Best Car Seat Protectors

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
177 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best car seat protectors

Last Updated October 2019

Across the nation, commute times are at an all-time high. If you’re like most people, you’re spending more hours per week in your car than ever. It’s only natural that you want your car to say as neat as possible. Your vehicle is one of your biggest investments, after all. Keeping it clean helps preserve its value and your peace of mind. Unfortunately, with today’s lengthy commutes, coffee and drive-thru meals often help preserve your peace of mind, too. Can these competing needs co-exist? They can, thanks to car seat protectors.

Car seat protectors are designed to do just what the name says: protect the upholstered or leather seats in your vehicle. While many are intended to protect rear seats from child-related messes, a number help defend against adults’ leaky lattes, too.

If you or someone you know are a frequent spiller and need help, keep reading to learn about the best car seat protectors on the market today.

The average American keeps his or her car for about seven years before trading it in for a newer model. Using a car seat protector can keep your vehicle looking newer and get you a better trade-in value.

Key considerations

There are many factors to keep in mind when shopping for car seat protectors. One of the most important factors is the size of the seat you’re trying to protect. Some models are intended for bench seats that fit more than one passenger. Others are designed to fit individual seats. As far as height goes, some protectors go halfway up the seat and are intended for use with booster seats for older children. Others cover the entire back and work best with high-back seats or rear-facing car seats. Regardless, you’ll need to find one that’s large enough to cover the area you want to protect.

You’ll also want to consider the method used to attach your cover to your seat. Most protectors loop over a headrest and hang down over the seat. Others resemble large, elastic pillowcases that envelop and cover the entire seat. While the latter style provides more protection, they are usually more customized and expensive. They may also block access to LATCH car seat anchors. So, if you’re trying to keep costs down, or if you need to use the LATCH system to secure a child’s safety seat, you’re probably better off using the first style.

The material used to construct the protector is another major factor. Some materials may transfer dye or powder onto the very seat you’re trying to protect. Some fabrics protect against crumbs and debris but allow liquids to soak through. Make sure you specifically check for waterproofing if that’s important to you.

Seat protectors made of thick PVC provide more protection against moisture than some other types. They can be slippery, though, and a child’s car seat could potentially slide on a mat unless it’s outfitted with grippy material. Be sure that the material, or the force of the child’s weight in the seat, doesn’t cut into your leather or create permanent marks in your upholstery.

Not every passenger is a human child; some drivers need seat protection for their fur babies. Mats that protect car seats against pets will need to be waterproof and durable enough to withstand claws. Washability is especially important for these protectors, since pet hair is a major concern.

Keeps safety seats in place

There’s a lot to love about the Car Seat Guardian. Its dual-grip technology makes it slip-free, both for the car seat resting on top of it and the upholstery or leather beneath it. It’s made of color-safe material, so it won’t bleed dye if it gets wet. The protector’s one-piece construction makes it easy to install and clean. Some say that it’s so heavy-duty that it’s relatively rigid and awkward to move. Additionally, its rubber pads can leave indentations on leather seats.

Features

If you’re looking to protect your front seat, padding and support should be considerations. You spend a lot of time in your vehicle, and your car seat protection should make it more pleasant, not less so. While lumbar and neck support usually require additional purchases, seat protectors may have padding in strategic areas to prevent pain and relieve fatigue.

If you’re looking for protectors for children, storage pockets are a convenient extra. These pockets provide a good place for kids to keep toys, books, or electronics. Having a dedicated spot for these items means you won’t be trying to look for them while driving 70 miles per hour, too.

Kick mats will also help to preserve your car’s condition. These mats often come with car seat protectors and attach to the seat in front of your child to protect it against damage from little feet.

Look for kick mats that attach securely without causing discomfort to the front seat occupant.

DID YOU KNOW?

At least 20% of meals in America are eaten in the car.

Car seat protector prices

Car seat protectors are a decent investment because they are a fraction of the cost of deep-cleaning your seat. Even high-quality car seat protectors shouldn’t break the bank, which is good, since you often need to buy them in multiples.

