Here Is What to Do With Old Car Seats: Top 5 Ways for a Smart Declutter

A couple of days ago, I was decluttering the attic, and under a pile of coats, I discovered not one but two of the old car seats!

They are way past the expiration date and developed dents from neglect, so logically, they are no longer usable or safe.

As a part of my annual spring clean-up, I always separate the things we no longer use and either donate them or throw them away.

However, something about these car seats made me keep them!

I couldn't throw them away just because my kids could no longer use them, and there was absolutely no way I could sell them with this kind of damage.

So, what did I decide to do? Keep them in the attic and let them collect dust!

Well, to keep you from making my mistake (and help you declutter), I did my research and found out all there is to know about what you should do with old car seats.

Believe it or not, the dumpster is not the only solution, so if you are looking to be eco-friendly or spread some kindness over the holidays, keep on reading.


What Are Your Options?

Unfortunately, there was nothing useful I could do with my car seats other than throwing them away as they were pretty wracked up.

We will talk about what you should do in this situation, but first, let's see your options.

1. First Things First: Checking Expiration Date

what to do with old car seats not expired

Before searching for a donation site or a charity organization, you need to check if your car seat is expired.

If it is, then a child is no longer safe to ride in it, no matter if the overall condition of the seat is good.

So, how exactly do you check the expiration date?

It's usually printed on the car seat label, located at the bottom of the seat or on the side.

For example, Britax infant car seats last up to six years from the manufacture date, so you can check on the official site or look for the label.

Next, check if the car seat has any damages, such as dents in the plastic, missing parts, or fabric rips.

For example, logically, a missing removable cup holder will not affect the car seat's safety, but a missing harness strap buckle or an anti-rebound bar will!

Along with car seats that have been in an accident, damaged ones cannot be handed down for further use!

Trust me, you may only see a few rips then and there, but these little defects are what make car seats not safe.

So, what should you do if the car is still not expired and in good shape? Here are some of the suggestions you can give a go.

2. Trade-in Programs

Car seat trade-in events have become a huge hit over the years, especially for growing families. 

Throughout the year, big store chains such as Walmart and Target hold the trade-in event where you can bring in your used and old car seat and get a discount coupon instead.

So what is the coupon good for? Glad you asked.

For instance, Target offers a 20% discount coupon you can use for a new car seat or any other baby gear item.

Their last trade-in events were September 25th, 2021, so you can check the site for the next event and find a store nearby that participates in the trade-in program.

I only wish I learned about the program sooner as it is such a good option to get rid of the car seats and get a good deal along!

Maybe I'll get the chance for baby number two, but for now, I recommend parents with big families as well as low-income families to take advantage of this event!

If you do get a chance to recycle car seats with car seat trade-in events, make sure you sign up for the Target Circle rewards program so you can use the gift card.

3. Recycling Options to Reduce Waste

what to do with old car seats 2022

How about helping nature along your declutter process.

Car seat recycling is one of the top 3 options that come into the minds of those getting rid of old stuff.

Although this recycling process takes a bit more time and effort, in the end, it's good knowing you have done something useful for the planet.

But before you go on and take apart the car seat, I suggest you give the local recycling program a call and see whether they will take the plastic parts and accept car seats.

Check what their requirements are.

You should know that some services will want you to give up the entire seat while others require complete dismantling for recycling car seats.

Here is a list of current states with recycling programs available. If there is not a nearby car seat recycling program, you can always try other options listed below.

So, how should you recycle the car seat?

Start by dismantling it. Take apart the hard plastic frame as that is one of two suitable things for recycling.

The second recyclable car seat part is the metal pieces.

I find that some recycling programs do this themselves, but if not, you can always take the screwdriver and finish the job!

Other parts such as fabric, harness straps, padding are not recyclable, so that you can throw them away.

4. A Small Act of Kindness

what to do with old car seats california

Don't you see your highly paid car seat begin wrecked and thrown into pieces for the recycling needs? You don't have to!

However, if you have a used car seat that is still in good form and did not expire, you can try donating it!

However, before reaching out to a donation center, you need to be fully honest about the condition of your car seat.

Do not try to sneak in a car seat that has been in an accident or recalled seats.

Trust me; you are not doing anybody good by hiding the truth about your expired or damaged car seat.

But, if the car seat follows current safety standards and is still safe for the child, you can try reaching charity organizations with foster families lined up for getting help!

Pro Mommy Tip No.1:

If you managed to find a suitable donation center for needy families, it's best if you give the car seat a proper scrub down and disinfect it.

You don't want some other family looking at your kids Reeces Pieces stain, do you?

I recently found out that a church organization in my town accepts car seats, so this is also a good option for old car seats.

If you can, pack in the original manual with the car seat so they will know how to take care of it properly.

You can also donate the car seat to the local child passenger safety technician to use it as educational content for future parents!

Best Mommy Tip No.2:

Oh, and social media sure does help!

Please take a picture of a car seat, write a short description, and post it online.

Of course, you can't always be sure if those reaching out need a car seat, but I cannot help but see the good in these situations!

5. A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed

Those with big families may want to consider passing the old seat to the future baby momma in the family or a close friend!

Of course, for child safety, you want to be upfront with the car seat history!

I was always against handing down the used car seat to my family, but now that I come to think about it, it's better to put them in use and help the ones in need than to store the car seat in the attic and let it rot away if it's still safe.

What to Do With Expired and Damaged Car Seats?

what to do with old car seats and strollers

Finally, we have to come to this scenario.

What could you possibly do if your used car seats are no longer safe, in food shape, and pass the expiration dates?

Do you throw them in the trash?

Well, yes and no. Yes, you throw them away, but no, you cannot do it without respecting a protocol.

One of the top useful tips I got from a friend is when you throw away the car seat; you want to make sure they are no longer in proper shape or form!

Go wild and destroy all the parts. Yes, all the parts.

In this way, you make sure nobody fishes out that car seat out of the dump and uses it later.

It has happened before and continues because many parents are aware of the protocol.

After you are done smashing it up, mark the seat as no longer in use or danger, unsafe car seat, so people can know to stay away from it.

Final Words

I hope at least one of these options will work for you if you have a car seat that needs to leave your storage asap!

These were some of my top tips on doing with the old car seats.

Again, I invite you to do your declutter session and see any of the old car seats sneaked away.

You would be surprised how relieved you can get after getting rid of something your kids no longer use.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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