Can You Donate Car Seats? Expert Answers


Welcome to the Ultimate Guide on When and Where Can You Donate Car Seats!

After having three perfect angel kids (mostly when they are asleep, mostly…) we went through a lot of car seats so instead of throwing them out I wondered if we can you donate your old car seats?

You See:

The short answer is yes.

However, you can only donate a car seat if it has not expired, has not been in an accident, and has not had its harness straps chemically cleaned.

Phew! That’s a long list of things to keep in mind. Furthermore, most thrift stores and local charities tend not to accept old car seats.

But don’t lose hope by scrolling down you will find out exactly who accepts car seat donations and what alternative options you may have. Are you ready?

Show it to me already!





Car Seat Safety Check

Before you donate or give away your child’s old car seat, you have to make sure it’s safe to do so. Most places will only accept donations after checking for safety.


#1 Car Seat Recalls

Unfortunately, sometimes car seats are recalled due to manufacturing defects or choking hazards. So, it’s important to make sure that your car seat model is not on any recall list. The good news is that most recalls can be fixed at home. Contact the manufacturer’s website to check if there was a recall and what you can do to fix it.


#2 Carseat Cleanliness and Condition

By the time your child outgrows it, their car seat will have seen at least some wear and tear in its lifetime. Unfortunately, even minor wear and tear can cause the seat to be counted as defective. So, if you notice any broken parts, you might have to put the car seat in the trash. Additionally, check that the seat is fully functional and has no missing pieces.

Furthermore, it’s also important to ensure that the car seat you intend to donate is clean and sanitized. If your car seat is too dirty, it may not be accepted by some local charities. This is a good tutorial on how to clean your baby’s car seat.


#3 What’s Expiration Date?

All car seats come with an expiration date, so check if yours has expired. This expiration date is not to be disregarded — it determines the seat’s overall safety. If you cannot find the expiration date, check for the manufacture date instead.


#4 Was it involved in an Accident?

Has your car seat ever been in the car during a crash or other accident? If so, it will be immediately disqualified. If you’re not the original owner of the car seat, you need to check its history before donating it or giving it away.


Who Accepts Car Seat Donations

Donating car seats is not a common practice due to their overall low durability. However, some charities do look for fully functional car seats. Here are a few people/places where you might succeed in donating your car seat:


#1 Charities

If your car seat is functional and in excellent condition, a charitable organization or nonprofit organization may accept it for needy families or foster families. Family services such as women’s organizations and pregnancy resource centers also sometimes accept car seat donations.

Moreover, you can always run a quick Google search to find appropriate charities near you which will accept car seats.


#2 Religious Organizations

If you’re associated with a church, temple, or mosque, there’s a good chance you might be able to donate your car seat there. Donated seats are usually redistributed to families in need. Also looking up women’s shelters is a good option.


#3 Child Passenger Safety Technician

A Child Passenger Safety Technician is responsible for educating parents and caregivers on the appropriate usage of car seats. They might be willing to take your car seat for their demonstrations during parenting classes.


#4 Family or Friends

This is one of the best options if you can avail. First, check whether the child of your relative or friend matches the weight and height requirements. If so, why not pass it on to them? This way, your friend or family won’t have to pay money for a new one.


Alternatives to Donating a Car Seat:

If you’re unable to find any organizations which would be willing to accept your baby car seat donation, there are a few other options available to you:


#1 Old Car Seats Trade-in at Target

Many stores host trade-in events where they accept old car seats, given they are in good condition. The largest among them is probably Target, which holds car seat trade-in events twice a year.

Target’s partner Waste Management recycles construction materials from the car seat for other goods. What’s more, traded-in car seats give you 20% off other baby items at Target, such as a stroller or even a new car seat. They have a wide range of baby gear, so this is great news for those of you with a large family.

According to Target, they will accept the following used car seats for trade-in:

  • infant seats
  • damaged seats
  • seat bases
  • expired seats
  • harness or booster seats
  • convertible seats


#2 Car Seat Recycling Program

There are numerous recycling centers that gladly accept and recycle car seats. Most places will strip down used car seats before they recycle them.

If you are stripping down, here’s what you need to do:

  • Remove all plastic parts for separate plastic recycling
  • Use scissors to remove fabric, straps, harnesses, and padding, then dispose of these in the trash (they’re not fit for recycling)
  • Remove all metal parts using a screwdriver. If you don’t have access to a screwdriver, your chosen recycling center might do this part for you
  • Paste a label on the car seat that says “do not use”

However, if you are unable to find a car seat recycling center near you for your used car seat, you can always search for facilities online which recycle cat seats.


#3 Dispose the Old Car Seat

If you cannot recycle your car seat, the last resort is to dispose of your car seat entirely. But before you throw it in the trash, make sure to go through all the steps outlined above for how to recycle such a seat. This will ensure that no one tries to repurpose the seat for their child (which could be very dangerous).


Conclusions on Can You Donate Car Seats

If your car seat is within its expiration date and still in excellent condition, you have many options to give it away. But we would like to reiterate that with car seats that are damaged somehow or past their car seat expiration dates, disposal is the only option, as using such seats can be very unsafe.

And if recycling, remember to follow car seat recycling protocols!


Frequently Asked Questions:

What do I do with old car seats near me?

You have a few options with an old car seat first locate a recycling center, you can donate to CPST to see if they need it for demonstration purposes.

Is Target doing a car seat trade in 2023?

Yes Target is doing a car seat trade in 2023 and the dates are September 11 until the 24th.

Can you reuse baby car seats?

Only if they follow this car seat checklist:

  1. You are 100% certain it wasn’t in a crash
  2. The model hasn’t been recalled
  3. It didn’t expire

How long is a car seat good for?

A car seat is good for 6 – 10 years depending on the brand and model. This can be easily checked on the back because there’s an expiration date attached.

Can you donate used car seats to Salvation Army?

No, Salvation Army doesn’t accept used or old car seats.

Can you donate used car seats to goodwill foundation?

No, the Goodwill foundation doesn’t accept used car seats.

What to do with old car seats?

There’s isn’t much to do:

  1. Recycle is your best bet
  2. Try if CPST could use it for demonstration purposes
  3. Check to See if you can do a car seat donation
  4. Target regularly runs trade-in programs

Where to donate car seat and stroller?

The truth is that it’s hard to donate a car seat because of the liability issues. As for strollers it’s much much easier. To donate a stroller check out local churches, salvation army, goodwill and shelters.

What to do with damaged car seats?

There’s nothing to do with them if you value child safety. Many parents will get a new seat to keep kids safe (children safe) so they get discarded. Maybe check the owner’s manual because most car seats have some suggestions. By recycling you might even get a discount coupon.

Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!