains, spot clean with cold water.
  • Use wool-safe soap sparingly.
  • Press the water out gently with towels.
  • Lay flat to air dry, then gently re-fluff.
  • Every 3 months, hand wash to freshen

Note: Wool is prone to shrinking if agitated, so no machine washing or fabric softeners!

Silk Carriers

Delicate like other fibers (yet so gorgeous), silk needs great care too.

  • Hand wash only with specially formulated silk soap.
  • Use cold, distilled, or at least lukewarm water.
  • Avoid twisting or wringing.
  • Roll in a towel to gently squeeze moisture.
  • Always lay flat on a towel to air dry, keeping shape.

Note: Silk scarf-style slings should be taken to the dry cleaner for deeper cleaning.

Synthetic Carriers

If your baby carrier contains nylon or polyester, follow the rules for delicates.

  • Check the tag to confirm it is machine washable.
  • Use cold water on a gentle or delicate cycle.
  • Only non-chlorine bleach is needed.
  • Lay flat to dry or tumble dry low.

Note: Don’t use fabric softeners or dryer sheets as they coat synthetic fibers.

Special Considerations for Carrier Parts

Many baby carriers have extra bits and pieces you need to consider when cleaning:

Buckles and hardware: Use a small brush and a mild soap solution to scrub off gunk. Rinse fully with clean water.

Straps or padding: If removable, take them off and hand wash them in cold water with a tiny bit of detergent. Line dry.

Wrap ties: Hand wash ties in cold water if overly dirty. Roll in a towel to squeeze out moisture. Untwist flat for air drying.

Structured panels (on soft structured carriers): Use a damp cloth to spot clean. Then let the air dry. Don’t submerge.

** Mesh:** The breathable fabric dries quickly after handwashing. Lay the mesh pieces flat while drying.

Step-by-step washing instructions

Here is exactly how to clean common types of baby carriers from start to finish:.

Machine Washable Cotton Carrier Directions

  1. Shake the carrier upside down outside to remove loose dirt.
  2. Check pockets and storage areas for items; remove them if found.
  3. Zip up buckles and fasteners so they don’t catch.
  4. Machine wash alone on a cold, delicate cycle with mild detergent.
  5. Add an extra rinse cycle if heavily soiled.
  6. Roll up loosely in a towel to absorb moisture.
  7. Lay flat on top of the towel to air dry overnight, reshaping the structure.
  8. Fluff lightly before the next use.

Hand-Wash Only Carrier Directions

  1. Fill sinks or buckets with cold water and a tiny bit of wool-safe or silk detergent.
  2. Swirl the carrier gently to dissolve soap, but don’t wring, twist, or scrub roughly.
  3. Drain dirty water and refill containers with fresh, cold, clean water.
  4. Rinse several times until the water runs clear.
  5. Gently press the water out by rolling the carrier in a towel.
  6. Lay perfectly flat on a fresh towel to air dry, smoothing to the original shape.
  7. Use hands to gently fluff up fibers once they are fully dry.

Let’s also go over how to…

Deep Clean Messy Spills on Baby Carriers

Life happens! When little accidents end up on your carrier, don’t panic. Just grab some soap, water, and a towel.

For food, poop, pee, or spit-up stains:

  • Scrape off solids with a dull knife or spoon.
  • Blot excess liquid immediately with a towel; don’t rub it in!
  • Spot a clean area with a small amount of mild soap and cold water.
  • Dab more with a clean, wet towel; change towels if needed.
  • Do a full wash cycle according to the carrier fabric type above.

For drool stains:

  • Rub lightly with bar soap and cold water.
  • Let the soap soak for 5 minutes.
  • Rinse the soap out fully with a clean, wet towel.
  • Follow the normal washing steps above.

For sweat stains:

  • Make a paste of baking soda and cold water.
  • Gently rub paste onto the stained area.
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes before rinsing.
  • Wash as usual based on the fabric.

Don’t fret—with some patience, you can lift even tough stains!

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Washing Baby Carriers

While cleaning baby carriers, steer clear of these no-no’s!

  1. Using bleach or harsh chemicals that damage fabrics. Stick to gentle baby detergents.
  2. Putting carriers in the dryer unless the tag says tumble dry low. Heat destroys delicate fabrics.
  3. Forgetting to close buckles and fasteners so straps don’t get caught. Zip or snap pieces together.
  4. Letting baby carriers sit wet or dirty, which allows stains and mildew to set in. Rinse and wash ASAP.

Stick to the gentle techniques above, and your carriers will stay fresh!

Choosing the Right Detergent for Your Baby Carrier

With so many options on store shelves, what type of detergent is best for washing baby carriers? I recommend using a gentle baby detergent without dyes or fragrance. Standard laundry detergents may contain chemicals too harsh for a baby’s skin.

Key features to look for include:

  • Free of dyes, perfumes, and irritants
  • Designed for babies’ delicate skin
  • The powder formula dissolves better in cold water.
  • Gentle cleansers like soda ash and nonionic surfactants
  • Natural ingredients like plant extracts, when possible

I suggest steering clear of detergents with optical brighteners, as those chemicals can be irritating. An ultra-light baby detergent suitable for newborns is your best bet.

