Last Updated: Jun 5, 2023 @ 6:06 pm.

What is the best car seat protector? Mats that go under car seats to protect vehicle seats are popular . . . and controversial. Some car seat makers prohibit their use; others allow them (or specific ones). Yet seat protectors are popular, helping protect a vehicle's seats from dirt, spills and grime. This article focuses on which protectors are ok to use with which car seats. To figure that out, we checked car seat manuals and consulted with car seat makers. Then we tested the mats ourselves. Here are the winners.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. To keep things independent, we don't take money or freebies from brands we review! Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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Best for Graco seats

Mesh storage pockets are nice extra touch
Graco allows most car seat protectors—and this one came out tops in our tests. Easy to install and affordable. We also liked how easy it is to clean. Downsides: it can slide on leather seats.

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Best for Graco seats: Lusso Gear’s Car Seat Protector

Let’s talk protective mats for vehicle seats. There’s no escaping it: some car seats have sharp edges. When you tightly install these seats, they can sometimes damage your vehicle’s interior—leaving dents or marks on the seat.

Even if your car seat doesn’t have sharp edges, kids and cars can be a messy combo—muddy feet get seat backs dirty and juice boxes can spill. Protective mats help protect against the worst dirt and grime.

So, it’s simple—just get a protective mat, right? Well, no. As with any accessory you might use with a car seat, you should always consult your car seat maker’s instruction manual first.

That’s where things get tricky. Some car seat makers (Chicco, Cybex, Peg Perego) do not allow ANY mats to be used under their seats. Other car seat makers (Britax, Diono) only allow their own brand of mats. Good news: some popular seat makers like Graco actually give you the green light on any vehicle seat protectors.

Before you purchase any of these mats, however, check your car seat’s instruction manual to determine if the mat is allowed! While these recommendations were valid and correct as of publishing time, things can change.

So let’s start with Graco—for these seats, we like Lusso Gear’s Car Seat Protector. Here’s why:

What We Liked

• Easy to install and clean. In our testing, we found the adjustable straps easy to use to attach this protector to the headrest.

• Mesh storage pockets. 

• Protects both the seat and seat back. Not all protectors do this!

Affordable. This was among the more padded seat protectors we tested, despite the affordable price!

• Front apron offers good coverage to keep muddy feet off the seat.

What Needs Work

• Can slide on some leather seats. We didn’t see this in our testing, but other users reported this problem.

• Strong smell when removed from the package. Give this seat protector a few days to air out before installing.

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Best for UPPAbaby seats

Raised edges to contain spills—fantastic!
Approved for use by UPPAbaby, this protector impressed with how easy it is to clean and install. Grippy fabric prevents sliding. But it can leave marks on seat. And didn't work well in middle seats.

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Best for UPPAbaby seats: Munchkin Brica Elite Seat Guardian Car Seat Protector

This seat protector is among the more popular ones on the market today—and after testing it in person, we see why. It is well made and easy to install. But it also has some shortcomings. Here’s a rundown:

What We Liked

 Easy to clean fabric impressed us. And the raised edges contain spills from juice boxes.

• Smart design leaves space for LATCH connectors. 

• Easy to install. The blue plastic bumpers did a good job keeping the seat protector in place.

What Needs Work

• Can leave marks on leather seats. The blue gripper bumpers have their share of critics, who complaint they can leave marks on leather seats. And that’s not why you get a seat protector! One tip: you can remove the bumpers from the bottom of the mat to prevent this from happening.

• Apron not as big as the Lusso seat protector reviewed earlier in this article.

• Doesn’t work on middle seats in some vehicles. That’s because this mat’s large size covers up the seat belt attachments.

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Best for Diono seats

Loved the front apron storage pockets
Diono only allows this seat protector for its seats. Good thing it is well designed—easy to install, grips well and is easy to clean. But it can be slippy on leather seats.

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Best for Diono seats: Diono Car Seat Protector

Diono only recommends its car seat protector mat be used with its car seats—and good news, this mat is actually well designed and affordable. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Front apron with storage. 

• Includes sun block shield to keep the seat cool when your child isn’t in the seat—that’s a nice bonus.

• Easy installation. This mat grips well, thanks to a design with a tongue at the back that slides into the seat bite.

• Easy to clean.

• Affordable.

What’s Needs Work

• Can slide on some leather seats. We didn’t see this in our testing, but we see other reports that this could happen.

• Grippy dots on underside of mat can melt in extreme heat. We see reports from Arizona and Texas that during extreme summer heat, the grippy dots on this seat protector can actually melt! So this may not be the best mat to use if you live in such a climate.

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Best for Britax seats

No-slip rubber material is a winner
The only seat protector Britax recommends, this one only protects the seat (not the seat back). Good news: it doesn't slide around. Bad news: wide width makes it hard to use in middle position.

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Best for Britax seats: Britax Vehicle Seat Protector

Britax is one of the most popular car seat makers today—and they have their own seat protector that is offered as an accessory. It is the only mat the brand says can be used with their seats. So how does it stack up? Here’s an overview:

What We Liked

• No sliding around. The grippy material of this seat protector does its job well—it doesn’t slide around on seats.

• Ridge catches liquid spills.

• Lower apron protects again muddy shoes.

• Thick rubber mat. Unlike other mats that are made of fabric, this one has sturdy rubber that makes it waterproof.

What’s Needs Work

• Only covers seat, not seat back. This is a major bummer, as most folks would like to also protect the seat back.

• Expensive.

• Hard to use in middle seat, because the mat is rather wide.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby gear, including car seats and accessories, since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews.

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