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How to Clean Your High Chair: 8 Simple Steps to Follow

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
8 simple steps to get your high chair sparkling clean.

Any parent with a self-feeding child knows how ridiculously messy mealtimes can get. Sometimes when you take the child out of their high chair after a meal, you’ll find more food beneath them than in their belly.

If you don’t clean your child’s high chair regularly, you can end up with caked-on crud and stained, grimy straps. I have a friend whose high chair got so disgusting that she took it to the car wash and used the industrial power sprayer to blast it clean.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to come to that. A little daily maintenance, coupled with a regular deep clean, can keep your child’s high chair clean and sanitary.

We’ve done this so many times that we’ve mastered the process, and we’re sharing the steps with you here. Soon your high chair will be so clean, you can eat off it.

Key Takeaways

  • Parents of self-feeding children know how messy mealtimes can be, and if not cleaned regularly, high chairs can harbor dangerous bacteria, which can be harmful to your child’s health.
  • A study found that restaurant high chairs that are not deep cleaned regularly, harbor more germs than public toilet seats
  • To keep your child’s high chair clean, it’s important to clean it regularly. Tasks that should be done daily include brushing off loose crumbs, wiping down the high chair to remove food particles, and sanitizing the tray/eating surface.
  • Weekly cleaning tasks include removing the chair and cleaning the seat below, and cleaning the entire seat with a cleaning solution
  • Monthly (deep clean) cleaning tasks include disassembling the high chair, cleaning the cushions and straps, removing food from small crevices, and eliminating stuck-on food.
  • It is important to assess the material and construction of your baby’s high chair to determine the best way to clean it properly.

Can’t I Just Wipe It Down?

Watching your little one feed themself can be one of the most comical, rewarding, and cringeworthy activities you’ll engage in as a parent. It’s fun to watch them work so hard to learn an independent skill, but the resulting mess has no comparison.

If you’re not careful to regularly clean up all the spilled, smashed, and ground-in food from your child’s high chair, you may be exposing kids to dangerous bacteria. A study of restaurant high chairs (which are not deep-cleaned regularly) found that they harbored more germs than a public toilet seat (1).

Take Note

To keep your child healthy and reduce their risk of sickness from dangerous bacteria and foodborne illnesses, it’s necessary to clean your baby’s high chair regularly — especially the eating surface which touches their food every day! Don’t forget to clean the other crevices as well to prevent illness.

Additionally, it’s quite common for accidents to happen and high chairs to be exposed to your child’s fecal matter, urine, or vomit. When that happens, a simple wipe-down won’t suffice. You need to make sure you kill all the lurking bacteria.

Cleaning Different High Chair Materials

High chairs come in different shapes (such as hook on high chairs), sizes, and materials. Some are standalone units, while space-saving high chairs strap to regular chairs. Some are entirely plastic, while others have cushioned inserts.

Most high chairs are made of plastic, though some may contain metal parts — particularly in the mechanisms that detach the tray from the seat. If you have an antique high chair, it may be made of solid wood.

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It’s important to assess the material and construction of your baby’s high chair to determine the best way to clean it properly.

Avoid soaking parts of your high chair if:

  • It is made of wood.
  • The cushion is made of fabric.
  • It has metal parts.

Do not use bleach if:

  • Your high chair is made of wood.
  • The cushion is made of fabric.

How Often Do You Need To Clean High Chairs?

While you don’t have to spend hours every day cleaning your child’s high chair, there are some tasks you should do daily (or, even better, after every feeding session), while others can be done less frequently. One of the benefits of daily cleaning is that it prevents dirt build-up, making your deep-cleaning sessions easier.

Daily cleaning tasks include:

  • Brushing off loose crumbs.
  • Wiping down the high chair to remove food particles.
  • Sanitizing the tray/eating surface.

Weekly cleaning tasks include:

  • Removing the chair and cleaning the seat below (if it’s a space-saving model).
  • Cleaning the entire seat with a cleaning solution.

Monthly (deep clean) cleaning tasks include:

  • Disassembling the high chair.
  • Cleaning the cushions and straps.
  • Removing food from small crevices.
  • Eliminating stuck-on food.

How To Clean High ChairsHow to clean a high chair

1. Brush Off All Loose Crumbs (Every Use)

To prevent food from being ground into the cushion and safety belt, remove all loose crumbs after every feeding. Either gather them in a napkin or dishcloth to dispose of in the garbage or brush them to the floor and follow up with a quick sweep or vacuum.

2. Wipe Down With a Damp Cloth (Every Use)

After you’ve removed all large and loose food pieces, wipe the high chair down with a damp cloth using only water. Wipe all spaces where food can be trapped. Doing this immediately after eating prevents food from drying out and becoming a stubborn, stuck-on mess.

Make sure you wipe down all of the following parts to prevent food particle build-up:

  • Seat.
  • Cushion.
  • Behind the cushion (if it’s loose-fitting).
  • In the cushion crevices.
  • Underneath the tray.
  • Sides of the high chair.
  • The release button.

