How to Clean Baby Car Seats

There are a lot of things people will comment on as you prepare for your first baby. That wonderful moment when your baby grips your finger for the first time, the many sleepless nights ahead of you, the new perspective on life.

Everyone will be quick to warn you that, having a baby, will change your life completely and forever – both positively and negatively. They’ll have plenty of examples of the many pros and cons, but the one thing they like to leave out is the amount of cleaning that comes with a baby!

It’s not just the obvious things, either, like the never-ending cycles of laundry you’ll go through each day, or the floors that will seem forever caked in goo as soon as the baby starts crawling and walking.

Everything and anything your baby uses on a daily basis will become subject to regular and frequent cleaning sessions: from the high-chair to the pram, the baby car seat to the travel cot. This is not just a matter of cleanliness but hygiene, that is vital to your child’s health.

Your baby’s car seat, especially, will need proper maintenance and thorough cleaning sessions. While the rest of the family might abide to the strict no-food-in-the-car rule, you can’t stop a baby from eating, drinking and, consequently, making a mess whenever they want.

Here’s how to clean baby car seats for easy maintenance and safe, long-term use.

Abide by a Weekly Maintenance Routine

A lot can happen in a week. From crumb feasts to muddied baby-boots competitions, to diaper explosions and projectile situations – you just never quite know what to prepare for when you’re traveling with an infant on a day to day basis.

Even if you suspect your child might be a neat-freak in the making, you can always rely on their car seat to be their shameful, messy spot. By sticking to a weekly maintenance routine, you can assure that at least the weekly dirt and grime is dealt with.

The best way to do this is by vacuuming the baby car seat at least once a week, and always keeping cleaning wipes on hand for a quick wipe down whenever you see it’s needed. This will make the deep-cleaning sessions easier and more efficient.

Choose Your Moment Wisely

If the thought of what has accumulated in the cracks and folds of your baby’s car seat is keeping you up at night, you’d probably be happy to get up at the crack of dawn to get started on giving it the deep-clean it so desperately needs.

Don’t get down to business unless you’re certain you won’t be needing the car seat for the next 24-48 hours, however. If you have a back up car seat, that’s fine, otherwise, you’ll want to allow for enough time for the seat cover to dry and air out properly before assembling everything again.

Choose your moment for a thorough clean wisely, otherwise it could cause for extra stress: you wouldn’t want to subject your child to a ride in a damp car seat because of poor timing.

Clean the Cover & Base

The best baby advice anyone can give you, is investing in a car seat that comes with a removable cover – it makes the cleansing process so much easier. For a proper cleaning session, start by removing the cover and the straps.

Shake out or vacuum all the curious items that have amassed in the folds of the fabric – crumbs, dirt, fluff, etc. If you find any particularly sticky spots, scrub at them with a damp sponge or wet wipes prior to sticking the cover in the washing machine.

With the fabric cover removed, you’ll now get to marvel at the impressive amount of grime that can build up on the base of the seat. Use a sponge and a mild detergent to give it a good scrub, careful to get into all nooks and crannies.

Rinse properly afterwards and be sure to dry it thoroughly, to avoid water from accumulating in certain areas and causing damage over time. Spray it down with disinfectant for good measure once the base is properly cleaned.

Gently Wash the Straps & Buckles

The most important feature on your baby’s cart seat are, of course, the straps and buckles that keep them safely strapped in. Therefore, it is extremely important that you wash them with great care, to ensure continuing safety.

Give the buckle a good shake, perhaps even run a vacuum cleaner over it, to get rid of any small crumbs or dirt particles that have lodged inside.

Do not wash the straps and buckles in the washing machine and avoid harsh detergents. The best way to clean them properly is using lukewarm water and a gentle soap, as this will ensure you do not compromise their strength and longevity.   

While you won’t be able to deep clean belts and harnesses, you can get rid of any superficial dirt and odor with this technique. Should the straps be extremely soiled – such as with vomit, etc. – replace them immediately.

Sun Dry All Components Thoroughly

The best way to dry all the components of the car seat properly is in the sun. This will give the fabric a proper chance to air out and get rid of any lingering odors, without adding extra wear and tear to it.

Once the seat cover has sun dried thoroughly, you can opt to spray it down with a pleasant, eco-friendly odor-eliminator for an extra sense of freshness. Do not use any spray product on the straps or buckles.

Reassemble & Safety-Check

Ensure everything has dried evenly an reassemble the car seat cover, straps and buckles according to the instructions.

When everything is back in its place, test the buckles by inserting the buckle tongues and waiting for the click; eject the tongues and repeat to ensure they are in proper working order. Next, give the belts a good tug to check for tension.

If your safety-checks come back with an all-clear, your baby’s good to go on their next, fresh and clean ride.