You've made a great decision by choosing a foam play mat for the area where your baby or toddler likes to play. They are safe, strong and durable and look like an inviting place for little ones to spend time. Elegant designs and non-toxic materials make mats such as the Toddlekind Playmat the perfect choice for stylish family homes.
But we all know that sooner or later (probably sooner) they are going to get pretty mucky and you'll need to find out how to clean foam play mats fast!
It is important to clean play mats correctly so that they look their best and moulds and bacteria do not get a chance to multiply. We've found a tried and tested method for cleaning a foam mat that's quick and easy and avoids using harsh chemicals that could irritate your baby's delicate skin. It's broken down into 10 easy steps for busy parents to follow so that you can get that foam mat back in action in under an hour!
Step #1 Check the play mat care instructions
Foam play mats will come with care instructions provided by the manufacturer. They are usually provided as a leaflet but if you have lost this, the information will be available on their website.
Foam mats can be made from different types of materials so finding out what you can and cannot clean your baby play mat with is an important first step and one that many parents overlook.
Step #2 Choose your cleaning solution
Your chosen cleaning solution must be effective at removing the type of material that ends up on baby foam mats. This is generally food and drink but a few leaking nappies, dribbles and runny noses are usually thrown into the mix as well. Foam mats used by toddlers can get covered in glue and paint after craft sessions.
Just as importantly, your cleaning solution must be safe for your baby. So, it is best to avoid harsh and toxic cleaning materials and instead opt for a safe and natural product. You could use the same cleaning solution that you use for toys. A simple dish soap solution is a popular option. Alternatively, you could make your own natural detergent water solution using baking soda or a vinegar solution.
Store your baking soda or vinegar solution in a spray bottle and always patch test the play mat to make sure that it will not be stained or damaged. Some people like to add essential oils to the solution but this is a matter of personal taste.
Step #3 Prepare for the cleaning process
Collect everything you need to clean the foam play mat in one place so that you don't waste time running around collecting cleaning materials once you have started. Many parents clean baby play mats whilst their baby is having a nap so you need to work in a time-efficient way. You will need:
- A vacuum cleaner or a dustpan and brush
- A gentle detergent solution or a natural cleaner
- A soft dish scrub brush
- A bowl of hot water
- A soft cloth or towel for drying
Step #4 Remove particles of dirt from play mat
Remove dust and crumbs from the entire mat. Crumbs and dirt are the easiest material to be removed but you need to be thorough. A vacuum is ideal but a dust pan and brush will also do an excellent job. Anything that sticks to the mat will need to be removed by the later steps so don't worry about it right now.
The vacuum hose attachment may be best for this as the spinning brushes could damage the surface of the foam playmat. This is an ideal opportunity for you to closely inspect the whole play area for signs of wear and tear and anything that is loose that could present a danger to your baby.
Step #5 Wash foam mat with soap
Bear in mind that some foam play mats can absorb water if it is left on them for too long. Therefore, you need to work quite quickly. Spray the soap solution onto the play mat and start scrubbing with the dish brush. You may need to add some hot water for areas that are very dirty or sticky. Once the mat has had a good scrub you should see a difference straight away.
Step #6 Rinse soap and dirt
Now it's time to rinse off the soapy water and dirt from the foam mat. Some foam play mats are waterproof and you can use a lot of water to rinse them. Other foam play mats will absorb some water so you need to be more careful. Using a fresh damp cloth, wipe over the entire surface of the mat. Keep rinsing out your cloth in the bowl of fresh water. Also, change the rinsing water frequently.
Step #7 Bath tub method
You can clean foam play mats that are waterproof in a bath tub or even in a shower. You still need a soap solution and a brush to scrub off stains. However, it is a lot easier to rinse off the soap using warm or hot water from the tap. You could even use the showerhead in the bath if you have one.
The advantage of this method is that you will not get any cleaning solution or water on the floor surface in your home.
Step #8 Interlocking foam tiles
The method for how to clean foam play mats needs to be adjusted slightly if the mat is made up of interlocking foam tiles. The problem here is that soap and water can seep through the gaps and special consideration is needed for the floor surface below.
It's a good idea to move foam play mats like this to another area, such as the garden or garage, to clean them. If sticky substances have worked their way between the tiles, it's a good idea to take all the sections apart so that you can clean them thoroughly.
Step #9 Drying foam playmats
Use a small towel or a dry cloth to wipe off the water used to rinse the mat. Try to wipe off as much as possible so that the surface of the mat is dry. A damp surface provides an ideal environment for germs to grow and can lead to mould spots.
If the mat still feels damp, leave it in a warm area to completely dry before allowing your baby to use it again. An area close to a radiator is perfect but do not let the mat lean against the radiator in case it damages the foam. Also, keep foam mats away from open flames as this could present a fire hazard.
Step #10 Spot cleaning mats
Now you have a lovely clean mat that is ready for your baby to use. What usually happens is your little one immediately spills a drink on it. Don't panic! You can spot clean your mat in between thorough cleans. Just wipe up the spillage immediately using a natural cleaning wipe or a soft damp cloth.
How to clean foam play mats FAQs
Why use foam rubber floor mats?
Foam mats don't damage the bedroom, kitchen or living room floor beneath and can be moved around with ease whenever you need to. They assemble without any special equipment and protect your baby and their toys from the germs on the regular floor covering.
Because they are soft and have no hard edges, your baby can roll around and move without sustaining injuries. This is very useful once they have started crawling and are into everything. When mats are placed under highchairs they collect the snack crumbs and spillages and protect the floor surface.
Can you wash foam mats in the washing machine?
Some very small foam play mats may fit in a washing machine but most will not. Foam material is rarely suitable for machine washing as it could damage both the mat and your washing machine. Only was a baby play mat in a washing machine if the instructions specifically say that you should do so.
What do you clean a foam play mat with?
Most dilute detergent solutions and soapy solutions are suitable for cleaning foam mats. Always check the mat's manufacturer's care instructions first. Neat bleach and harsh chemicals are not suitable as they are not safe for your baby or for the mat. Most germs and bacteria can be effectively cleaned using hot, soapy water. Some disinfectants and anti-bacterial surface sprays are suitable for non-porous foam but always patch test and rinse thoroughly afterwards.
How do you clean foam puzzle mats?
Foam puzzle mats usually have interlocking sections and food and drink can seep between the sections. Cleaning solutions and water can also seep through and damage the floor below.
Your cleaning job will be more thorough if you take the pieces apart and clean them in a bath or shower. Make sure that you dry the pieces thoroughly before putting them back together as bacteria and mould can grow in the gaps if they are not completely dry.
How often do you clean foam mats in play areas?
This depends on what the play mat is used for, how many children you have and how old your children are. So, a play mat that is used by older babies and toddlers as a place to have drinks and snacks is going to get sticky very quickly and will probably need cleaning once a week at least. On the other hand, a mat that is simply used for a younger baby to lie under a baby gym will only need cleaning every few weeks. In between the regular cleaning, you should spot clean the mat after every use to keep it hygienic and looking great.
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