What to Do With Used Children's Car Seats?

Child car seats are very useful in keeping a child safe. However, once the child outgrows the seat, disposing of it properly or reusing it requires some thought. Most donation centers, such as Goodwill, do not accept used car seats as donations, and there are important things to consider before disposing of the car seat or allowing it to be reused.

Reusing a Seat

One option is to pass the car seat along to a close friend or family member who is in need of one. Other options are to sell it in a garage sale or give it to a local children's consignment shop that is accepting car seats.

Some car seats have an expiration date on them and should not be used past that date. If the car seat doesn't have an expiration date labeled, it is generally recommended that it no longer be used six years past the date it was manufactured. This is because the quality of the plastic slowly breaks down over time, especially if there has been a wide range of hot and cold temperatures inside your vehicle.

Also, if the car seat has ever been in an accident, its integrity may be compromised and it should not be reused or handed down, consigned or sold.

Recycling the Car Seat

In order to recycle the plastic car seat base, all metal, padding and straps must be completely removed. If they are not fully removable, the seat cannot be recycled. Most car seat bases are made from a No. 5 or No. 7 plastic. In order to know which one you have, look for the recycle triangle with a number inside it. It will be stamped on the plastic if it is recyclable.

Some recycling centers do not accept any car seats, so call before taking it in to make sure it is acceptable material. If the car seat is not recyclable, proper disposal will be necessary.

Disposal of the Car Seat

When disposing of a car seat from home or at a landfill, you must ensure that a passer-by cannot see it in the garbage and attempt to use it. Incapacitating the seat so it cannot be reused is important because the car seat is not safe, and people will take a car seat from a garbage pile if it appears to be intact.

Before setting the car seat out with the garbage, remove the straps by cutting them free from the seat so they cannot be restrung. Strip away the removable padding and cushions, and use a knife to slash through any cloth that cannot be removed. Dispose of the straps and padding separately from the base by putting them in different bags.