Chances are, if you’re going to have a baby or already have a couple of little ones, you know what a pack and play is.
And if so, you also know that it doesn’t necessarily refer to the actual name brand Graco Pack ‘n Play, but instead an overall arching term for playpens and portable play yards for babies and toddlers.
That being said, at some point, you’re going to be wondering how to clean a pack and play since germs are one of your worst enemies as the parent of a small child. The good news is that it’s easy enough for the most part and that, regardless of what kind of portable play yard you have, there’s at least one way to sanitize and clean it on a regular basis. It may not always be a quick and easy wipe down, but it can give you peace of mind as your little one naps in it or tries to gnaw on the mesh sides.
Before getting into the details of how to clean a pack and play, it’s probably best to consider all of the different options you have to choose from. There is, of course, the standard and tried and true Graco Pack ‘n Play, but it does go much deeper than that.
If you happen to find yourself down the rabbit hole of pack and plays and portable play yards, you’ll likely learn about the many other options. Like the Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard or the Lotus Travel Crib, which both offer tons in terms of convenience and comfort.
Then you have the 4Moms Breeze Go Portable Play Yard, which is similar to the Pack ‘n Play and also an affordable option. You can’t really go wrong with any of these packs and play options, and once you’ve decided on which one to buy for your own child, you’re going to want to know how to keep it clean and free from mildew or mold.
There are three main ways to clean and sanitize your pack and play. Whether you choose to go with just one method or switch between them is entirely up to you, but it’s always nice to have choices. It might also depend on how deep of a cleaning you want to do when it comes to your particular pack and play yard.
If there are some intricate pieces to fold and put back together, you might want to go with a simpler method of cleaning your pack and play. But at least routinely, you’re going to want to get in a deep clean.
- 1 Different Cleaning Methods
- 2 Why It’s Important
- 3 Choosing A Pack And Play
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Final Thoughts
Different Cleaning Methods
1. Scrub It Down
This might be one of the more obvious ways to clean your pack and play, but it’s an approachable way to get it clean any time. To effectively clean and scrub down your pack and play or play yard, you should take the entire thing outside or to an area in your home where you’ll have a little more room or don’t mind getting some of the surrounding area wet.
If the crib mattress has a mattress pad cover, take that off and run it through the washer (machine washable). Then, take the actual mattress out of the pack and play. Mix a solution of a half cup of safe detergent in a bucket of warm water and use a scrub brush to literally scrub down every inch of the pack and play and mattress. Then rinse the entire thing thoroughly. If you’re outside, you can do this with a hose. Or, alternatively, you can potentially rinse the pack and play clean in your shower (much better than a spot clean). Afterwards, leave everything out to air dry, preferably out in the sun.
2. Deep Clean Wash
If your baby has made a particularly large or thorough mess in his or her pack and play, you might need to do more of a deep clean. Regardless, though, you might want to get in a good deep cleaning every few weeks just to be safe.
To do so, take the mattress out of the play yard and fold the pack and play up. In its folded position place, it and the mattress pad in your bathtub. As you fill the tub with warm to hot water, add in a mixture of a half cup of detergent, one-fourth cup of baking soda, and one-fourth cup of vinegar. Then, allow the totally submerged pack and play mattress to soak in the tub for at least one hour. Afterward, drain the tub and either spray it down in the shower or outside and leave it to dry completely out in the sun.
3. Regular Spot Cleaning
The third way to clean a pack and play is probably a given, but it might be the easiest way to ensure that your pack and play is always in the best shape it can be. Just stay on top of spills, messes, or stains. To do this, dab a soiled area when you see it and then use a spray mixture that’s one part water and one part white vinegar to spot clean the area afterward gently. You can also use your choice of gentle or all natural spray cleaner from the store, but remember that this is an area your little one will spend a lot of their time, so any cleaning products should be virtually harmless.
Why It’s Important
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that baby toys be cleaned regularly to get rid of both dirt and germs. No set rule says you should clean your child’s toys every single day or even on a set schedule. But it’s safe to say that the same goes for a pack and play. And to prevent a buildup of mold or mildew in your child’s pack and play, it’s important to adopt at least one of these methods of cleaning.
