How to Clean a Bassinet – Doing it Properly

If you’re like most parents, you probably spend a considerable amount of time daily cleaning up messes and wiping down household surfaces. After all, young babies have immature immune systems that can’t provide adequate protection against common environmental germs, so keeping those germs to a minimum is an important part of a parent’s job.

While it’s a little easier to get clothing, toys or sheets clean, keeping your baby’s bassinet sanitary can be more challenging. Most bassinets will probably have at least a couple of tight spaces that seem to be dirt magnets or surfaces that aren’t easily washable, so how can you go about getting things to a hygienic state?

Baby sleeping in freshly cleaned bassinet

Fortunately, all it takes is a little know-how. Our helpful tips can help you learn how to clean a bassinet effectively and with a minimum of time and effort.

When Should You Clean Your Bassinet

Especially if it doesn’t appear dirty, it can be easy to overlook including your baby’s bassinet in your normal cleaning routine. However, since sweat, spit-up, drool and germy hands happen every day, regular cleaning can help you prevent a state of icky build-up.

  • Linens. Wash all your baby’s linens whenever they get soiled or a minimum of once a week.
  • Frame. When it comes to the bassinet frame, you have a bit more leeway. Plan to do a deep clean once a month and additional cleanings whenever there is visible soiling or after your child has been sick.

While it’s definitely important to keep your child’s sleeping area, clothing, toys and feeding supplies clean, it’s also possible that overzealous disinfecting could lead to negative health consequences. Early exposure to normal environmental organisms can help your child develop a strong immune system, so trying to keep every household surface perfectly disinfected can end up backfiring in the long term.

However, finding the proper balance is key. Just because most bacteria aren’t harmful doesn’t mean that you can neglect cleaning your baby items, but it does mean that you don’t have to feel undue stress about keeping every surface in your house pristine at all times.

How To Clean A Bassinet

Every bassinet is different, and some models are easier to take apart and clean than others. For some ideas of what different bassinets look like and how they come apart, take a look at our favorite bassinet models.

While the bad news is that cleaning your bassinet will never be as easy as throwing the whole thing into the washing machine, the good news is that the right tools and techniques can help make the task considerably shorter and easier.

Things You’ll Need

Since nobody wants to find out mid-job that they don’t have all the necessary items on-hand, gather all your supplies before taking any bassinet pieces apart.

Make sure to have these items available:

  • Gentle detergent
  • Stain-fighter
  • Two cleaning cloths
  • Spray bottle filled with warm water
  • Mild liquid soap

If you don’t have a spare spray bottle handy, you can also use a small container of warm water to dampen your cleaning cloth. While it will still get the job done, this method will be a little less convenient.

Cleaning Procedure

Check the manufacturer’s instructions. Refer to your owner’s manual for detailed disassembly and fabric care instructions.

Prepare your spray bottle. Add a small amount of gentle liquid soap to the warm water in your spray bottle. Use either a bit of baby wash or mild dish detergent, and give your mixture a gentle shake to combine.

Remove all linens and bedding. Take off the fitted sheet and any waterproof layers. If your bassinet has a fabric liner, decorative ruffles or a cloth hood, check to see if they are removable and washable. Be on the lookout for snaps, zippers or other closures, since these usually signal which pieces are removable.

Treat stains and launder all pieces as directed. If your child’s sheets or any fabric pieces have spots, apply your normal stain-fighting product according to the package directions. Use your baby’s regular clothing detergent and set the cycle and water temperature as listed on the care instructions.

Clean the mattress appropriately. Different bassinets have different styles of mattresses, so be sure to determine exactly what kind your model uses.

  • Waterproof mattress. These mattresses have a vinyl outer layer that allows moisture to pool on the surface rather than sinking into the mattress itself. Waterproof mattresses are easy to clean with your soapy-water spray bottle and cloth.
  • Non-waterproof mattress. These mattresses often have a zippered, machine-washable outer cover and an inner foam portion that you can wash by hand and air-dry. Some non-waterproof mattresses have a stabilizing board attached to the foam piece, and the cleaning process can be a little trickier in these cases. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully to avoid permanent damage.

