Having lived through hundreds of road trips with dozens of children between us all, we’re no strangers to the joys (ahem) of keeping your child’s car seat clean. Or at least, attempting to. So on behalf or our newest sponsor, Evenflo, makers of some of our favorite car seats, we’ve got lots of great ideas for you, from a few BTDT moms who’ve seen (and smelled and wiped) it all.
Besides, have you seen the new Evenflo ProComfort line of car seats? Gorgeous. And we bet you’d like to keep them that way as long as possible. Especially because this line is specifically designed to keep kids so comfy - and less fussy kids means more parent eyes on the road.
We like that.
Don’t miss a chance to win an Evenflo ProComfort car seat of your own, below – it’s easy!
1. Remove the Car Seat Cover
The best way to clean your infant’s car seat is to take the cover off completely and give it a good scrub down. Check the manual that comes with the car seat to learn the best way to get the cover off, and for specific laundering instructions. Or, if you tossed it out ages ago, fortunately you can look up car seat manuals online through the manufacturer’s website.
2. Machine or Hand Wash
Once you’ve got the fabric cover off, toss it in the hand wash cycle in your machine on cold or wash it by hand, then put it in the dryer for about ten minutes (just the cover, not those straps). After that, take it out and let it air dry. Of course, check the manual for laundering instructions first. And be really careful not to damage any of the labels. You’ll be surprised that you’ll still want to check that info when your baby turns into a kid.
3. Clean the Base and Buckles
We’ve been known to fill our bathtubs up with some mild, foamy suds and let the plastic portion of the car seat (not the straps or metal parts, and definitely not the buckle!) soak to really get rid of the grime. If you want some help, stick your older kids in there with swimsuits and some sponges and let them do the hard part for you–they’ll love it. Seriously. If you really need to disinfect it further, you can wipe it down with some white vinegar.
You also want to inspect the crotch buckle on the restraint every so often and keep it clean to make sure you get proper latching. So it’s not just a cleanliness issue, it’s a safety one! You can just place the buckle in a cup of warm water and gently switch it back and forth, pressing the red button a few times. No soaps or detergents! Also, make sure not to submerge the harness strap in the water.
And it goes without saying that all the parts should be dry before you stick your child back in the seat. Mostly because she will hate it, otherwise. Kids are smart that way.
-Keep reading for a chance to win your own Evenflo ProComfort car seat of your choice-
4. Get Out the Stains
Stains are inevitable, but we’ve got some tips for how to get certain messes clean:
Food: We like to give those nasty, smushed, mystery snack stains a good scrub with a product like Honest Oxy Boost for a safe, non-toxic clean. You know, since your kid’s little hands are going to be all over it again later. We also like to keep a handheld vacuum in the garage–or in your trunk if it’s the kind you can charge in your car with an adapter. Or try the Dyson Car Cleaning kit which has the right tools to attach to any Dyson upright or canister vacuum. This way you can clean up after snacks whenever you pull in the garage so they don’t get pulverized into the seat cushions over time.
Vomit: The trick to cleaning up after a carsick kid is to use cold water. Hot water will set the proteins and you’ll have a hard time getting that smell out. After you’ve soaked the stain, use baking soda and lemon juice to scrub the spot. Good luck. We feel your pain.
Diaper Explosions: The things we deal with as parents, right? As with vomit stains, you want to rinse off the mess in cold water, then soak it in warm water with a good stain remover for a long time–at least 30 minutes. Finally, wash it in the hottest water the laundering instructions for your car seat fabric will allow. Don’t dry the fabric until you’re sure the stain is out.
5. Contain Snacks to Begin With
Let’s be honest–cleaning out carseats are kind of a chore. So you’re going to want to keep it as clean as possible going forward. Keep kids’ snacks contained. We have plenty of ideas for great snack containers for the road. And if you’re letting your kids have a drink in the car, consider limiting sippie cups and reusable bottles to water. If you haven’t noticed, it’s way less sticky than juice, to say nothing of chocolate milk.
(Psst, we happen to love the cup holders in the Evenflo ProComfort Booster Seat, which is way preferable to your kid casually tossing the juice box you will end up giving her anyway onto the car floor.)
If you’ve got a younger toddler, you can also use a bib, provided you put it on over the straps after you’ve buckled your child in snugly. Anything extraneous under the car seat straps creates a loser fit and makes the car seat less safe as a whole.
6. Give Trash a Home
One of the best ways to keep those car seats and booster seats clean is pretty obvious—give your kids somewhere to put dirty stuff besides their laps. You can even let each child have his or her own trash can to create the feeling of ownership over their space in the car.
Go simple with a plastic cereal storage container from the grocery—that pop-up lid works great for little hands to drop messy things in, then close it up tight. You can also get a cute handmade travel trash can to hang over the seat back like these from Marketbags on Etsy, for around $16. Or hey, a plastic bag from the grocery store over the seat is just fine too. Whatever works for you and your kids.
7. Wipes, Wipes, and More Wipes
As most parents know, never leave home without more baby wipes than you think you need. Sometimes an ounce of prevention–i.e. wiping sticky hands, armrests, and car seats–is worth a pound of “what the heck is that stuff that’s ground in there anyway?”
Thanks to our sponsor Evenflo, makers of three awesome new car seats available exclusively at Target.com and in their stores as of now.
Look for the Evenflo ProComfort Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat; the super fancy Evenflo ProComfort Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat; and for older kids, the Evenflo ProComfort Amp LX High Back Booster. The technology and safety innovations are super cool, by the way. You HAVE to check out the crazy awesome demo visuals of the gel matrix cushions that are designed to keep kids comfy longer–and comfy kids means safe kids.
EXTRA COOL: WIN IT! We’re giving away one Evenflo ProComfort car seat of your choice–up to a $249.99 value! To enter, please visit the link above, then tell us which of the three Evenflo ProComfort seats you’d like, AND tell us your best kid mess story. Funny, terrible…we want to hear it. Mostly so we don’t feel so alone here. You can enter through Weds, July 30 at midnight PT. One winner will be drawn at random. US only please, one entry per person, void where prohibited. Good luck!