How to Clean Vomit from a Car Seat

vomit being cleaned

Few things are as naturally repulsive as vomit. One of our duties as parents is to clean up any mess that our children might create.

Now, we all love our kids, but sometimes it’s hard to keep that in mind.

Having to clean up vomit is a good example of such a time.

Most parents resign themselves to the fact that they’ll have to clean up vomit at some point. They just hope it happens somewhere manageable.

One of the worst places for it to happen is your car. It’s obvious why – your car is essentially a tiny metal box. The smell is likely to stay there for a long time, and if it happens on a long trip, you’re completely trapped!

If your child has just vomited in the car seat, or you’re just planning ahead – you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll go over how to clean vomit from a car seat like a professional.

By following the steps in our guide, your car seat will hopefully make a full recovery from the hazardous consequences of vomit.

How to Clean Vomit from a Car Seat

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to follow in cleaning vomit from your car seat.

Step 1: Remove Car Seat

The first step is obviously to uninstall the car seat from its position in the car. It’ll be next to impossible to clean up if you try to do everything without removing the car seat first.

Plus, you’ll have to spend more time in a car that probably smells like death’s grandmother.

What you really need is for the seat to be placed in the open air so you can have plenty of space and breathe comfortably.

We’d also recommend takings snaps of the car seat before removing it from its assembly. This will help you install it back once you’re finished.

Step 2: Remove Solid Matter

Before we get to the scrubbing and wiping, you should deal with any solid pieces of vomit. These will interfere with the cleaning process later, so it’s better to get them out of the way in the beginning.

We understand that you might vomit just thinking about it, but not removing solid pieces will only spread them around when you clean later.

Step 3: Uncover the Seat

Okay, so this will depend largely on your car seat’s manufacturer. If it’s possible to remove the car seat cover, do so and then take it to the sink for a brief wash.

If the material permits machine wash, you should just put it in there for one cycle.

Step 4: Clean Frame

With the covers in the wash, you can turn your attention to the seat itself. Use mild cleaning agents or just plain water along with sanitary wipes.

We recommend you use mild soap and wipes to give the whole seat a general cleanup.

Once you’re done with that, use a toothbrush to get into all those tricky places that your wipes wouldn’t have been able to reach.

In doing so, you ensure that there’s no puke hiding anywhere.

You’ll also want to remember to clean the chest clip and crotch buckle properly.

Step 5: Clean the Straps

Okay, we’re done with the easy part. “Easy,” you’re probably exclaiming to yourself. Well, the car seat isn’t really where the most damage was done.

In our experience, it’s the car seat straps that need the most attention. You can’t learn how to clean vomit from a car seat without knowing how to clean the straps.

The reason the straps are tricky is that they’re the most important part of the car seat. They’re made with specially designed fabric that protects your child in the event of an accident.

The fabric is meant to stretch.

If you were going about this in an amateur way, you’d probably just think to throw the straps into the wash. This would be a terrible idea.

Good thing you’re here, right?

Submerging the straps in water for an extended period of time, such as in the washer, will cause irreparable damage to the elasticity of the straps.

The straps may become loose and hence less effective at their job. When you consider that their job is to protect your child, you won’t want them to be anything less than perfect.

So, you’ll have to manually wipe down the straps without making them too wet. You can use mild washing powder and a piece of cloth to gently clean the straps.

Step 6: Reinstall the Car Seat

Now that the cleaning process is complete, it’s time to reinstall everything in its place.

Use the pictures you took before removing the seat or the user manual to place the seat back into its position.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Some common questions when talking about how to clean vomit from a car seat include:

How can I get the smell of vomit out of my car?

You’ll have to air out the car, make sure all the vomit is completely removed, and use mild cleaning agents. Once all three of these things have been taken care of, you can use strong air fresheners until the smell dissipates.

What is the best way to clean up vomit?

The best way is to act fast and take a systematic approach. Always try to isolate the vomit area from the rest of the car if possible. When not possible, make sure there’s plenty of ventilation and that you use good scented cleaning agents.

Does vinegar clean vomit?

Vinegar is an excellent cleaning agent because it is a weak acid. Its smell isn’t really an improvement on vomit, but at least it goes away with time, whereas vomit stays for much longer.


  • Cam Russo

    Cam is a blogger, author, and content strategist with a keen love for the written word. His journey with high-functioning autism has kindled a strong advocacy for autism awareness. Today, Cam dedicates his efforts to educating parents. He sees laughter as a game-changer in learning, and strives every day to make education a fun and enjoyable journey for all his readers.