If you have not already figured it out, babies are gross. Between blowouts and spit-up, sippy cup leaks and snack crumbs, parents of very young babies and toddlers may frequently find themselves cleaning up messes left behind by their little ones. This becomes a major concern in play areas with baby mats in them.
Different types of play mats will require different cleaning methods. You may be able to use water, throw your playmat in the washing machine, or even take it outside and hose it off. However, your method for cleaning the playmat is going to depend entirely on what materials it is made of.
Taking care of your baby’s play mat is important because it comes in direct contact with your baby’s skin. You will want to read each section of this article carefully to determine how to best care for your baby’s play mat.
How do you clean baby play mats?
Cleaning your baby’s playmat properly is an important task. Your baby’s skin will frequently come into contact with his/her playmat so you want to be sure that you are using baby-friendly materials to keep his/her playmat clean.
Further, certain types of playmats may frequently be stepped on and if you have pets in your home, then your play mats are exposed to even more germs, dirt, and debris. Protecting your baby from these germs and debris is probably pretty high on your priority list, so you want to do your research and learn how to properly clean your play mat.
Some play mats may be safe to put in the washing machine, and this is a dream for busy parents everywhere. Other mats may need to be vacuumed, scrubbed with soap and water, taken outside to be hosed off, and some may even be sensitive enough that they need to be spot cleaned only.
Let’s check out all of the different materials that your playmat might be made from to see the best method for cleaning each one.
Foam is an extremely popular material for play mats for babies and young children. It is soft, relatively durable, and it is inexpensive. Foam mats are soft enough that parents and childcare centers can be assured that toddling babies can safely fall or roll around without sustaining injuries.
If you are interested in foam playmats, particular EVA foam mats, then I have a resource all about those right here along with recommendations on the safest mat for your baby. Don’t forget that not all foam is created equally and some kinds might not be the best for your baby!
However, foam mats require special consideration when it comes time to clean them. Avoiding harsh chemicals is a high priority for every material of playmat. They also tend to soak up most cleaning materials and hold onto them for a long period of time. Remember, your child’s skin will come into direct contact with whatever you choose to use on their playmats. There are tons of all-natural recipes that do a wonderful job as cleaning agents.
One of the best things about cleaning large foam mats is that they can be mopped like any regular floor. Of course, you will want to sweep or vacuum away any loose dirt and debris first. Simply mix a solution of water, vinegar, and essential oils (optional for scent) and use a mop as you would on any hard floor. You can also wipe them down with a soft cloth instead of a mop using the same solution if you prefer.
If the foam mat has a stain, you could try to soak it with this solution for a short while to see if it will break up the stain. Unfortunately, foam stains can be very difficult to remove.
When my babies first started crawling, we covered our living room floor with large interlocking foam puzzle mats. These are usually made from foam, but they are a nightmare to keep clean, or at least they were in my case.
I found that I needed to spot clean them daily and give them a good scrub once a week. While I used the same cleaning solution mentioned above (water, vinegar, essential oil) I chose not to use a mop on the puzzle mat flooring. Using a mop on these floors will allow water to seep through the seams of each puzzle piece.
A rubber play mat can be cleaned with the same method listed above. You can mop it with a solution of water, vinegar, and essential oil. Avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals on anything that comes into contact with your baby’s skin.
If you get a stain on a rubber mat that you want to treat, avoid using chemicals to get it out. A simple paste made from baking soda and water will allow you to scrub a stain off of a rubber playmat. Spread the paste over the stain and let it sit for about ten minutes. Scrub the stain off with a damp wet rag and your play mat will look as good as new.
Since rubber doesn’t absorb liquids easily, they are a bit more forgiving when it comes to spills than foam mats!
My babies loved to play on the fabric floor time playmats when they were very young. They are great because they can often double as carpets and can help make a room with hard floors safer for your baby to play in. However, those fabric play mats really took a beating between blowouts and spit up while my babies were playing on them.
Luckily, most fabric playmats are safe to wash in the washing machine with a mild (safe for babies) detergent. Follow the washing instructions for your particular brand, but you probably want to use cold water and wash on gentle. In some cases, you may be asked to hand wash your fabric playmats. This can be done in the sink.
Like foam, fabric mats are going to absorb everything and stains can easily set in if you aren’t paying attention.
I’ve never actually seen a plastic bottom play mat, but there are a ton of plastic play yards available for purchase on the market. In general, plastic is always the easiest material to clean in the playroom because it doesn’t absorb liquids and almost everything can be scrubbed off with a little soap and water.
If a simple solution of warm, soapy water won’t do the trick, this material can be wiped down with a solution of water and vinegar. It is safe to add essential oils for smell if desired.
Water mats are typically made of plastic and are therefore pretty easy to clean. My youngest baby adored her inflatable water mat designed for tummy time. This was an excellent tool for developing fine and gross motor skills, and it was super easy to keep clean.
Whenever she was done using it, I simply wiped it down with a natural cleaning wipe or scrubbed it gently with a solution of water and vinegar. This may have been one of the easiest toys to keep clean that we have ever owned.
Tummy time mats with fabric and padding
These tummy time mats with fabric and padding are extremely popular. For the most part, they are designed to be thrown into the washing machine and washed on delicate. Most of these mats have Velcro pieces that will need to be removed before washing. Also, be sure that any electronic pieces are removed as well.
You can spot clean fabric tummy time mats with a solution of baking soda and water if you don’t have time to wash the whole thing in the laundry. Simply let the solution soak on a stain for about ten minutes and then scrub away with a clean, damp washcloth.
Baby Care brand playmats are a natural brand that is safe for baby and they are an extremely popular choice for eco-friendly families. Cleaning a Baby Care mat is made super easy and all you need is water and a clean washcloth. Simply wipe away any spills or messes with water and a washcloth. Vinegar can be added if a disinfectant is required.
How often should you clean baby play mats?
Baby playmats ideally should be spot cleaned after every use. Unless my children are some kind of anomaly, then playmats can get extremely messy extremely quickly. Be sure to wipe away dirt and debris before each use. Spot clean after each use.
For a more thorough cleaning, I prefer to mop/wash frequently used baby items once per week to keep the germs away. However, you should use your own discretion for this. You may notice that your baby items need to be cleaned more often or less often. This will also depend on how often your baby uses each item.
Once you are done cleaning up your playmat, you might be interested in cleaning up other toys in the playroom. I’ve created a resource that covers all kinds of cleaning methods that you can use on baby toys. You can find it right here!