If you’re anything like me, you’ve woefully underprepared, again and again, when your child has gotten sick in their carseat. After a holiday cookie-tossing bonanza, we decided to adult a little harder around here and create a go-bag with all of our carseat cleaning needs handy. We pass on the wisdom conferred by our inexperience to you.
If Murphy’s Law holds constant across the universe, simply going to the trouble of collecting these mundane items from CVS and storing them together in your car will do wonders to prevent future bouts of carsickness. (And might I add, this would be a fabulous and handy baby shower gift? Bonus points for anyone who includes a custom-printed change of t-shirt/onesie that says “I barfed in the car and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”)
You will need:
- A backpack or drawstring bag to keep everything in
- A package of disposable gloves
- A few garbage bags (for trash)
- A few large ziplock bags (for clothes and, once you’ve arrived at your destination, the carseat cover and anything else that needs to be washed)
- 1 roll paper towels
- 1 old beach towel
- 1 bottle of disinfecting cleaning spray (I prefer the natural stuff, since my kid’s going to be sitting next to it for a while)
- 1 package baby wipes
- Scented hand sanitizer
- Essential oil air freshening spray (mix distilled water with 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil in a pump spray bottle)
- Sprinkle bottle of baking soda
- Jar of coffee beans (to put in your cupholder – deodorizes the air)
- Anti-nausea wristbands (to prevent future accidents!)
- Children’s chewable dramamine
- 1 bottle drinking water
- A change of clothes for your kiddo (or two)
- Small bottle or packet of detergent (for washing carseat once you get to your destination, if you are traveling)
Tips on cleaning carseat:
- Be sure your carseat has a removable and washable cover!
- While still on the road:
- Pull over safely. Get to a gas station or rest stop if you can.
- Put on a pair of gloves (seriously, that smell lingers in your fingernails).
- Scrape off and discard solids from carseat (don’t forget the corners and the crease).
- Spray disinfecting cleaning spray liberally on soiled areas and blot dry with paper towel.
- Sprinkle lightly with baking soda to absorb moisture and odor.
- Brush off excess.
- If seat is still very moist, place a bed of paper towels or your old beach towel on the seat to keep your child from being uncomfortable.
- Spray essential oil spray in car to deodorize and place shaker bottle of coffee beans in cupholder to freshen the air.
- Once at your destination:
- Remove carseat from car.
- Remove carseat cover and all other fabric components.
- Wash on gentle cycle – you may need to wash twice to get all odor out.
- Allow to air-dry: running them in the dryer can wear away the lining and make the cover fabric pill and snag.
- To clean the body of the carseat, spray with more disinfectant spray and wipe down thoroughly, being sure to remove any solids that may have escaped your first round of cleaning (gloves again, people!).
- To clean the straps (the yuckiest part), fill a bowl with warm water and several teaspoons of baking soda.
- Dip the straps completely in the bowl and pull them out, squeezing out the liquid gently between your fingers (seriously, gloves).
- Do this several times for each strap until the water comes out relatively clear and the straps have minimal discernible odor.
- Give them a spritz of disinfectant spray, pat dry, and allow the whole thing to dry completely in the sun.
- Once everything is dry, place carseat cover and accessories back on the seat and reinstall correctly in car.
For additional reading:
- When you’re brave enough to travel with a toddler
- When you’re brave enough to take a toddler out to eat: 7 steps to preserve your family’s sanity
- The best toys aren’t toys
Rebekka Helford is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, California. With over a decade of experience working with parents and young children, Rebekka specializes in short-term intensive parenting consultation, using a variety of tools including home, office, and school visits to help families navigate developmental hiccups and get back on track.
Click here to schedule an appointment or contact Rebekka with a question – who knows, she might even answer it in her next post!