How to Get an Odor Out of a Car Seat

Baby sitting in a car seat and clapping hands
Active baby in car seat. (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

You can’t prevent your car seat from getting dirty because daily use can be hard on it. Children’s food, drink and leaky diapers will eventually come into contact the car seat fabric. To keep odors from occurring, clean spills as soon as possible because decaying food will eventually cause odors. If you notice unpleasant smells, clean the car seat to keep your vehicle smelling fresh and pleasant.

Step 1

Identify the cause of the odor. Check in the creases of the fabric for food or spills. Look for stains on the upholstery. The more closely you can pinpoint the spot where the odor is coming from, the easier it will be to get rid of it.

Step 2

Use a stain remover to clean specific areas or spills. The product should be suitable for whatever material the car seat is made of. Use a hard brush to scrub until the stain disappears. Some products might need to be mixed with water while others can be applied directly, so make sure you read the instructions on the label. Clean the plastic areas as well, not only the upholstery. Let the car seat air dry and then check if the odor has disappeared.

Step 3

Mix water and vinegar in equal parts into a spray bottle. Spray all over the seat and let it air dry. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, use an odor-absorbing spray product designed to absorb odors from upholstery. Spray and let air dry.

Step 4

Look for an odor remover at a pet store. Pet odor removers are created to deal with very strong odors, such as cat urine, and might work on a carseat as well. Use the product as directed, which might require scrubbing the seat or vacuuming it after spreading an odor-absorbing powder all over it.

Things You'll Need

  • Stain remover

  • Hard brush

  • Water

  • Vinegar

  • Spray bottle

  • Odor-absorbing spray or powder

Tip

When you vacuum the car, vacuum the car seat as well to prevent food crumbs from getting into the creases. Check your car seat manual to learn whether the fabric cover is machine washable. Machine washing the car seat cover will eliminate odors effectively.

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