Lightly spray frame and sides with diluted soapy water. As opposed to soaking your bassinet frame, your goal is to spray just enough soapy water to dampen the surface. Work your way around the whole frame by taking small sections one by one.

Bassinets come in a variety of styles and base materials, so you’ll need to use cleaning techniques that are appropriate for your specific type.

  • Metal. Since you definitely want to avoid getting any rusty spots on your metal frame, make sure to use a light spraying action, especially on any joints or in the corners.
  • Plastic. Plastic surfaces are probably the most forgiving, but be alert for any metal bolts or pieces that might rust if exposed to excessive moisture.
  • Wicker. The natural fibers in wicker can be very susceptible to water damage, so use the least amount of water possible to clean the surface. Spray your cloth with your soapy water instead of the actual bassinet surface.
  • Wood. Since wood and wicker have similar fibers, use the same damp-cloth method instead of spraying the wood’s surface.
  • Fabric. Almost all bassinets that have fabric baskets use a waterproof material that can easily handle direct, light spraying.

Wipe the surface with a cloth. Use one cloth to wipe the soapy water over as much surface area as possible, and try to get into as many nooks and crannies as you can.

Use enough pressure to effectively clean the surface, but you don’t have to scrub with all your strength. Spend extra time on any spots that are visibly soiled, and use a little more soapy water if necessary.

If you’re concerned that any tight spaces may be harboring dirt or dust, a small toothbrush can give you a little extra reach. Be sure to use an extra-gentle motion on delicate materials like wood or wicker.

Wipe dry with a clean cloth. Use a separate cloth to wipe away as much moisture as you can. Pay special attention to tight spaces like joints or corners.

Allow to fully air-dry. While your bassinet won’t be soaking wet if you use an appropriately light spray, plan for plenty of drying time before you put all the pieces back together.

If possible, take your bassinet outside to dry in the fresh air and take advantage of the natural disinfecting power of sunshine. However, be aware that prolonged exposure to harsh sunlight can fade colors or patterns, so you might want to limit the time your bassinet stays in the sun’s direct rays.

Reassemble the bassinet. Make sure to pay careful attention to put all the disassembled pieces back together properly, and check the owner’s manual if you have any uncertainty. Even though this may seem like a quick final step, your baby’s safety comes first, so it’s worthwhile to invest the time to ensure proper reassembly.

Other Cleaning Options


If you have access to a garment steamer, this could be a great method for cleaning certain bassinets. Not only is it easy and chemical-free, but it can also help discourage dust mites, mildew and some bacteria from taking over.

Steam cleaning could be a particularly helpful cleaning method if your bassinet has a full-fabric basket. This fabric is not usually detachable and therefore can’t go in the washing machine, so a garment steamer can be a great alternative to a damp cloth.

Note: Steam is not ideal for wicker or wooden bassinets since it could penetrate the natural fibers and cause permanent damage, so you’ll have to stick to the damp-cloth method for these models.


While vacuum suction will not remove stains or ground-in substances, it can be very helpful for dispatching dust in tight spaces that you might not be able to reach otherwise.

Since you probably routinely use your vacuum for dirty areas like entryways and under the couch, you may want to use a disinfecting wipe on your suction nozzle before using it on the bassinet.


While it’s comforting to know that you don’t have to stress too much about everyday household organisms, keeping your baby’s bassinet clean is still important.

While the thought of cleaning a bassinet may seem a bit daunting or puzzling, having a clear plan and using the right products and techniques on each piece can help you realize that the job is actually no big deal. With just a little effort and time, your baby’s bassinet can stay hygienic and in the best condition possible.

Have you ever deep-cleaned a bassinet? Did you use a technique similar to the steps outlined here, or do you have any other tips to offer? Share your thoughts in the comments!