How To Clean Pack N Play Mattress: 9 Easy Safe Steps

Raising an infant is one of life’s biggest challenges, and a pack-n-play can be such a blessing during these tasking times. While embracing this though, you can’t afford to forget how vital it is to keep the mattress super-clean at all times! After using your toddler’s pack-n-play for everything from playtime, nap time, or even trips, how do you clean the dirty mattress?

Here are the easiest and safest steps on how to clean pack n play mattress:

  1. Take the mattress to a water-safe area.
  2. Read the user manual for your pack-n-play brand.
  3. Gather your cleaning materials.
  4. Run the mattress cover through a washing machine.
  5. Make a soap and vinegar mixture.
  6. Scrub the mattress with a microfiber cloth or brush.
  7. Wipe off the soap with a damp cloth.
  8. Dry-wipe the mattress with an absorbent cloth.
  9. Sun-dry the mattress in an open, airy spot.

How would you like to get walked through each step as you find out how to thoroughly clean your baby’s pack-n-play? Sounds great? Then, keep reading!

1. How To Clean Pack N Play Mattress: Take the Mattress to a Water-Safe Area

One of the first things you should know about cleaning a pack-n-play mattress is that, like any other mattress cleaning, it’s a very wet process. Immediately cleaning your toddler’s pack-n-play occurs to you, the next thing to think about is finding a water-safe area to get the job properly done.

The most popular cleaning area for pack-n-play parents worldwide is the bathroom. Considering how easy it is to get the mattress into your bathtub for a good scrub, that’s not particularly surprising! You don’t have to limit yourself to the bathroom, though. If it’s not a very convenient spot, any area you wouldn’t mind getting wet will do.

Cleaning your pack-n-play in the great outdoors can also be a good idea, especially when it’s sunny. The light helps you see the stains clearly as you clean, and the open air can help to ensure the mattress doesn’t get smelly. When you’re done, and it’s about time to sun-dry it, you won’t have a hassle setting it up! 

Here’s a caveat with washing your pack-n-play outdoors – choose a spot far away from plants. There’s a high chance that the soap, detergent, and vinegar you’ll use while cleaning can be toxic to plants. If you wash near them, the soap solution can soak and make its way into the plant parts to dehydrate or poison them.

2. Read the User Manual for Your Pack-N-Play Brand

We all hate user manuals. They’re boring and tell you stuff you already know in that tiny font everyone hates to read! Before you put off looking through the manual of your pack-n-play, though, there are reasons it’s pretty important. 

Different brands use various materials for making their pack-n-play sets and mattresses.These materials determine how to handle your toddler’s pack-n-play, including how to clean it safely. 

For example, if you submerge a pack-n-play mattress padded with wood or cardboard pad in water while trying to clean it, you’ll ruin the mattress! Even if the effect doesn’t show immediately, it’ll get a lot more uncomfortable for your baby to sleep and play in it.

Before diving headfirst into cleaning your mattress, it’s crucial that you look through the manual to ensure that whatever method you choose is safe for the particular mattress you’ll use it for. 

If there’s a cleaning strategy recommended by the manufacturer, it’s often better to try that before testing methods meant for all pack-n-play mattresses.

We don’t all stock up our houses with manuals, hoping that they’ll be useful someday, so if you’re having trouble finding yours, that’s alright. Type in your manufacturer’s number and the pack-n-play name, including the model number. 

You’ll either find an electronic version of the manual or direct cleaning instructions from a previous user.

3. Gather Your Cleaning Materials

Now that you’ve moved your mattress to a safe spot and confirmed the cleaning method you plan to use, it’s time to start the cleaning properly! Like any other cleaning exercise, an essential part of this process is gathering the materials you’ll need for it.

The supplies needed for cleaning a pack-n-play mattress include:

  • Three microfiber towels
  • Two bowls or buckets
  • Baby-safe laundry detergent
  • A mild household soap
  • Some warm water
  • A spray bottle
  • A soft brush
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda

It’s important to keep in mind that the residue of the cleaning products you use will come in prolonged close contact with your baby’s skin. 

This is why it’s best to avoid any harsh material when choosing your supplies. You should be particularly careful to avoid using harsh soaps or bleach.

4. Run the Mattress Cover Through the Washing Machine

This step isn’t universally applicable because not all pack-n-play mattresses have covers. If yours has one, it means some of the pee and drool you’ll need to wash out of the mattress has been absorbed by the cover instead.

How to wash pack n play mattress:

Mattress covers are removable, and unlike the mattress itself, most of the covers are machine-safe. You can get rid of half the dirt without even having to scrub yourself. Check the label on the corner of the cover to confirm what machine wash is safe for the fabric. If a hot-water cycle is safe, that’s a better option for getting the nasty germs out. 

Throw in some baby laundry detergent or any mild, unscented, hypoallergenic laundry soap with the mattress cover, and let your washing machine do the rest of the work!

5. Make a Soap and Vinegar Mixture

After getting your cleaning supplies together, you’ll need some water to create a mixture with all of them. The water is essential because it dilutes the ingredients like vinegar and baking soda that don’t have regulated components. 

You don’t want to create a whole other headache when trying to rinse out the cleaning supplies. Even worse, without proper dilution, you could end up with a mattress that smells strongly of vinegar or baking soda! Yuck.

