100% Cotton is the most common fabric blend that you'll see with woven wraps. Like your cotton clothes, woven wraps with cotton are easy to care for and not high-maintenance. You can machine wash them and tumble dry them on low. Cotton is fairly breathable and easy to wrap with, with not very much "breaking in" required to get them soft and floppy. While thinner cotton wraps may not be as supportive for toddlers, a thicker woven wrap with a tight weave can provide plenty of support for heavier babies or toddlers!
In addition to 100% cotton, there are many cotton blends, like cotton/linen and cotton/hemp. There are newer blends using cotton/Reprieve fabric (recycled fibers) and cotton/Tencel (a natural, man-made fiber) which have been gaining popularity.
Linen blends are breathable and make a popular choice for warm climates and the summer. Linen blends are also popular for carrying heavier babies or toddlers, since they have little stretch and make for very solid carries that do not move or settle. The higher percentage of linen in the blend, the more stiff the fabric may be and will need breaking in to make it soft. However, once broken in, linen can be a dream to wrap with because it molds to your shoulders and creates an amazingly solid carry! Linen can dry out with extreme or long periods of heat. You can machine wash them with a low spin and tumble dry on low or let them air dry until slightly damp and give it a good steam iron. This will also help to soften the wrap.
Linen can be prone to shifting threads or perma-creasing. Threads can shift if the wrap is spun on high in the dryer. Thread shifting can be fixed with a sewing needle (just by pushing the threads back in line), but it can create a weakened area if left. Perma-creasing can occur if the fabric is folded or creased in one spot for too long, creating a permanent crease in the fabric. This is usually harmless, but you may want to check that area for any wear.
Hemp is also another popular choice for toddlers. It is a flatter fiber like linen. Depending on the thickness of the weave and pattern, it can also be a good summer fabric, although some thicker wraps will be warmer than linen. If you like a solid carry without much stretch or bounce, hemp is a great option. Cotton/hemp blends are wonderfully supportive and thin! They are pretty low-maintenance and can be machine washed on warm and tumbled dry but can shrink, so beware.
Wool is a great cushy fabric for woven wraps. It is wonderful for fall/winter carries, but some wool wraps are also great for the summer as well. Wool wraps are very soft and comfortable for wearing, which make them popular for heavier babies and toddlers. They are more bouncy than linen or hemp wraps. Wool needs to be treated very delicately when laundering. It needs to be hand washed in lukewarm water with liquid detergent specially designed for wool. You will need to lay it flat to dry. It's very important to avoid extreme temperature changes, agitation, wringing it out and spinning it in the washing machine, as these can damage the fabric and cause the fibers to felt. Felting can weaken the fabric and make it unsafe for use as a woven wrap. Wool wraps should be air dried. While the laundering process can be intimidating, it's not hard and a good wool laundering guide can help you through the process!
Silk is a more expensive fabric with a beautiful sheen! Depending on the thickness of the fabric, it can be on the thinner side (great and snuggly for small babies) or thicker and more supportive for heavier babies and toddlers. Silk wraps require a hand wash or the hand wash cycle on your washing machine (only if your wrap's washing instructions say it's okay to machine wash) with liquid detergent made specifically for silk/wool. Be sure to follow the care instructions if you machine wash. You should line dry them out of direct sunlight.
We hope this helps to decode some of the wrap blends! Here are some final tips:
- Always check the washing instructions with your particular wrap.
- When machine washing a woven wrap, liquid detergent free of optical-brighteners is highly recommended.
- Some people prefer to line dry all of their wraps, regardless of if they can be machine dried.
- Since this blog post is not exhaustive, if you'd like a more detailed guide for laundering carriers, you can visit our guidelines page.
Lauren Moore, VBE