How To Wash Your Graco Car Seat Cover

Graco has been around since 1942, but the company really took off in 1955 when it created the Swyngomatic. This put the company on the map for baby products. Since then the range has grown to include strollers, car seats and more.

As far as popularity goes, Graco car seats are listed as one of the top nine brands by Heathline.com. 

Taking care of the car seat is a bit of a process. Yet, it’s worth it to maintain the item and extend the life of something so important. 

Soap and water can be used to wash the Graco car seat and its parts. You can leave the pads on or remove them off the seat.

Read on to find out how you can wash your Graco car seat. We will take you through the traditional way and offer some alternative, chemical-free options. 

Let’s get that car seat shining.

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Take out the seat

Before you begin to clean the car seat, it’s a lot easier when it has been removed from the vehicle. 

For Graco car seats it’s only a matter of grabbing the seat and pressing a button. Here is how to release the car seat from its base:

  • Take hold of the car seat handle
  • With your other hand, press on the button that has “PUSH” on it. 
  • Use both hands to gentle pull up the car seat

Now that the seat is free from its base, it’s time to take off the cover.

Removing your Graco Car Seat Cover

car seat

To remove the cover from the seat, it is a two step process. First, you remove the headrest pad and then the seat pad. You also have the option of leaving them in place and giving them a wipe down. 

Let’s start by looking at the method for removing the pads.

The headrest pad

Unsnap the pad from the shell of the car seat. Find the two elastic straps that fasten the pad to the headrest and undo these. Slip the loops out from the guides.

The seat pad

Removing the seat pad is a similar method to that for the headrest pad. 

First start by unsnapping the base pad from the side pad. Locate the elastic straps on the back-facing belt area and free them.

Pull out the plastic tab located in the arm rest. Next to the recline handle are two more elastic straps, undo these. 

How to wash your pads 

washing machine

Now that you have your pads free, it’s time to give them a wash. Graco’s recommendation is a machine wash.

Put them into your washing machine and give them a cold, delicate cycle. Graco warns not to use bleach.

In fact, the caution against bleach is something that most car seat manufacturers (baby and standard seats) provide. We will let you know why, later.

Once the pads have been washed, hang them up to dry. 

Cleaning without removing the pads

If you want to leave your headrest and seat pads in place, that’s fine. 

To clean the pads you will need a sponge or cloth, cool water and laundry detergent.

Mix the detergent and water in a bowl (read you laundry detergent instructions for the right quantity). Dip your sponge into the water and wring it out so that it’s slightly moist.

Wipe down your car seat pads. Allow them to air dry.

Washing the other parts of the seat

cleaning bottles

Now that the pads are taken care of, there is still the buckle, harnesses and plastic that needs some attention. 

Cleaning the buckle

Locate the buckle by laying the car seat on its back. You will find the buckle at the base of the seat. 

To wash the buckle, you only need a cup of warm water. Before you begin, there are a couple warnings to adhere to:

  • don’t place the buckle strap into the water
  • avoid using any lubricants on the buckle

Getting the straps wet can cause them to weaken over time. Lubrication of the buckle (and other clips) will affect its ability to fasten securely.

With the warnings out of the way, let’s start cleaning. 

Place the buckle into the warm water and gently rotate it. While it’s still in the water, press the buckle’s red button several times.

Remove any excess water by giving the buckle a good shake. Let it air dry. 

Reattach the buckle. You want to hear a clicking sound when fastening it. If there is no click, you need to repeat the cleaning process. 

Washing the harnesses

To clean the harnesses, you need cool water and detergent. 

Mix the water and detergent, then dip a cloth or sponge into the solution. Gently wipe down the harnesses and then allow them to air dry. 

Cleaning the plastic

For any plastic parts of the car seat, wipe them down with a soft cloth and mild solution. Give the seat a rub down with a dry cloth or let it air dry.

You can use a toothbrush or Q-tip to clean those hard to reach places. 

How to spot clean the car seat

cleaning brush

If you come across a small mark on the car seat, you don’t need to go overboard and give the entire seat a clean. Take care of the spot using either dish or laundry soap.

Create a solution with cool water and your soap. Mix the ingredients well and then use a toothbrush or similar brush to gently scrub at the mark. Use circular motions.

Finish off by wiping over the surface with a damp cloth to remove the soap residue.

Getting rid of the stains

You may have a really stubborn stain on your car seat. What can you do to get rid of it? 

Again, use cool water and detergent to attack the stain. Work the solution into the stain gently with your brush. Wipe the area with a moist cloth and then let it dry. 

Can I use baking soda?

Baking soda is always a favorite method for removing spots and stains. Yet, you may hesitate to consider using it in your car seat as the manufacturer warns against bleach (which baking soda can be).

If you want to try a baking soda solution, contact your manufacturer first to ensure you aren’t invalidating your warranty. If you get the all clear, here is one method you can try:

  • Mix ½ a cup of baking soda with a bowl of cool water
  • Use your brush to scrub the solution into the stain
  • Wait for 30 minutes the thoroughly wipe the area. Ensure that you remove any trace of baking soda as it may cause your baby’s skin to react

For the more stubborn stains, you could use a baking soda paste: Mix the baking soda in a small amount of water. This option allows the particles baking soda to enter more deeply into the gaps between the fibres of the straps and covers. 

Always spot test a discreet area before you start.

Removing the odors

spray bottle

Your baby car seat may have a slight smell that you want to eliminate. A natural method is to use water and vinegar.

  1. Get a spray bottle and pour into it an equal amount of water and vinegar
  2. Screw the spray head onto the bottle and give it a vigorous shake to mix the contents
  3. You only want a gentle mist, so adjust the strength of the nozzle
  4. Spray your car seat and then allow it to air dry

Please talk to your car seat manufacturer before trying this.  Vinegar can affect the flame retardation of the seat’s straps and covers.

It can be possible to use essential oils as a way to deodorize your car seat. Here is one way:

  1. Mix several drops of your oil to water 
  2. Dip a cloth into the solution and then wring it out so that it is damp
  3. Wipe down your car seat
  4. Take a second cloth moistened with cold water only
  5. Rub down your car seat to remove any trace of the oil
  6. Let your seat air dry

Removing big chunks of food and debris

If you spot large parts of food or other particles stuck to the car seat, you may want to use a knife or scraper to remove them with. Please don’t! You run the risk of fraying the straps or scratching the plastic of the seat.

To get rid of those more generous-sized stuck on items, use either a moist cloth or baby wipes

Place the cloth\wipe over the food and rub. The entire piece of food\debris may take several attempts to be removed.  

Why you shouldn’t use bleach

We mentioned that manufacturer’s say you shouldn’t use bleach (or detergent with a bleach component) on car seats. 

Just like vinegar, bleach can react chemically with your seat’s straps and covers. That affects the flame resistant property of the seat. 

Please contact your manufacturer before trying an alternative method for cleaning.

Conclusion

Graco cars seats are one of the most popular brands on the US market. Cleaning them is an easy process.

You can remove the pads from the seat and place them in your washing machine. Otherwise, leave them on the seat and give them a wipe down with cool water and detergent.

Stubborn stains and stuck-on items need to be worked over with gentle scrubbing. 

If you want to try using a more natural cleaning method such as baking soda or vinegar, contact your manufacturer first. 

How often you should clean your car seat is merely a matter of how often you use it. Regular maintenance will ensure that you are extending the life of the seat.

Enjoy your trips with your baby sitting safe and secure in the clean car seat. 

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