How To Wash Car Seat Cover


The 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 cover. Not to mention, if you spilled something sticky. Regularly washing the car seat covers will not only give your car a nicer look but sitting will be more pleasant. Clean car seats are a must if you value hygiene. This begs the question: How to wash car seat cover? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

  1. Vacuum and remove surface dirt.
  2. Remove car seat cover.
  3. Put it in the washing machine or wash it by hand.

Obviously, there’s more to this. The cleaning instructions vary from cover to cover, so make sure to read the guide thoroughly.

Washing Car Seat Covers

Washing Car Seat Covers

You will soon see that this is relatively easy. You won’t need any cleaning supplies. A vacuum cleaner or something to remove stuck dirt will come in handy. Let’s start.

  1. Remove surface dirt.
    The first thing you need to do is remove any seat mess. Whether you will be machine washing or hand washing, the dirt particles will make this a lot harder than it should be. Washing works best when you have a smooth surface. So, vacuum the cover, remove any stuck dirt with a soft brush. You can scrub with a damp cloth,  just dip it in warm water. You can use baby wipes too.
  2. Remove the seat cover.
    You can’t wash the cover without removing it. This is a must. Otherwise, you will ruin the entire car seat. To remove the cover, you will need to detach it from the metal plates. These are located on top of the seat or the back.  A really good tip is to take photos while you are doing this. By doing this, you will have photo evidence of how the seat cover is attached. So, later, you won’t have trouble installing it.
  3. Wash the cover.
    Now, here’s the kind of hard part. Look for the washing instructions on the cover. This will tell you how you need to proceed. Some covers are not machine washable, some are. This will also tell you whether to use laundry detergent, and whether to use bleach. Read the instructions, and proceed accordingly.

How To Hand Wash Car Seat Cover

The instructions should tell you everything. I know you are going to need help with handwashing though. Here’s how to do it.

  • Choose a detergent.
    This is the only tricky thing, what kind of cleaning solution to use? My advice is to stick with the instructions. However, if you are scared about damaging the fabric, regardless of the instructions, you can use a mild solution. You can use laundry detergent, make sure there is no bleach in it if the instructions don’t allow bleach. Petroleum-based products are usually a no. Mild soap or dish soap is probably the safest way.
  • Dip in warm water.
    To loosen up the dirt, dip the cover in warm water. This is best done in the bathtub or a bucket.
  • Wash with a damp sponge.
    Pour the mild soap or the laundry detergent on the cover and scrub with a damp sponge. You can use a microfiber cloth too, it’s not as effective though. Have a cup of water nearby for the sponge, preferably hot water. Start scrubbing, do not be aggressive, do it gently. You should see the dirt coming out.
  • 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.
  • Dry.
    For the drying process, it’s best to consult with the instructions. Usually, you dry the cover out in the sun but some covers require inside drying.

How To Wash Baby Car Seat

How To Wash Baby Car Seat

If you came here to find out how to wash a convertible car seat, disregard what was said above. Convertible car seats are gentler. They also get dirty more often. You will also be cleaning vomit too. Here’s how to do this.

  • Vacuum the car seat.
    This part is the same. Just remove surface dirt and any mess before proceeding.
  • Read the car seat manual.
    The most important thing when washing baby car seats is reading the seat manual left from the seat manufacturer. The manual will tell you how to wash the seat, it will also tell you how to remove the cover.
  • Remove the car seat cover.
  • Check Care Instructions.
    An infant car seat can easily get ruined by harsh chemicals. More so, it may be dangerous for the infant’s skin too. So, careful cleaning is required. The care instructions should tell you how to wash the cover, what cleaning solutions to use. Usually, laundry detergents with bleach are a big no. When machine washing, wash with a gentle cycle(delicate cycle). The gentle cycle is used for any baby items.
  • Follow the care instructions to the letter.
    Do not do this freely.
  • Clean the straps with a toothbrush.
    Dip the straps in warm water and scrub with a soft toothbrush. Rinse with cold water.
  • Handwash with baby shampoo and a soft cloth.
  • Dry.
    Consult with the care instructions. I think most child car seats can’t be placed in a drying machine nor out in the sun.

How To Wash Car Seat Without Cover

Now, I know that some of you do not have seat covers. So, you want to wash the original seats. The cleaning process is different for this. If it’s any consolation, this is a lot easier. Let’s see.

Textile Seats

Textile Seats

  1. Get cleaning products.
    You can’t wash the original seats with water, nor put them in a washing machine. There are products for this. Choose a cleaning product for textile car seats. These products are usually foam-based. Also, you will need a soft brush and a dry cloth.
  2. Apply the textile cleaner.
    Freely spray over the car seat. If you only want to remove stains, apply only on the stains.
  3. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
    Most products require only 2-3 minutes but check the bottle just to be sure.
  4. Scrub with a soft brush.
    Thoroughly, scrub the seat with a soft brush. Make sure the brush is for clothes, do not use harsh brushes, you will ruin the seat.
  5. Wipe with a dry soft cloth.
    Once you are done scrubbing, wipe away the foam with a soft cloth, preferably a microfiber towel. Wipe in one direction, do not go in circles.
  6. Dry.
    Let the seat dry completely, do not put anything over the seats while drying.

How To Wash Leather Car Seat

How To Wash Leather Car Seat

Whether it’s a leather seat or a leather seat cover, the process is the same. Excess water will ruin both. This doesn’t mean that washing the leather is hard, here’s what to do.

  1. Choose a cleaning product.
    For leather covers, you can either choose a product specifically for car leather or mild soap. Either way, you will be fine. The car leather cleaner also has protective qualities. It will restore the color, and protect it.
  2. Get a sponge and microfiber cloths.
  3. Apply the cleaner.
    If you bought a specific product, just follow the instructions on the bottle, then apply it to the leather seat cover. If you are using mild soap, mix it with warm water in a bucket.
  4. Wash with a damp sponge or a damp cloth.
    Dip the sponge in the soapy water, and start washing. Squeeze the cloth or the sponge before wiping. Excess water will ruin the leather.
  5. Wipe with a dry cloth.
  6. Consider applying a leather protectant.

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.
  • Dawn Dish Soap works best on a leather seat cover.
  • Wash the 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 to get rid of hard dirt.
  • Always scrub and wipe with a clean 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, and 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 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.

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