How to Clean Vomit from Car Seat Straps?

How to Clean Vomit from Car Seat Straps

Babies and young children are very vulnerable to diseases and stomach upsets. Once in a while, they may get health implications that might cause them to vomit. This can also happen during a road trip due to motion sickness and it comes with its own panic. In this article, we shall discuss how to clean vomit from car seat straps.

It can be more challenging especially if one is driving the car with a baby on board with no other passenger or designated driver. It is always advisable to remain calm to ensure that things fall in place as required.

You need to deal with two primary issues right away. Baby’s safety and comfort come first, and then the car seat straps need to be cleaned. No matter what method you use to clean the straps, you should be careful not to damage them and jeopardize your baby’s safety in the car seat.

Things you need to clean vomit from car seat straps

  • Water (warm)
  • Mild soap
  • Soft cloth

Related article: Baby’s transitioning from using a car seat in a stroller

How to wash car seat straps step by step

Step 1: Remove the car seat cover

  • Wipe the vomit off the cover as soon as possible to avoid staining.
  • Get rid of vomit particles by picking them from the seat to avoid dropping them down. If gloves are not available it is advisable to use tissue paper or dry car wipes.
  • Take out the car seat cover and check the washing instructions from the manufacturer’s manual. The washing instructions are usually labeled or sewn on the stitching line and differ from one brand of car seat to another.

Step 2: Wipe the hard shell

  • Use warm water with mild soap and a soft cloth to wipe down the hard shell.
  • Food particles and dust stuck in the corners and crevices may be hard to reach with a cloth so you can use a toothbrush. Avoid power washing the hard shell since it may weaken it.

Step 3: Clean the straps

While most parents will argue that they simply throw the straps into the machine without any negative impact, manufacturers strongly advise against doing this. This is because washing in a machine may weaken the webbing on the straps and cause them to stretch thereby reducing their effectiveness.

So, how do you wash the vomit off the straps?

  • Simply use warm water with mild soap. Avoid bleaching agents since they may cause discoloration or bleaching.
  • Take a soft cloth and wipe the straps until you are satisfied that the vomit has come off.
  • Dip the cloth in warm clean water and wipe the straps once again to rinse off the soap. Avoid getting them dripping wet since this may weaken the fabric.

Step 4: Drying the straps

  • Take the seat out under the sun to air dry.
  • Use an electric drier if the weather does not allow it.
  •  If the straps still smell of vomit, once dry spray them with mild air freshener. Avoid strong fresheners since they may irritate the baby.
  • You can also use a disinfectant spray to kill germs.
  • Fix the car seat in the car.

More on how to clean vomit from car seat straps

How to clean car seat straps for Graco, Chicco, or Uppababy mesa

These car seats come with manufacturer manuals and it is advisable to recheck them.

But to start with, you simply need to wipe off the vomit from the straps. Sponge clean the straps using warm water with mild soap as earlier explained. Do not soak them in water or make them dripping wet.

See also: Recommended car seats without flame retardants

Can you hose off a car seat?

It’s not right to hose off a car seat.  It weakens EPS foam and the metallic parts may also rust making them less efficient. Instead, simply sponge wipe the straps, buckles, fabric, and the hard shell and let them air dry.

Why can’t car seat straps get dripping wet or be machine washed?

The pad on the straps is not machine washable due to the material it is made from. Soaking them wet or machine washing them may weaken the webbing and make the straps less effective.

In addition, most of the straps are permanently fixed to the seat so making them wet, so they may not dry properly if soaked; thereby, resulting in mold.

In case you have been washing your car seat straps in the machine or soaking them wet, you may have to get replacement straps since they are now less effective. Contact your car seat manufacturer for replacement.

How do I dry my car seats after washing?

The easiest way to dry the straps or harnesses is by placing them in the sun for a few hours. The sun dries them up as well as dissipates any remaining odor from the vomit.

However, drying the straps under the sun is only possible if they are removable. If yours are attached to the car seat, you can use cloth towels to absorb the water or take the whole seat and place it under the sun for a few hours.

Can you wash the car seat covers?

Yes, car seat covers can be removed and washed. However, since they are made from different materials, you should wash them according to the instructions given by their manufacturers.

Why shouldn’t you use bleach or vinegar to clean car seat straps?

Harsh chemicals like bleach, vinegar, and other solvents and household cleaners should be avoided when cleaning the straps due to several reasons.

One is that they may cause the fibers in the straps to weaken thereby making them lose their elasticity and their ability to restrain a child on the seat.

Second, bleach may cause discoloration of seat straps making them look unattractive.

See also: Quality protector for car seats on leather


The importance of keeping one’s car clean cannot be overstated. If your child throws up in the car seat, you should know how to properly clean vomit from car seat straps. This is due to the fact that if straps are not used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, they may become ineffective.

Instead of machine washing or soaking, wipe the straps with a soft cloth and light soap. Straps can be damaged by bleaching agents and common household cleaners like vinegar and baking soda.

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