In our very modern society, few (if any) of us will ever know what it was like to feed small children on only a mama’s lap. That’s because high chairs, mama’s lap replacements, have become part of the daily life of anyone feeding little munchkins.
And aren’t we grateful? I know that the few glimpses I’ve had into feeding a child on my own lap have left me wishing I had a high chair. After all, it’s hard to enjoy your food when you’re playing defense the whole meal!
As much as we’re grateful for high chairs, though, they do become an extra item on our “to-do” list that we need to keep clean.
And if you’re a busy parent or caretaker, you don’t have time for complex processes – you need to know how you can do this in the simplest, easiest way possible and still do the job well.
My guess is that if you’re reading this article, you want to know just that: how to clean a high chair thoroughly and easily in the least possible time. We gotcha covered!
In this post, we’ll talk about how to clean your child’s high chair (step by step), how frequently you should do this, what to avoid, and extra measures you can take to keep that high chair as low maintenance as possible.
How To Clean A High Chair – Step By Step
Clean Off Loose Food
This first step is the most obvious, but before you get into any deeper cleaning, it’s best to rid the high chair of loose food.
You can do this with a rag, a hand vac, or your bare hand from the high chair tray, seat, and footrest.
A piece of advice here: if you want to drastically reduce the crumbs you have to clean (or noodles/other messy food), place some plastic wrap over the high chair tray before you give your toddler her food. This makes cleaning loose food a cinch!
Think of it as your child’s personal tablecloth … and a saving grace for you!
It’s inevitable that every crevice of your child’s high chair will eventually be crammed with Cheerio and Goldfish crumbs, and depending on the model of high chair you have, this can be a pretty complicated scenario.
You’ll need to make sure you get in those crevices regularly to prevent food from caking up and hardening.
If you prefer to do this with just soapy water and a rag, have at it!
Another way you can do this is to spray a safe all-purpose, multi surface cleaner in the crevices and let it sit and soak for a while.
Then, take a toothbrush or another bristly brush and scrub until there’s no crumb left behind. Voila – your crevices look like new!
Wipe Down Tray
On to the tray, the place where all the action happens.
Depending on what you had for dinner, you can probably just use soapy dishwater and a rag, all-purpose cleaner, and I’ve even heard people say you can use hydrogen peroxide.
But if spaghetti was on the menu, chances are you’ll need more than a wipe down. For this, it’s best to invest in some magic erasers to keep that high chair looking as gently used as possible (especially if you’re considering reselling it!).
Also, don’t forget to try the plastic wrap trick!
But let’s say it’s a late night, your back is hurting, and the last thing you want to do now is spend time cleaning the high chair tray.
You know it needs to get cleaned, however, or tomorrow morning there might be a few other visitors crawling around.
In this case, take the high chair tray, throw it in the dishwasher, and call it a night.
Wipe Down Straps
Some high chairs have straps that are easy to clean and others don’t.
Most high chair straps don’t come off the high chair. Regardless, it’s important to take some soapy water and give those straps a good wiping on a regular basis, at least once a week, and especially after every messy meal.
Just a reminder – don’t forget that if your child decides to use their high chair as a toilet, the straps (especially the bottom ones) need to be soaked and cleaned thoroughly.
Hygiene, in this case, is the name of the game! For this, you may want to soak the bottom straps with that all-purpose cleaner, then follow it up with a good wipe down with a soapy washrag.
Wipe Down Outside Of High Chair
It may seem tedious to wipe the outside of the high chair, but it’s necessary to keep it from looking overly worn.
How often you do this depends on how clean you want to keep the chair, but it’s good practice to at least do this once a week.
Old food and other things often get stuck on the legs of the chair, and without continual cleaning, they can stain, stay stuck, attract bugs, and start to stink.
The easiest way to clean the outside of the chair is just to make it a part of your kitchen cleaning routine. So when you’re taking the Fabuloso to the floor and cleaning all those cabinet faces, don’t forget to include the outside of the high chair as well.
Wash Seat Pad
Finally, you’ll need to give that seat pad a regular washing to keep it sanitary and looking nice.
How often you wash the seat pad really depends on your preferences.
Do you eventually want to resell the high chair? Save it for another child? Give it away to another family? Then you’ll obviously want to keep it as clean as possible.
This doesn’t have to be every day, but at least every few days. Good practice would be to make sure loose crumbs are at least dusted off daily and that the actual seat pad is washed once a week.
If your baby or toddler wets her diaper through to the seat pad, you’ll obviously need to wash it immediately.
If the seat pad is a washable material, you can obviously throw it in the washer. If not, you may want to take it off and hand wash it. You can also use a natural stain remover to remove stains.
One tip for low maintenance seat pad cleaning is to make sure the tray is pushed in as close to your child as possible when she’s eating (without squeezing her, of course).
