Cut-off socks cover stinky car seat straps

We've all at least one throwup-in-the-car seat disaster, haven't we? Ours was an hour into a trans-Atlantic flight to Paris. Jennifer's was in the car…check out her brilliant solution for minimizing the yuck factor:

When driving to our vacation destination, we found out the hard way that our toddler suffers from the occasional bout of motion sickness. The worst part of the experience was dealing with the carseat and trying to figure out how to get it as cleaned up as humanly possible and get back on the road.

After using an entire packet of wipes, spraying everything down with Lysol ($8 at the truck stop!), I had to do something about the straps, which were still wet and stinky. [Ugh. I'm having PTSD just thinking about it. — Ed.] I took a pair of my husband's socks out of our bag, cut off the toes, and undid the carseat straps at the bottom. I slid the socks over the straps and cut holes in the heels so that the chest buckle fit through and then redid the straps. It worked well enough to keep my son dry and comfortable for the remaining 2 hours of our drive and we were able to do a more thorough cleaning at our destination.

Related: Another reason to take Ziplocs on your road trips


  1. says

    Brilliant. I am the mother of two of the puke-iest children on the planet.

    I’ll make sure to take some old socks and cut them prior to our next vacation.

  2. says

    If you’ve got puky kids, you may want to invest into a couple of sets of car-seat strap covers (Amazon has them for under five bucks: and keep them in the car. Since they attach using Velcro, you won’t need to disassemble you car seat to replace them.

    Of course, kids tend to puke only if you’re not prepared, so the sock approach would work great in most situations.

  3. kakaty says

    I think I will do this BEFORE our next trip – maybe the belts will be spared the worst of the puke. Because getting that smell out of the straps is the most impossible thing ever.

  4. Jennifer says

    Please don’t use aftermarket car seat strap covers. They are not approved for use and most are way too bulky – they will interfere with getting the harness tight enough. Regular socks (not thick sweat socks) are OK in a pinch and cheaper too.

  5. Jennifer says

    I meant to mention that I am a certified child passenger safety technician.

  6. Karen the Californian says

    Since car seat straps deal with holding precious cargo safely in their car seats in the case of accidents, make sure you consult with your car seat manufacturer as to whether or not it’s safe to (1) cover the straps with anything other than what the manufacturer provided or sells and (2) wash the straps with anything stronger than running water.

    I’ve got a friend who soaked her son’s nasty straps in bleach and got them to look brand-spankin-clean, but they’re not safe anymore. And if there’s any space introduced between harness strap and child, it might not be secure enough to keep the child from flying out through the front windshield in a collision.

    Hacks are great as long as they’re safe — please make sure that when you’re hacking anything regarding car seats, they’re safe hacks.

    And I’m not a certified child passenger safety technician — I just play one on TV. Just kidding, I’m really just a car safety enthusiast.

  7. Trish says

    And once you have the car seat home, leave the kids with your spouse and take the car seat to the nearest car wash. The power sprayer hose will clean out every nook and cranny and after towel drying, you can just leave it out in the sun (or over a heater vent in winter) to dry. (from a truly experienced “throwup-in-the-car-seat-disaster” mom) I also keep shop towels and some clothes in the car for those ‘special’ occasions, since I have too many times had to stop at the dollar store for towels, some type of cleaner, and new clothes. BTW the shop towels wrap around the straps good enough to get home.

  8. Jennifer says

    I was surprised at how clean the seat belt was after I followed the instructions in my car’s owner’s manual to only use mild soap and water to clean it. I put some mild dishwashing liquid and water in a mixing bowl half full of water, extended the seat belt out all the way and used a binder clip to keep in from retracting, then soaked the seatbelt in the soapy water for about 20 minutes. After soaking, I used an old soft toothbrush to brush the belt while dunking it in the water. Then I changed out the water in the bowl with fresh rinse water and soaked again for 20 minutes, patted it dry with a towel and it was clean. The best part was that the stink was gone from the car…