Baby Car Seat Cover – Puke Fail

by Mike Holman

Some delicate harness work in the back of the seat.

Some delicate harness work.

Recently my daughter puked in the car.  On herself, on the car seat and a little bit on the car itself.  Was it a mild case of H1N1 flu?  Too much Halloween candy?  Who knows?  And it doesn’t really matter – bottom line is that it smelled as foul as you could possibly imagine.  This was no little milk spitup which only smells slightly off – this was absolutely horrible.

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Luckily, I was safe at work while this nonsense was going on, but when I got home I got put in charge of cleaning up the car seat.  My plan was to just take off the car seat cover (ie the padding they sit on) and wash it.  I was hoping that all of the puke had landed on the car seat which would make it easier to clean since I wouldn’t have to take the seat out.

I’ll just take the cover off and wash it

Unfortunately, when I tried to remove the cloth cover I realized that it was attached so that you couldn’t easily remove it for washing.  Given that it’s just cloth I would have thought you could just make it so it could be removed/added while the seat was installed – maybe with a few velcro snaps here or there.  Well guess what?  That cover was carefully engineered so that it was tightly integrated into the seat and harness straps.  In order to take it off you not only had to remove the car seat which is  a small pain – you also had to remove all the harness straps and buckles etc.  This was a huge pain since I had never done it before – the seat came assembled when we bought it.

I was pretty annoyed when I realized it was going to take more than 1 minute to get the cover off – enraged is a more accurate word.  If you are wondering the car seat in question is called the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Convertible Car Seat.

It was so difficult that I had to get the instruction book just to figure out how to take it apart.  Total time to get cover off – 45 minutes.  :)

Figuring out how to put Humpty back together again.

Figuring out how to put Humpty back together again.

Putting it back in

Once the cover was washed then I used my handy instruction book to put it back together.  It took a while but that was partly because I kept forgetting parts and having to redo everything.  Even once I got the seat back in the car I realized I forgot to put the base on. I will say one thing – once I did it then I realized it wasn’t that hard so the following weekend I took the other car seat apart for washing, and it wasn’t a big deal (since I knew what I was doing).  His seat had been installed for about 2 years so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to clean it.  :)

Are all car seats this poorly designed?

All the parts - harnesses, buckles, doodads all came off.

All the parts - harnesses, buckles, doodads all came off.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Emily@remodelingthislife

This whole post had me laughing out loud – from the moment I saw the title in my reader.

I have a Britax for each of my kids and they are designed the same way. I even get the same way you did – enraged – when I have to remove them and put them back together again.

I think my favorite line was “Luckily, I was safe at work while this nonsense was going on”. LOL!

2 Adam

Wow. You showed a lot of dedication to NOT wash it by hand. I probably would have started washing it by hand after 5 minutes of confusion. I especially would have stopped disassembling if I knew I needed the instruction manual (FOR A CAR SEAT!) to remove the cloth.

3 Four Pillars

Thanks Emily – glad you enjoyed it. :)

Adam – If it had been just a normal food spill then I certainly would have just given it a hand wash without removing the cover – however in this case the smell was incredible which meant I had to take any steps necessary to get rid of it.

I couldn’t believe I needed the instruction manual – even with that – assembling it took some figuring out.

You reminded me that the instructions for the car seat said to hand wash the cover (once you get it off) – we just threw it in the washing machine and air-dried it. It was fine.

4 Al

Car seat, meet pressure washer.

5 Adam

@Mike – That’s just too funny that it said to hand wash it once you got it off. What’s the point of taking it off then? Sometimes I just don’t get what companies are thinking.

6 nobleea

HAhahaha “Luckily, I was safe at work while this nonsense was going”

7 Patrick

Ouch! Our carseat is a little more user friendly. (I think it is a Graco, but I couldn’t begin to tell you the model).

8 MoneyEnergy

Ha ha – sorry to hear about that. I was also imagining just taking the hose to it. Can’t imagine having to breathe that smell in the whole time you’re working on those buckles!:)

9 Len Penzo

I was going to start out by saying “I hate puke,” but I think that is kind of obvious, so never mind.

In my house, the Honeybee is the official puke picker-upper. I have this little affliction called sympathetic puking which really poses a problem when I’m in a doctor’s office surrounded by flu-ridden kids, or amusement parks. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it anyway.

Call me financially reckless, but if I were in your shoes I would have just thrown that malodorous seat in the trash and bought a replacement at the next available garage sale.

And if for some reason that car seat couldn’t be freed from its seat belt shackles, I would have sold the car on CraigsList and bought a used one.

Funny stuff, Mike!

