I like to think of myself as a pretty clean person. Most days. But truth be told, I know exactly how I avoided this chore – over and over again. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I let my daughters playpen get this dirty. We just love our playpen time!
Playpen time. Did you know that scheduled playpen time is so important for your baby’s development and overall well being?
According to Babywise author and child development experts, Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D., using a playpen as part of the babies day is invaluable. You can read more about why playpen time is so important in my blog post, Developmental Benefits of Playpen Time for your Baby. I swear by Babywise. Seriously. That sh*t is MAGIC. Effing sorcery. Straight up.
In preparation for our upcoming trip to Tennesee, I knew we would be bringing our pack n’ play (aka playpen aka portacrib aka baby jail) for my little to sleep in and it desperately needed to be clean.
The first thing I always do when I need to get something done – I head to Pinterest!
💪So one brave day, I took the bull by the horns and cleaned our playpen!
I wrestled with some serious mom guilt for not cleaning the playpen sooner. Sometimes you just got to let that sh*t go. I’m working on that too.💀
These before and after photos are seriously shocking!
I want to show you how I cleaned my pack n’ play and how you can clean yours too!
I don’t know about you but I think that ‘After’ water is seriously shocking. I’ve seen a lot of ‘Before and After’ photos of playpen water floating around Pinterest but seeing it first hand – in my own bathroom left me feeling more horrified than I had imagined.
So the first thing you’re going to want to do is to determine what material YOUR playpen mattress is made of. Mine is made of cardboard so it’s not going in the bathtub but I have friends who have mattresses made of plastic so you need to first figure out what yours is made of.
WARNING! Do NOT put the cardboard base in the bathtub. It WILL warp and look stupid, like mine. Because I put mine it in the bathtub, stupidly.
Make sure your bathtub is relatively clean, remember you’re trying to clean this thing. However, don’t worry about cleaning your tub first, if you are anything like me, the tub will be gross when we are done.
Trust me, clean it after.
If the thought of cleaning your tub makes your groan or otherwise try to convince yourself that the playpen isn’t that dirty then you are cleaning your bathtub wrong. Forget everything you learned about cleaning your bathtub. I have a simple recipe for a Magic No Scrub Tub Cleaner. I’ll link it again at the bottom.
So now there are no excuses – We are really going to do this.
Go ahead and fill your bathtub up with the hottest water possible.
Be careful! It can definitely burn you, I speak from experience. 😡
You will then add:
1/4 cup Baking Soda
1/4 cup Oxiclean
1/2 cup Vinegar
1/2 a lid full of Downy Free and Clear fabric softener
I like to put the baking soda and Oxiclean in a little plastic baggy and give it a good shake before pouring it into the stream of hot water.
You will then add the vinegar and gentle fabric softener. And use a wooden spoon to stir it all up, making sure that the baking soda and Oxiclean are all dissolved.
Loosely fold up your playpen, making sure to keep the netting loose and not bunched on the inside. You definitely want to make sure that gets cleaned! I don’t know about you but my daughter is constantly smushing her face up against the mesh walls.
Allow the playpen to soak for at least 1 hour, rotating it after 30 minutes.
While that soaks and your kid naps, (because I know you did not try to do this while they were awake) we will clean the mattress. I like to have my baby jail available during all wake hours, you know, just in case. 😉
We happen to use 409, I’m sure there is a better option to be using on the mattress. We spray it onto the mattress then take a wet rag and scrub it down really well. The mattress should be then placed outside to be dried by the sunshine. 🌞
⏰👆After an hour remove the playpen from the bathtub.
You should have an old towel handy, things could get a little wet. Oh, and don’t be wearing something nice. My shirt got a little dirty, it was a downer because I happened to actually like what I was wearing. So go put on your cleaning clothes! 😘
Lift the playpen up and out of the water, letting the water drain out by tilting from side to side and gently squeezing the padded railings. I then have an old grunge towel handy (Yes, like Nirvana 😂) and quickly put the folded playpen into the towel and carry it outside!
Next step it to hose that baby down! 🚿
DO NOT SKP THIS STEP. Now, you may be tempted to skip this tiny detail – know that I’ve been there before. Just let me tell you, you’ve loosened up most of that dirt and grime but really need to get it off. I have skipped rinsing in the past and my results were less than desirable. When it didn’t get rinsed, it didn’t look very clean at all. Hosing it off is critical to ensuring a clean playpen.
☀Sunshine, sunshine, its fine ☀
Now its time to let nature do the rest! Place your playpen in a spot with plenty of sunshine. Mine typically dries in 2-4 hours. Yours may take more or less time depending on where you live.
Whew! You wouldn’t believe the disgusting film it left in the bathtub! Poor Baby.
Good thing I have just the thing that will literally make this tub sparkling WITHOUT scrubbing. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that you have everything you need to make it!
I promise you this DIY No-Scrub Magic Tub Cleaner, will work. No Pinterest fails here today!
So when was the last time you cleaned your playpen?
If you use your playpen like I do, you should be deep cleaning it at least once every 3 months.
I know it may seem like an annoying job but it really isn’t that much work and the benefits of KNOWING its clean far exceed the labor.
Do you use a sheet for a playpen? I know I never did because I thought they were a waste of money, but I have a tutorial for making your own! So simple – You only need basic sewing skills. Read the tutorial here and decide for yourself!
If you’re interested in tips for traveling with a baby, check out my post here about my favorite gear for long-haul flights and long vacations!