As a parent to a baby or toddler, you're probably all too familiar with how quickly a car seat can go from new and shiny to gross and grimy thanks to all those juice box stains, food crumbs, and bodily fluids. Little kids are messy, so you inevitably have to clean their car seats frequently. Here are some pointers on how you can do just that.
1. Remove the car seat from your car
Before you start cleaning, take the car seat out of your car. Remove any toys or accessories that may be attached to it. A useful tip is to take a picture of the car seat when it is fully assembled before taking it apart to clean so that you have a better idea of how to go about reassembling it. It is also helpful to have the car seat manual handy for reference.
2. Use a vacuum to get rid of loose dirt and debris
Use a vacuum to clean up all the food, dust, dirt, and debris. Pay attention to cracks and spaces in the seat where debris is likely to get stuck. Make sure to vacuum under the seat material as well to get rid of any loose dirt.
3. Clean the fabric cover
Check your car seat manual to confirm if you can remove the fabric cover to give it a thorough clean. If it can be removed but it is hand-wash only, start by rinsing it off to get rid of loose dirt, then wash it with a bar of gentle, hypoallergenic soap and cold water. Depending on the manual instructions, machine-dry it or hang it out in the sun to dry. If the fabric cover shouldn’t be removed, spot clean it instead.
4. Clean the straps and harnesses
Straps and harnesses are very delicate, so you want to avoid submerging them in water or tossing them in the machine as this could stretch out the fabric webbing and reduce their effectiveness in keeping your little one safe. Instead, use a non-abrasive cloth and warm water to spot clean it. Use mild soap only if necessary, but stay away from cleaning sprays and harsh chemicals.
5. Clean the plastic base
Use a damp cloth dipped in soapy water to wipe down the plastic frame of the car seat. Pay close attention to the arms as these tend to get especially filthy. Never douse the plastic base in water as this might affect your car seat’s functionality.
6. Reassembling the car seat
Using the photos you took earlier and the car seat manual as a guide, reassemble the car seat and reinstall it back into your car. Make sure that you do this correctly, and if you’re having trouble, seek the help of an authorized fitter.
Don't wait until your baby's car seat is covered in grime to give it a clean – once you notice a spill, clean it out. This will not only prevent the accumulation of stains and reduced quality of the seat but is also essential for the good health of your little one. Also, keep in mind that a car seat always comes with a manual, so make sure you refer to it first before you start cleaning.