Baby strollers can get detestably dirty. And every loving parent plans on cleaning their baby’s dirty stroller sooner than later. I get it; life gets hectic sometimes. You may not always prioritize degriming that stroller. But that won’t stop spit-up, crumbly snacks, wet crud, and fruit juice from messing up your kid’s wheeled carrier. So, how do you clean up all the stains and messes on the seat cover, rain cover, stroller frame, wheels, and everywhere else?
In this stroller cleaning guide, you’ll learn how to freshen up a dirty stroller so you can (potentially) lengthen its lifespan and keep it looking nice.
What’s the Best Way to Clean a Stroller?
The best way to clean a stroller is to vacuum off crusty crumbs and debris and then give the stroller a top-to-bottom wipedown. Wipe down the basket storage, sunshade, footmuffs, straps, seat cover, handlebars, frame, and wheels with a damp cloth or microfiber. Finally, sanitize every part of the stroller using disinfectant baby wipes. Finally, dry the stroller out the stroller completely before storing it in a dry place away from heat sources. While you can steam-clean a stroller or pressure-wash it, these aren’t recommended stroller cleaning methods.
Quick Stroller Cleaning Tips
1. It’s best to clean the stroller without removing the wheels, seat cover, basket, or any other part. Because reassembling a stroller can be one big headache.
2. If the seat cover is machine-washable, consider putting it back on before it’s completely dry because it’s easier that way.
3. Use a skewer or toothbrush to clean out hard-to-reach places such as dirty crevices.
4. Be sure to review the care/warning labels before cleaning a stroller for the first time.
5. Stay away from harsh cleaners as these might speed fabric disintegration or even harm your baby’s sensitive skin. Always use recommended baby-safe products.
6. Avoid storing your stroller in places that aren’t completely dry to keep mold and mildew at bay.
7. Don’t store your stroller near any heat sources such as space heaters or flames. Not even in the sunroom. Heat can degrade plastic components, compromising the safety of your stroller.
8. Cover your stroller during storage to keep dust and sunlight out.
9. Avoid placing objects on the stroller while in storage.
10. If you’re not certain how any soap or detergent might affect the fabric, ALWAYS spot-test the soap before using it on the other areas.
11. To clean wet cruds such as spilled yogurt, try scraping off as much of it as you can. Then, try to work in a bit of soap and clean water before blot-drying the spot.
If you won’t be using the stroller for a couple of days and the spill isn’t too gross, you can leave it to dry up. Then, just scrape it off.
12. Wipe down the stroller between cleans to keep dirt buildup at bay and make future cleans easier.
13. If your kiddo owns a Bugaboo fleece footmuff, toss it in the washing machine and select the normal wash cycle. Clean the footmuff with warm water and give it a cold rinse.
Here’s a quick video on how to clean up a baby stroller.
Read the Stroller Manual First
Review the stroller manual before using any cleaner or cleaning method. Learn if the stroller manufacturer gives any special care instructions regarding cleaning any part. Know whether the fabric or basket can be machine-cleaned and what detergents you can safely use.
It’s Best Not to Disassemble Your Stroller When Cleaning It
Putting the fabric back on when it’s completely dry can be tricky. So, put it back into place when still damp. Also, most stroller fabrics aren’t machine washable. Plus, it’s easy to misplace small parts if you break down the frame. In addition, reassembling a stroller can be pretty challenging. So, consider cleaning the stroller without tearing down the frame, removing the seat cover, or detaching the shopping basket.
Gather the Items Below for the Clean
- Lukewarm water
- Soft fabric brush/soft toothbrush/skewer
- Baby-safe soap/detergent
- Vacuum cleaner
- Clean microfiber cloth/baby wipes
- Stiff thistle brush (for removing stains on stroller fabric)
- Goggles to protect the eyes
Baby Stroller Step-by-step Cleaning Guide
Follow the steps below when cleaning up messes off a stroller:
Step#1: Suck Up Loose Debris and Crumbs Using a Vacuum
To make the clean easier, lay the stroller seat out flat. Then, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck loose dirt, debris, and crumbs out of seams, crevices, and straps. But, pretty much any vacuum cleaner will do.
