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I’ve had kids in car seats for 7.5 years, with many years to go, and while I love the safety and comfort they give my kids, I absolutely hate dealing with car seats. I mean, really hate it. They are simply not easy to install, adjust, carry around, and they are absolutely not easy to clean when toddler car sickness strikes at the least opportune time. This happened to us on a road trip last weekend, and while we did triage cleaning to the best of our ability while on the road, yesterday it was time to really address the situation and take apart the car seat to put what we could in the washing machine, and seriously scrub the remaining nooks and crannies…which I can assure you is no easy task.
More than one bad word came out as I tried to take apart our Britax Boulevard G4 Convertible Car Seat that our first daughter had passed down to our second daughter after just a couple years of use.
Let’s just say we made lots of errors in trying to rectify car seat puke-pocalypse that ended with us basically breaking the $250+ car seat. I’m sure many of you are way smarter than me and don’t need to read this post to avoid making the same mistakes, but for the rest of you who hate the complexities of car seats as much as I do, read on so you don’t break yours while trying to save it from toddler disaster.
Here is a rundown of mistakes I made while trying to save our Britax car seat from toddler disaster:
We waited a few days to really clean it thoroughly. So this one wasn’t really our fault since we were on the road all weekend, but waiting several days to thoroughly clean the seat obviously isn’t ideal. The washable parts may not be too impacted by that delay, but the foam and such which has had things soak into it for days probably won’t ever be the same. After several days it really. didn’t. smell. good.
We put it outside before cleaning it. The second mistake we made was to put it outside on the driveway for a few hours before we got to cleaning it. It was stinking up the car, so I pulled it out before I was really ready to tackle the project. Let’s just say the ants got to it faster than we could, and that made the whole cleaning process that much more exciting.
Don’t try to clean a car seat angry. Let me paint you a picture, the kids are home for summer break, we are both trying to work from home, the car seat stinks to high heaven, the ants have gotten to it, we have limited time to work on this unwanted project, and now we are trying to pretend we are NASA engineers in figuring how to take the whole thing apart. I was pretty much just ripping at the whole thing, and then I gave up and called in Daddy-Back-Up. He didn’t enjoy the process any more than I did, and while he was successful in getting the washable pieces off, something else happened in the process.
Car seats can break…easily. In taking off the washable outer layer, the foam head protection broke in half. I don’t know if this was because we were ripping at the dang thing, or because it was a few years old and it just happened. Probably the former, but either way, in trying to clean and save our $250 car seat we broke it. Don’t be like us.
I’ll admit that within 5 seconds of realizing it was broken, I went from frustration we had broken the seat to relief we didn’t have to mess around with trying to save it any more. Then when I started pricing car seats online a few hours later, I quickly went back to frustration as I recalled just how expensive they were.
It seems we are far from the only ones to break this shocking fragile piece of the car seat, and in fact Britax’s website says you can just tape the foam together. Again, I am clearly not a NASA engineer, but taping together the head protection on the car seat for my daughter seems….strange. It also seems you can request replacement foam, so I have put in an inquiry with Britax to see what we should do. However, the odds of me properly installing new foam and reassembling the whole thing with all the slots, straps, etc. seem low.
Car seats are going to get dirty, sometimes disgustingly so, and as a result they really should be easier to take apart and clean. In doing a little research in case we are replacing this seat, the Chicco NextFit Zip car seat appears to be much easier to clean with a cover that unzips to go in the washing machine. I’ve also heard good things about the simple looking Clek car seat.
Really I just want a car seat that is safe, comfortable for the toddler, and easy enough to use and clean that even a stressed out parent can do it. If this exists and you have found it, please share! I can’t tell you how much I miss our Doona infant seat right about now!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.