Last Updated on August 31, 2023 by Chase Manhattan
A child’s car seat may be the dirtiest thing in your car without you knowing it.
Think about it, your clothes get dirty, so some of that sticks to the car seat covers. Not to mention, other accumulated tough stains and other debris.
In my experience, regularly washing your car seat covers will not only give your car a nicer look, but give you a look into how dirty the seat covers were in the first place.
Otherwise, clean car seats are a must if you value hygiene because car seat covers can be a breeding ground for bacteria if not treated regularly. So lets keep those kids healthy yeah?
This begs the question: Can you wash car seat covers?
Yes you can, by following the procedure below! Be sure to check the car seat’s manual for any specific cleaning instructions. In my experience, procedure will vary depending on the car seat’s manufacturer.
How To Wash Car Seat Cover: A Step by Step Guide
- Vacuum and remove surface dirt.
- Remove car seat cover.
- Put it in the washing machine or wash it by hand.
Obviously, there’s more to this, which we’ll dive into below.
Regardless of how you choose to approach it, remember that you may need to take certain precautions depending on the specific car seat, and the car seat manufacturer.
Washing Car Seat Covers
Moving forward, you’ll see that car seats can be cleaned relatively easily.
You won’t need any cleaning agents, a vacuum cleaner or something to remove stuck dirt from metal parts, and other fabrics, will be enough. Let’s start.
- Remove surface dirt.
The first thing you need to do is remove any loose debris.
- Remove the seat cover.
Most of the time, except for when spot cleaning, you’ll need to remove the seat covers. Most car seats will have the manufacturer’s instructions on a tag, for easy removal.
- Wash the cover.
Most car seat covers can be machine washed, but the cleaning instructions will vary between car seat manufacturers. I personally recommend a short washing cycle with a gentle soap and baking soda. Again, it’s very important to check that your seat covers are machine washable.
How To Hand Wash Car Seat Cover
If you’d prefer to avoid machine washing your car seat covers, you’re in luck. Hand washing is an option too.
In this case, you can occasionally leave your seat covers attached, and you’ll have a chance to clean the harness straps while you’re at it.
Make sure to check the car seat manual to be sure that the covers will not need to be removed. Next..
- Choose a detergent.
As I said before, I prefer to use a gentle soap with baking soda when washing my car seats. Even if they are machine washable, I’ve noticed this will lengthen the lifespan of the seat covers.
- Dip in warm water.
To loosen up the dirt, you can soak the car seat covers in a mild cleaning solution with dish soap, baking soda, or a laundry detergent with warm water. Avoid using harsh cleaners like a commercial grade stain remover.
- Wash with a damp sponge.
Pour your cleaning solution onto the car seat covers and scrub with a damp cloth. For tough stains, you can use a damp sponge.
- Rinse with cold water.
When you are done with the scrubbing, all that you need to is rinse the cover. If you are using a bathtub, use the shower to rinse with cold water. Some people use warm water here, but cold is the safest. If you are doing this in the garden with a bucket, rinse with a water hose.
For the drying process, it’s best to consult with the cleaning instructions from the car seat manufacturers, but I personally prefer let them air dry. Just make sure they’re not exposed to direct sunlight as this can prematurely wear some of the more delicate fibers. If you plan on using a drying machine, be sure to set it as a delicate cycle.
How To Wash A Child’s Car Seat
A child’s car seat is typically cleaned the same way as car seat covers for old children. You can machine wash them, or you can wash them by hand.
To go over our instructions again:
- Vacuum the car seat.
This part follows the same instructions as before, remove any loose debris before moving forward.
- Read the car seat manual.
When washing a child’s car seat, the most important thing is to read the manual from the car seat’s manufacturer. The manual will tell you if the cover is machine washable, and many manufacturers will show you how to remove the harness straps for cleaning when necessary.
- Remove the car seat cover.
- Check the manufacturer’s instructions again.
A child’s car seat can easily get ruined by harsh chemicals. If machine washing your car seat covers, I would recommend to use dish soap, or a gentle skin, fragrance free, laundry detergent with a gentle cycle. These solutions will typically be safe for use, unless specified otherwise.
- Follow the cleaning instructions to the letter
Reference our procedure above if necessary.
- Clean the harness straps with a toothbrush.
Dip the harness straps in warm water and scrub with a soft toothbrush. Rinse with cold water.
- Handwash with your cleaning solution and damp cloth.
- Dry the cover
Consult with the car seat manufacturers care instructions. Most times, it is ok to let them air dry as long as they’re not exposed to direct sun light. If put into the drying machine, be sure to use the delicate cycle setting.
Moving forward, you can use baby wipes, or a soft cloth with soapy water to better maintain the car seats.
Sometimes it’s best, in my experience, to have another cover entirely so you can rotate them as they become dirty.
How To Wash Car Seat Shoulder Straps
Chances are, your car seat straps are dirty too. Especially, if you neglected the car seats for a while.
The shoulder straps, the harness buckle, and the seats will get dirty over time, so keep reading below for our harness straps cleaning method.
- Remove the harness straps and chest clip.
- If we are talking about a child’s car seat, just follow the manual.
- Prepare a bucket with warm water and dish soap or a mild detergent, and get a soft toothbrush.
- A toothbrush is the safest approach here since it is small enough to get into most tight spaces..
- Soak the straps in the mild laundry detergent, baby shampoo, or dish soap, with hot water.
Let the harness straps soak for a while, depending on how dirty they are. Soak time will also vary depending on your mild soap of choice.
- Scrub away stuck dirt with the toothbrush.
You can do this while the harness straps are soaking. Make sure the toothbrush is soft, or you run the risk of damaging the delicate fibers on the shoulder straps.
- Rinse with cold water.
- Squeaze to remove excess water then leave the car seat covers to air dry.
I know that removing and installing the straps can be a bit tiresome, but you’ll want to take your time so you’re sure there are not any loose ties remaining. In an accident, loose ties will jeopardize your child’s life.
Additional Cleaning Tips
- If this all too much, or you are worried about damaging the seat cover, consider going to a cleaning service.
- Wash the seat pad. Use a foam textile cleaner if it does not have a cover.
- Wash the seat harness of the baby car seat.
- Always opt for a mild detergent, even if the washing instructions say otherwise.
- A mild soap like Dawn Dish Soap works best on a leather covers.
- Wash the car seat covers regularly. Once in six months is not enough.
- Some covers are not worth cleaning, if it’s just too dirty, buy new covers.
- Do not use vinegar on an infant car seat.
- Use a cup of vinegar as a spot cleaning option.
- Always scrub and wipe a cover with a clean, soft cloth.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
How Often Should You Wash Car Seat Covers
It depends on how often you drive and how dirty your car gets. If you are relatively clean, you don’t drive people, wash it once every 4-5 months. If the car gets dirty quite a lot, maybe wash it once a month. An infant car seat gets dirty quite often, so you should wash it more regularly.
Can You Put Car Seat Covers In The Dryer
Check the instructions manual. If it says that you can use a dryer, by all means, put it in the dryer. Most seat covers can’t be placed in the dryer though, it ruins the fabric.
How To Wash Graco Car Seat Cover
There is not much difference compared to washing a normal cat seat cover. Remove surface dirt using a vacuum cleaner. Remove the car seat cover. Machine wash in cold water. Do not bleach it, iron, or dry wash. Hang dry before putting it back on.
How Do You Get Water Stains Out Of Car Seats
Remove surface dirt and mess first. Get a car upholstery cleaner. Follow the instructions on the bottle.