Added on September 30, 2020
 DeAnn Owens
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happy baby in car seat with hat

With the entire world dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, you are probably cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing as you’ve never done before, especially if you’re a parent. Every surface in your house and car needs attention. If you haven’t already, here are some tips on how to clean your child’s car seat.

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First, you’ll want to forgo powerful chemicals like bleach. It may banish germs, but it can also ruin the materials on the car seat, according to Consumer Reports writer Emily A. Thomas, Ph.D.

“When it comes to car seats, the components must withstand high forces and repeated use to keep kids safe in the event of a crash, so you don’t want to use any cleaners or disinfectants that may compromise any of the seat’s components in any way,” said Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center and a certified child passenger safety technician.

If you haven’t picked up your child’s car seat’s manual since it was installed, now is the time to check your files. The car seat manual will have directions on how to properly care for and clean the car seat. If you’ve misplaced the hard copy of the manual, don’t stress. According to Thomas, a digital copy should be on the car seat’s manufacturer site. If not, call customer service for a replacement manual. If you can’t confirm cleaning directions with the manufacturer, use Thomas’ tips to clean it.

Machine-wash removable car seat covers or pads with a baby-specific detergent. Avoid bleach and let them air dry completely before you reinstall.

Use a sponge to spot clean LATCH straps and harnesses with warm water and mild soap.

“The common advice is to use only water when cleaning buckles or push-on LATCH connectors,” reports Thomas. “The concern is that soaps or lubricants may leave residue that can affect performance.”

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Plastic parts of the car seat as well as its shell can handle mild soap and water. Use a damp cloth to apply the soap and another one to remove it.