How To Get Stains and Smells Out of Car Seats

All car owners will have to do a deep clean of their car now and then. But if you’re a parent, then you’ll have to take extra special care when cleaning your car. Not only will you have more lasting and profound stains and smells to deal with, you’ll also have to ensure that any products you use won’t harm your children.

This is a guide to deep cleaning your car for parents.

How to Clean Children’s Car Seats – Safely and Effectively

We’ve already produced an essential guide to children car seats. It tells you basically everything you need to know about children’s car seats – how to pick one that’s right for your child, how to safely fit it in your car, how to make absolutely sure it’s providing the right level of protection, and so on.

But one thing our guide didn’t cover? How to clean your child’s car seat.

And that car seat will need cleaning! From urine to yoghurt, children in cars have a tendency to leave stains and smells that linger for longer. And that’s to say nothing of potentially harmful germs…

Here’s how to get stains and smells out of car seats:

Step one: Read the seat instructions

They may contain special hints and tips for cleaning that specific make of seat. They’ll also tell you how to safely remove the covers for washing.

Can’t find your instructions? You should be able to find a replica online, if you search for the seat’s make and model. And before you do anything to disassemble your child’s car seat, take some photos and videos, so you’ll know how to properly put the seat together again.

Step two: Wash the covers

Don’t just throw them into the machine on a standard cycle. The car seat covers should include labels with washing instructions.

You may have to use a specific temperature, or detergent. Or they may be hand-wash only. This will obviously make cleaning those stubborn stains a little harder. You’re going to need some elbow grease! And if your initial wash doesn’t remove the nasty stains, a second cycle might – or you could spot wash the target areas.

Step three: Clean the harness

You’ll have to take extra special care here. Any overly harsh chemicals could damage the fabrics, which could make the harness a little weaker. Obviously, you want your child’s seat harness to be as secure and reliable as possible. Once again, the car seat’s instructions should offer advice on safely and effectively cleaning the harness.

Step four: Put it back together

Once you’ve cleaned the seat covers and the harness, it’s time to put the car seat back together again, and fit it back into your car. Take extra, extra, extra special care here. Follow the instructions to the letter, and refer back to any photos you took before you took the seat apart.

And before you put the seat back, you might want to clean the rest of your car, to get rid of any lingering smells or stains.

How to Clean Your Car Upholstery

Step one: Hoover

First, run a hoover over the seats, to get rid of any crumbs, dust and lint.

Step two: Stain removal

Then you’ll need a special stain-remover for your upholstery. You’ll find one at any auto supply shop, and some larger supermarkets stock them too. You could also make your own solution using warm water, washing up liquid, and vinegar. If your seats are leather, you’ll need a specialist leather cleaner.

Step three: Scrub, rinse, repeat

You can get stains out of car seats by applying your cleaning product to any problem areas with a hard-wire brush, and scrubbing vigorously. Leave it for a few minutes to soak, then rinse it using a damp cloth. Repeat this process as often as necessary.

Step four: Air-dry your seats

It’s best to air-dry your car seats, which is why it’s a good idea to clean your car on warm, sunny days. Just open your car windows and, if possible, your doors too. This will allow a lot of air to circulate. As well as drying your seats, this should also help to remove any lingering smells.

Obviously it’s a bit of a security risk to leave your car open an unattended for too long. So remove any valuables and keep an eye on your car while letting it dry! If it’s winter, or if you’re unable to safely leave your car, use a hairdryer on the damp areas.

Step five: Tackle lingering smells

If you’ve cleaned your car and there’s still a lingering smell, there are a few things you can try.

  • Sprinkle baking soda on the source of the smell, leave it a few hours, then vacuum it.
  • Charcoal’s also known for absorbing smells. Travel with a chunk of charcoal in your car for a few days and it may absorb the smell.
  • You might try masking the smell with a natural air freshener.
  • Or else hiring a professional to give your car an expert overhaul.
Car Insurance for Parents

Get your car insurance from Go Girl and we will pay towards the cost of a replacement child car seat in the event of an accident – even if it doesn’t appear to be damaged. For more information, please read your policy wording.


Get your instant online quote today!


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