If you don’t have a specialty baby detergent on hand, use the smallest amount possible of a free and clear liquid. Or try some castile soap flakes dissolved in the wash water. Just be sure to rinse extremely well to remove any residue.

Storing your baby carrier properly between uses

To prevent mildew growth or musty smells from developing, be sure to fully dry baby carriers after washing and allow airflow during storage.

Ideally, hang carriers on sturdy hooks or hangers somewhere with good ventilation. If hooks aren’t an option, neatly fold carriers and stand them upright on a closet shelf. Just don’t tightly pack them into plastic bins or non-breathable bags.

For wraps, tie carriers loosely so the weave stays open and air circulates. You can use ribbon to prevent the long pieces from unraveling without compression.

Read More: how long can baby be in a carrier.

And don’t put away dirty or even slightly damp carriers! Make sure no moisture remains before folding up. Let all parts dry completely after hand washing or machine cycles finish.

If you notice any mildew starting to grow, rewash the affected area with a bit of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice added to the detergent. Then be sure the carrier fully dries before wearing it again or stashing it away.

With some care when laundering and storing, your baby carriers will last wash after wash while staying fresh! Let me know if you have any other tips for keeping carriers clean, smelling, and stain-free.

Do You Need a Special Detergent for Cleaning Baby Carriers?

When it comes to keeping your baby carriers fresh and clean, using the right laundry detergent makes a difference. But do you really need to buy special baby detergents for washing your carriers? Or are standard detergents okay?

I recommend choosing a detergent made for babies’ delicate skin whenever possible. Baby detergents are specially formulated to be extra gentle. They contain mild cleansers, often use plant-based ingredients, and typically skip dyes and fragrances. All great features that prevent irritation against your little one’s sensitive skin.

However, if you don’t have a specialty baby detergent, your regular laundry soap will work in a pinch. Just be sure to use the smallest amount needed to clean the carriers and rinse very thoroughly. Harsher chemicals or residue left behind could still cause skin reactions in sensitive babies. It’s also wise to skip fabric softeners when washing with standard detergents.

And as mentioned throughout this article, always follow garment label instructions, no matter what. Delicates like wool, silk, and linen have special handling needs that protect the fine fibers.

While any mild, dye- or fragrance-free detergent can freshen up dirty carriers when needed, baby-safe formulas are best. But if you ever get stuck without a specialty brand, your regular laundry soap can wash carriers in a close second. Just use it sparingly and rinse multiple times.

FAQ About how to wash baby carrier

Can I machine wash my baby carrier?

Whether machine washing is safe depends on your baby carrier’s fabric. 100% cotton and some synthetic carriers can be gently washed in cold water on delicate, then air dried. But delicate fabrics like wool, silk, and linen should only be handwashed.

What temperature of water should I use?

Always use cold water when washing baby carriers to prevent damage, shrinkage, or dye bleeds. Warm or hot water can ruin delicate fabrics like wool and silk. Stick to cold washes.

How do I clean drool off my carrier?

Rub drool stains lightly with a small amount of hand soap and cold water. Let sit for several minutes so the soap penetrates, then rinse thoroughly with a clean, wet towel. Machine or handwash carrier soon after to fully sanitize.

Can I put my baby carrier in the dryer?

Unless the tag specifically says tumble dry low, it’s best to lay baby carriers flat to air dry. The heat and tumbling can damage straps, cause shrinkage, or ruin delicate fabrics.

What kind of detergent should I use to wash baby carriers?

Choose an ultra-mild baby laundry detergent without dyes or fragrance, or use the smallest amount of fragrance-free liquid. Standard detergents may be too harsh for a baby’s skin. Avoid using any optical brighteners.

How can I sanitize my carrier without washing it?

If you need to quickly sanitize between wash cycles, spray lightly with hydrogen peroxide cleaner, then wipe down with a clean, damp cloth. Or sprinkle baking soda before brushing off.

How do I wash a carrier if machine washing isn’t allowed?

If a baby carrier is handwashed only based on fabric, gently scrub with a tiny amount of mild soap in cold distilled water. Don’t wring or twist. Soak up water by rolling in a towel, then lay flat until fully dry.

Can I use bleach if my baby carrier is really dirty?

No. Never use bleach or other harsh chemicals on baby carriers, as they can severely damage fabrics. For badly soiled spots, use cold water and a tiny amount of mild natural soap, then rinse thoroughly clean.

Final Tips for Keeping Baby Carriers Clean

Besides regular washing, a few habits prevent buildup between cycles:

  • Hang carriers to air out after long wear sessions.
  • Spot clean drool after each use with a damp cloth.
  • Use a carrier cover to protect against messes.
  • Wash hands and face before babywearing.
  • Only let older kids eat and drink when worn.

There you have it! Everything you need to clean all types of baby carriers. Just follow the instructions for your carriers’ fabrics. Avoid harsh chemicals or heat. Check the accessories for special handling. And deal with stains promptly.

Taking a bit of extra care when washing ensures your carriers stay safe, sanitary, and comfy for all that sweet baby snuggling! Have any other tips? Share your carrier cleaning secrets with me below!

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I'm Neesha, a babywearing expert. For over 10 years, I've helped families at my store find the perfect carrier and discover the benefits of babywearing. My experience guides families on their babywearing journey. I provide excellent service and educate on the joys of babywearing.

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