The least-expensive car seat protectors cost around $10 — or $20 for a pack of two. At this price, it’s likely that they will not cover your entire seat, and they may be damaged relatively easily. These protectors may stay in place on the seat, but they will not have special material patches ensuring they don’t skid in an emergency. Some may have small pockets for toys, books, or electronics.

Mid-range car seat protectors usually cost $20 to $25 and feature higher-quality construction and padding for comfort. They should protect the entire seat and have non-skid pads to help keep a child’s car seat in place. At this price, car seat protectors should be water-resistant or waterproof. Most will have storage pockets, and some may come with kick mats.

Car seat protectors of the highest quality often cost $30 to $40. At this price, car seat protectors should provide full coverage and be constructed from material that’s waterproof and non-staining to your car’s upholstery. They should be non-skid on both sides so both the mat and the child protective seat don’t move. Protectors in this price range are focused on safety rather than convenience and may not include storage pockets, oddly enough. Be sure that they are not so heavy-duty that they leave lasting marks on your vehicle’s seat when combined with the weight of your child.

 

EXPERT TIP

Removing black coffee stains from car upholstery requires a different approach from java with cream and sugar. Using a car seat protector can prevent both.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Make sure your car seat protector doesn’t interfere with the LATCH attachments on your child’s safety seat.
  • Some seat protectors arrive with plastic or chemical smells from packaging and shipping. Allow time to air them out before use.
  • Make sure your child knows how to reach toys stowed in pockets before the trip begins.

Recent census data shows that the average American commute to work is closing in on 30 minutes.

Easy to clean, easy on the wallet

You’ll get your money’s worth and then some with this two-pack of car seat protectors. Made from rugged Oxford fabric, these grippy, rubber-backed covers won’t slide and are easy to clean.  They offer plenty of coverage and won’t stain your seats. Some say they even work well for adults. They may shed and pill over time, though, and you’ll want to take it easy on the straps.

Other products we considered

A runner-up for our shortlist, the Summer Infant Duo Mat can be used with both rear-facing infant seats and safety seats for older children. It’s waterproof, non-skid, and features slots that allow for easier access to your vehicle’s LATCH anchors. It doesn’t have a headrest strap to help support it, however, so it might flop down when it’s not in use — or when used with a short booster.

The Royal Oxford car seat protectors from Bebe by Me are highly popular now that the manufacturer has redesigned the model to work with light-colored and dark-colored seats. They’re made from highly durable 900-denier Oxford fabric and feature non-skid backings and mesh toy pockets.

The base price for a single upholstery cleaning job at many professional shops costs more than a car seat protector.

FAQ

Q. Why don’t all pediatricians recommend car seat protectors?
A.
It’s a matter of safety. In some cases, car seat protectors without anti-skid construction can cause child safety seats to slip and slide, compromising the seat’s full ability to protect. As a result, some experts are wary of anything that might come between the bottom of the seat and the vehicle seat it’s intended to fit. This is especially a concern in booster seats for older children, which are often held in place by weight and safety belts instead of LATCH anchors. If you want to use seat protectors along with child safety seats, be sure to look for seat protectors with an anti-skid design.

Q. How can I find out if I’ve installed my child’s safety seat correctly over the seat protector?
A.
Many local fire departments will help you install your car seat; this may be a good place to start. But there’s no guarantee you’ll find someone with experience on duty when you arrive. Alternatively, you may wish to schedule an appointment with a certified technician from Safe Kids. Most appointments take 20 to 30 minutes and are much more thorough than a stop at the fire station. 

Q. Can I use car seat covers with any child safety seat?
A.
For the most part, yes. High-end safety seat manufacturer Britax is an exception to that rule. Britax recommends using its own specially manufactured car seat protector with the child safety seats the company manufacturers. Britax car seat protectors are designed specially to fit their line of car seats and have been crash-tested to guarantee they are slip-free. In addition, Britax car seats are notoriously large and heavy; these protectors help prevent indentation marks in your vehicle’s seat. Of course, you could always give an off-brand car seat protector a try, but if you’re already shelling out the money for a Britax, you might as well protect your investment.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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