Car seats are one of the most important pieces of baby gear you’ll buy for your child. And, like every other piece of gear, it’s going to experience its fair share of body fluid incidents. Today, the fluid in question is pee! Whether you have a potty-training toddler or a heavy-wetting infant, at some point there’s going to be an accident. 

When this happens, it’s time to clean your car seat. However, you can’t just go at it with a pressure washer and bleach like you might want to. Car seats are advanced pieces of technology that require care and attention to ensure they’re able to keep your child as safe as possible. You’ve got to clean it the right way! 

So, today, we’re giving you a step-by-step guide to cleaning pee out of your car seat in a way that’s safe and effective: 

How to Get Pee Out of Car Seat 

Step 1: Remove the car seat from the car. 

First, you’ll need to remove the car seat. It’ll be much easier to clean it this way. YES, that means you’ll have to reinstall the car seat too, which is no one’s favorite task. But, you can use this as an opportunity to check if any fit or installation adjustments need to be made.  

Step 2: Remove the cover and padding (and record it!) 

Now, remove the cover! Pro tip: Record yourself removing the cover and padding, so you can play it back when it’s time to put the car seat back together. This helps so much with the headache of re-assembling the car seat! Be gentle as you remove everything, so you don’t damage any part of your seat. 

Step 3: Vacuum out all the gunk and crumbs.

Before you take care of the pee, take care of the crumbs. Use a vacuum to remove gunk from the car seat base and the covers. Before wiping down the fabric or throwing it in the wash, you want to remove all of that. 

Step 5: Gently clean the straps with just water. 

Next, loosen the straps completely and get them clean! However, don’t submerge them in water or use any soap on them. The innovative and complex design of the webbing means it shouldn’t be washed with cleaners or get soaked with water. Just use a damp cloth to wipe those down! Get the buckles too while you’re at it! 

Step 6: Check the manual. 

Okay, it’s time to take care of the worst of it! Most of the pee has likely soaked into your car seat padding and cover. However, before you wash this, read the manual. It’ll let you know if it’s safe to machine wash your fabric. If it is, that makes washing out the pee much easier. 

Step 7: Spot clean with water and dish soap. 

Whether you can machine wash or not, get that dish soap and water solution back out for the fabric. Start by dabbing the solution to the affected areas and see what you can pull up. If needed, you can give the stained area a little bit more of a scrub with a microfiber cloth if dabbing doesn’t do the trick. 

Step 8: Wash your covers and/or padding if you can.

If the manual allows it, go ahead and wash the padding and cover as instructed, using only a mild laundry detergent. If the manual doesn’t say the fabric is washable, do not wash it! Just clean the area with a damp cloth and some dish soap. When in doubt, reach out to the manufacturer of your car seat!

Step 9: Let it dry in the sun.  

The sun has amazing cleaning powers! It can erase stains, eradicate urine odor, and actualize sanitize your fabrics! So, letting your car seat air dry in the sun is one of the best things you can do to complete the cleaning process! 

If the weather doesn’t allow you to air dry in the sun, dry your car seat the best you can with a dry cloth. Then, get some of the sun’s cleansing benefits by putting it in front of a window to complete the drying process. 

Step 10: Check and clean the vehicle’s seat too. 

Whether pee got on the vehicle’s seat or not, chances are it could use a good cleaning after your child’s car seat has sat on it for the last few months. Take the opportunity to vacuum and wipe down the vehicle seat, too. Just ensure that if you have leather seats, you use a leather-specific deep cleaner, so you don’t damage the upholstery. 

Step 11: Put it back together and reinstall the seat. 

Finally, it’s time to put it all back together. Grab your phone and replay the video of you taking it apart. This makes it so much easier! Of course, you can use your manual too. Reinstall your car seat (and adjust if necessary if your child has grown). Then, do a quick check for common car seat installation mistakes. Once you’re confident it’s installed correctly, consider your job done! 

Car Seat Cleaning No-Nos:

When you look up how to clean a car seat, you find a lot of really bad advice. Harsh cleaners and abrasive tools can ruin your car seat and make it unsafe for use. Ensure you’re always following the manual’s instructions and never compromise your child’s safety to get out a few stains. Below, we’ve made a list of things NOT to do when cleaning your car seat. 

Don’t . . . 

  • Don’t use white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, bleach-based cleaners, baking soda, or any other harsh cleaner. 
  • Don’t machine wash or dry if the manual doesn’t allow it. 
  • Don’t use abrasive brushes. 
  • Don’t remove foam or other pieces that are not meant to be removed. 
  • Don’t soak or fully submerge the straps. 
  • Don’t use a pee-pad for future accidents unless it’s made by the manufacturer 

Make sure you know how to clean your car seat the right way!

Car seat safety is our main priority here at Safe in the Seat! Everything you do with your car seat from installing to buckling to cleaning must be done properly, so your car seat can continue to do its job to keep your child safe! You can also check out this post on how to protect your car seats from pee and other fluids. There’s plenty more on the blog, too, to keep you up-to-date and well-educated on all things car seats!

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