As for nooks and crannies that the vacuum attachment won’t reach, use an old toothbrush to clean out any crumbly mess there. Alternatively, use a soft fabric brush like what you see below to sweep filth out of hard-to-reach corners.
Take a Before/After Photo of the Stroller
Consider taking a photo of the stroller assembly before disassembling it if it has detachable parts. That’ll help you greatly when putting parts back together after the clean. But reassembling a stroller is rarely too challenging.
Step #2: Deal With Mold and Mildew
If you have mold or mildew or both on the stroller fabric, tackle them now. Use a brush with stiff bristles to scrape mold and mildew off the fabric.
If you’re sensitive to mold spores, request someone to help you out. Otherwise, mask up to avoid breathing moldy spores, and it’s best to handle this step outside.
How Do you Get Mold Out of Fabric Without Bleach?
You don’t need to resort to harsh chemicals when trying to remove stains from fabrics. Because there are a few natural ways to deal with mold embedded in fabrics.
Vinegar, a mostly harmless substance, can and does help eliminate odors and can even kill bacteria. Lemon juice is another natural solution. If you’re dealing with something stubborn such as blood or ink stains, lemon juice works reasonably well.
To tackle mold you that can’t easily brush off, put a dub of lemon juice and table salt on the moldy area after wetting it. And if the affected spot is relatively large, spray a mixture of water and white vinegar in the ratio of 2:3 over it.
Another idea to remove mold stains from stroller fabric is to apply a solution of 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoonfuls of NON-chlorine bleach. CHECK the stroller manual to learn if it’s safe to use this concoction on the fabric.
You can try rubbing alcohol.
*Wear gloves to prevent the bleach from coming into contact with your skin.
Step #3: Machine-wash the Fabric (If Permitted)
If the manufacturer says hand-wash, do that. But if they say you can machine-wash the fabric, go ahead. It’s super important to follow the manufacturer’s advice here.
The fabric might be flame retardant. Or it might have water-resistant properties. Be sure to give the material special care if so required.
If the fabric can be cleaned with a machine, load it and use warm water and gentle detergent on the gentle cycle.
How to Clean a Non-machine-washable Stroller Fabric
Vacuum the Fabric First
Vacuum off crumbs, debris, and dirt if it’s a non-machine washable fabric. Use the most practical attachment you have for the task. The areas around the seams often need a bit more attention, so linger there long enough.
If dealing with mold, it’s best to use a HEPA vacuum cleaner. According to the folks at the G.W.Savage Corp, regular household vacuums aren’t effective at mold spore removal. Instead, use a HEPA vacuum if you have it around or hire it.
Hand-clean with Soap and Lukewarm Water
Mix a dub of mild detergent with lukewarm warm in a small container such as a bowl. Put the fabric in the soapy water and hand-clean it gently.
Squeeze out any excess soapy water. And if there are stubborn stains, see if you can handle them using a toothbrush or a fabric-friendly brush.
Rinse, Wipe, Disinfect, and Dry Up the Material
Drain the soapy solution and pour in some clean water. Rinse away all the soap and plus any other stuff using a clean microfiber cloth. Next, disinfect the fabric using baby wipes to kill germs and odor. Finally, dry the material in the sun to remove any lingering smells.
If after this process you feel the cover isn’t squeaky clean, repeat the steps above.
Step #4: Clean the Stroller Frame
Here are the materials you’ll need:
- Warm water
- Toothbrush/brush for scrubbing
- A sponge that can scour
- Dishwashing soap
- Soft, clean cloth
- Disinfectant baby wipes
Follow the cleaning method below:
1. Remove toys if there are any and detach accessories such as cup holders and snack trays from the metal/plastic stroller frame. Wash these accessories separately.
