Most of us like our carriers to be clean. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep them that way … babies tend to spew things on them, and in general they’re hard-working staples of baby gear that encounter grime every so often in their toils. Few carriers require the kind of care generally reserved for our cashmere sweaters, though. It’s rare to encounter a “hand-wash, lie flat to dry” baby carrier. Most are not hard to care for, but that doesn’t mean you can necessarily toss them in with the rest of your laundry.
Read the care instructions that came with your carrier … and read them with respect. I think of it like this: my carriers are constructed of materials that hold my baby, and properly caring for those materials is essential to ensure their integrity.
One of our slingers recently bought a used wrap that is lovely to look at but has a strong smell and feels slippery. Actually, it is slippery; it doesn’t hold a knot well, and this slinger knows how to tie a knot. The likely culprit: fabric softener. If you spend any time at all in the wrap forums at TheBabyWearer, you will see the admonition never to use fabric softener on a wrap. The care instructions for wraparound slings are pretty consistent in saying not to use fabric softener.
Fabric softener coats the fibers of a wrap, or of any other fabric, and makes the fabric behave differently than it otherwise would. It might result in a slippery surface that doesn’t hold a knot. It might also cause the fabric to “fluff up” and then, during use, stretch out … which is definitely not a sought-after characteristic in a wraparound sling. One wants one’s sling to stay put, not slip or sag.
Is there hope for this slippery sling? Sure. There’s no guarantee that it can be restored, but there is hope. The advice I’ve seen so far is to add some vinegar and a little Dawn dishwashing liquid to the washing machine while washing the sling, and repeat several times. I’ve also seen a recommendation to leave the sling in the rain.
If you have a tip for ridding a sling from fabric softener residue, we’d love for you to leave it in the comments! We’re hoping this poor sling makes a full recovery.