Len
Len Penzo dot Com

10 Mike

Patrick – I’m glad to hear some car seats are designed a bit better.

ME – actually the smell was ok once I opened the windows.

Len – sympathetic puking is not a good thing. I did seriously think about just buying a new seat since they aren’t that expensive. But that would have taken quite a bit of time as well so I decided against it.

Selling the car would have been the final option…. :)

11 Shevy

@Len
I hope you’re not even semi-serious about tossing a puked on car seat and buying another at a garage sale for 2 reasons.
1. What will you do the next time the kid pukes? Toss it again?
2. Never, never, never buy a used car seat. You don’t know if it’s been in a car accident. It may look okay, but be unsafe! Your child’s life is worth the cost of a new car seat.

And for Mike, yes, they’re all incredibly hard to take apart and put back together. In our household my Son-in-Law is the car seat expert. Out of all the kids & grandkids, the 2 year old is the champion barfer. Put her in a car, give her anything to eat or drink, add curves and Watch Out! I wrote a post last August about my trip to Seattle with the 3 little girls. The low point was when Boo Boo barfed while I was driving on the I5 just outside Bellingham.

I can’t count the number of times all our various car seats have been washed (in the machine). I think S-in-L can take any of them apart in about 5 minutes and put them back together in 10 or 15. Good thing. Between our 2 vehicles (and how we shuffle the kids around) we have 3 car seats, 2 boosters and will have to add another infant seat shortly.

12 Len Penzo

Shevy: To answer your questions…
1. Um, yes.
2. No worries – I always made sure I used lots and lots of duct tape for those used car seats. ;-)

Best,

Len
Len Penzo dot Com

13 Four Pillars

Shevy – Len is from the States (they do things a bit differently there). ;)

14 Alexandra

This happened to me – I fed my daughter beans from my breakfast burrito and it ended up in a huge mess all over the car seat that afternoon. Turns out she didn’t really chew them and they expanded and started releasing gasses after meeting with the stomach acid …well you can just imagine the mess…and smell.

My car seat model was the Peg Perrego and it required my husband to unscrew the entire harness set and basically take the seat apart. I also had to pry the syrofoam off and clean in there because the mess was so pervasive. The fabric part of the seat went straight into the wash and came out great. The rest was wipes down thoroughly, then sprayed with Lysol cleaner and then lots of Fabreeze, especially on the harness part.

It took forever. BUT I was reassured that it really was engineered for safety – it seemed very well designed. Just not for taking apart easily.

15 Shevy

“Shevy Len is from the States (they do things a bit differently there). ”

Ah, that explains it. :-P

I forgot to mention that baking soda takes out the puky smell, very important! Shake some into the washer, wet a rag and put some baking soda on it , then wipe down the plastic shell and the buckles with it.

If the puking is more than a onetime thing keep a couple of plastic grocery bags where you can easily reach them in the car. Even the 2 year old is able to hold the bag and barf into it most of the time. Give Gravol before long car trips, particularly if there are mountains or winding roads involved.

16 NB

Ha!! You’ll become very good at dismantling and reassembling the car seat. Won’t take long at all to put it back together, with the practice that is unavoidable.
May be a good idea to wash the seat periodically, rather than wait for a major spill…
Booster seats are a light-weight dream!

17 Sandy

My little granddaughter did the exact same thing yesterday, puked in her car seat. No problem, we’ll just take of the cover and wash it. Guess what? not only did we have the same problems getting the cover off, we also have exactly the same car seat as yourself.
Major problem though, we don’t have instruction manual. Whoever thought you would need to keep the instruction manual just to clean the darn thing?
I would be so grateful if someone could scan and send me the instructions on how to remove the cover?

18 Four Pillars

Sandy – Let me know if you still need the instructions by the weekend. I might be able to scan the instructions then.

19 onlooker
20 MamaMoo

I thought this was a funny blog! I had the exactly same problem about 3 years ago whilst I was on holiday! It was a nightmare. Check out my website! no joke I made a whole new business out of try to clean my car seat!

All the best,
MamaMoo

21 scelestia

hahaha ooooh we have this exact carseat and zomg yes it is horrible to take apart. My hubby has it down tho because it seem our infant has got mommie’s carsick gene xD Tho I must agree with Patrick. We have a Graco infant carseat/stroller combo and it was waaaay more user friendly..took a bit to figure out how to put back together the first time but after that 10 minutes tops to dis/ and reassemble xD Tho I must say the Omega model multistage carseat is quite the seat and seem very well designed and comfy for the l.o. just an absolute pain but seemingly worth every penny ^_^

22 Joe

So i got the seat cover out.

Can i put it into the washer?

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