How to Clean a Car Seat

How to Clean a Car Seat- Important- Step by Step Instructions

Cleaning a car seat may seem like a straightforward job, but the truth is that it is not. There are some things you will need before you can think about cleaning your car seat. I know how much information is available, and it can be tough finding the information you need to properly clean your car seat. I decided to put this piece together to help others find the best way how to clean a car seat. There are several steps involved, and different car seats need different supplies and tools to get the job done. After reading this tutorial, you’ll know how to properly clean a car seat cover, car seat, and a baby car seat.

What You Will Need to Follow the Tutorial and How to Clean a Car Seat

Cleaning a variety of car seats requires different tools. This section will tell you what you will need to make sure your car seats are perfectly clean. Even if you don’t have all the tools at your disposal, you should make sure you can find what you need.


Vacuuming all the crumbs and bits of dirt will help make the cleaning process easier.


Things are much easier to clean when you have some water with you. Mixing the detergents and soaps will make sure you get all those spots out of the seats.

Mild Soap

Mild soap offers plenty of options when you need to clean your car seat. You can get light stains and other spots out with mild soap.

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are versatile enough to help you clean most of your car, so why wouldn’t you use it for a car seat?


Having a towel on hand allows you to soak up any excess water, and will give you a soft place to kneel to clean deep under the seat.


Keeping a bucket with water and soap nearby will make this process easier to complete.

Cleaning Brush

A cleaning brush is important to help you lift stains away gently, and makes cleaning easier.

Linen Spray

Though it’s not a crucial part of cleaning a car seat, this will help with the life of the car seat to ensure it doesn’t start to wear quickly.


How to Clean a Car Seat Pic2

Cleaning a Car Seat Cover

The first step will be to ensure you know the proper way to clean a car seat cover. If you don’t have a car seat cover, you can jump down to the next phase of the tutorial.

Remove the Car Seat Cover

You should remove the car seat cover from the car seat. This step is crucial to ensure you don’t wind up with a bunch of water inside your vehicle. It also makes it easier to clean the whole car seat. If you’re not sure how to remove the car seat cover, you can refer to the user guide. There are videos available to help you out, if you need a visual reference. The car seat cover shouldn’t be too difficult to remove, but you want to make sure it doesn’t tear or fray. This is the hardest part of removing the car seat cover.

Hand Wash

Mixing the soap and water in the bucket is the next step. You should make sure the water is cold, and the soap is mild. Using harsh chemicals on the car seat cover will damage the car seat cover, so it’s crucial you don’t damage it. Mix the water and the dish soap in the bucket until you’re ready to start hand-washing the cover. Once the mix is completed, the cover should be sprayed out flat on the ground. You should start at the bottom and work your way to the top. You may need to apply extra pressure on areas with excess dirt.

Dry the Cover

You will need to lie the cover out flat for it to dry properly. You can also use a line dry to keep the cover from shrinking. Though it may be tempting to use the dryer, this will damage and shrink the cover, making it more difficult to put back onto the seat. Once it is completely dry, you can then put it back onto your car seat. You should make sure the interior of the cover is dry before you put it back on your car seat. Otherwise, there’s a good chance your cover will develop mold if the water isn’t completely dry.

Cleaning the Car Seat

If you have a car seat cover, and you’ve already cleaned it, you’re probably ready to move onto your car seat. You can do this step after you’ve taken the car seat cover off and cleaned it. If you don’t have a car seat cover, you can start off on this process of the tutorial.

Vacuum the Seats

Vacuuming is important to the process because you can clean easier without any crumbs or dirt getting in your way. Not only will vacuuming the seat pick up all the small debris particles, your car seat will be refreshed. You should make sure the vacuum has crevice tools to ensure you get in the smaller nooks and crannies of the car seat. It’s important to get off as much debris as possible so you don’t wind up rubbing it deep into the fabric. Taking these few minutes to vacuum before you start will go a long way to cleaning your car seat.

Create the Mix

Taking the mild soap you used for your car seat and mixing it with hot water is the next step. You can use dish soap, which has degreasing properties, which can gently lift the stains off the seat. If you don’t have dish soap, you can substitute baking soda. It’s a perfect alternative, and it is safe to use on fabrics. You should make sure the water is hot before creating the mix, otherwise it won’t work as well as it should. You can mix the combination to ensure it’s perfect for cleaning your car seat.

Use the Cleaning Brush

You should take the cleaning brush and dip it in the water. The key here is to make sure the cleaning brush isn’t taking on too much water. You don’t need to put too much water on the cleaning brush. Just a quick dip will do the trick. You should go over the fabric of the seats with the brush. You should use a circular motion to go over the car seats. Using the circular motions will lift any stains on the car seat without soaking the seat and ruining the fabric.

Dry Out the Seat

You will then take the towel and wipe down the car seat. You should make sure you soak up any parts with a lot of holding water. You can open the windows to let the seats air dry, which helps speed up the drying process. You probably don’t want to drive your car around, especially if the car seat is still a little bit damp from cleaning it. Keeping the windows open, and soaking up the damp areas will ensure your car seats dry perfectly

Use the Linen Spray

Once the car seats are dry, you should take a vacuum with a brush attachment and do a once-over. This will help soak up any remaining water spots, and ensure your car seats are clean. You will then need to use the linen spray to give your seats some added protection. You don’t need to go overboard with the spray. Just using a few squirts here and there will suffice. Not only will your seats have extra protection, but your car will be smelling fresh and ready to go for any road trip.

