What To Do With Old or Used Car Seats

If you’ve got an old car seat taking up space in your garage, you can trade it in, donate it, sell it or hand it down. As long as the seat is not expired, has never been in an motor vehicle accident and has only been gently used, another family can reuse it when you’re done with it. 

It can often feel like you need new baby gear every day—which is why giving your quality gear a second life is so important. Unfortunately, 12 million car seats are throw away each year. Alternatively, donating, selling or recycling your car seat will give your gear a second life while reducing gear waste. 

If you’re wondering what to do with your old car seats, look beyond the landfill and consider donating, regifting, recycling or selling it. Donating or selling baby gear like strollers or clothing can help reduce waste while also helping families access the gear they need for less, while recycling or regifting it is better for the environment than throwing it away. 

We’ve put together a guide to donating, selling or recycling used car seats

Checking if Your Car Seat Is Expired 

Car seat parts wear down over time, so you need to make sure your car seat isn’t expired before putting a child in it. Every car seat has an expiration date—usually six to 10 years after it was manufactured. But you’ll need to check your specific seat to see the date for yours. 

Car seat label with expiration date on it

The easiest way to check if your car seat is expired is to look for the white sticker on the back of the seat. If you turn over the seat and base, you should find a sticker listing the seat’s manufacturing and expiration dates. 

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use car seats that have been involved in car accidents even if they’re not technically expired yet. 

What To Do With Gently Used Car Seats 

If your little one has outgrown their car seat, you may start looking to pass it on. It’s important to do so safely and take the proper precautions. If your gently used car seat is still in good, working condition, isn't recalled or expired, has never been in an accident and has all of it's parts, you can give it a second life by passing it on to another family. 

1. Sell It

At GoodBuy Gear, we offer parents a safer way to sell their gently used car seat through our proprietary 30-point GoodBuy ™ Car Seat Safety Check process. In addition to our standard quality checks, we worked with a car seat design, engineering and safety consultant to create this inspection process for gently used car seats. 

If you want to sell your gently used car seat with us, here’s what to look for at home: 

  • The seat must be two or more years from expiration 
  • The seat must not be recalled 
  • The seat has not been in a motor vehicle crash
  • All labels and parts are legible, present and not impaired 
  • The seat has not been modified
  • The seat does not have excessive wear and tear 
  • The seat has been cleaned properly according to the car seat manual

Sell Your Car Seat

Selling instead of trading in your car seat at an event like the Target Trade-In Event may be better suited for parents who do not want to wait until the annual event—if you live in one of GoodBuy Gear's seller service markets you can schedule a pickup or drop your car seat off for free anytime and they'll do the work to sell it for you. You can also earn cash instead of only Target store credit towards another car seat or select infant gear when you sell your gently used car seat. 

2. Donate it 

Rules for donating a car seat vary from place to place. But there are a few options for donating a gently-used car seat that is in good condition and hasn’t been recalled. Check with local thrift stores, consignment shops and shelters to see if they accept car seats. 

Where to donate car seats

  • Thrift stores
  • Consignment shops
  • Women’s shelters
  • Pregnancy resource centers
  • Churches
  • Homeless shelters
  • Children’s hospitals

3. Hand It Down

In some cases, you might be able to hand your car seat down to a friend or family member. It’s important to make sure the car seat is in safe, working condition before passing it along. You need to make sure the seat isn’t broken or recalled, is appropriate for the intended child and hasn’t been involved in any accidents. 

What to check before handing it down: 

  • There are no broken parts
  • The car seat is not expired
  • The seat isn’t recalled
  • It hasn’t been involved in a car accident 

When handing it down, make sure to pass along relevant information about the seat’s expiration so the new owners will be informed. 

What To Do With Broken or Expired Car Seats 

If your car seat is broken, recalled, expired or not safe, here are a few options to dispose of it responsibly so you don't contribute to landfill waste. 

1. Trade It In

There are two major car seat trade-in programs in the United States: Walmart and Target. These retailers allow you to surrender a heavily-used or expired car seat in exchange for a discount or gift card. 

From September 11-24, Target’s car seat trade-in event will accept old, expired or damaged car seats in exchange for 20% off a new car seat, stroller or select baby gear. The used car seats will be recycled by Target’s partner, Waste Management

2. Recycle It Properly 

There are a few recycling options for old infant car seats. Many states have a car seat recycling program where you can safely dispose of your seat. In some states, you can simply toss your car seat into your recycling bin. Before doing that, make sure to call and see if your local recycling center accepts seats. 

There are also mail-in programs, like this website, where you can send your car seat in to be recycled. Terracycle also has a mail-in program for Century baby gear products only. 

Where to recycle car seats

  • Your local recycling center
  • Through a trade-in program
  • Through the mail 

    If you’re wondering how to dispose of a car seat, you have many options. You can drop the seat off at a local recycling center, gift it to an old friend, sell it or donate it to a thrift shop. 

    If your car seat is in good, working condition, more than two years from expiration and has never been in a motor vehicle crash or recalled, you can consider selling it with us to keep it out of a landfill and more accessible for another family. Learn more about our GoodBuy ™ Car Seat Safety Check process here.



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