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How to clean your high chair

By Hannah Fox

If mealtimes with your baby have got messier recently, follow our tips on keeping your high chair looking spotless and find out which chairs are easiest to keep clean

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Whether you’re just starting out on the weaning journey or are already well established, chances are that on your high chair you’ve encountered a fair amount of squashed carrot, mushed peas and the dreaded Bolognese stain.

Keeping your high chair clean is important because a dirty high chair can harbour a whole host of bacteria. In fact, a 2007 study by the Hygiene Council found that 60% of food trays on high chairs had coliforms – bacteria from faecal matter, raw meat, soil or unwashed vegetables – on them.

The frequency with which you should clean your high chair is up to you, but we’d recommend you wipe down the high chair tray after each meal, wipe or brush down the seat every couple of days and do a deeper clean of the whole chair at least once a month.

Look out for the dirty high chair hotspots – areas where you’re most likely to get food and grime caught. These include the underside of the food tray, between the seat cushion/padding and the plastic part of the chair, and the holes through which the high chair straps are threaded.

Make sure you pick a high chair that’s comfortable, safe, sturdy and easy to fold by taking a look at the latest Best Buy high chairs.

What cleaning products should you use?

If you decide to use a regular chemical kitchen spray, this will definitely remove stubborn dried-on food and kill bacteria, but you may want to wipe down the tray with plain water afterwards to remove any cleaning product residues that might be left. Babies and young children have very sensitive skin so shouldn’t be exposed to harsh chemical cleaning products.

For those preferring to go down the natural products route, many people swear by distilled white vinegar and lemon juice. Both are naturally acidic, which means bacteria won’t thrive in those environments. Similarly, a few drops of tea tree oil in a water spray will help to kill bacteria.

For marks and stains that need a bit more elbow grease, try mixing together a paste of lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). The latter is a natural abrasive stain remover and deodoriser.

How to clean the seat on a high chair

No matter how well covered up your little one might be, it’s inevitable that food will end up getting caught in the seat part of your high chair.

If your high chair seat is made of fabric, first check if it’s removable and machine washable – this can save a lot of time and effort. Be sure to follow the washing instructions carefully to avoid shrinking the fabric and not being able to fit it back on the chair.

If you can’t remove the fabric seat, vacuum up any crumbs using the narrow nozzle of your vacuum cleaner, making sure you get as deeply into the crevices of the seat as possible. Then sponge down any parts that are stained or grubby with warm soapy water.

Many of today’s high chairs have a padded rubber or plastic seat area, which is easy enough to spray with some cleaner and wipe down. If this part of the high chair comes away from the main plastic part of the chair, make sure you clean in between it as bacteria and food could get trapped there.

How to clean the straps on a high chair

High chair straps can be tricky to keep clean, especially as many are often quite pale in colour, meaning they stain easily. Look out for high chairs with dark straps, or removable strap covers that you can put in the washing machine at the same time as the padded seat part.

Many high chairs have removable straps, which you can then leave in a washing bowl with some bleach or washing powder. If you do wash them in bleach, make sure you rinse them out fully before reattaching.

If you can’t remove the straps, many parents we’ve spoken to swear by a paste of bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice. Work it into the straps before leaving for an hour and then scrubbing off using a stiff nail brush or old toothbrush. You could also use a standard laundry stain removal powder, once again made into a paste, and then scrubbed off.

Accessories to help keep your high chair clean

Removable tray inserts
Some high chairs have removable tray inserts, which mean you can lift out the tray, empty any food into the bin and then place in a dishwasher. Other high chairs have removable trays, which make it easier to take off and scrub over the sink.

Bibs
A bib is a must-have when you’re weaning and some will help to keep your high chair clean, too. Bibs with an upturned lip at the end – known as a crumb-catcher – will help to catch some of the food that would have fallen into your baby’s lap.

However, to avoid any food falling onto the seat, there are some bibs that can be attached directly to the tray, completely covering up the gap between the tray and your baby.

Suction or magnetic bowls
It may be cute the first time your baby upturns his bowl of spaghetti and places it on his head, but it’s less funny if he or she starts making a habit of it. Look out for bowls and plates that have a suction cup on the bottom, to reduce the risk of your baby picking it up.

Some high chairs have magnetic trays that help to keep your child’s bowl in place. However, you will need to buy the specific bowls from the manufacturer that go with that high chair, and some aren't dishwasher-proof.

Be warned, some babies will simply see suction or magnetic bowls as a challenge to attempt a tug-of-war to pull the bowl off at all costs or simply scoop their food out with their hands.

Splash mats
These are mats that you place underneath your high chair to catch any food that’s dropped on the floor. While these won't necessarily keep the high chair clean, they will make it easier to clean up the surrounding area.

5 high chairs which are easy to clean

Typical price £155.00
Which? score 78%
Reviewed Feb 2018
Ease of cleaning:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Removable covers:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Removable tray:
Member exclusive
Removable tray insert:
Member exclusive
Padded:
Member exclusive
Wipe clean:
Member exclusive
Machine washable:
Member exclusive

This high chair has lots of recline options, which can be handy if your baby likes a post-nap snooze. But how did it do in our tough cleaning tests, where we smear the tray, seat and harness with food? Read the full review to find out.

Lowest price (in stock) £93.75
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Feb 2018
Ease of cleaning:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Removable covers:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Removable tray:
Member exclusive
Removable tray insert:
Member exclusive
Padded:
Member exclusive
Wipe clean:
Member exclusive
Machine washable:
Member exclusive

This feature-filled high chair is suitable for newborns and can recline. It’s also got some useful features that make it easier to keep clean. Read the full review to find out what.

Typical price £45.00
Which? score 73%
Reviewed May 2017
Ease of cleaning:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Removable covers:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Removable tray:
Member exclusive
Removable tray insert:
Member exclusive
Padded:
Member exclusive
Wipe clean:
Member exclusive
Machine washable:
Member exclusive

This multi-functional high chair is a good value option for babies from six months old. Find out why we’ve picked it as a good choice for an easy-to-clean high chair.

Typical price £90.00
Which? score 73%
Reviewed Feb 2018
Ease of cleaning:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Removable covers:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Removable tray:
Member exclusive
Removable tray insert:
Member exclusive
Padded:
Member exclusive
Wipe clean:
Member exclusive
Machine washable:
Member exclusive

The seat on this high chair is well-padded, which is great if you want your little one to stay comfy during mealtimes. But what if it’s tricky to wipe down and clean? Find out why we think this high chair is a good option for parents.

Typical price £14.00
Which? score 59%
Reviewed May 2017
Ease of cleaning:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Removable tray:
Member exclusive
Removable tray insert:
Member exclusive
Padded:
Member exclusive
Wipe clean:
Member exclusive
Machine washable:
Member exclusive

This minimalist high chair is popular with parents because it’s easy to use and simple to clean. Find out why by reading the full review.

How we test for ease of cleaning

When we send high chairs to the lab for testing, as well as checking how comfortable, safe and sturdy they are, we also find out how easy they are to clean.

Our experts smear the tray, seat and harness with banana purée and Bolognese sauce and sprinkle the whole area with crumbs to find out where food can get trapped, such as the seams of the chair and any grooves or dips.

We check if the seat and harness straps are easily stained or whether they come out with a bit of vigorous scrubbing.

The cleaning test forms 25% of the final test score.

Take a look at our high chair reviews to find out which ones scored highest for ease of cleaning.

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