If you’re scrunching your nose at that smelly thought too, that’s your sign to get some water boiling! You’ll need warm water because heated water is much more effective for dissolving dirt and making its way into the fabric to deep-clean it. 

What’s more – it takes out more nasty bacteria or viruses, so no disease stresses out the developing immune system of your little one. 

Unfortunately, you can’t often use boiling water for cleaning a pack-n-play mattress because it needs to be spot-cleaned with intermittent hand-dipping. You don’t want to burn your hands getting that mattress clean now, do you? 

Warm water doesn’t give as many cleaning benefits as hot water would, but it’s a good compromise for cleaning while keeping your hand safe. 

Now that you know why the soap-vinegar solution is so important, it’s time to get mixing! Here are the items you’ll need:

  • Half-volume of hot water
  • Half-volume of cold water
  • A half-cup of baby-safe laundry detergent
  • A quarter-cup of baking soda
  • A quarter-cup of vinegar

6. Scrub the Mattress With a Microfiber Cloth or Brush

Armed with your hands, willpower, and super-cleaning mix, it’s time to get all the dirt out of that pack-n-play mattress! 

how to clean pack n play mat: Add the Cleaning Solution to the Mattress

You can start by pouring the cleaning solution into a spray bottle and applying it to the mattress. Spraying is entirely optional, but it helps to wet the mattress section just enough to make it easier to clean spit-up stains.

It’s best to only spray a small section of the mattress that you’ll be cleaning immediately, especially if you’re cleaning outdoors. This section-by-section method helps to ensure that you don’t leave soap solution on some parts long enough to dry on the mattress and cake the dirt.

Clean with a Microfiber Cloth

After spraying a corner of the mattress, dip a microfiber cloth into a bowl or bucket of warm cleaning solution and gently clean the mattress. Check out how much dirt is coming out to remind yourself that all the hard work is worth it!

There’s something more important than the dirt that you should also check out, though – the state of the mattress. As you clean each section, examine how clean the mattress itself is getting. If a microfiber cloth doesn’t seem to be doing a thorough job, you can whip out a soft-bristled brush.

Remove Tough Stains with a Soft-Bristled Brush

It’s important to choose a brush without stiff bristles. These hard brushes can tear the fabric of the mattress and expose the material underneath. If the cleaning solution soaks into this material, the pack-n-play mattress would be as good as ruined.

Using the soft-bristled brush to gently clean the mattress should remove the stains that didn’t come out with the microfiber cloth. Remember to rinse out the cloth and brush at intervals to take out the dirt that gets into them as you clean.

Repeat Until The Mattress is as Clean as Possible

If the mattress isn’t clean as new yet, that’s alright! Depending on how dirty it is, you may need more than one round of cleaning. As the stains come out, you can make a fresh cleaning solution to take out more dirt. 

7. Wipe Off the Soap With a Damp Cloth

After thoroughly cleaning the pack-n-play mattress, you’ll need to get the residue of the cleaning solution out of it. You’d typically do this for other items by rinsing them, but most mattresses will get ruined by getting fully soaked with water. 

Unless you’ve confirmed through your manufacturer that it’s safe to soak your specific pack-n-play brand and model in water, that method won’t do.

Instead, you’ll need to use a rinsing version of the earlier spot cleaning. Dip an unused microfiber cloth or towel in pure warm water, and wipe the cleaned mattress with it. 

Like the previous spot-cleaning, it’s important to rinse the cloth at intervals while using it. If the bowl of water gets filled with cleaning solution, throw it out and get some fresh warm water to continue the rinse.

8. Dry-Wipe the Mattress With an Absorbent Cloth

After getting through the cleaning and “spot-rinsing,” you’ll need to dry the mattress. Air and sunlight are the most important parts of the drying process, but it’s important for you to start it off by wiping it thoroughly. Get another fresh, absorbent towel or microfiber cloth and dab the surface of the mattress with it.

Hold the cloth against sections of the mattress to absorb fluid through the fabric, and wring it out. Blot out all its sections this way until it’s reasonably dry. This is just a preliminary phase to the actual drying process, so if it doesn’t get as dry as you’d like, don’t worry about it!

9. Sun-Dry the Mattress in an Open, Airy Spot

You’re nearly done with cleaning your toddler’s pack-n-play, but there’s one last step to be super careful about! It’s crucial to properly dry the mattress because if any moisture is left in it, mold may form and ruin the mattress altogether.

The most effective tools for drying a pack-n-play mattress are sunshine and circulating air. Put the cleaned mattress out in the sun while it’s out, and turn it over every couple of hours to dry both sides. 

When the sun goes down, you can take the mattress indoors and lay it under a fan in a ventilated space with low humidity.

You may need to repeat the sun-drying process for a few days to dry it properly. Remember that a wet mattress is not safe for your little one, so if the pack-n-play still feels like it’s even slightly damp, leave it out to dry more.


That’s all you need to do to get your pack-n-play mattress clean as new again! It’s a challenging process, but the health of your precious one will always be worth it. If you’re not satisfied with the cleaning results despite your best efforts, you may need to repeat the process after drying. 

Dirt becomes more difficult to take out over time, so cleaning the mattress regularly will make the process much easier. I hope I have answered your question on how to clean pack n play mattress. A personal recommendation – clean the pack-n-play mattress at least once every month, and get more dazzling results each time!

Joe Carrow

Reno addict, keen gardener, and baker. I  started blogging in 2012 and have been hooked ever since!

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