Coronavirus and Carseats: Cleaning FAQs

Cleaning Your Carseat During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It seems as though the virulent coronavirus is here to stay. No one expected how fast or hard it would hit us when we first heard about it earlier this year and it has definitely become a dangerous companion, especially for children given the very rare side effect of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Good hygiene has become forefront in protecting ourselves from this invisible ogre and that also means keeping carseats sparkling fresh too. Since we’re using bleach and alcohol on all of the surfaces around us, can we use those on a child’s safety device?

What can I use to clean my carseat?

Each carseat manufacturer will have specific advice for washing the cover in the manual or on a tag on the cover itself. In general terms, most allow hand-washing with mild detergent while some allow machine washing on the gentle cycle with mild detergent. This allows the flame retardant to be protected the longest and also keeps the cover in its best shape.

There is nothing different about cleaning a carseat now during the pandemic than before COVID-19 was on our radar. You should NOT wipe your carseat or harness straps with anti-bacterial wipes or use bleach on the seat since these may be caustic to the plastic or straps.

How should I clean my harness straps?

If your harness straps need to be cleaned, most manufacturers recommend wiping down with a damp wash cloth. If more cleaning is needed, fill a bowl with a drop or two of a gentle detergent like Dawn or Dreft and some water, dip the cloth in the bowl, squeeze the excess water out, and wipe the harness. Use a separate cloth dipped in plain water to rinse and wipe dry with a third cloth. Lay the harness flat if you can remove it. If not, keep it as flat as possible to avoid creases in it. Water will not ruin your straps—I think some people think the straps will melt if they get too wet—but a combination of water and stretching will. Remember, no bleach, alcohol, or anti-bacterial anything on the harness.

Also, no baby wipes on the harness; it’s not in the manual. I’ve heard from many parents AND CPS techs who have used baby wipes on harness straps and think it’s OK, but if the manufacturers thought it was fine to do so, they would put it in the manual. Again, follow all manufacturer’s guidelines on cleaning your harness. But hey, if you’re on the road and all you have to clean the harness to keep the rest of the family in the van from barfing from the smell is baby wipes, by all means, use them. When you get to your destination, clean the harness as directed and contact the manufacturer for guidance.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean my carseat?

How many of you have heard one of these scenarios?

My friend’s husband took their carseat to a carwash and washed it down with the pressure washer there. OR

My friend’s husband used their pressure washer to wash their carseat after their kid puked/had a diaper blowout/left milk in the carseat, etc.

OK, so maybe your friend’s husband is getting a bad rap here, but you shouldn’t clean a carseat by anything you’d never aim at your own skin. Pressure washers shoot water out with a tremendous amount of force that can crack plastic, destroy webbing, and rust metal parts. Don’t forget: carseats are safety devices, no matter how disgusting they may get in daily use.

I know my carseat here has dust on it at the most given that I pulled it off the shelf in my garage, but you get the idea.

COVID-19 can live for up to 3 days on plastic so the sun is your friend here! UV rays kill nasty things, including the virus and smells (bonus!), so if you’re still concerned after wiping it down with gentle soap and water, set your seat in the sun. If it’s cloudy out, remember UV rays don’t care if it’s cloudy, they come on through. Just don’t forget the seat outside! I’ve heard lots of stories about carseats that got thoroughly rain-soaked and rusted. Oops!


List of Manufacturers and Their Contact Info:

  • Most manufacturers have YouTube channels with installation videos and some have install videos on their websites. Some manufacturers also have live video install support you can schedule.

Stay safe and healthy! Fingers crossed that a vaccine comes sooner rather than later so we can all get on with our lives!

One Response

  1. SafeDad May 26, 2020