How To Clean Your Child’s Car Seat? The Safest Way

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Written by: Faheem S.

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When it comes to your child’s car seat safety, a clean and functional car seat is essential. Regularly cleaning your child’s car seat can help to keep her healthy and germ-free. However, it’s essential to know how to clean your child’s car seat to keep it in peak condition.

Whether you are dealing with juicy spills, or diaper messes, or simply want to give your child’s car seat a thorough cleaning, I’ve got a solution for you.

In this post, I’ll cover

  • All the don’ts of cleaning your child’s car seat
  • Safe ways to clean your child’s car seat (part by part)
  • Tips for keeping your child’s car seat in the best possible condition

Related: What to do with your unwanted car seat?

DONT’s of cleaning your child’s car seat

1. Don’t wash your car seat without thoroughly reading the manual first

For anything related to your car seat, always refer to your car seat manual.

2. Don’t soak or submerge your car seat harness straps in water

Soaking or submerging your car seat harness straps in water will damage the material or weaken its strength.

3. Don’t machine dry your car seat cover & padding

Can you put a car seat cover in the dryer? The answer is NO. You cannot put your baby’s car seat covers and padding in the dryer. The only way is to air dry them.

4. Don’t use a hair dryer on your car seat to speed up the process

Not even a hair dryer? Well, no! a hair dryer or any other electrical device used to speed up the air-drying process can melt and deteriorate the material of the car seat.

5. Don’t use harsh cleaning products and detergents

Bleach, chemical solvents, acidic substances like vinegar, and abrasive cleaners like Lysol and Febreeze are a no-no.

These cleaning agents can damage the car seat and reduce its flame-retardant abilities. So, stick to using gentle soap and warm water.

How to clean your child’s car seat (part by part)

Different car seat brands don’t have the same cleaning instructions.

How we wash car seats depends on the material that the seat is made of. That’s why it is important to consult the car seat manual before you do anything to your car seat. 

If you are still not sure, you can reach out to the car seat manufacturer to answer your questions.

What will you need to clean your baby’s car seat?

To get started, you’ll need a few easy-to-get supplies:

  • A vacuum cleaner with a long attachment (Like this one)
  • Gentle soap (Dawn Dish Soap or Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Wash will do)
  • A few dry and soft cloths
  • Sponge
  • Baby wipes
  • Warm water
  • A toothbrush (optional)

How to clean your child’s car seat straps?

how to clean car seat straps

Car seat straps endure the most dirt and grime and they will require periodic cleaning from spilled snacks, drool, and vomit.

Some car seat straps are permanently attached to your car seat, so there is no way you can remove them to clean or even replace them. 

Also, car seat straps are made from elastic fibers that can stretch or break if submerged in water or washed with detergents. This harms the integrity of the car seat.

The only safe way to clean car seat straps is by using a cloth dampened with mild soap and warm water or baby wipes. Gently wipe down the strains and dirt on the straps.

Once done, leave the straps to air dry.

You may be tempted to use a hairdryer or put the straps in the tumble clothes dryer but this is a big NO. Heat will cause the straps to warp and weaken them.

You can also consider replacing your car seat straps if they can’t get rid of the yucky smell and stains. Check with your car seat manufacturer if it’s possible to replace them.

How to clean car seat buckles and clips?

how to clean car seat buckles and clips

Buckles and clips are the most important parts of a car seat. They keep your child secure in place while you drive.

To clean the car seat buckles, use a damp cloth and warm soapy water to wipe away the yuck. Next, wipe them with a dry cloth and leave them to air dry for a few hours before reattaching them to your car seat.

Buckles are attached to the straps so make sure not to submerge them in water.

You can also use a toothbrush to scrub the nooks and crannies in the buckles and clips of the car seat. 

How to clean car seat cover and paddings

how to clean car seat paddings and cover

Most car seat covers and padding are removable and machine washable which is a great thing. 

However, one important thing to keep in mind is that car seat covers and padding should not be dried in the machine.

ALWAYS AIR DRY (end of discussion!)

To remove the car seat covers refer to your car seat manual. Also, I recommend you film this step in case you forget how the put the cover back on (it happens! )

For mild stains, you can use a wet fabric or baby wipe to clean the stain. If the stain is not coming out, let the gentle soap sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off it with warm water.

I always avoid machine washing the car seat cover unless it’s really messy and when machine washing I only use baby shampoo (any gentle soap will do).

Harsh detergents will get rid of the flame retardants that car seat covers usually have to protect your child in case of a fire.

After washing, hang dry your car seat covers and padding. Do not put car seat covers in the dryer as this can shrink and also damage it.

How to clean car seat frame and base

how to clean a car seat frame and base

The frame and base of the car seat are probably the easiest part to clean in a car seat. Use a baby wipe or a wet cloth to wipe all the yuck on the shell.

If the stains are dry, pre-soak them first and then use a damped soap and water cloth to wipe the stains and dirt.

No harsh cleaning products like Lysol, Clorox, Febreeze, Vinegar, or baking soda must be used to clean the car seat as these can eat away at plastic.

How to clean a car seat cup holder

how to clean a car seat cup holder

Car seat cup holders can accumulate mold and mildew if not cleaned occasionally. Luckily they can be removed and cleaned.

With gentle soap and water wash the cup holder and make sure to get into the nooks and crannies. You will be surprised how dirty and yucky it can get.

Rinse it off with clean water and leave it to air dry before reattaching it to your car seat.

How to clean the crevices of a car seat

Using a handheld vacuum cleaner with soft bristles can vacuum away the dust and dirt from small crevices of car seats.

Follow with a wet cloth or wet wipe to get rid of any remaining dirt and let air dry.

A great tip to reach the hard part of the crevices is to wrap the cloth in a flathead screwdriver and use it to get into the tight areas.

Useful car seat cleaning tips

  1. Prevention is best: Prevent car seat messiness by bringing a bib, blanket or cover for your child to keep the car seat clean. Also, keep vomit bags ready in case your child gets sick.
  2. Act fast:  As soon as you notice a stain, act fast. The longer it stays on the car seat, the harder the stain will be to remove.
  3. Keep baby wipes within reach: Clean your car seat as often as you can. It does not have to be extreme cleaning, something light, and maintenance-based is enough.
  4. Odor not going away? If the odor from spills is still there after you’ve cleaned it, redo the cleaning process again and let it dry under the sun.

Wrapping up

I hope this post gave you the confidence to clean your kid’s car seat.

Cleaning a baby car seat doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember, regular cleaning and maintenance are key for keeping the car seat in optimal shape.

Whenever in doubt, just refer to the car seat manual or the manufacturer’s website for cleaning instructions.

Also, make sure you reassemble and install your car seat correctly to keep your little one safe.

Happy cleaning!

Please note: The content provided on Car Seat Parent, including all materials and information, is not intended to serve as medical or health advice. Always consult with ahealthcare professional regarding your specific circumstances, especially when it concerns the safety and well-being of your child in relation to car seat use.

About Faheem S.

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