Like anything that involves babies, car seats require careful cleaning to keep them fresh and sanitary. Get out the manual—or find it online—to learn the manufacturer’s recommendations about how to wash your infant’s car seat. We’ve added some helpful tips for new moms.
Choose the Right Time
Wipe up wet messes with a damp cloth as soon as possible. To wash the whole seat, you’ll have to remove it from the car. Unless you have a second seat you can switch in, find a time to clean the car seat when you won’t need it for at least 24 hours. Take a picture of the seat and how it fastens into the car before you undo everything; that way, it’ll be easier to put it all back correctly when the seat is clean.
Vacuum the Crumbs
Dab up wet messes with a baby wipe as soon as possible. When you are ready to clean the entire car seat, start by vacuuming up the dry, crumbly stuff. Use a car vacuum or attachment that can get into the car seat carrier’s nooks and crannies. When the seat is out of the car, turn it upside down and give it a shake to make sure you caught all the little debris that can get into it.
Wash the Cover and Padding
Car seat covers come in many lovely and adorable patterns, like Milk Snob’s Star Wars seat covers and Disney car seat covers. Treat these covers as delicate items that must be hand-washed. Use gentle, baby-safe soap or detergent with cold or warm (never hot!) water according to the tag or instructions. To maintain the cover’s stretchy versatility, lay it flat to dry.
Spot clean the straps and harness with mild soap and water. However, when you wash an infant car seat, never put the straps and harness in a washing machine or dryer. Doing this can damage the straps and harness’s strength and make them unsafe in a crash.
Check the manual to see if the padding is washable and follow the recommendations. Air drying is best unless the manual recommends the dryer.
Clean the buckle that plugs into the latch by swishing it around in a cup of water, being careful not to submerge any part of the strap. Shake it off and let it air dry. Make sure the buckle snaps firmly into the latch. Setting all the cleaned parts out in the sun helps reduce odors and freshen the components before reinstallation.
Clean the Base
Wipe the plastic base with a damp cloth and mild, baby-safe detergent. Let the base air dry, then wipe it again with a baby-safe disinfecting wipe and let it dry. Disinfectants don’t work well unless they air dry, so be sure you have enough time to let the wipe do its job.
Reassemble and Reinstall
Once all the parts are clean and dry, reassemble the car seat. Reinstall the base according to the instructions, and then make sure the clean seat locks securely into the base. For added security, have your installation re-inspected by a certified infant car seat technician to make sure you got it right. Your baby’s safety depends on it. Now you can enjoy your clean infant car seat!