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How to clean car seats

Like everything, car seats need a general clean down every once in a while. However, when they come in different materials, how do you know what’s best to clean them with? We will tell you everything you need to know about how to clean car seats. From leather to fabric, we will give you the best tips to clean your car seat in the best way possible. The last thing you want to end up doing is to ruin the fabric or work hard for nothing!

Car seats can get dirty super quick, especially as your little one gets older. Travel snacks mean one thing – mess! From crumbs to stains from juice, the list is never ending. You may find that you’ll go a long time without having to clean your car seat then all of a sudden, you’ll have to do it there and then.

If it’s not something you’ve done before, it can be difficult to know where to start. What do you use to clean them? How do you get difficult stains out? You might know how to get stains out of your baby’s clothes, but car seats bring a whole range of different fabrics to work with. Take a look through our blog to find out how you can clean your car seat – whether it’s a quick clean or something more strenuous! 

how to clean a car seats

Cleaning fabric car seats - how to clean them...

You’ll find that the majority of car seats are fabric, even the more expensive ones. This is because it offers excellent comfortability for your little one and is great throughout all weather types. For example, leather can become extremely hot throughout the summer. Some car seats offer a function where you can fully remove the car seat cover to wash it. This makes it much easier as you can then use the washing machine or hand wash it yourself. 

However, if your car seat doesn’t have a removeable cover, it can be a bit more difficult to know how to clean it in the easiest way. We have some easy steps for you to follow to make car seat cleaning less stressful:

  1. Remove the car seat from the car. This will give you much more space to work with to clean the seat.
  • Use a hoover to get in between all the crevices. This will remove any dirt or crumbs that have accumulated over time. This will be much easier if you have a handheld hoover. You can find some great attachments if not.
  • Use a soap cleaner or cleaning spray to give the car seat a general clean. Make sure the soap you use is mild and won’t damage the fabric or irritate your baby’s skin. You should completely coat the car seat with this and let it set in. Focus on stains.
  • Use a soft bristle brush to massage the cleaning solution into the seat. Don’t use anything too harsh as you can pull the fabric and damage it.
  • Wipe off excess moisture. Rinse the car seat down with a wet cloth and then get rid of as much moisture as you can. You should then leave the car seat in a dry space for it to dry off fully. Do not leave your car seat outside or in a damp room as this can cause mould to form.

This is just an easy clean if you’re looking to tidy up your car seat a little bit. We’ll have steps further on down this blog about how to deep clean your car seat for those messier times! The most important things to remember during these steps is to use a soap that is safe for the fabric and your baby as well as using tools and brushes that are soft enough to just clean the car seat – not damage it.

how to clean car seats

Cleaning leather car seats - using the right cleaner

Leather car seats aren’t as common as fabric but that doesn’t mean there’s none available to buy. It’s not only that, some fabric car seats have smaller leather sections on them, and you should not clean both the same. Leather requires a different set of steps when it comes to cleaning it and you’ll find that it needs to be cleaned more often.

Leather car seats can last you a long time, but only if you look after and clean them properly. Otherwise, you’ll find that the leather starts to wear away quite quickly. You shouldn’t leave any mess or stains on a leather car seat for too long. This can encourage you to use stronger and harsher cleaning products which will damage the material and wear it down. 

Follow out steps on how to clean a leather car seat. You should stick to these steps each time you clean them as using different cleaning products or methods can result in scratches, fading and staining…

  1. Remove your car seat from the car. This allows you to get to all parts of the car seat easily.
  • Just like the fabric, hoover up any crumbs or debris on the seat. By leaving these on a leather car seat, it can result in scratching when you wipe over the surface.
  • Make a solution of two parts white vinegar and one-part water. This solution will clean the leather without damaging it. You can apply this with a soft cloth – but don’t use too much.
  • Test the solution on a small section of the car seat. Although this solution has been safe when used before, it’s always good to check just in case. If you make up your solution too strong, it may cause mild damage. You’ll want to know about this before doing the whole seat!
  • Use a soft, microfibre cloth to rub the solution over the leather car seat. Don’t scrub too hard but do put in a bit more effort where you can see stains or a build-up of food. 
  • Find a soft towel that hasn’t been used for anything else to wipe off any excess moisture. It’s important that the towel doesn’t have any small debris in it as this can cause scratches. 
  • Let the car seat air dry. Although the sin does a great job, we wouldn’t recommend leaving a lather car seat in the sun for too long. This can cause fading of the leather – not what you want after all of your hard work!
how to clean car seats

