How to clean your baby car seat

- December 3, 2016
You’ve bought a car seat. Great! This goes a long way in keeping your baby safe as you travel. However, vomit, spills … You name it! All these happen eventually. Not to mention the much dreaded poop explosions. Your baby’s car seat is made in such a way that this mess will invariably seep into the car seat’s material and crevices. This can therefore become a vile source of germs and bacteria.
Keeping the car seat clean not only makes sure that your child does not fall sick and keeps your car clean and smelling fresh, it also helps keep your baby safe. Dirt in the car seat can build up as time goes by and prevent the car seat from working optimally. As such, make sure you clean the car seat often to keep the car seat in tip top shape. The issue becomes that you can’t simply hose off your car seat. Be careful not to ruin or compromise your baby’s car seat and safety. Choose when to clean your baby car seat depending on how messy things get. Some babies will always always make a mess, and as such cleaning the car seat could become a weekly mission. Before we proceed, it is important for us to go over a few ground rules that you should ALWAYS follow just to keep things safe.
  1. Read your owner’s manual: ALWAYS READ YOUR CAR SEAT OWNER’S MANUAL. This manual is packed with useful information on how to clean your car seat. Following these instructions ensures your baby is safe, and also makes sure that you do not void your warranty by doing things that are prohibited by your car seat manufacturer.
  2. Straps: You should NEVER submerge the car seat straps in water (Tub, Sink, Bucket or whatever else…) or wash them in a washing machine or otherwise. You can only wipe them down with a warm, damp cloth. Do not use soap. Car seat manufacturers specifically say that you should NOT wash your car seat straps with soap. Submerging the straps in water weakens the fibers/webbing of the car seat straps. In an accident, weakened straps can break. If the straps are too dirty, they need to be replaced. Better safe than sorry. Also, DO NOT use any chemicals on the shell of the seat! Any washed harnesses need to be replaced ASAP.
  3. Machine Washing: Unless stated in the manual, do NOT machine wash the cover or put it in the dryer. If the manual states otherwise, use the “delicate” or “hand wash” setting.
  4. Detergent: Do not use any hard/abrasive cleaners and raw detergents. Your child’s car seat cover has material on it that acts as a flame retardant. Using abrasive cleaners or detergent strips away this material. Always use a soft cloth and gentle soap clean the straps and seat cover.

First Steps

Remove from car: Take the car seat out of the car, and move it to a well-lit area like the garage or the driveway. Keep a towel under the car seat to prevent the bottom from getting scrapes, and also to prevent the surface on which you have placed the car seat from being damaged by the water. Vacuum: This is the easiest way to clean the dust, dry particles, even small pieces of food and other things is to vacuum up all these things. Using a vacuum cleaner, you can easily reach every nook and corner of the seat. Use an attachment to clean the difficult to reach parts of the car seat.

Cleaning your  car seat cover:

If the cover is removable, the first step to cleaning the car seat is removing the car seat cover. Remember to take photos of how the car seat looked like before dismantling it. Often times putting the car seat back is much harder than taking it apart. Hand-wash the cover using cold water and mild soap. Do not raw chemicals such as bleach to clean the cover. Also, do not machine wash the cover or use a hard brush to clean the cover. Consult your car seat manual to see Don’t   even use any raw chemicals to clean the seat. You can consult the user manual to clean the cover. Don’t machine dry or iron the cover. Spread the car seat cover on a flat surface or hang it out to dry on your clothes line to prevent the cover from shrinking.

Cleaning the buckle

  1. Take the buckle off the shell
  2. Run warm water over it for about 5 minutes
  3. DO NOT use abrasive detergent on the buckle.
  4. Engage and disengage the car seat buckle until you hear a click. If you do not, rinse the buckle again to make sure that nothing is making the buckle stick.
  5. Make sure you fix the buckle straps correctly by referring to your car seat manual.

Cleaning the harness

  1. Wash it with a damp cloth just on the surface.
  2. If the straps are too dirty they should be replaced immediately.

Cleaning the cover

  1. Wipe down the cover immediately the mess occurs. This reduces the time and effort needed for cleaning and avoids damage to the car seat.
  2. Remove the harness straps and the crotch strap before you take off the cover.
  3. Hand-wash the cover using cold water and mild soap ONLY like we mentioned above.
  4. Spread the car seat cover on a flat surface or hang it out to dry. This effectively prevents shrinking.

Cleaning the car seat shell

  1. Wipe the shell of the car seat with a very mild solution of soap and water only.
  2. Try not to get the labels wet during cleaning as they contain useful info that may fade away.
  3. DO NOT use harsh chemicals or detergent to clean the shell of the car seat. This will cause the plastic to become weak and may not keep your baby safe in case of an accident.
  4. Wipe away any excess water and with a cloth and ensure that no water is left in the crevices of the shell.

Putting back the car seat together

Put the car seat cover and harness back on the car seat. Use the pictures you took earlier if things get confusing, and check your car seat manual for proper instructions on what to do. Make sure you do this step correctly because proper car seat use could mean the difference between life and death.

Storing the car seat

Keep the car seat in a room that is well aired and not humid or damp. This means that areas such as garages or basements are unsuitable for car seat storage. Keep your car seat away from areas with direct sunlight as this will slowly degrade the shell of the car seat. This may result in the car seat becoming stiff and more likely to break.


Following the instructions given here and those on your car seat manual keenly ensures that your car seat works well for a long time and keeps your baby safe and comfortable.
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