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The Best Way to Clean Your Baby's High-Chair Straps

Infants can quickly dirty the straps of their high chair. Learn how to clean them with these five simple steps.

Michelle Honeyager Contributor
Michelle is a contributor for CNET.
Michelle Honeyager
5 min read
A baby eating banana in a high chair
D-Base/Getty Images

High chairs are designed for infants to drop food and spill beverages. But many parents learn quickly that high-chair straps get dirty faster than we'd like and can be difficult to clean. The straps become crusty, and bits of dried food or liquids can get under the buckles. 

So why not just remove the straps and throw them into the washer? Unfortunately, not all high chairs are built the same. Some have removable straps, and some don't -- making the cleaning quest even more challenging. We'll go over below how to clean any high-chair straps before another mess is made.

Read more: Best Baby High Chairs Across Every Category

Why do you need to clean your baby's high-chair straps? 

It's important to keep the straps of a high chair clean for the health and safety of your child. Even if you wipe down the high chair after every meal, that might not remove the food particles stuck on the straps or buckles.  

If high-chair straps are left long enough without being thoroughly cleaned, bacteria and even mold can build. Since the straps go over a child's skin, this can irritate your baby or even cause illness. 

To mitigate these risks, high-chair straps should be thoroughly cleaned frequently.

Baby eating in a high chair
Jill Lehmann Photography/Getty

Materials to clean your baby's high-chair straps

Detergents like dish soap can act as a first step to removing most debris. Some people also use baking soda as a scrubbing agent if food or dirt gets stuck.   

Another popular natural cleaning solution is half water and half white vinegar. White vinegar is great at dissolving dirt and debris, but its use as an antibacterial agent are limited. According to a 2020 study, vinegar kills some germs, but not all of them. Still, vinegar can kill or reduce pathogens like E. coli, salmonella and listeria monocytogenes.

Parents might also want to look into solutions specifically for cleaning baby toys and other baby items. These detergents are typically nontoxic but still strong enough to kill germs.  

The materials you need to clean high-chair straps include:

  • A tub full of lukewarm water
  • A soft brush
  • The detergent and disinfecting products of your choice: dish soap, water/white vinegar solution, commercial baby item cleaner or baking soda  
  • The high chair owner's manual 
  • Old clothing you can get stains or bleach on 

It's also important to know what types of materials can be cleaned with certain products. Be sure to look at the high chair's manual, which will often list the high chair's different materials and how to clean them.  

Read more: Is Your Baby Ready for a High Chair? These Are The Signs to Look Out For 

Five easy steps to clean high chair straps 

Cleaning high-chair straps should only take a few minutes in most cases. Below are the five steps to get them clean. 

1. Remove the straps, if possible

Read the instructions on how to remove the straps. Each high chair should come with a manual showing how to remove them, or you can find it online by searching the brand and model. Most straps simply clip off of the high chair.  

However, not all straps on all chairs are removable. If this is the case, you can still get them clean. 

2. Wash straps 

You can throw the removable straps in the washing machine if the instructions say it's safe to do so. Otherwise, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water. To hand-wash, add your chosen cleaner to a tub of lukewarm water, submerge the straps and scrub using a brush.   

For nonremovable straps, all you need to do is wet them with a damp cloth, apply the cleaner directly to the strap and scrub with a soft-bristle brush or toothbrush.   

3. Pay special attention to stains 

If there are still stains after you've machine- or hand-washed the straps, you might need to use a more powerful cleaner. You can rub the stains with a stain remover. If you decide to use bleach or a stain remover, be sure to rinse the straps thoroughly before drying. 

4. Sterilize straps and let them dry 

Parents can also rinse the straps in a sterilizer like bleach as a final step. Follow the disinfectant instructions. 

Fill the water bucket with clean water and swish the straps around after sterilization to rinse fully. You can also hold the straps under running water as a final rinse or to get bleach off areas where you had to spot clean stains. Let the straps air dry by leaving them out on a towel. 

For nonremovable straps, you can wipe down the straps with a clean damp cloth and dry them with a hand towel.

Avoid using bleach if your high chair straps are colored since the bleach may discolor the straps.

5. Reattach straps 

The final step is to reattach the straps. Follow the directions to ensure correct assembly.

Smiling baby girl eating cereal from bowl in high chair
JGI/Tom Grill/Getty

Frequently asked questions 

How often should you clean your baby's high-chair straps?

A good rule of thumb is to clean the straps weekly and spot clean after every use to avoid debris buildup. If a lot of food gets on the straps during a meal, you should clean them right away to fend off bacterial and mold growth. 

What should I use to clean my infant's high chair?

The right product to clean a high chair depends on your personal preference and what pieces you need to clean. Many parents prefer products that are made to clean baby items. These come in convenient spray bottles, are formulated with baby safety in mind and usually have disinfectant properties.  

Some parents choose to go all-natural for environmental reasons or even because they or their children have sensitivities to strong chemicals. A half-half solution of vinegar and water is a popular choice in cases like this. The acidic nature of the vinegar breaks down debris and contains disinfectant properties. 

What do you soak high-chair straps in? For tougher stains or to get rid of mold, bacteria or viruses, you can soak high-chair straps in hot, soapy water.

How do you get mold off of high-chair straps?

If you have those dark, dreaded mold spots, scrubbing with a brush and some bleach can get rid of them. You can also soak the straps in water with disinfectant added for several minutes to make scrubbing easier.  

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.