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Car Seat Cleaning Guide

Every parent knows how quickly a car seat can go from gleaming to grimy thanks to all those chip & cracker crumbs, fruit drinks & milk stains and well, bodily fluids. Kids will be kids, after all.

This is a breakdown of the best suggestions to clean car seats:

  • Our top recommendation would be to not allow any food or drink near the car seat, but we all know this just isn’t realistic.
  • We recommend cleaning your car seat at least once a month, with a full clean.
  • This stops liquids going mouldy or ruining the fabric. It also stops stains and food scraps interfering with the structure and functionality of the car seat.
  • Accidents happen, there are car seat savers available to put underneath your child’s bottom, but if this isn’t suitable, we suggest cleaning any accidents the moment they happen.
  • Whether your car seat just needs a bit of a spot cleaning or you’re dealing with a code-brown emergency nappy blowout situation, we’ve got a solution for you.

We at Baby On The Move have come up with a few suggestions and advice on how to clean your child’s car seat restraint and restore it to “like” new.

We also suggest making sure there is no objects or food on the floor or beside the car seat, not only can this attract unwanted animals and odours but it is
also classed as projectiles that can harm your child in case of an accident.

Car Seat Protectors & Mats

Baby On The Move have a range of car seat protectors for both in your seat and under it. This helps to collect food and grime, but also protects the condition of your seat.

*please note to check your manual for suitable covers that are approved for use with your car seat.

Here’s what you need to do:

Shake & Vac

Please ensure that you shake out any loose debris in the seat before you vacuum. Vacuuming will pick up all the loose, dry bits and stop them from spreading through the car when you move the seats for a deeper clean.

Remove Covers

Baby On The Move recommends taking photos of your seat before you remove the cover. This way there is less frustration when putting it all back together.
YOU MUST always check your car seat manual to see if they have specific instructions in regards to cleaning your seat.

Wash Covers

Although some covers can be machine washable, others will need a delicate hand wash. Refer to your car seat manual to see which cleaning products can and can’t be used, which parts can and can’t be submerged in water and if there are any inserts that need to be removed before washing.

Generally speaking, mild detergents are good to use, while bleach and other harsh chemicals are not advised because they can weaken or damage some surfaces or affect things like the flame retardant protection in the material.

Your manual will explain what temperature the washing water should be at or below, and it will also tell you whether it’s ok to put the clean covers in the dryer, but we wouldn’t suggest this, instead they need to be hung on the line in the sun and breeze. (the sun also helps to remove any odours)

You must follow all instruction’s given to care for your car seat as per the manual, otherwise this could affect your warranty.

Clean the harnesses

These play a key role in keeping your little one secure while on the move and they also see a lot of action as babies and young children dribble, spill and touch the harness with their sticky fingers!

It’s recommended that you spot clean the dirty bits of the straps and harness using a non-abrasive cloth and warm water (make sure you follow your manuals instructions first and foremost).

The strap and harness should be cleaned by hand, DO NOT machine wash because a vigorous washing cycle can damage the fabric and reduce its capacity to keep your child safe if a collision happens.

Clean the buckles

The crutch buckle and chest clip are another part of the car seat that are crucial for safety and are in the firing line of spillages. We would still suggest spot cleaning these in warm water, you must not use any soap or cleaners. For the harness adjuster strap, use cotton buds & toothpicks to help remove those small hard to reach crumbs.

Clean the shell

To remove any last grime from the shell of the car seat, wipe it down with a damp cloth, mild soap and some water. After this, wipe off any soap residue with a clean, damp cloth.

Tip: using a toothbrush, cotton buds or toothpicks, helps to get into those small hard to reach crevices.

Putting it together

This is possibly the worst part of cleaning your child’s car seat! If you have taken photos earlier, this will be extremely useful. Your other option is to pop instore and one of our trained Car Seat Technicians will help you reassemble your car seat and reinstall this for you.

If this all becomes a bit much, we can do the cleaning for you.

Fees will apply for both of these services, please check with your local Baby On The Move store.

How can you keep the car seat clean and fresh going forward?

Newborns and babies are not toilet-trained and young children don’t have perfect habits, but there are ways to keep your little one’s car seat stay cleaner for longer:
  • We suggest using cloth nappies or muslin cloths for general purpose in-car clean-ups. You can lay one on your child’s lap while they eat and drink or use a cloth nappy to soak up unexpected explosions of vomit and other bodily fluids.
  • You might also want to think about the kind of snacks your child has in the car. Some families stick to dry, non-crumbly food that’s easy to vacuum up, and if your child is prone to car sickness or general sloppiness, then yoghurt may be best served outside the vehicle!
  • Also if you get your groceries delivered, the brown paper bags are good to use in the car for any small amount of rubbish or for the unexpected vomit. You can use a eco friendly deodoriser on the back of your vehicle seats or the carpet on the floor to freshen up the area, these cannot be used on the child’s car seat.
  • Kiwis love the beach!!! but sand are salt water are your seat & buggy’s worst nightmare! This needs to be vacuumed or cleaned after you have been in an area with sand, as the small granules can get into the mechanisms of your car seat and can stop your restraint from functioning as it should.
At the end of the day, your baby or child’s safety is the most important thing when they are on the move. So make sure their car seat is safely installed and good luck with any drink splashes, food spillages or bodily explosions that happen en route!


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