3. Disinfect The Eating Surface (Every Use)

It’s important to keep the tray or eating surface sanitized since that is what’s in contact with your child’s food. Sanitize the eating surface by doing one of the following:

  • Spray with white vinegar; allow to sit for five minutes and then wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Spray with hydrogen peroxide; allow to sit for five minutes and then wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Spray or wipe with a diluted bleach solution (two teaspoons of bleach to one gallon of water); allow to air dry.
  • Wipe with a disinfectant wipe — widely available in retail stores.


Choose ONE of these cleaning methods. Never mix vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or bleach as a dangerous chemical reaction may occur (2).

4. Wipe The Seat Below The High Chair (Weekly)

If you have a space-saving high chair, remove it once a week and wipe down the chair below it with a damp cloth. It’s amazing how many food particles find their way underneath the high chair.

5. Clean The Exterior, Legs, and Underside (Weekly)

Also weekly, clean and disinfect the high chair parts that only get wiped down during the week. Use the disinfecting recommendations from Step 3. If stuck-on food is difficult to remove, use the scrubber side of a sponge or a Magic Eraser to remove it.

6. Remove and Wash Cushions and Straps (Monthly)

Once a month, deep clean your high chair. Remove the cushion and safety straps. Check the labels on the back of the high chair to confirm, but most can simply be thrown in the washing machine. If you choose this method, allow the straps to air dry; do not put them in the dryer.

If your accessories cannot go in the washer, wipe down the plastic cushion and soak the straps in a tub of soapy dish detergent to remove the grime. After soaking, scrub the straps and rinse them in warm water. Allow them to air dry.

7. Remove Crumbs from Crevices (Monthly)

Also monthly, work to remove caked-on food from the nooks and crannies of your high chair — in the same way you would detail your car.

The most common places food will get stuck are:

  • Where the strap comes up through the seat.
  • The release button.
  • The clamping mechanism or other moving parts.
  • Seams of the plastic.

Remove the food by using small tools, such as:

  • A toothbrush.
  • Dental floss.
  • A toothpick.

8. Eliminate Stuck-On Food (As Needed)

If you have stubborn spots of dried food, you may need to use a little elbow grease and one of the following methods:

  • Spray your high chair liberally with a solution of half water and half vinegar until very wet. Allow it to sit for 5–10 minutes to soften food particles. Scrub the stubborn food spots, and wipe the whole high chair down with a damp cloth.
  • Soak the pieces in a tub of soapy dishwater to soften the food particles for easier removal. If you don’t have a sink or container large enough to hold your high chair, use a bathtub.
  • Spray your high chair down with the hose outside.


How Do You Get Yellow Stains Out of a High Chair?

Vinegar is about to be your best friend for high chair cleaning! Liberally spray down your high chair with a solution that is 50% water and 50% the vinegar of your choice.

Next, let the solution sit while you do your own thing for about 10 minutes. After, grab a sponge and scrub down the high chair. Lastly, do a final wipe with a warm, wet washcloth.

How Do You Get Spaghetti Sauce Off a High Chair Tray?

The vinegar method works for spaghetti stains, too. If you want to try a different method, bring out your baking soda. With some kind of brush or a very scrubby sponge, you’ll want to scrub the tray down with a paste made of water and baking soda.

Baking soda helps to lift up stains and food particles, so you’ll be left with a squeaky clean high chair when you’re done.

How Do You Get the Vomit Smell Out of High Chair Straps?

It’s time for the big guns when you need to get a vomit smell out of fabric. To create the ultimate germ-and-odor-fighting combination, you need the vinegar and the baking soda. Mix a little baking soda into vinegar to create your solution.

After that, just plop the high chair straps down into your homemade brew and let them sit overnight for the best results. Be sure to rinse them extremely well afterwards.

Can You Machine Wash a High Chair Cover?

The high chair cover you have should tell you if it is machine washable or not. If you can’t find that information on the product itself or packaging it came in, be sure to check online!

The product description of your high chair cover should go over whether it is machine washable. Having trouble finding this out? Check the details section in the product description to learn about the technical aspects of what you’re buying.

How Do You Remove a High Chair Cover?

You remove some high chair covers a little differently than others, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here.

The great news is there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube showing you how to remove the high chair cover you have! Honestly, YouTube University is a lifesaver when it comes to the technical aspects of parenting.

Is a Graco High Chair Machine Washable?

The Graco high chair shoulder straps are machine washable! For the belt buckle and nylon straps, you’ll want to use a gentle soap and warm water for washing.

In case of stubborn stains and smells, try the vinegar and baking soda method mentioned above. I know it’s a pain, but don’t throw the belt buckle or nylon straps in the washer.

Easy Peasy!

Despite the regular messes our babies and toddlers make at mealtimes, cleaning your child’s high chair doesn’t have to be such a complicated process. Regular wipe-downs, weekly cleaning maintenance, and monthly deep-cleans will keep gross food build-up at bay and result in a healthier eating environment and happier mama!

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Headshot of Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett is a veteran licensed pediatrician with three decades of experience, including 19 years of direct patient clinical care. She currently serves as a medical consultant, where she works with multiple projects and clients in the area of pediatrics, with an emphasis on children and adolescents with special needs.