How to remove harsh stains from car seats

There are just some stains that you think you will never get out. A lot of parents are tempted to use a stain remover. This is completely fine, but you must check the ingredients before use. Why? Firstly, your baby’s skin comes into contact with the car seat a lot. If the chemical is too harsh, it could irritate your baby’s skin. Secondly, you want to make sure it’s not too strong that it will damage your fabric or leather car seat.

We recommend trying to use natural solutions that you can make yourself at home. One common example is using vinegar and baking soda to pull the stain from the car seat. You must apply the vinegar first and then sprinkle over the baking soda. Once dry, you can use a hoover to remove the substance and you should see a big change in the appearance of the stain.

Not only is this a natural solution, it also works as a deodoriser – keeping your car seat smelling fresh.

how to clean car seats

Can I shampoo car seats?

You can, but again, you should check the ingredients of what you’re using before you apply it to the car seat. Harsh shampoos can go as far as breaking down the material. Not only does this look horrible but it also puts your baby at risk of not being protected in the case of an accident. 

If you would like to shampoo your car seat, experts recommend using a baby shampoo mixture. You should mix this with some warm water and then apply it to the car seat with a soft bristle brush or soft cloth. Not only is the shampoo safe for your baby, it’s also a very mild solution for your car seat.

We recommend that when shampooing your car seat, you try and use as little liquid as possible. This is because the only way you can dry your car seat is to air dry it. If you soak the car seat, it will take much longer! 

how to clean car seats

What about deep cleaning car seats?

As we mentioned earlier, there are times when your car seat needs a deep clean. This can be for a couple of reasons. You may have left it quite long between clean times or there’s been an accident in the car – you know which accidents we’re on about. However, a lot of parents make mistakes when these things happen. Our brains automatically tell us that we need to completely soak the car seat in order to remove the mess. This isn’t the case and should be something that is avoided. The wetter the car seat is, the longer is will take to air dry. As well as this, soaking it completely through can damage the internal materials of the car seat.

You should also avoid washing the straps of a car seat. They are carefully designed to have just the right amount of “give” in the case of an emergency brake or accident. By washing them, you can either make them tighter or looser – both of which have consequences.

If you need to deep clean your car seat, follow our steps below. These are made to keep your car seat in the best possible condition as well as keeping it safe for you little one.

  1. Take the car seat out of the car and remove any covers/padding if possible. Not all car seats have things that you can remove. If yours does, try and remove as much as possible! It’s a good idea to take a photo of the car seat before you remove anything – this makes it much easier to put back together.
  • Use a hoover to remove any loose crumbs or debris. We recommend using a thin attachment so that you can really get into the crevices of the car seat.
  • Use our shampoo steps above to clean anything that you can’t remove from the car seat. If you have things that you have removed like covers or padding, you can use a washing machine to do the work for you. However, after washed, don’t use a dryer as this can potentially damage and shrink the material and make it impossible for you to get back on. Instead, leave it to air dry.
  • Remove the buckle and straps. The buckle is safe to be submerged into water and cleaned thoroughly. Make sure you get into all of the little indents to remove any mess or leftover food. For the straps, you should not wash these – you can read why above. Instead, use a soft brush or cloth and little liquid to give them a clean over and then air dry.
  • Whilst the straps and buckle are removed, use a small tool like a toothpick or toothbrush to remove any stubborn bits on the car seat.
  • Leave everything that you have cleaned to air dry. If the items are leather, we don’t recommend leaving them in the sun for too long.
  • Put everything back together and install the car seat into the car.

We hope that we have given you some great tips on how to clean your car seat. The most important things to remember are to not use anything too strong on the seat or to wash the straps. By following our steps above, you’ll have a super clean car seat in no time (we don’t know how long for though!).

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