Note from Hint Mama: I admit it: The backseat of our car is a mess, and it’s getting worse everyday. Look in, and around, my daughter’s car seat and you’ll see remnants of puffs and other car-seat friendly food. The backseat floor, meanwhile, is covered in magazine scraps and my daughter’s old Starbucks cups. So, for help on how to get this mess more under control, I turned to Susan Maccarelli, a stay-at-home mom to two toddlers, ages 2 and 3, who has written about the subject on her blog, Pecked To Death By Chickens. In a guest hint below, Susan shares three tips for cleaning up kid transporter messes.
Keeping kid transporters (think cars, car seats and strollers) clean is always a challenge, and even more so during the spring and summer travel seasons. Whether it’s stale fries, milk splatter and Cheerios, or just general clutter, kids tend to leave lots of evidence behind (marking their territory, perhaps?).
If we, as parents, don’t keep a good handle on the mess, cars, car seats and strollers can become very unpleasant. Luckily, as I’ve figured out, there are some methods you can use to keep kid transporters clean. Today’s hint is my three quick tips for getting a handle on car, car seat and stroller messes.
1. Follow the rule: “What Goes Into The Car DOESN’T Stay In The Car,” and use a plastic bin to help you. Toys and food my kids take in the car can have a way of staying in the car — much like things that are brought downstairs in my house have a hard time making their way back upstairs. For this reason, I make sure to follow the rule “What Goes Into The Car DOESN’T Stay In The Car” whenever we return from a car trip, with the help of a plastic bin that I keep on the floor in the car’s back seat.
I do a round up when we come in from any car trip, collecting anything that should not live in the car, and I throw these items into the plastic bin. Items that typically make it into the bin: Think snacks, cups, toys, books and clothes. I bring the bin into the house, empty it and leave it on our mudroom counter, ready to go back into the car for the next trip.
Like this method and wondering what kind of plastic bin to use? A simple plastic bin that you can find at a discount or dollar store will work fine or you can even be greener and use a sturdy cardboard box. The kids might even like to decorate it as a fun project. And here’s an added bonus of the bin approach: You can also use the bin to hold dirty shoes that get muddy at the playground or elsewhere when you’re out and about with the kids (you’ll just need to wash the bin afterwards or find a new cardboard box).
2. Good old fashioned elbow grease is your friend when it comes to stroller & car seat cleaning. As much as I hate major cleaning chores (especially the kind involving kids’ slimy messes), sometimes you just have to use some good old-fashioned soap and elbow grease. If you need to be inspired, here’s my step-by-step process for cleaning the car seat and stroller. I recommend doing this once every six months unless there is a major mess event that calls for an unscheduled cleaning.
- Read the car seat or stroller manual first to make sure they don’t recommend any special cleaning products.
- Pick a really nice day to be outside for this chore!
- Come prepared, i.e. grab all your cleaning products and have them ready near you (you’ll want dish soap or whatever cleaning product your owners’ manual recommends, a cloth and cleaning wipes, as well as a bucket, bowl or old shampoo bottle for targeted squirting). Having to go back inside for stuff may break your resolve to clean.
- Haul out the car seat and/or stroller.
- Wait for your kids to stop climbing on them because seeing them from an outsiders’ perspective will intrigue them, and they will need to climb and sit for a few minutes.
- Clean!!! Shake out the loose dirt and food (beware circling toddlers ready to grab a yogurt raisin circa 2010). Remove car seat covers to let food that has tunneled in escape. Use a little soap and warm water to spot clean and scrub sticky areas. And finally, wipe down the wheels with your soapy cloth, baby wipes or cleaning wipes. My cover is not washing-machine friendly, but you can check to see if yours is for an easy clean.
3. Always be on trash patrol. Finally, I recommend having trash receptacles with you, the more the better! You don’t need anything fancy; plastic and paper grocery bags work fine. I keep plastic bags in the front of our car tucked into the door pockets and in the back of our car near the car seats (NOTE: If your child is young, you’ll want to make sure the plastic bags are well out of their reach as they can pose a suffocation hazard). You can shove extra bags into the glove compartment or any of the 30,000 crevices that cars are now equipped with.
My kids are still toddlers, but my 3 year old daughter loves putting things in the trash, so on long car trips she makes herself useful by throwing away her garbage! I also make sure to keep a trash bag tied to the stroller handle when we’re out and about.
What do you think of my kid transporter cleaning tips? What are yours? Share your thoughts – and your tips – below.
Susan Maccarelli is a temporarily-retired sales and account management professional who has been a stay at home mom since 2010. As mom to 2 toddlers, wife to a work-from-home husband and executive director of the Maccarelli family meals, activities, cleaning, laundry, shopping, real estate endeavors, travel and general errands, she derives constant inspiration for her blog, Pecked To Death By Chickens, from the little annoyances that pop up daily as she tries to keep an eye on all the moving parts. Susan enjoys travel, reading, cooking and talking about herself in the third person. Follow Susan on Facebook and Twitter.