“I love cleaning the car seat”, said no parent ever.
From juice spills to motion-induced vomit, cleaning a child’s car seat can be a nightmare for busy parents. To make this daunting, dirty task easier, here are 9 easy tips for cleaning your child’s messy car seat safely and effectively.
1. Never procrastinate
Messes, especially the wet ones, should be addressed immediately before it dries out. Promptly remove the child’s car seat from the vehicle. Then, take off the cover, straps, and buckles. It’s a smart move to have a car seat cleaning kit stored in your car’s trunk for these nasty situations.
2. Stock up on baby wipes
Spot clean using baby wipes. They’re an ideal quick fix as they can get most stains out yet do not contain abrasive chemicals that could be harmful to your children with sensitive skin and allergies.
3. Read the labels for washing guidelines
Before you follow experiment on a cleaning solution that might damage your child’s car seat, make sure to go over the manual for the detailed laundering instructions. Some seats must not be machine-washed, and most shouldn’t be tumble dried and ironed.
If machine-washing of the seat cover is permitted, make sure to put it on a delicate cycle at 30 degrees. Do not use bleach or fabric softener too.
4. Use gentle products
Forget the go-to hack of using vinegar for cleaning your car seat covers. When dealing with a baby car seat, your cleaning solution should have a neutral ph. Anything that’s not near neutral (acids and bases) are corrosive and they break down the integrity of the harness.
When cleaning a baby car seat, water, baby wipes, and gentle detergent are everything that’s permitted.
5. Gently wipe down the harness or straps
Never throw the car seat harness or straps in a washing machine, no matter how gentle your cycle is. Doing so could weaken their fibers and reduce their effectiveness. Don’t use abrasives to clean your straps too.
Instead, dip a soft cloth or cleaning brush into a solution made with cool water and baby-friendly detergent. Start wiping down the harness gently in small circles at the top, working your way down. Be mindful not to soak the harness; wet them in a way that’s just enough to loosen the particles.
6. Cleanse dirty buckles with warm tap water
Dirty buckles aren’t just ugly – they can also be safety hazards to your child should crumbs or sticky spills hinder them from latching properly.
When cleaning your seat buckles, refer to your manual restrictions. Generally, you may place the buckles in tap water or a cup of warm water to dislodge any food or items trapped in them. Make sure to keep any connected straps out of the water.
Additionally, regularly check your buckles to make sure it clicks and releases properly.
7. Wash your car seat covers too
Did your child spill their drink or puke on your precious car seats? Don’t panic. If you have cotton or synthetic car seat covers (polyester, mesh, velour, neoprene, and canvas car seat covers), here’s a universal guide:
- You may safely handwash or machine-wash them in cool water on a gentle cycle.
- Do not soak and wring
- After washing, flatten the car seat cover, drip dry in shade and air it dry.
- Do not iron.
If you’re unsure about your specific seat’s care instructions, it’s better to refer to your labels. Sheepskin covers, for instance, have tricky care instructions and should only be dry-cleaned. Leather, on the other hand, only needs to be spot-cleaned but may require a special cleaning product.
8. Seek help from the sun when tackling smells
If the car seat cover still stinks even after washing, try placing it out in the sun for a few hours. Speed up the deodorizing process by lightly spraying the cover with a good deodorizer.
You can make your homemade spray by mixing 10 drops of lavender essential oil, 10 drops of tea tree oil, and 16 oz of water.
9. If all else fails, replace your child’s car seat
Of course, you want your kid to be as comfortable as possible when you’re on road trips. That said, if your child’s car seat can’t be washed safely or if it still smells foul despite your best efforts, think of buying a new one or purchasing replacement parts. Just make sure to never buy a secondhand car seat or replacement parts.
On a Positive Note…
While keeping a child’s car seat spotless 24/7 is impossible, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the mess.
- Invest in a seat protector
- Purchase multipurpose sickness bags
- Have a car seat cleaning kit in store
- Keep a few packs of baby wipes
- Use travel-friendly snack containers to prevent spills
Author Bio: Mina Natividad is one of the daytime writers for TuffSeat Car Seat Covers, a leading supplier of genuine accessory seat covers to the Australian car market, offering vehicle-specific car seat covers for top brands including. Toyota, Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi, Hino, Fuso, Isuzu Trucks, and more. She loves writing about automobiles, travel, and lifestyle.