Resources for parents to get through the challenges.

  1. Home
  2. Parenting

How To Clean a Pack n Play – Complete Guide

Whether you are a new parent or have years of experience, there is a high probability that you have at some point used a Pack n Play. This fantastic little invention provides parents with convenience, portability, and a safe place for your baby to play.

However, they have one huge drawback: they are one of the biggest hoarders of dirt and grime that you will ever see out of all your baby equipment.

To make matters worse, they are an absolute nightmare to clean. Most do not come with removable covers and are not suitable for machine washing.

So what do you do to ensure that your little one is not lying or playing in a Pack n Play germ fest?

Cleaning The Pack n Play Mat

Some parts of your Pack n Play are more prone to getting dirtier than others. One of these is the mat, but special care needs to be taken when cleaning this component of your pack n play.

Before any cleaning takes place, you need to check what materials the mat is made of. There are a few possibilities, and each one will require a slightly different cleaning method.

gloved hand holding sponge

Is It Made Of Cardboard?

If your mat is firm but feels like it has a sturdy cardboard or wood base covered with foam and material, these are not suitable for full immersion in water. This is because it is almost impossible to ensure that the wood/cardboard is completely dry.

This then leaves you with a soggy mat that can be the perfect breeding ground for mold. Definitely not suitable for your baby to use again!

But don’t panic. There is another way to clean this kind of mat by scrubbing it down, ensuring that the mat does not become wet or even spot cleaning for those minor marks and spots. The full cleaning method is below.

If you are not keen on washing your mat and it is relatively new and clean, you can purchase a sheet for it, which is very much like a cot sheet as shown below.

This Playard Sheet will help to keep the mat clean, and the sheet can be easily removed and washed when required.

Is Your Mat Made Of Plastic?

If your mat is made of foam or the base is plastic, it should be fine to submerge the mattress fully. I would advise that you check the manufacturers’ instructions before undertaking any cleaning.

Different Cleaning Methods

1. Scrub It Down

What you will need:

  • a bucket of warm water
  • 1/2 cup of baby-safe washing detergent
  • a soft-bristled scrubbing brush

This is one of the most obvious ways to clean your Pack n Play and can be done quickly and easily. The best time to do this is when the weather is sunny. You can take your Pack n Play outside to an area that you do not mind getting a bit wet.

Once in your area, you will need to remove the mat from the Pack n Play, and depending on what it is made from, follow the instructions above. For the rest of the Pack n Play, you need to use the solution that you mixed and using your scrubbing brush, scrub the entire Pack n Play, trying not to soak the material.

When it’s clean enough, you will need to rinse it off with water. This can either be warm or cold; it makes no difference at all. Then it needs to be left in the sun to air dry before using it again completely.

This method is best used when your Pack n Play is not very dirty but needs a little bit of freshening up as they often do!

2. Deep Clean Wash

This is the best way to clean a Pack n Play that is extremely dirty. If your Pack n Play has been in storage for a while, this will be a great way to get it ready for a new baby.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of baby-safe detergent
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar
  • bathtub

Fill your bathtub with warm to hot water and add the above solution ensuring that it is mixed in well. Remove the mattress from your Pack n Play. If it is a material that can be safely submerged, place it in the bathtub.

Fold up your Pack n Play and place in the tub, ensuring that it is covered in water and solution. Please leave it to soak for at least an hour. The longer you leave it, the better the result will be.

It would help if you then rinsed it either with the shower, take it outside, rinse using your water hose, and leave to air dry in the sunshine. If you have submerged your Pack n Play mat, please make sure that it is laid completely flat while it dries to prevent it from losing its shape.

You will need to give your bathtub a good scrub after cleaning your Pack n Play.


3. Regular Spot Cleaning

This is the best way to ensure that your beautiful Pack n Play stays looking and feeling like new for as long as possible is to make a spot clean part of your regular cleaning routine. This should prevent the need for a deep clean.

What you will need:

  • a spray bottle
  • a baby safe cleaning solution
  • white vinegar

In your spray bottle, make up a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water. This can be used to treat those little messes that occur all too often when you have little ones.

The first thing you need to do is spot a stain, mark, or spillage in your Pack n Play, which happens very often, especially as your baby gets older. If you dab the spot to soak up as much of the liquid, then spray it with the white vinegar and water solution.

Leave to soak for a few minutes then dab the area again. You may need to spray with a cleaning solution, and you will need to make sure that this is safe for your baby.

A natural cleaner like Better Life’s Natural All-Purpose Cleaner is probably a better option for a Pack n Play considering how much time your little one uses theirs.

Ensure that the Pack n Play is allowed to air dry completely.

Why It’s Important To Keep Your Pack N Play Clean

We all understand that we cannot keep our children from all dirt and germs, no matter how much you clean. But the regular cleaning of toys and baby equipment can ensure that they are kept safe from the bacteria that can cause them to become sick and unwell.

Fisher-Price recommends that children’s toys are only cleaned when they look particularly dirty but that those favorite toys or the ones that you carry in your diaper bag are cleaned at least once a week.

If you do not keep your Pack n Play clean either with regular spot cleaning or a deep clean, then there is the chance of mold building up over time.

The spot cleaning may not prevent the need for a deep clean once in a while, but it will help prolong the life of your Pack n Play or even replace it entirely.

FAQ How To Clean a Pack n Play

Can the Pack n Play warp after washing?

It is not the Pack n Play itself that will warp but the mat. This is usually the case if the mat is made from firm cardboard or chipboard, as when this becomes wet. It may start to splinter and break up.

It is also tough to ensure that it is completely dry. There is the potential for the damp conditions to breed mold.

We would recommend that if you have any concerns about fully submerging your Pack n Play mat that you do not and use the spot clean method mentioned above.

Are there any Pack n Plays on the market where the covers are removable?

Yes! There is a Pack n Play that comes with removable covers to make the cleaning process as simple as possible—the Ingenuity Packable Portable Playard Moreland.

I have no experience of this particular Pack n Play, but I do have my doubts as to how easy it would be to put back together again once washed.

Final Thoughts

Pack n Plays are a fantastic invention that offers parents convenience, portability, and a haven for their baby.

Although there is some issue with being able to clean these items thoroughly, there are ways to try and keep it in tip-top condition with spot cleaning regularly and using sheets on the mat to prevent them from getting soiled.

At some point in your parenting journey, you will have owned or will own a Pack n Play. I know as a parent that one of the biggest issues and concerns I had was how I was going to keep it clean and safe for my baby to use.

You now have that information to hand, but it will also make you aware of this issue when you are looking to purchase your next Pack n Play.