Cleaning a Baby Car Seat

One of the most frustrating and hardest parts for parents to clean is the baby car seat. There are a lot of steps in this process, but you can do a good job getting it done.

Make the Time

You should make sure you have enough time to clean the baby car seat. This includes whether you’re going to need to use it within a day. Baby car seats take a long time to dry out, so finding the right time to clean it is the most important step. Unless the baby car seat needs immediate attention, due to an accident, you can plan accordingly. Making sure you have enough time will ensure it’s ready to go for your next trip.

Wipe Down

You will want to wipe away any major messes you find on the baby car seat. You can use baby wipes or a damp rag to wipe away those messes. Getting into the nitty and gritty will be required, so don’t be afraid to get a little dirty when you’re cleaning the baby car seat. This will make the rest of the cleaning process easier.

Take Out the Car Seat

 Before wiping down the car seat, you should take it out of the vehicle. Though you might have waited until now, you can still clean it, but you will need to vacuum the rest of your car. Make sure you unhook all the parts of the car seat, and take it out. You can follow the directions on how to put in the car seat so that it will be easier when you need to put it back in.

Vacuum the Surface

Crumbs and other debris are going to get caught inside the car seat, so you should vacuum the car seat. You can also shake out the car seat to help you out. If you’re going to use a vacuum, you should make sure there is a crevice tool or another attachment for it. This will help you get into the corners of the car seat to ensure it’s perfectly clean.

Remove the Cover

The fabric cover of the baby car seat should come off, which will help when you need to wash and clean it. You should follow the manual to make sure you get the cover off without tearing it. Every strap and buckle should open, which will help you get the cover off the rest of the car seat. Taking apart the car seat will make it easier to clean.

Clean the Stains

There are most likely going to be stains on the fabric of the car seat, so you want to make sure you wipe those down first. You can rub in a circular motion to get those pesky spots out. Using a mild detergent or dish soap will help you clean the car seat easier. If the fabric isn’t removable, you can use a sponge with soap to scrub out the stains on the car seat.

Send Through the Washing Machine

You should send the fabric through the washing machine. You should consult with the manual to find out what they recommend for the spin cycle. You should use a mild detergent to ensure the car seat cover is perfectly cleaned. However, if the fabric can’t be removed from the car seat, you may need to wash the whole seat by hand.

Clean the Base

Underneath the fabric, the car seat is more likely going to be plastic. This is easy to clean. You can use a damp cloth or sponge and water mixed with detergent. You can rub away the dirt and the grime easily, and then rinse the rest of the car seat under running water. If you have a hose, using it will ensure you get the whole car seat. If you feel the desire to use disinfectant, you can apply it to the car seat mold. There may be areas on the car seat that are more difficult to clean than with a sponge. Using a steel wool brush will let you vent any frustrations and ensure the whole car seat is clean.

Clean the Straps

You should follow the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you clean the buckles as per their instructions. Otherwise, it can degrade the quality of the straps, turning them into a safety hazard. You should use a soft cloth and warm water mixed with a gentle soap. Though one time using harsh chemicals won’t completely damage the straps, with enough cleaning sessions, they can wear down easily.

Use Warm Water for the Buckle

When it comes to the buckle, you can dip it into warm water. You can let it sit, and move it around to ensure all the crusty debris is lifted off. You should then wipe down the buckle with a soft cloth. You can use a mild soap if you find that some of the debris isn’t coming off like it should. You shouldn’t let it sit in the water for too long, because this can lead to rusting of the buckle, which won’t keep the buckle safe for use.

Air Dry

Once all the buckles and straps have been wiped down and cleaned, you should let them air dry. You can set them up on a dry line, or use a hot blow dryer to speed up the process. You shouldn’t use extremely hot air, as that will cause more damage to the parts. You should make sure inside of the buckle is dry before you reassemble the car seat. Otherwise, it can cause it to rust and will damage the inside of the buckle.

Dry the Cover

After sending the cover through the washing machine, you should make sure it is okay to send through the dryer. Otherwise, you will need to let it air dry, and that can take a while. You should make sure the cover is completely dry before reassembling the car seat.

Reassemble the Car Seat

You will need to reassemble the car seat once every part is completely dry. You can refer to your manual to make sure the car seat is installed properly. Double checking the parts to ensure they’re dry will ensure it is ready to go. Ensuring the car seat gets put back together properly will ensure it is up to the safety standards of the car seat.


Cleaning car seats can be time consuming, especially if you’re trying to clean a baby car seat. There are a lot of parts to a car seat, so finding the right way to clean it will save you a lot of time and frustration. If you have any other recommendations for cleaning a car seat, we would love to hear it. If you know someone that needs help cleaning their own car seats, or are looking for a baby car seat, showing them this article will get them prepared for their new baby. This way, when they need to clean the car seat, they have a better idea of what to do when it comes time to clean the car seat.

About the Author Lora Colvin

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