Is your stroller looking a bit on the grubby side? The trips out, walking to the store in the rain, your little one eating or drinking — they all take their toll on your stroller.
Cleaning up a stroller is one of those things we can all do without. Most of us ignore it since it feels like too much of a chore. But it’s easier than you think to clean one.
Why You Should Keep It Clean
Did you know that strollers have been found to be the number one carrier of germs among the arsenal of kids’ equipment and toys your baby has? (1).
As infants have significantly lower immunity than adults, it’s important to ensure that anything they are coming into regular contact with is clean and germ-free. As most parents use a stroller on a daily basis, regular cleaning is imperative.
How Often Should You Clean It?
The longer you leave your stroller between cleans, the harder the task becomes in the future. It’s a good idea to give it a once over after every use. If you’re in a rush, make it something you do each evening, getting it ready for the next day.
This doesn’t mean you have to break out the big guns each time. Just take care of the little things. Brush mud and dirt off the wheels. Remove crumbs from the fabric and wipe off any sticky mess your child might have left there.
Doing this will mean a vigorous clean will be needed less often.
How to Clean a Stroller
If you’re not sure where to start or what items you need, check out the information below. We break down each area of the stroller individually.
1. The Fabric Areas
Items to Have on Hand
- A vacuum cleaner.
- Clean, soft cloths. Microfiber ones are a good choice.
- A soft toothbrush or a soft fabric brush.
- Lukewarm water.
- Soap that is safe for baby.
- Disinfecting baby-safe wipes.
Dealing With Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew can form on the fabric if your stroller hasn’t been in regular use, or if the weather is damp (2).
Step 1: Ventilation
Make sure you do this outside and wear a mask so you don’t inhale any spores.
Step 2: Brushing
Brush the mold away using a stiff bristle brush. If any mold remains, wet the area using lemon juice and sprinkle it with salt.
Larger mold areas can be removed by mixing two parts water with three parts white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the whole area and then wash the stroller with soap afterward.
If the fabric is suitable, you can use a mix of non-chlorine bleach and water to remove mold. Two tablespoons of bleach to one quart of water is the recommended ratio.
Once you’re happy that the fabric is free from mold or mildew, move on to step 7 below. If you still need to clean other parts, carry on to step 3.
The Cleaning Process
Step 3: Check for Manufacturer Specifics
The first thing you should do is read the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your particular stroller. Baby strollers are made from different fabrics, some of which need special care. They might have flame retardant or water repellent materials.
The fabric can be removed and placed in the washing machine while others will need to be cleaned while on the frame.
Continue with the steps below to clean non-machine washable fabric.
Step 4: Vacuum
Use the flexible hose attachment to suck up all the loose crumbs and debris. Pay particular attention to seams and where the seat meets the rear part of the stroller.
Throw the vacuum bag away if you’ve had to deal with mold or mildew.
Step 5: Prepare the Soap
Mix a small amount of soap with lukewarm water in a bowl. You don’t want too many suds as these will be difficult to remove.
Step 6: Clean the Fabric
Dip your cloth into the bowl and wring out any excess soapy water. Gently clean your stroller fabric.
Pay particular attention to any stains. You might need to use a soft fabric brush or toothbrush to remove stubborn marks.
Step 7: Rinse and Wipe
Rinse your cloth in clean water, or grab a new one.
Remove any excess soap, or other products, from the fabric by gently wiping it over.
Step 8: Disinfect
Go over the fabric with a disinfectant baby wipe to leave it germ-free and smelling fresh.
Step 9: Dry Time
Let the stroller air dry thoroughly, preferably outside in the sun.
If after drying it still needs another clean, repeat the above steps.
2. Cleaning the Frame
Before cleaning the frame, remove any accessories like food trays, bumper bars or cup holders. These can easily be cleaned separately when off the stroller.
Items to Have on Hand:
- Dishwashing soap.
- Warm water.
- A toothbrush or soft scrubbing brush.
- Sponge with a scourer.
- Soft cloth.
- Disinfectant baby-safe wipes.
Step 1: Prepare the Soap and Sponge
Mix a small amount of your dishwashing soap with some warm water in a bowl. You don’t want it too sudsy.
Dip your sponge into the mixture and squeeze out any excess water.
Step 2: Cleaning Time
Wipe over the frame, removing any dirt and marks. Pay particular attention to the handle and make sure you get into all those nooks and crannies.
Use a toothbrush or scrubbing brush to remove debris from hard-to-reach places.
