How To Safely Clean Car Seats

how to safely clean car seatsAs soon as my baby bump was noticeable and for the years that followed I got volumes of unsolicited advice about raising children yet nothing related to how messy and dirty kids were.  

Between crumbs, sand, diaper explosions and vomit, one item that always seems to be dirty is the car seat.

Keeping the car seat clean can be hard, but it’s a worthy fight. Cleanliness  affects the performance of a car seat over time and keeping the buckles,harness and the shell free and clear of debris optimizes the safety of your child’s car seat.

Follow The Rules For Safe Car Seat Cleaning

There many rules to cleaning a car seat safely; reading the manual is a must before tackling any cleanup. Reading the manufacturer’s instructions right after you buy the car seat will prevent you from possibly damaging it in the future when you’re dealing with a stinky mess.

Car seat manufacturers are clear about what kinds of cleaning products you should and shouldn’t use on the fabric and body of the car seat, follow these carefully to learn how to safely clean car seats. 

Tempting as it is to hose down your car seat after an accident, resist! The harness straps of the car seat can’t  be submerged. Ever. 

Avoid any harsh chemicals on your baby related products.  Besides the irritation chemicals may cause, they can also strip away any of the flame retardants built into the actual car seat cover.

If you’re on the road while a exploding mess happens, wipe down as much of the car seat as possible.  You probably won’t be able to take off the fabric portion, but you can wipe down the fabric, harness, shell, and buckles with a damp cloth until you can get somewhere to take off the fabric and clean the car seat safely.  

After the mess happens, avoid using a cloth or towel to line the seat as this impedes proper fit of the child back in the car seat.

Once you’re somewhere with some amenities,  remove the car seat fabric and wash it as per the manufacturer’s instructions (remember when I said read the manual?).  

Hand washing is best, and  always hang dry the fabric on a flat surface. Scrub the buckle and shoulder clips with a brush or sponge, getting out as much food or debris from the inside as possible.  Vacuuming the base of the car seat is also a possibility if the mess is food related.

If you have never taken apart your car seat before, you may want to take photos to recall where everything attaches.

Wipe down the harness straps with a cloth as many times as you need  to remove stains and odor and if possible, set it in the sun to dry which also may eliminate some of the odor. This will be your biggest obstacle over stains. Submerging the straps in water impacts the fibers of the webbing and as tempting as it is to use soap, please don’t.

clean car seats

Each child is slightly different in how they get car sick so try to avoid common triggers like eating a meal before driving or watching a screen while the car is moving. In some cases, you may not even have to un-install your child’s car seat to remove the fabric and scrub the buckle.  Our daughter got sick on a long road trip as hard as it was to clean up her car seat, we managed to get most of it out at a rest stop.  

Why not read the section on how to clean car seats right now in your manual?

Resources: CPSACCar Seat SafetyClek,  Healthy Children