How Often Should You Clean Child Car Seats?

Toddler in Car Seat

Your child should be placed in the appropriate car seat each and every time you get in to the car, no matter what. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set forth the following guidelines for children and the types of car seats they should be using: The NHTSA advises that children remain in the back seat and in a car seat or car seat alternative until they are 12 years old or until they reach 57 inches tall, whichever comes first. Babies should be placed in rear-facing car seats until they reach age 2 or have reached the limit for both height and weight as listed on rear-facing seats.

How Often a Car Seat Should Be Cleaned

Since you will be using a car seat for a long time, it’s inevitable that it will become soiled. While you’ll usually want to clean your child’s car seat when it is noticeably dirty, you should actually be cleaning it far more frequently, especially if you allow your child to eat or drink anything while strapped into the car seat. Food, drool, and other messes can get stuck in cracks, and while you might not see them right away, you will certainly smell them.

A spot cleaning of the straps should be done at least weekly. If the cover is removable, it should be placed in the washing machine every 2 weeks or more if needed. The entire seat should be disinfected at that time.

How to Clean Your Child’s Car Seat

Most manufacturer’s have specific guidelines. However, you can also follow general cleaning and some common-sense tips. Avoid using bleach on the car seat cover, and make sure that you read the care instructions so that you do not shrink the fabric. If you can remove the metal parts of the car seat straps, you can place them in a pillow case, tie it closed and place it in the washing machine with your regular wash.

The hard shell can be washed with your preferred cleanser, but make sure that it is rinsed well and allowed to air out thoroughly before returning it to the car or placing your child in it. Use a small brush to get in the cracks, especially near where the straps connect as this area tends to collect gunk and grime. In the summer months, you can remove all fabric parts and spray the seat out with a garden hose for even simpler cleaning. And for an added boost, you can keep a no-water-needed hand soap for kids ready in the car in case they have a messy time eating a snack. With their hands clean, they might just be able to reduce the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do later on the seat.

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