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Washing baby gear in washing machine

So Fresh & So Clean: Mistake-Proof Baby Gear Cleaning

With baby around, messes happen, since the occasional car sickness episode or diaper blow-out is unavoidable. But you don’t have to accept a less-than-clean car seat, high chair, swing, stroller or playard. Use these 10 simple, mom-approved cleaning tips to keep your baby’s everyday gear—including buckles, straps, plastic and fabric—fresh and clean.

Cleaning High Chair

Tools of the (Cleaning) Trade

You can go from grimy to tidy without any super-specialized products or tools. In fact, you probably already have all of the cleaning products you need in your cleaning cabinet at home. Some of the key tools are:
1. Vacuum
2. Mild, non-toxic soap
3. Gentle baby safe laundry detergent
4. Microfiber cloth

Cleaning Crumbs

Crumbs Be Gone

If your little cookie monster has made a mess, sometimes all your gear needs is a good vacuum. Use the handheld attachment to suck up crumbs, cereal bits and even dirt from the cracks and creases. “That pointy crevice tool on my vacuum is my favorite way get into the small areas of my son’s car seat,” says Crystal M. “And, I occasionally use the mattress brush attachment to clean fuzz and debris from the stroller.” Easy peasy!

Washing Car Seat

Soft Goods

Most Graco® soft goods, or fabrics, that are removable are also machine-washable, but be sure to use extra care and refer to your Graco® gear’s manual for any special instructions. Playard mattresses are easy to lift from the playard to clean. For other fabric pieces, remove the seat pad or strap covers from a car seat, high chair or swing or your playard’s carry bag and check the care tag. Each care tag has detailed washing instructions, but in general, you’ll want to wash soft goods separately on the delicate cycle using gentle detergent (and never any bleach) and cool water. Then, hang your fabric items up to line dry completely (don’t put them in the dryer) before following your manual’s instructions to put the soft goods back on.

Cleaning Stroller Cup Holder

Plastic Pieces

For plastic parts—like high chair legs, stroller cup holders and baby car seat handles—a microfiber cloth and a spray of water or mild soap is all it takes to wipe the gunk away (no harsh or abrasive chemicals). “I’ve found several reusable antimicrobial microfiber cloths that polish and scrub with just water,” says Jennifer B. “They don’t require any soap or cleaning products, which I feel really good about.” Additionally, many Graco® strollers come with removable cup holders and phone holders that are also dishwasher safe (double check your product manual to confirm).

Cleaning Baby Harness

Harness Cleaning

From baby to big kid, Graco® products (including car seats, strollers, swings and high chairs) come equipped with 3- or 5-point harnesses for your child’s safety. When a harness gets soiled, just spot clean the straps with water and mild soap, but don’t ever machine wash the harness or submerge it in water.

Wiping High Chair

Cleaning High Chairs

When feeding your hungry child, the high chair’s tray will probably take the brunt of the mess. Fortunately, many Graco® high chairs like the Table2Table™ Premier Fold and others have a removable tray that you can simply pop into the dishwasher for fuss-free cleaning. If other parts get a splatter of pureed veggies or fruit, just follow the instructions above for cleaning plastic pieces or soft goods, and your high chair will be ready for your child’s next meal.

Removing Car Seat Cover to Clean

Car Seat Cleaning Tips

Before you start to clean or wash parts of your car seat, consult your safety manual to verify instruction specifics. In general, though, when necessary, disconnect the harness straps and remove the seat pad before following the above instructions for soft goods and harnesses. Then reverse the steps and put the car seat’s back together, checking to make sure the harness system isn’t twisted. It’s a great time to check that the straps are in good condition, with no fraying.

Some car seats, like the Graco® Extend2Fit® Convertible Car Seat, feature RapidRemove™ covers, which let you remove the cover in less than 60 seconds without uninstalling the car seat. It’s a great feature that moms love!

Car Seat Buckle Cleaning

Car Seat Buckle Cleaning

With all the time you and baby spend in the car, it’s inevitable that your car seat harness buckle might get splashed or dribbled on. To keep it working in tip-top shape, you’ll want to clean it as needed. The process is simply outlined in this helpful video and the same process applies to all Graco® car seats, including infant car seats, toddler car seats and big kid boosters. The video goes into greater detail, but in a nutshell, you’ll remove the harness with the buckle, clear out any objects or debris and then submerge the buckle in a cup of warm water (no soap, detergent or lubricants!). After pressing the button several times, allow it to air dry completely before reinstalling it according to manual instructions and using the buckle again.

Cleaning a Stroller

Cleaning a Stroller

Since most stroller seat pads are made for ultra-durability and are not removable, you’ll be able to spot clean them easily with mild soap and warm water (never bleach). For plastic pieces like trays, handles and cup holders, just follow the plastic cleaning instructions above. If your wheels get a little squeaky from all of your explorations, use a little light oil to lubricate them and you’ll be off on your next adventure in no time.

Cleaning a Playard

Cleaning Playards

Graco® Pack 'n Play® Playards come in all shapes and sizes, from go-everywhere portable playards to robust care stations that stay in your living space. It’s likely to be one of your baby’s favorite spots, so chances are it’ll need a little refresh every now and then. Plastic pieces and fabrics get the same treatment outlined above. Another great easy-clean option is to purchase additional sets of Graco® playard sheets, since you can just wash them on the gentle cycle in your washing machine. Also, be sure to remove any sand or debris before folding and storing the playard in its carry bag, since sand can damage the rail lock mechanism.

Help Cleaning Baby Gear

More Help

As always, consult your Graco product instructions to confirm that you’ve disassembled and reassembled your baby’s gear properly. Didn’t save a copy? Download an electronic version right from the Graco website product manual page.