While throwing a car seat cover and straps in the washer and dryer seems like a convenient and sensible way to go about cleaning a dirty car seat, this is usually not the recommended method.
Car seats are made of many different materials by many different manufacturers. No two models are exactly alike. Most manufacturers are ok with spot cleaning with a mild soap, but sometimes there are other guidelines. It’s important to understand that some materials, cleaning methods, and chemicals don’t mix, and can actually cause damage to the seat.
For that reason, it’s always recommended to refer to the car seat manual for your particular seat manual for instructions on how to properly clean the seat.
So where can I learn how to clean my car seat?
The best place to start is looking in the owner’s manual for the car seat(s) that you own. You should be able to find this information in the manual that came with the seat, or by finding the manual online directly on the manufacturer’s website.
Here is a list of several popular brands with links to where you can find cleaning information:
You can also call the manufacturer for advice. DO NOT use information on third party sites or youtube for how-to-clean information. Methods or advice from anywhere other than directly from the manufacturer are often full of errors that could result in accidental damage to your seat.
To spot clean most car seats, you will need mild soapy water and a clean sponge or towel. Dampen the sponge or towel with the soapy water and work the soap into the area you want to clean, “rinse” with a damp towel/sponge saturated with water and then set out to dry.
Putting the seat back together
One of the reasons that car seat manufacturers typically recommend spot cleaning is that it can be difficult to put the seat back together properly.
Putting a car seat back together incorrectly can result in the dangerous possibility that the car seat won’t perform properly in a crash. If you do need to take your seat apart for cleaning per the manufacturer’s instructions, one thing you can do is take pictures or videos of the seat before you take it apart. This is especially important at any area where the straps pass through and the upholstery is secured to the seat. Take shots of the whole seat as well from above, below, and the front and back. This will give you a reference point of how you’re doing as you put the seat back together.
If you’re still unsure how you’ve done, or have other questions, you can always contact the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at 513-803-7433, or the manufacturer of your particular seat