That slippery grey thing between your child's chest and safety in the event of a car accident. It's so easy to use when brand new but what stays new when you have little ones?
Too soon its gummy, covered in goldfish dust, and who knows what else (just don't think about it). It's twisted, the buckle doesn't slide as nicely as it used to, and you mutter in disgust when using it then promptly forget all about it once the kids are strapped in (unless you have unbucklers, in which case, may the force be with you).
The harness has a pretty important job.
Aside from keeping your little mountain lion from climbing all over the car while you are driving the harness's purpose is to keep kids in the car seat in a crash but more importantly it's designed to minimize the child's forward movement as much as possible during a crash.
In crash test studies the forward movement of the child's head directly relates to their risk of critical injury. Meaning that the further forward a child's head moves during a crash the higher the likelihood the child will have a major injury. In studies this term is called the Head Injury Criteria (HIC).
So the grimy, gross harness needs to be in tip top shape to do its job.
Parents have a lot to do - deep cleaning the harness all the time doesn't have to be complicated.
Harness care is simple:
Keep the harness free from twists - Folding the harness into a triangle makes it easy to remove twists.
Keep the harness properly tightened and clip at armpit level - you should not be able to pinch the harness when tightened
Wipe it down occasionally with a damp cloth - never soak the harness this can weaken it.
No visible frays or wear - replace the belt if it is visibly damaged
Keep that harness in ready-to-go condition and your trips will be safer and hassle free!