You love your little one with all your heart, but sometimes your baby can create a mess in the backseat of your car akin to the character "Pig-Pen" from the Peanuts' comics. From messy snacks to occasional car sickness stains, its all up to you to freshen it up before you head out on your family's summer road trip. While you have most likely been doing some routine maintenance to keeping the chaos at bay, sometimes a deep cleaning is just what your baby's car seat needs. Here are some cleaning tips to make that seat look brand new:

For normal strains and messes:

  1. Removal: Depending on the manufacturer's instructions, this will vary on how you go about removing and washing the fabric cover. If it is not crystal-clear about how to take it off, try starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. It's also wise to snap a few photos of what the seat looks like assembled and maybe film yourself taking it apart to make for an easy reassemble. 
  2. The wipe down: For these simple stains and messes, wiping your harness straps with water and a gentle soap with a soft rag or cloth should do the trick. Never put the harness straps in the washing machine as this can prematurely take the stretch out of the harness's webbing, which can decrease the safety of the car seat for your child. To clean the buckles, fill a bucket or jar with water and swish the buckles around to shake out any hidden crumbs. 
  3. Reassembly: Take caution to reassemble the car seat back together correctly. Many law enforcement agencies report that a large amount of these seats are not properly installed. Keep the manual around to peruse if you ever have any uncertainties when putting it back together. 

For more stubborn stains and messes:

  • Smelly stains: Milk spills can be challenging to get rid of both the stains and the subsequent odors that arise. Though difficult, they are not impossible to take care of. A mix of baking soda and toothpaste can be rubbed in thoroughly to the milk spots and then left to sit for for a while to eliminate any lurking smells. You can wipe it off afterwards to see the spots washed away. Though, if the stain is more ingrained, a few dabs of hydrogen peroxide might take care of any additional marks that just won't come out, but use it sparingly. 
  • Flaky remnants: Though vacuuming up cracker crumbs can do the trick in some cases, for more stubborn tidbits, you can try to rehydrate them with warm water. Then firmly press a paper towel to the targeted area and run a clothes iron over it. You should then be able to brush away any crusty bits as they come loose. 
  • Stubborn dirt: Again, loose dirt is easily vacuumed up or brushed away, just like crumbs. However, for the more embedded dirt stains, you may need to mix warm water with lemon juice. Use this mixture to scrub down the affected areas. This should not only get rid of the stain, but it gives you car seat a nice smell. At least until the next messy explosion occurs, that is.