Consumer Watch: Cleaning your child's car seats

Parents across the country are following public health recommendations, using bleach or other disinfectants to kill bacteria on surfaces around their house.

But one surface that should not be cleaned with such harsh chemicals is a child's car seat.

"When it comes to car seats, each component must withstand high forces and repeated use in order to keep kids safe during a crash, so you don't want to use any cleaners or disinfectants that could compromise any of the seat's components in any way," says Emily Thomas with Consumer Reports.

So what should you use? To find out what you need, refer to your car seat's owner's manual.

There will be washing or drying instructions that are specific to not only your car seat model but for each of the seat's components.

If you no longer have your manual, Google search the product make and model. Chances are you can find a digital version of the manual.

Most manufacturers say it's ok to machine-wash and air dry the seat cover, but you should never put the harness in the washing machine.

Instead, follow manufacturer instructions to clean the harness by-hand. Most specify using a mild soap and water mixture.

Plastic components can also be wiped down with mild soap and water as well.

"So with all of us stuck at home with our kids and not traveling anywhere, it really is the perfect time to clean our child's car seat," Thomas said. "And it's also a great opportunity to make sure that your child's car seat still fits them properly. So review the height and weight guidelines and make the appropriate adjustments necessary."
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