2. Pour a little warm water in a small bowl and add in a few suds of dishwashing soap.
3. Put a scouring sponge in the mixture and use your hands to eliminate excess soapy water.
4. Pass the damp sponge over the dirty frame and handlebars to wipe off any filth marks.
To remove any stubborn spots on the frame, use the scouring side of the sponge to scrub them off.
6. Use a toothbrush or a suitable brush to deal with tough marks in hard-to-access places.
7. Wipe down the frame with a clean soft cloth to remove every trace of soap residue.
8. Give the frame a pass with disinfectant baby wipes to take care of germs while freshening things up.
9. Leave the frame to dry out in the sun. It shouldn’t take you very long to air-dry the frame.
What if the stroller frame is a little rusty? Below is…
How to Get Rust Off A Stroller Frame/Chassis
Rust isn’t uncommon on baby strollers. Luckily, getting rust off a stroller frame isn’t very difficult.
One way to deal with a rusty stroller frame is to apply baking soda directly onto the rusty spot. Baking soda works really well because it absorbs moisture while neutralizing acidic substances.
Another rusty frame cleaning method involves rubbing alcohol mixed with salt into the affected area. Rubbing alcohol removes rust while salt prevents further corrosion.
Here’s yet another rust removal strategy. Mix equal amounts of lemon juice and dishwashing soap. Then, apply this mixture directly to the rusty spots on the frame. Let the treated frame sit overnight then scrub gently with a brush. Rinse thoroughly afterward.
Finally, you can apply a squirt of the ultra-useful WD40 on the rusted areas. Spray a generous amount of WD40 on the affected areas. Wait several hours before scrubbing gently with a soft clean cloth.
Step #5: Clean Stroller Wheels
According to Consumer Reports, you don’t need to take the wheels off the stroller to clean them. Just dip a terrycloth in soapy water and wring excess water out. Then, wipe down the rubber wheels (or whatever wheels they are).
But if the wheels are too dirty, detach them from the stroller for an easier clean. Then, use a small brush to scrape street dirt, sand, grime, and whatnot off the tires, rims, and spokes. Also, brush off grit and loose dirt from the foot brakes.
Next, use a terrycloth dipped in warm soapy water to scrub off any remaining marks. You can also use a soft thistle brush. And if the marks prove too stubborn, scrub at the spot with hotter water.
Then, rinse out the soap with clean water or even hose the wheels down. Finally, sanitize the wheels with a safe disinfectant and leave the wheels to air out in the sun before attaching them back on. Remember, if you have air-filled tires, check if they have holes and inflate them to the recommended tire pressure.
What if the stroller wheels are squeaky? In that case, grease the wheels up. Consult the manual to learn what lube the manufacturer recommends.
Step #6: Clean Stroller Accessories
Clean the accessories such as cup holders and snack trays before putting them back in. If the manual hasn’t described any specific cleaning method, wash them as you would utensils.
Dunk the accessories into the kitchen sink and wash them with soapy water. Then, sanitize with baby-safe disinfectant wipes.
As for the storage basket underneath the stroller frame, vacuum off any crumbs from crackers, cookies, debris, and street dust. Then, use a damp terrycloth to wipe down the inside and outside of the stroller basket. Storage baskets aren’t usually machine-washable, but you can always ask the manual.
Now, proceed to the sun cover/canopy and wipe it down as well. If the sun canopy has any stubborn stains, spot clean it with soap using a damp cloth. In most cases, you can clean the sunshade the same way you do the seat pad.
If the stroller has a machine washable sun cover and the cover is too dirty, remove it and clean on the gentle cycle with a mild detergent. Some covers such as the Graco Click C0nnect Stroller can be a pain to remove. Here’s a video on how to remove the Graco Click Connect stroller cover.
Next, clean the footmuff if your tot has one. But…
How Do You Clean a Bugaboo Footmuff?
