Is your car child seat dirtier than your toilet?

New research has discovered that your child’s car seat could harbour more germs than your toilet seat.

Dirty car child seat

A new investigation into germs on child car seats by consumer group Which? has yielded troubling results. Your child’s chair could harbour more bacteria than your toilet seat.

Swabs were taken from the harnesses, headrests and buckles of car seats – areas touched often by both parents and children. Researchers then compared what they found with swabs taken from toilet seats.

If we asked you which had 30 different types of bacteria and which had 16, you can guess the result.

Dirty car child seat

Child seats were found to harbour 30 different types of bacteria, including those common to the human digestive system, and indeed what it produces. They include e-coli, staphylococcus and c.difficile.

Worrying amounts of bugs that could cause sepsis, including enterobacteriaceae and enterococci, were found. As germs that cause ‘opportunistic infections’, these are dangerous if your child has any open cuts or grazes.

How to clean your child’s car seat

Dirty car child seat

Remove and vacuum

Start by removing the seat and vacuuming it. Take off all the trinkets and toys that may be attached to it, for ease of cleaning.

Remove the cover and wash it

If you can, remove the car seat cover (see your instruction manual), and get it in the washing machine. If you can’t remove it, hand-scrub the fabric with a gentle soap and water mix before leaving it to air-dry.

Get the dirty spots

It’s worth emphasising there will be hot spots for grubbiness and bacteria. Deal with the stains and, less obviously, the problem areas listed above.

Dirty car child seat

Rub down the plastic areas

The ‘chassis’ of the car seat could always do with a wipe down, too. Surface cleaner and a wipe with a wet cloth should do the trick. Give any plastic toys attached this treatment as well.

Reassemble and install

Once the seat is dry, put it all back together and reinstall it in your car. The best cure is prevention, so if your car seat is cleaned regularly, you have the best chance of fending off nasty bugs.

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Ethan Jupp
I'm Content Editor at MR. Road trips music and movies are my vices. Perennially stuck between French hot hatches and Australian muscle cars.


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