A car seat cover can get very dirty over time. This cover is mainly to protect your original seat from dirt and other damage. It can be a lot easier to clean a car seat cover than the car seat itself. Most car seat covers can be put through the washing machine but depending on the damage and dirt you may need to add a few steps to the washing process.
If you have a store-bought car seat cover then it is important to read the care instructions tag. This is particularly important for baby car seats as they may be coated with special non-flammable products. There may be special instructions as you may need to avoid heat or using a specific type of chemical. You do not want to damage the seat cover further by not washing it properly.
SHAKE IT OUT
You can start the washing process off right by really shaking out the cover. Think of it a bit like beating a rug. This will get rid of a lot of hair and other large particles that can build up in your washing machine. To ensure this large debris does not end up on the floor of your car you can put down some newspapers or an old blanket. This way all the dirt ends up out of the car.
Depending on the condition of your car seat you need to do some pretreatment on those really tough stains. There are plenty of great products out there that can get rid of stains. I am a fan of citrus-based products that eliminate grease and oil. If you cannot use these chemicals on the cover, then pretreat the tough spots with some liquid detergent before washing.
TEMPERATURE IS IMPORTANT
Only use cold water when washing. Hot water may cause the seat cover to shrink. This is also true of using the dyer. Do not use a dryer but hang the seat out on a line instead. You will save energy and your car seat cover will remain the size it needs to be.
You may need to remove any special straps or harnesses before washing. These should be removed before washing and are usually only found on baby car seat covers. Straps or buckles may become damaged in the washing machine.
Pet hair can be particularly tricky as it may not come out with a good washing. Lint brushes can help with this or a statically charged cloth. It will take time to completely remove pet hair. If you have made the covers yourself then it might actually take less time to quickly sew a new car seat cover.
PREVENT STAINS FROM SETTING
The best way to keep your seat covers clean is to prevent big spills from setting in. Make sure those soccer cleats are kept off the seats. If something is spilled on the cover then wipe it up immediately. Having some baby wipes or wetnaps in the glove compartment can easily help with spills.