If your kiddo’s stroller uses a Bugaboo footmuff for cozy winter strolls, keep it clean. Can you machine-wash Bugaboo footmuffs? In most cases, you can machine-wash Bugaboo fleece footmuffs. The Laundress advises setting the washing machine to the normal wash cycle. And if the footmuff is extremely dirty, select the Heavy Soil setting if the machine offers that.
Also, set the water temperature dial to Warm/Cold, which means wash with warm water and rinse with cold water. A squirt of baby-safe detergent should be enough. Once you’ve cleaned the fleece foot warmer, lay it flat to dry. Tumble-drying the item isn’t recommended.
How Do You Clean a Used Stroller?
To clean a used old stroller, have a cleaning expert freshen it up if you can. It’ll cost you anywhere between $20-$50. But if the stroller is a high-quality model that’s still in reasonably good condition, it’d be worth it.
Alternatively, follow the stroller degreasing steps described above, and be sure to sanitize the stroller to kill any lurking germs.
And if your old dirty stroller looks somewhat dull or faded, you can give it a quick spruce-up by applying a coat of spray-on wax on the metal frame.
But seriously, waxing a stroller, just like waxing a car, isn’t necessary for the most part. Unless the stroller is too old that you shouldn’t be buying it in the first place. But yes, spraying a little wax on an old stroller can make it look newer and nicer by enhancing its shine.
How Do You Remove Scratches from a Stroller?
If you bought your stroller used, chances are that it has a few scratches on the frame. You can remove them, though. Use a scratch remover like what car detailing technicians use and make that old stroller regain some of its lost gloss.
Can You Steam Clean a Stroller?
You can steam-clean a stroller to remove nasty smells and make it a place your kiddo will love more. The high-temperature steam from a steamer is great at lifting up grime and grease. As for smells, you can add a little scented ironing water to the steamer mixture.
Can You Pressure Wash a Stroller?
If the stroller manual says don’t, then don’t. But you can pressure-wash or hose down a baby stroller without necessarily damaging it. If you pushed your jogger or all-terrain stroller through muddy trails, power-washing it a bit can make the cleaning process easier. The same goes for when it’s an old used stroller bought off e-bay or a hand-me-down. But you’ll still need to work on stains and other tough marks using a brush or scourer after hosing the contraption down.
I love pressure-washing stuff, and I’m guilty of using my small pressure washer on it a few times.
Using the wrong cleaning method on your baby stroller can VOID the warranty. Pressure-washing a stroller isn’t a recommended cleaning method.
If you’re anything like me and most people, you really enjoy pressure-washing everything. But I don’t remember ever reading a stroller manual that said you can clean a stroller this way. So, be sure to follow the manual.
Why Clean a Baby Stroller and How Often?
A clean stroller looks nice and rolls better because all the moving parts are clean and lubed. You never want to bump into someone who respects you a whole lot pushing your tot in a stroller that looks like it belongs in some landfill. Most importantly, a washed stroller is a germ-free environment for you and your baby.
How often you clean a stroller depends on how frequently you use it. If you use it lightly, maybe once a week, you can get away with giving it a quick wipe-down before storing it in a dry place. But if you roll your tot around in it every other day, show it some love immediately you get back home.
You don’t always need to deep clean the stroller each time. It’s best to wipe down or spot clean any spills and brush off debris and dirt from the wheels regularly. Keeping that stroller on the back burner until you can’t wait any longer only makes the job harder and less pleasant down the road.
By the way…
Soap vs, Detergent? What’s the Difference?
Soap tends to clean surfaces better than detergent because it contains surfactants. Detergents usually have no surface activity. Instead, detergents break down grease into fatty acids which have the ability to dissolve oily, fatty blots. What’s more, most detergents remove stains more effectively than does soap.
But both soap and detergents remove grime and soil from fabrics. They just differ in their effectiveness at tackling different kinds of filth.
What kind of detergent works best for washing a stroller? Regular laundry liquid detergents work well for removing dust and grime from our stroller.