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How to Dispose of an Old Child Car Seat

child sitting in car seat

Car seats are an integral part of owning a car when you have a child. When your kid is an infant or a young child, they should always be placed in a car seat when you drive. A car seat keeps the small body of a young child much more secure and safe in the event of an accident than a normal seat and seatbelt can.

However, every child eventually outgrows their car seat, and then it’s time to get rid of the seat. Even if your kid has not yet outgrown their child seat, there are many reasons why you may need to get rid of it. If the car has been involved in an accident or the seat is expired, then it should be disposed of immediately. If the child is not comfortable in it any more, it’s probably time to look for a new car seat, and say goodbye to the old. You should never just dispose of your car seats by throwing them away or leaving them on the street. It is incredibly wasteful to throw away a still usable car seat, while an unusable one may be scooped up by a dumpster diving parent looking to save a few bucks, and they’ll be unaware that the seat is a hazard. As such, it’s important to always dispose of your car seats in a responsible manner.

Method 1 of 2: Disposing of a reusable car seat

Step 1: Contact parents you know. Reach out to the parents you know to see if they need a car seat.

Many people are hesitant to buy used car seats, in case they’re no longer in safe condition. As a result, it’s a good idea to look for people you know who need car seats, as they’re more likely to trust you when you tell them that the seat is still safe to use.

Email or call any parents you know with young children, or leave a flyer advertising the car seat at your child’s preschool or daycare center.

  • Tip: Since car seats can be very expensive, you may be able to find a friend who’s willing to pay you a chunk of change for your used car seat.

Step 2: Donate the seat. Donate the car seat to a shelter or donation center.

Reach out to local shelters, as well as donation centers such as Goodwill, and see if any of them are interested in a safe-to-use old car seat.

Some of these places may not take car seat donations, in case the seats are no longer safe, but others will accept donations to help parents who cannot afford car seats.

Step 3: List the seat on Craigslist. Try to sell the car seat on Craigslist.

If you can’t find anyone you know who needs your car seat, and your local shelters or donation centers won’t accept it as a donation, try selling it on Craigslist.

Be sure to specify that your car seat has not been in an accident, and has not yet expired, otherwise people may not be interested in buying it.

  • Tip: If no one will purchase your car seat from Craigslist, you can try posting it on Craigslist’s free listings page.

Method 2 of 2: Disposing of an unusable car seat

Step 1: Drop it off at a car seat recycling center. Take your used car seat to a recycling center for used car seats.

There are numerous programs in the United States responsible for recycling car seats, so as to minimize waste.

You can find a list of available car seat recycling centers at Recycle Your Car Seat. If you are near one of the listed locations, take your car seat there, as they’ll do the best job of recycling the seat.

Step 2: Try your local recycling center. Try to recycle the car seat at your local recycling center.

Most recycling centers won’t recycle whole car seats, but they usually will recycle most of the components.

Call your local recycling center and ask them if your model of car seat is recyclable. If it is, follow the recycling center’s instructions and break down the car seat into separate components, so that the center is able to recycle it.

If the recycling center cannot recycle all of the car seat’s components, throw the rest away.

  • Tip: If you are not able to break down the car seat by yourself, someone at the recycling center may be able to help you with the process.

Step 3: Ruin the seat and throw it away. As a last resort, make the car seat unusable, and throw it in the trash.

You should avoid throwing your car seat in the trash unless you absolutely have to. However, if your unusable car seat or the components of it cannot be recycled for whatever reason, you have no choice but to throw the seat away.

If you’re going to throw the seat away, you want to first ruin it so that no one else tries to re-use it - which could be fatally dangerous.

To ruin the unusable car seat, try damaging and breaking it with any tools that you have. Power tools work best, if you feel comfortable safely operating them.

  • Tip: If you are unable to ruin the unusable car seat, tape a sign to it that says “Damaged – Do Not Use” to help deter other people from taking the seat from the dumpster.

Whether you recycle or sell your old car seat, it’s not hard to get rid of it. Just make sure that neither you, nor anyone else uses the car seat after it has expired or been in a crash, and you can rest assured that you are disposing of your old car seat in the safest and most responsible way.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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