You use your baby stroller every day; whether it’s for the school run, errands in town or trips to the park. This means that crumbs, dropped lollies and a good dose of general dirt & grime are inevitable, no matter how hard you try to minimize opportunities for mess making.

Unfortunately, even the smallest splotch of spilled food presents a fairly substantial health risk – particularly if it’s left for longer than an hour. Harmful bacteria multiply very quickly in situations like this, and your child’s immune system won’t be able to cope with the volume of pathogens that appear as a result.

This means that knowing how to properly clean your baby stroller is absolutely essential. As Jeff Bredenberg’s seminal Clean it Fast, Clean it Right states, a simple wipe is rarely enough. Instead, you’ll need to know which cleaning solution to use, which detergents to avoid, and which techniques are suitable for the various parts of your stroller.

baby-safe soap and lukewarm waterPlastic, as you might expect, requires very different treatment to a porous fabric, and then there’s the metal fittings, awnings, wheels, straps and trays to consider…

To help keep your baby stroller clean, we’ve put together the following step-by-step guide, using the Baby Trend Expedition Stroller as an example:

Clean Strollers with the simple things

brush and vacuumBefore you can start scrubbing seats or wiping down the frame, it’s important to ensure that the basics are taken care of. We’d always advise that you begin by brushing off crumbs and other bits of loose debris using a stiff hand-held brush. You could also hoover them up – making sure that you get into all of the nooks and crannies at the base of the seat.

Once this is done, you can then start focusing on the more laborious aspects of the cleaning process.

Pay attention to fabrics of strollers

When it comes to cleaning a baby stroller, fabric elements are definitely the hardest part to clean. Almost every stroller features a number of non-removable fabric panels, which means that you can’t always opt to take the unit apart, and machine wash any stained pieces.

Some strollers use flame retardant or heat-treated fabrics too. Fabrics of this variety will swell up and alter dramatically when exposed to large volumes of water, which means that machine washing is out of the question.

As such, we’d always recommend hand-cleaning fabric, awnings and the like. Unless the handbook that came with your stroller states otherwise. Referring to the manual for our Baby Trend Expedition Stroller, we noticed that the instruction given was to “clean gently using household soaps & detergents”.

hand-cleaning stroller fabric

Some people recommend doing this with baby wipes, but this is unlikely to shift anything but the lightest stains. A warm, damp cloth and a mild detergent are much better options – particularly if you’re dealing with dried food, tough grime or sticky residue.

To clean effectively, treat the area with a small amount of detergent, and then rub gently until the stain lifts free. If it won’t budge, you could always try a stiff-bristled toothbrush. For very persistent stains, it can really help to let your chosen detergent soak in for a little while before sponging clean with a cloth.

And when it comes to picking a detergent or cleaning solution, really all that you need to look for is a mild option with a fairly neutral pH, and no harsh chemical additives. You might be tempted to try diluted bleach but this solution, while undoubtedly effective, can pose a health risk to your child. Some fabrics can be damaged by bleach too, and you’ll often find that the use of harsh chemical cleaners dramatically lowers the lifespan of your stroller’s soft elements.

Be gentle with metal and plastic parts of Stroller 

Once you’ve dealt with the fabrics, it’s time to wipe down any metal and plastic elements, like the frame. Although it might be tempting to reach for a surface disinfectant at this point, it’s actually best to stick with warm soapy water and/or a safe, non-reactive cleaner.

You’ll want to pay particular attention to food trays and other germ-friendly environs; think about any parts that your baby could reach easily, or any parts that often come into contact with contaminants. On the Baby Trend Expedition Stroller, this would include the restraining straps, buckles and fastenings, which we took great care to clean with a small toothbrush.

When choosing a cleaner for plastic and metal parts, its best to opt for the mildest and most pH-neutral detergent that you can find. Some literature tends to advocate the use of harsh anti-bacterial sprays, but there is more and more evidence to suggest that these sprays can do more harm than good. Most of the dangerous germs on your stroller will be killed off by a standard cleaning spray, and using harsh anti-bacterial agents could kill off good bacteria, and damage your child’s immune system.

Clean with wheels, footrests and handles last

When cleaning your stroller, it makes sense to spend the most time on the areas that your baby is likely to touch. Other elements, like the wheels, handles and footrests, can be dealt with last – using the same warm water and soap solution used for the fabrics.

Since the work here is mainly cosmetic in focus, there’s less reason to spend a lot of time worrying about getting into every nook and cranny. That said, a good, thorough clean can do wonders for the appearance of your stroller, so do spend a little extra time lavishing care and attention on these elements if you want the unit to really shine at the end!

For any really stubborn stains, lay a warm, wet cloth over them for a few minutes and then wipe as normal immediately afterwards. The warm water will loosen the dirt over time, and reduce the need to use large amounts of detergent.

Don’t forget the finishing touches

Once your buggy is clean, you can go round and wipe it down with a dilute solution of 5 parts water, one part tea tree oil. This removes any unpleasant odors, and leaves you with a stroller that’s as fresh as the day you bought it.