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Are Car Seat Covers Washable?


Spilled liquid, food crumbs, and smeared seats are unsightly. Although car seat covers make a car stand out when they are new, they inevitably get messy. When they do, your immediate thought is, Are car seat covers washable?

Of course, car seat covers are washable, but you need to wash them correctly.

 This article will guide you on cleaning your car seat covers effectively without ruining them in the process.

Cleaning your car seat the right way.

Car seat covers are a protective canvas that beautifies your seat and prevents it from getting ruined. When covers get dirty,

Check your car’s seat manual before removing that dirty seat cover and tossing it around. There will be instructions on the safest way to clean the seat covers. Every manufacturer has specific directions on cleaning their models.  

Whether it’s an infant car seat or an adult booster seat, or an actual car seat, cleaning the covers is similar for the most part.

If your manual is nowhere to be found, you can look on the manufacturer’s website for a soft copy version. Call the manufacturer’s customer service number if you’re confused by the instructions or can’t find a manual. They’ll gladly guide you on the proper way to clean the covers.

Apart from the specific cleaning instructions for each car seat cover, these are general cleaning advice you should follow.

Car seat covers are designed to endure a lot of degradation that would otherwise happen to the vehicle seat. Washing the cover with the wrong product or procedure can compromise its integrity which is essential to the cover’s functionality.

Removing the car seat covers for cleaning

Most car seats have removable covers that allow for cleaning flexibility. You’ll have no problem removing the covers by simply following a simple step or a video instruction on the manufacturer’s website.

Removing the seat covers can be a handful, especially on expensive models. To remove the covers, you typically have to unfasten the shoulder straps connected to the metal plate at the back of the car seat.

 Endeavor to take a picture of the removal process, so you don’t have a problem while putting it back on. You’ll think you’ve mastered the technique, but you’re not. When detaching the shoulder straps, take a  picture of their positioning. This precaution ensures that the straps are not misrouted or twisted when you attach them back.

Washing the covers.

Car seat covers are made up of different fabrics. These fabrics attract debris differently, some more than others. Therefore, You can’t clean all of them the same way. How you wash CR-grade neoprene seat covers is different from the simple process of cleaning a leather or vinyl seat. Before diving into the cleaning recommendations specific to each material, these are the general ones.

 Do not use cleaning agents or soap. Most manufacturers prohibit using soaps to wash covers. If you’re permitted to use soap, use a mild detergent or small dishwashing soap. Avoid using products like excessive detergents that can compromise the waterproofing of the covers. Cleaning agents like bleach can also discolor the material and undermine it.

Ensure that it does not come into contact with fluids like petrol, diesel, or kerosene.

Equipment and materials you need to wash your covers generally include:

  • Bucket
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Sponge
  • Vacuum
  • Upholstery cleaner solution
  • Water
  • Sprayer

Drying the covers

Do not put fabric covers into the dryer. While most covers are machine washable, they should not be dried in a machine. This instruction applies to basically all car seats. The fabric will deteriorate and get ruined if placed in a dryer.

If the instruction allows machine drying, remember to use a soft setting.   To ensure that your cover dries, wash it when you have ample time to air dry it. 

To dry, hang or lay flat to air dry. This method is to prevent shrinking or damage to the cover. Overall, Before hurling your covers into a washing machine, read a manual.

Specific Cleaning Instructions Depending On Materials


Tweed materials are woven fabrics. There is a huge tendency for pet hairs or litter to be caught in the weave. Hence, vacuuming before cleaning is necessary. Also, it is better to hand wash with mild detergents and dry by hanging.

Leather or vinyl covers

Leather seat covers require a more straightforward procedure for cleaning. You can effectively clean them without removing them from the vehicle. Using a vinyl cleaner and a soft-bristle brush,  clean the surface. Afterward, rub off the cleaner with a moist cloth and dry using microfiber.

Polyester covers

Turn polyester seat covers inside out and wash them in the machine with mild detergent. Make sure to use a delicate setting. You can also dry with a machine but be careful to use a gentle rotation.

Foam padded covers

Foam padded covers should be hand washed and hung dry to keep the foam from disintegrating over time.

This is a tabular representation of all you need to know; the Dos and Don’ts of proper car seat cover cleaning.

Clean your seat covers regularly, not only when they’re noticeably dirtyDon’t use cleaning agents like vinegar, fabric softener, or bleach to wash the seat cover
Consult your car manufacturer’s manual before anything elseDon’t put the fabric cover in a tumble machine dryer
Use Mild detergents and lukewarm waterDon’t clean all the seat covers the same way. The cleaning process differs according to the material.
Air dry your covers after washing.Be careful not to place the covers back on the car surface without allowing it to dry completely.

Bottom Line

Keeping your car seat covers clean by washing is a lot of work. It requires paying attention to details, patience, and a lot of effort. You can save yourself the stress of dealing with gross covers by taking a few precautions while in the car.

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