If you have stubborn marks the sponge won’t remove, use the scourer and gently scrub them.
Step 3: Rinse and Wipe
Rinse your cloth in clean water, or grab a new one, and wipe away any soapy residue.
Step 4: Disinfect
Go over the frame with a disinfectant wipe to kill off any lurking germs.
Step 5: Let it Dry
Metal and plastic dry much faster than fabric, so it shouldn’t be long before you can use the frame again. Air-drying in the sun will greatly speed up the process.
3. Cleaning the Wheels
It’s inevitable that the wheels on your stroller will get dirty. This doesn’t mean they will need cleaning after every use but they should be inspected regularly.
Small stones or bits of glass can get embedded in the wheels or around the brake area. This can interfere with how easily your stroller moves and how well your brakes work.
Items to Have on Hand:
- A small brush.
- Gentle disinfectant.
- Warm water.
- Dishwashing soap.
- WD-40 or manufacturer’s recommended lubricant.
Step 1: Check the Wheels
Before cleaning, check whether your wheels can be removed. Most have a mechanism that will release them from the chassis. Doing so will make them easier to clean.
Step 2: Remove Larger Particles
Using the small brush, remove any sand or dirt from the tires and rims.
Step 3: Scrub the Wheels
Use warm, soapy water to scrub the wheels and remove the dirt.
If there are stubborn marks, use hotter water and keep scrubbing. Don’t let it beat you!
Step 4: Rinse
Rinse off any excess soap. This is best done with a hose, but any water source will do.
Step 5: Disinfect
Wipe the wheels with the gentle disinfectant.
Step 6: Time to Dry
Let the wheels air dry, preferably in the sun.
Step 7: Inspect and Re-Attach
Before placing the wheels back on the stroller, this is a good time to check the tires for wear and tear. If they’re pneumatic, check the air pressure. Also, check for holes and other issues that will prevent them from working.
Take the opportunity to check the function of the brakes and make sure they are working as they should. Any debris caught in them can be brushed away.
Test the movement of the wheels and brakes. If there’s any squeaking or movement isn’t fluid, apply some lubricant.
4. Cleaning the Accessories
Don’t neglect accessories because they’re not part of the main stroller. Some can be cleaned in the dishwasher or washing machine. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.
If this isn’t the case, treat them as you would any other utensils by washing them in soapy water and using baby-safe wipes. These wipes from Medela are safe for baby and handy.
When it comes to the hood, canopy, or sunshade, clean them just as you would the fabric section of your stroller.
Don’t forget about the shopping basket under the stroller either. This should need a good vacuuming to remove any dust or debris caught up in it. For more stubborn issues, check with the manufacturer to see if it’s machine washable.
Top Tips for Cleaning a Stroller
Here are some extra tips and tricks to help when cleaning and maintaining your stroller:
- Reassembling the fabric: If you removed the fabric for cleaning, it can be quite hard to get back on when dry. Reassemble while it’s damp and leave it to air dry on the frame.
- Yummy kebabs: Only kidding, although a wooden skewer is a good tool for getting into hard to reach places like under cup holders. You might also want to consider using a toothbrush for those hard-to-reach areas that need a scrub.
- Care labels: Check the stroller itself for care labels. They might be attached to the fabric section or the frame advising you what you can use to clean them safely.
- Storage options: Consider how you store your stroller when it’s not in use. Folding it up when it’s damp or wet might encourage the growth of mold or rust. Always make sure it’s dry before you store it.
- Heat is the enemy: Don’t store your buggy anywhere it might be subjected to extreme heat, like near a hot radiator or in a sunroom. This can affect the integrity of plastic clips.
- Invest in a cover: If you are putting your stroller away for any length of time, pop a dust cover over it. This will keep it clean and protect it from any exposure to sunlight.
- No stacking: Avoid stacking items on top of your stored stroller. This can lead to accidental damage.
- Spot test: When cleaning any fabric, do a spot test first to ensure your soap doesn’t affect the fabric’s color.
- Avoid chemicals where possible: Not only will they not be safe for your baby, but they might also lessen the lifespan of some of the components of your stroller.
- Create a schedule: Work out a schedule for cleaning your stroller. The more frequently you do it, the less time it will take you.
Now you know how to clean a stroller, keep it safe for baby, and running smoothly. Feels like less of a daunting task now, doesn’t it?
Cleaning your stroller on a regular basis will make life so much easier, keep it germ-free, and prolong its working life. Plus, if you plan to sell your stroller when you no longer need it, you’ll get a higher price for a clean, well-maintained one.