Beverage stains, smears of food and dirt and lots of crumbs. That’s the kind of treatment your toddler’s car seat cover will likely endure over the course of its lifespan. However, if you choose your cover wisely and care for the fabric properly, it will stay in good shape for an extended period of time.
Obviously, washing a toddler car seat cover on a regular basis is necessary. To keep it looking new, or to care for a fabric such as a woven polyester blend:
- Wash the cover by hand in cold water* with a small amount of mild detergent, preferably one without perfumes and dyes that may trigger an allergic reaction in a child’s sensitive skin.
- Squeeze out excess water by rolling the cover up inside a towel. Avoid wringing it.
- Reshape the cover and lay it flat to dry.
If you prefer the convenience of a washer, make sure you purchase a cover made from a machine-washable fabric, such as cotton or a cotton blend of some type. In addition, it may be a good idea to have an extra toddler car seat cover on hand. While you’re laundering one, the other is ready to go. Both are likely to last longer, as well.
Here are some tips for keeping a machine washable car seat cover looking its best:
- Wash it with similarly colored clothing in cold water* and a mild detergent, unless a high temperature cleaning is required to remove oil or grease stains.
- Decide if bleach (whites only) or color-safe bleach (colors) is necessary. While it can be helpful in removing soil and stains, bleach will weaken even cotton, cause yellowing and remain in the fabric after cleaning.
- Use a low heat setting with your dryer to prevent shrinkage or other fabric damage. You can also lay the cover flat for air drying.
Removing stains can be a challenge, and there are a number of helpful online resources to assist you, such as Tide® Stain Brain and GoodHousekeeping.com’s Stain Buster. You may want to presoak the cover for a better chance of eliminating the stain.
Beyond washability, consider buying a reversible toddler car seat cover. It’s a great way to instantly create a fresh look for a kids’ car seat while hiding stains or wear. However, if your child’s car seat cover is beginning to fray or even tear, it’s probably no longer comfortable for your toddler and time for a new one.
* With today’s newer, more efficient washing machines and detergents, cold-water washing is usually adequate for cleaning white and colored clothing. Fabrics laundered in cold water retain their color and strength longer, and you avoid the high energy costs of hot-water washing. For more on best practices with washing machines, review these tips from EnergyStar.gov.