Let’s face it — car seats are like the catch-all for all the snacks. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll find a way to get things like stickers stuck in the crevice of their car seats too. It seriously never fails to amaze me just how many crumbs and random missing items can be found when you do that once in a while thorough car seat cleaning.
If you haven’t cleaned your kiddo’s car seat in a while, or this is your first rodeo doing a thorough car seat clean, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to car seat cleaning. But be warned, the amount of crumbs you’ll find in there is shocking.
Step-by-Step Guide to Car Seat Cleaning
Step #1 Take the Car Seat Out
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to clean a car seat that is still in the car! It’s hard enough to clean these seats, let alone try to squeeze ourselves into the backseat to vacuum out all the gunk we find in there.
Step one to making this car seat cleaning process just a little easier from the get-go is just taking it out. You’ll have much more space to move. Plus, this makes things so much easier when it comes to step two. If you bring your car seat inside to clean, you don’t have to worry about lugging your vacuum outside and then finding an extension cord to plug it in (us moms just don’t have time for this). Bring the car seat inside and make things simple.
Step #2 Dismantle & Wash
Carefully remove all the fabric parts you can. Pay attention to how you remove them so you can put them back! Removing the fabric will make it easier for you to clean all the cracks and crevices within the seat’s structure. Check your owner’s manual to see if it’s safe to throw those fabric bits into the washing machine. After they’re clean, set them out in the sun to dry (and the sun helps to kill bad bacteria, too!).
Step #3 Vacuum
There’s something about this step that is so satisfying (right?). If you’re like me, we probably have looked at those cracker crumbs for the last month every time we hooked our kiddos up in their car seats. It’s been that constant reminder that the car seat needs a cleaning. By the time we find any spare time in our busy mom schedules to clean it, vacuuming is seriously the best part of the process.
Step #4 Spot Clean Where Needed
If you’ve removed the fabric, use a cleaner and rag to wipe down any dirt, grease, or grime on the seat’s plastic parts. If you can’t wash the fabric, it’s time to grab your homemade gentle spot cleaner to spot clean any stains. Something as simple as baking soda and water works super well for stains. Baking soda even works as a natural deodorizer (win!).
Need a more convenient option? Brands like Seventh Generation and Puracy make eco-friendly soap and even laundry detergent options. These often work well for getting stains out. Basically, this step is about cleaning up any possible stains and pulling out all the stops with a sponge or scrubber for those caked-on food stains!
*Note: If you still have the instruction manual for your car seat, be sure to check and make sure that soap and water are okay to use. Depending on your car seat’s material, you may need to use a specific type of cleaner.
After you scrub, scrub, scrub, be sure to pat down the car seat with a towel just to help speed up the drying process a bit.
Step #5 Dry
Finally, just let the car seat dry before getting it reinstalled into the car. We don’t want any excess moisture in the car seat from the cleaning process. This will only create more work and more cleaning. Also, try to clean the car seat on a day where you aren’t going out. You have the whole day to let it air dry before reinstalling it in the car.
Happy Car Seat Cleaning!
That’s it. It really is pretty simple. Once that bad boy is cleaned, you will feel so accomplished (seriously, it’s a total mom win). And if we’re being honest, this car seat cleaning process is something that we moms will probably have to do more times than we can count, at least throughout the toddler years.
So, let’s embrace it and try to make it fun. Put on your favorite podcast, listen to some music, and make the most of this mundane parenting task. One day, we’ll miss our kiddos being young enough to still fit into the car seat that they just happen spill every single one of their snacks in.