There is a chance that mold can build up over time if you don’t keep your pack and play properly sanitized. It might also get stained if you don’t stay on top of spills or common baby messes. It might be difficult to keep it spot cleaned on a regular basis, but in order to prevent further issues with the cleanliness of your pack and play, you can avoid worse problems that might result in getting rid of the play yard altogether.
Choosing A Pack And Play
Of course, before you can get ready to keep your pack and play clean, you’re going to need actually to find the right pack and play for your family. There’s no wrong option as long as you find a comfortable and long-lasting play yard for your little one, but there are a few top options to choose from. Then, you can work on keeping it clean and sanitized.
Most parents know enough about the Graco Pack ‘n Play to know that it’s one of the top affordable options as a portable play yard and portable crib mattress. It can be used for little ones up to 30 pounds and even has an infant bassinet insert on the top. There are two wheels affixed to two of the legs so you can easily move the Pack ‘n Play around your home as needed. But thanks to the other two legs, it can stay in place easily without rolling around involuntarily. The play yard also has automatic folding feet to make it easy to travel (travel crib) with the Pack ‘n Play.
Child Size Range: It’s suitable for children up to 30 pounds or 35 inches.
Where To Buy: You can find it on the manufacturer’s website and Amazon or in-store at Buy Buy Baby and Target.
Has This Been Recalled?: There are no recent, or current recalls on the Graco Pack ‘n Play.
Nearly 50% larger than most traditional playard with over 10 square feet of space, baby has plenty of room to play and stay entertained. Reliable, durable and built for endurance.
The Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard might be on the higher end of the price scale, but that’s because it’s a high-quality option. It has four mesh sides for breathability and to allow your little one to see out and for you to see in while they play or nap. It also has two wheels to move it where you need to and can fold up with ease to take on the go. It is, however, larger than your standard play yard. So while it might be a tad more difficult to travel with, it does provide more room for your child.
Child Size Range: It’s made for children up to 35 inches tall.
Where To Buy: You can find it on the manufacturer’s website and on Amazon.
Has This Been Recalled?: There are no recent or current recalls on the Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard.
The Lotus Travel Crib is lightweight enough for easy travel and to be able to take it pretty much anywhere, even on flights.
It doesn’t have wheels like some other similar play yards, but it does have all mesh sides, which make it a little easier to keep clean. And if you want to get down on the floor with your little one, you can zip down the side panel to play or have tummy time with your baby while they play in the play yard. It also comes with a carrying bag that has convenient backpack straps, which certainly sets it apart from some other play yards.
Child Size Range: It’s designed for little ones from 0-3 years old.
Where To Buy: You can find it on the manufacturer’s website and on Amazon.
Has This Been Recalled?: There are no recent or current recalls on the Lotus Travel Crib.
It opens and closes in one step. Just push down on the central hub to open and pull up to close - the latches are automatic and there's no tricky sequence of steps. Designed for on-to-go - just what you need to provide baby a safe place to sleep or play.
The 4Moms Breeze Go Portable Playard might have one of the easiest open and close methods. With just one push, you can open the play yard, and with one pull, you can close and fold it up. It has a convenient travel bag, and although it’s a little on the larger side for a travel play yard, it can be used away from home or around the house. And since it’s so easy just to pack it up and go, there’s little reason not to want to take it anywhere with you.
Child Size Range: It’s designed for children up to 30 pounds.
Where To Buy: You can find it on the manufacturer’s website and Amazon.
Has This Been Recalled?: There are no recent, or current recalls on the 4Moms Breeze Go Portable Playard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Well, yes, in some cases. A great tip is not to get the board wet. If you soak the pack and play it can warp and splinter if it gets wet. This is because it doesn’t dry well and can mold inside.
What we suggest is mixing in half a cap of baby laundry detergent, a little bit of vinegar and 2 tbsps baking soda. When you mix these, submerge your Pack N Play mat.
There are plenty of benefits of having a pack and play in general. Not only does it afford you the ability to give your child a safe and comfortable resting spot when you’re away from home, but it can also make nap time a little easier when you’d rather have them close by rather than in their bedroom.
Plus, it gives you the ability to keep an eye on your child while they play instead of worrying that they might venture off the moment you turn your back.
And since almost every parent has a pack and play of some kind, or will eventually, it’s important to know how to clean it properly. No, you don’t need to do a deep clean every single day or even every week.
But the first step is knowing how to clean a pack and play thoroughly to keep it as germ-free as possible.
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