Most car seats have a fabric cover that is removable – and machine washable. Getting the cover off may be tricky, so here are a few pointers:
Read the instructions to your car seat and check the company’s website to see if they have videos on removing/replacing the fabric cover – as often there is a specific order that will make it much easier to get the cover off (and of course this order is often counterintuitive).
Put your smartphone’s camera to good use – video yourself removing the cover as this will help you when it comes time to put the cover back on. If you don’t have the memory for a video, take still pictures at each step. Trust me… while you think you’ll remember how to get it back on, you won’t.
In most cases, removing the fabric cover requires detaching the shoulder straps from the metal plate they connect to in the back of the car seat – since the shoulder straps are threaded through holes in the fabric cover. Take a picture of how the shoulder straps are connected before you disconnect them – and when you put the seat back together pay careful attention that you connected them properly (and didn’t put any twists into the straps).
Pulling the cover off can be hard on some seats – particularly on the more expensive seats where the fabric cover is tucked neatly into the frame of the seat.
Do NOT put the fabric cover in the dryer. Trust me on this one it will ruin it – literally, the fabric on the back disintegrates in the dryer. Not only that, but the instructions to basically every car seat forbid you from putting the cover in the dryer. As such, make sure you wash the cover at a time when you have sufficient time for it to air dry.
If you wish to maintain the integrity of the flame retardants used in the fabric cover to your child’s car seat, avoid detergents. If you want to get rid of the flame retardants, use detergent to wash the fabric cover.