how to clean a pack and play

How to Clean a Pack N Play Mat …Without Ruining It!

Jul 29, 2021

How to Clean a Pack N Play Mat …Without Ruining It!

Ahead: A step-by-step guide to safely washing a Pack N Play mattress.

I’ve got bad news for you: Most of the Pack N Play cleaning hacks you’ve seen online should be avoided.

Cleaning your Pack N Play mattress correctly isn’t just a cosmetic or hygienic thing; it’s very much a safety thing too.

how to clean a pack and play

If you clean a Pack N Play incorrectly it can compromise the safety of the product by causing warping, sagging, bubbling, rotting, and loosening.

This is of serious consequence when the Pack N Play is used for sleep.

(A baby’s bed should be a completely safe space).

The good news is that there’s a perfectly effective way to clean a playard mattress without permanently damaging it.

In this guide, we’ll talk about how to easily clean a Pack N Play mat step by step.

Let’s dive in!

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how to clean pack n play

Do’s and don’ts of cleaning a Pack N Play mat


  • Use a damp cloth to clean the mattress. (Step-by-step guide below!)


  • Do NOT soak a Pack N Play mattress in the tub! Never submerge a Pack N Play in water.


  • Follow the directions in the user manual for how to clean the Pack N Play and all of its attachments.


  • Do NOT implement the Pack N Play cleaning hacks you see on Pinterest, even if they look impressive.


  • Use a gentle cleaning solution like household soap or detergent.


  • Do NOT use bleach to clean a Pack N Play.
Related: Pack N Play Weight Limits (and when to stop using one)


Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s talk about how to get that Pack N Play mat sparkling clean!

How to clean a Pack N Play step by step

Materials needed: 3 rags, 2 bowls, warm water, dish soap

(I used these soft towels and this dish soap.)

Grab that dirty Pack N Play mat!

Here is mine. Spit up stains for days.

dirty pack n play mat


Step 1:

Prepare one bowl of warm water mixed with soap and a second bowl of just warm water.

how to clean a pack and play

Step 2:

Use the first rag to clean the surface using the warm soapy water.

soap pack n play mat

Step 3:

Use the second rag, dipped in just water, to wipe away the soap.


Step 4:

Use the third rag to blot the surface dry. Then just let the mattress air dry.

I put mine out in the sunshine and it was dry in no time.

Look how clean it came out! Bye bye spit up stains.

clean pack n play air drying

What to do if the Pack N Play is still stained or smelly after you wash it

If you’ve followed the steps above and haven’t managed to remove the stains or odors, the best thing to do is repeat the process a second time.

Be sure to give the mattress a chance to air dry in between cleanings to avoid over-saturation.

If you think that extreme measures are needed to clean a really filthy playpen, you should probably just replace it.

Remember: While it’s tempting, do not try soaking the mattress in a tub. This will result in warping and bubbling and will make the mattress unsafe for sleep.

Next, we’ll talk about how to get a new mattress to replace the soiled one.

Related: Can a baby sleep in a pack and play​?

Options for replacing a Pack N Play mat that can’t be cleaned

If cleaning your Pack N Play didn’t work and you think it’s too dirty to use as is, let’s talk about your options.

First, it’s critical to note the following:

You should only obtain a replacement mattress DIRECTLY from the manufacturer.

Do not go on Amazon and just order something.

It’s important that the specific mattress has been safety tested with the playard as a unit. (More on this here.)

Here are the 2 safe ways to obtain a new mat:

Option 1:

Order a replacement part from the manufacturer.

  • Start by locating the model number of your Pack N Play. On most models this is located on a white rectangular sticker on the playard’s underside.
  • Take note of the date of manufacture as well.
  • Go to gracobaby .com/replacementparts and enter this information.
  • Select the part you need. The price will vary based on the model. (For reference, a replacement mattress for my Travel Lite costs $21).

Option 2:

Buy a new Pack N Play entirely.

This isn’t as pricey as you might think.

It’s also an attractive option if your entire playard is dirty, not just the mat.

I recently bought an extra Pack N Play (for the grandparents’ house) for just 40 bucks.

Check for sales.

If you have a BuyBuy Baby coupon, you can use it on a Pack N Play. (If you don’t have a coupon, you can sign up to receive them).

Amazon also sells cheap playards. (There’s no need to stick with the Graco brand, by the way).

Here’s the cheapest one I could find. (Pricing subject to change).

affordable playard

Read this next: New Mom Hacks (The Ultimate List of Lesser-Known Tips & Tricks)

Do you have a toddler between 1 and 4 years old?

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Email yourself this seriously great list of toddler stocking stuffer ideas to save for Christmas 2024.

FAQs about how to wash a Pack and Play

What if my Pack N Play mattress is sagging, warped, or bubbling?

If you suspect that your Pack N Play mattress has any sort of defect, you should discontinue use and contact the manufacturer about a replacement.

How to contact Graco:

How can I deep clean a used Pack N Play?

If you’ve recently bought or been handed down a used Pack N Play, it’s all the more important to make sure it’s sanitary for your baby.

That said, it isn’t safe to deep clean a Pack N Play by soaking it or using strong cleaners.

The best way to deep clean a used Pack N Play is to gently spot clean it (using the steps above), let it air dry, and repeat the process if needed.

Final thoughts on safely cleaning a Pack N Play

Be careful: There’s a whole lot of unsafe non-evidence-based baby care advice out there.

Don’t let an impressive “before and after” Pinterest graphic convince you to ignore the Pack N Play cleaning instructions in the user manual.

They are there for a reason.

The structural integrity of the mattress is just as important (if not more important) as the surface being clean.

Articles related to using a Pack and Play safely:

How to Clean a Pack N Play Mat …Without Ruining It!