Food that doesn’t quite make it to her mouth can easily fall on the seat pad, which will probably be followed by an attempt to pick it up (resulting in further smashing into the seat).
What To Avoid When Cleaning A High Chair
If you’re new to cleaning high chairs, there are a few things you’ll want to avoid in this process.
Some things may be obvious, while others can only be learned through the great trial and error process of parenting or caretaking.
Using Strong Chemicals
Sometimes we like to use strong chemical sprays and cleaners to make sure stuff gets cleaned and sanitized.
However, no chemicals can be used around babies, small children, and even adults without some degree of side effects. This can include damage to the respiratory, reproductive, and developmental systems.
Sometimes, babies like to put straps and parts of the seat pad in their mouths. As they learn how to eat on their own, they also might try to eat their food directly off their tray.
This is another reason why it’s just good practice to make sure you’re not using strong chemicals on the high chair that could potentially be harmful for your baby.
Not Cleaning Crevices
It’s amazing how quickly those high chair crevices can get crammed with dried food and a billion tiny crumbs.
Without continual maintenance, you can pretty much guarantee those things will stay where they’re at. Plus, without attentive care, you may lose your chance at making some extra cash off selling your used high chair!
But if the thought of making all of this a part of your cleaning routine just sounds like an extra burden to you, consider delegating this responsibility.
You can make this a paid job for older children or making it someone else’s responsibility while the kitchen is being tidied after dinner.
Only Cleaning The Tray
One of the most disgusting mistakes you can make as a parent or caretaker is to never clean anything but the tray.
Now I’ve seen high chairs that have been a victim of this kind of treatment, and they aren’t pretty. They stink, are always dirty, are pretty unsanitary, and at this point, stains are probably irreversible.
You don’t want this to be the story of your own high chair, and after reading this post, I’m confident that it won’t be!
Tips For Keeping The High Chair As Low Maintenance As Possible
Clean After Each Use
It’s good practice to make a habit of cleaning the high chair after each time it’s used.
Babies are wired to make messes, so the longer you go between even simple wipe-downs, the bigger a job you’ll have on your hands later.
Make cleaning the high chair a part of your regular kitchen cleaning routine. After all, this piece of furniture is only going to be in your life for a few short years (per kid).
It’s much easier to maintain the cleanliness of the chair than to allow food/stains to set in.
Adjust The Tray Correctly
As previously mentioned, you can save yourself the hassle of a bigger mess if you adjust the high chair tray to where it’s as snug as possible for your baby without squeezing them.
A simple adjustment that saves you loads of time afterwards.
Have Your Toddler Help
When your little one is at least 18 months (or sometimes even earlier!), you can start introducing her to cleaning her own high chair.
After every meal, you can give her a rag and show her how to clean her own tray (after you’ve brushed off loose crumbs of course).
Over time, your toddler will learn to get good at this and also have a gentle introduction into the adult world of chores.
Delegate This Task To An Older Child
If there’s one thing a parent should know, it’s that children love to help when they’re encouraged (not forced) and when they’re given the tools and the freedom to accomplish a task on their own.
As also previously mentioned, you can make deep cleaning the high chair the paid job of an older child, but you can make the routine wipe down another child’s delegated responsibility.
Don’t think your other kids will go for this? Consider giving them an empty spray bottle filled with dish soap and water, handing them a rag, and tell them to clean the whole chair. You may be pleasantly surprised with the result!
Consider Maintenance When Purchasing
Since the high chair will be a large part of your life for a couple years, and since you want to keep things as simple as possible, here’s a list of stuff you’ll want to keep in mind when purchasing/registering for a high chair.
- Does the high chair have a removable, washable seat pad? If the seat pad isn’t washable in the washer, you’ll have to be fine with hand washing it.
- Are the straps removable? If not, you’ll have to put some elbow grease into keeping those things sanitized.
- Does the high chair have a lot of small crevices? Look especially at the way the back of the chair is fashioned. The more crevices, the more holes for crumbs!
We don’t often consider how a piece of baby furniture will look when it’s all dirty while we’re shopping around. But it’s important to consider this, because you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary work by making some small adjustments with what you choose!
Wrapping It Up
Keeping your baby’s high chair looking like new doesn’t need to be a complicated process.
As you incorporate this simple cleaning routine into your life step by step, you’ll find that it becomes second nature and that maintaining a clean high chair is not as complicated a process as it sounds.
Including others in this responsibility or even delegating the whole thing to another child may even free you up from this completely!
At the end of the day, you want a clean high chair with as little maintenance as possible, and the best way to keep it low maintenance is to give it the attention it needs on a daily basis.
For the small amount of time it’s in your life, commit yourself to your high chair’s upkeep. Then, you can bless another family (or another one of your own children) with the gift of a well-kept, well-loved secondhand high chair!