Cleaning Your Child's Car Seat Safely

Little kids riding in their car seats can create some unpleasant smells. Unfortunately, to keep car seats safe (straps and buckles) and fire retardant (fabric), the care instructions seem like you're doomed to a few years of stinky rides or a big replacement expense. It's always smart to start by checking your manual, but most car seats don't allow for:

·         Cleaning chemicals (yes, even Clorox wipes)

·         Submersion in water (usually just the straps, but some are more stringent)

You're usually advised to use a damp rag, or maybe a baby wipe. Which, in my experience, is like trying to put out a forest fire with a water bottle.

So what can you do?

1.       Start with that damp cloth and get the initial mess off. Soak up the milk, get the solids up, and do what you can. If you can wash the fabric cover, do so on delicate with a very gentle detergent. Air dry. Clean the plastic with dish soap and water, avoiding the straps.

2.       Once the seat and cover have dried, coat in baking soda and let sit as long as you can (at least a few hours, or overnight). Vacuum up the baking soda.

3.       Sit the seat outside in the sun. The sun is amazing for getting smells out.

4.       If all else fails, call the manufacturer. Often, they will send you new straps if you can't get them clean.

I was surprised at how many people jumped immediately to chemical suggestions, even knowing that the straps can be damaged. Yes, it might work quickly to get the smell out, but remember, the straps are the ONLY things holding your child in the seat. It's just not worth the risk of damaging the straps, no matter how stinky kids can be.

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