How to Wash a Play Yard

A step by step guide

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on July 23rd, 2021

Can you wash a pack and play mat? How to do it right? This guide will empower you with effective tools and advice you need to sanitize your baby’s pack n play. We’ll save you lots of time and headaches! Scroll down!

If you’re a new parent thinking about what must-have baby stuff to buy, a pack ‘n’ play (playpen, play yard, or travel crib) should be one of your priorities! It provides so much convenience for both a baby and parents! A quality pack and play mattress can be a cozy and, more importantly, safe place for your little one to play and nap. But being used daily, this item will easily become dirty. That’s why you should know how to wash the pack n play properly to keep it clean and free from mildew or mold. However, a pack n play is not the easiest thing to clean – it may be quite bulky and usually just can’t be tossed in a washing machine.

Luckily, we’ve prepared a list of the most actionable cleaning tips so that you keep your baby’s playpen nice-looking, good-smelling, and, of course, hygienic. Read on to make sure your sweat little pea has the cleanest and safest place to play!

Why wash a pack n play?

Before getting into the details of how to clean a pack and play, let’s find out why you should do it on a regular basis.

Baby’s immune system is immature, making little ones prone to various infections. Naturally, germs are the worst parents’ enemies! However, as we all know, kids are messy creatures – they spill things, drool, spit-up, and make other messes – it creates an ideal environment for harmful bacteria, mold, and mildew to grow in the playpen. Besides, if not treated right away, stains may become permanent, making the mattress so unattractive. 

If you are expecting your next kid and planning to use your existing pack n play, do sanitize it! It’s accumulated dust and germs and you want to get rid of them before you put your new baby there!

There are several ways to wash a pack and play. Whether you go with just one method or switch between them is entirely up to you and the type of model you own. So, let’s take a closer look at the ways of cleaning your baby’s pack n play!

How to clean pack n play?

Before cleaning a play yard, check the manual and find out whether there are any specific instructions and what kind of detergent or cleansers are recommended to use. For instance, some brands recommend using household soap and lukewarm water and avoid bleach when washing. Some pack n plays have machine washable cover, making the user’s life easier. Some models feature mattresses that can’t be submerged in the water and you can only wipe them clean.

So, again, don’t forget to look through the manual or visit the brand’s website for cleaning instructions!

Spot cleaning

This technique is effective for fresh spills and stains.

  1. Blot the stain – use a paper towel or a dry cloth to soak up the moisture.
  2. Dip a sponge in a diluted detergent solution and spot clean the dirty area. You can use a hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested detergent or natural cleaner (one part water to one part white vinegar).
  3. Flush the stain with water. If you can’t place the area under the faucet, dip a sponge into clear water, blot at the stain, and ensure no detergent residue remains.
  4. Allow the spot to completely dry. Do not use a hairdryer to speed up the process – if the stain wasn’t fully removed, the heat may set the stain permanently.
  5. To make your life easier, you can use baby-friendly disinfectant wipes instead of damp sponges or cloths.


If your baby spends lots of time in the pack n play, you should not only spot clean it but also thoroughly wash it at least twice a month. The item may seem completely fine and clean, but you may be shocked at how much-hidden grime can come out!

As we touched on above, prior to washing, check the material the mattress is made of. If it feels like cardboard or wood, hand scrubs it without getting it too wet. So, how to scrub it down?

  1. Take the entire pack and play outside or place it in the bathroom where you don’t mind dripping a little bit and getting some of the surrounding area wet.
  2. If the mattress has a cover, take it off and toss it to the washing machine (if it’s machine washable).
  3. Prepare a cleaning solution – dilute a baby-safe detergent in the pail of warm water.
  4. Take the mattress out of the playpen and scrub it thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush and cleaning solution. Then scrub down the whole playpen inside and out. Make sure not to soak the pack n play!
  5. If you are cleaning the pack n play outside, rinse it well with a hose until the water runs clear. Rinse the mattress and pack n play separately and, again, don’t soak it! If you wash the item inside, rinse it in the shower.
  6. It’s best to leave the pack n play outside to let it air dry in the sun. The sun will also help sanitize it. But if you can’t leave it outside, choose a sunny spot inside of your home, it’ll also work well.

Do not let your kid play or nap in the playpen until it’s completely dry!

Deep clean in a bathtub

If your pack n play is particularly messy, e.g., you took it to the camping trip and it’s become super gross after it, the best way to sanitize it will be deep cleaning, if the material allows, of course. 

  1.   Take the mattress out and place it in the bathtub.
  2. Fold the frame and put it on the mattress to hold it down in the bathtub.
  3.  Fill the tub with warm water.
  4. Make a cleaning solution – mix 120ml of baby-friendly detergent, 60ml of vinegar, and 60ml of baking soda, if you use powdered detergent, mix it with water in advance. Pourinthismixtureasthetubisfilling.
  5. Leave the pack n play to soak for an hour. If it’s not fully submerged in the water, flip it in 40 minutes and leave it for another 30-40 minutes.
  6. Take the pack n play outside and rinse it with the hose or use the shower to rinse it.  If the item is way too dirty, you may want to soak it in soapy water again.
  7. It’s important to let the pack and play air dry in the sun, the mattress should get airflow around it.

Do not put it back in use until it’s completely dry, after that check all locking mechanisms and moving parts to ensure they work properly.

Final tips

  • If you still don’t have this piece of magic and you’re thinking about how to choose a pack n play, opt for a model with a removable, machine washable cover – it’ll be easier to clean and maintain.
  • Do avoid harsh chemicals and disinfectants when you clean the pack n play – such solutions are dangerous for kids.
  • Clean the pack n play thoroughly and as often as possible – it’ll give you peace of mind as your baby plays and naps in it or tries to gnaw on the mesh sides.
  • No matter the item is brand new or has been through several babies, with our tips you’ll be able to keep germs and bacteria at a minimum.

Have more ideas on how to wash a playpen? Leave a comment with your favorite piece of advice and wisdom for new parents!

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on July 23rd, 2021

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