How to Clean a Bounce House the Right Way

Never Cleaned a Bounce House? No Problem!

We probably don’t need to explain to you just how important cleaning your bounce house is. But at face value, cleaning a bounce house seems daunting, doesn’t it? They’re so big! Do we really need to clean all of it? And where do you even begin? Can I learn how to clean a bounce house after just doing it one time?

A dirty bounce house is no bueno. Children can get exposed to viruses. Mold and mildew can chew through your bounce house like termites on wood. There’s simply no getting around it: you need to keep your bounce house clean. It’s really dangerous not to.

How to clean a bounce house ... even one as filthy as the one shown here

Thankfully, cleaning a bounce house is pretty easy, once you get the hang of it anyway. The first few times you clean one might be slightly time consuming, but you’ll be able to get through the real grunt work quickly with a little practice.

In this article, we’re going to learn how to clean a bounce house the right way, and make sure your bouncer is safe for use when you’re done. And we’ll lay it out in as cost effective a manner as possible, too. You don’t need expensive vinyl cleaners. We’ll do this whole thing on the cheap, and get our bounce house just as spiffy clean as if we used those harmful chemicals!

Getting Started: Here’s What We’ll Need

Here’s all of the equipment we’ll need to clean our bounce house. We’ll put some optional gear at the bottom of the list, too; if you have it already, it’ll make things faster.

  • At least one large waterproof tarp
  • One broom
  • One handheld brush
  • Sponges, wash rags, and/or a soft-thistle brush
  • A bucket (we’ll be using them for sponges, etc.)
  • Bleach-free dish soap (preferably original Dawn dish soap)
  • Vinegar
  • A garden hose (connected to a water source) with a spraying head attached
  • Bleach-free disinfecting wipes
  • Lots of clean, dry towels or rags
  • (Optional) A shop vacuum
  • (Optional) A power washer with a low power setting
  • (Optional) A leaf blower
  • (Optional) Rubber gloves (highly recommended!)
  • (Optional) Your favorite music blasting through some nearby speakers while you work

You’ll want to mix warm water, vinegar, and dish soap in the bucket. We recommend a mixture that’s roughly three parts water, one part vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap. Stir up your cleaning concoction thoroughly. You’ll want a good amount of this makeshift cleaning agent, but don’t go overboard.

The TL;DR Breakdown: How to Clean a Bounce House in Ten Steps

Here’s a full list of all the steps involved in cleaning a bounce house, from start to finish. And don’t worry, we’ll go into more detail on all of this stuff shortly!

  1. Inspect the bounce house and remove any loose debris you find
  2. Give it a good once-over with brooms or hand brushes to remove build ups and visible dirt/dust
  3. Deflate the bounce house and roll it out on your tarp
  4. Remove any detachable components
  5. Brush it down one more time; use a shop vac if you have one
  6. Use your homemade bounce house cleaner. Scrub the bounce house thoroughly, especially the areas where lots of hands, feet, and faces have been and areas that look obviously messy
  7. Rinse the bounce house and remove all of the cleaner
  8. Use disinfectant wipes everywhere a child may touch
  9. Use clean, dry towels and/or a leaf blower to dry up the bounce house as much as you can
  10. Let the bounce house dry in the sun

Step 1: The Inspection

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get down to explaining how to clean a bounce house with more detail. And we’ll start with the first step we mentioned above: inspecting the bounce house.

Take your time and carefully give the bounce house a thorough look-over. Remove any foreign objects you find. You may come across sticks or twigs, rocks or gravel, toys, jewelry, socks, or other miscellany. Make sure you remove those items, and be sure to check crevices and gaps, too.

During this step, keep an eye out for all of the following:

  • Damage to the vinyl; watch for rips, tears, and gashes
  • Build-ups of dust, dirt, or muck
  • Big spills or accidents inside the bounce house; dropped pizza, spilled juice, areas where kids got visibly sick, etc.
  • Anything that smells weird or gross
  • Mold or mildew
  • Sticky areas; they might not be easily visible, but try and watch (or feel) for them

Step 2: Sweep Away the Muck

Next, let’s use a broom or handheld brushes and remove any visible messes or muck you can spot. Be sure not to broom or brush the bounce house too hard, of course; you don’t want to damage the vinyl.

Steps 3, 4, and 5: Deflating, Unrolling, and Brushing the Bouncer

A deflated bounce house

Let’s power down the blower(s) and deflate the bounce house, then roll it out on the tarp. You’ll be surprised to see just how messy the bouncer looks when it’s lying down deflated, versus what it looks like when the blowers are still on. Use a broom, brushes, or a shop vac and remove any unwanted dirt, dust, or debris you find. If you can still see dirt or dust, you’re not done yet. Keep going until the bounce house looks reasonably clean.

Steps 6 and 7: Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Bounce Houses Don’t Fit in Tubs

Using our homemade bounce house cleaner, let’s start scrubbing our vinyl. Be sure to scrub vigorously, but don’t go so hard you’re hurting the vinyl. You’ll want to thoroughly clean all of the parts of the bounce house people might touch, and give a nice once-over to the low-traffic and no-traffic areas of the bouncer as well.

When learning how to clean a bounce house or other inflatable, it's important to get the soapy water mixture just right.

When you’re done scrubbing, inspect the bounce house one more time. Did you miss any areas? Does anything still look (or worse, smell) like it could use some more scrubbing? It’s best to get it now while the whole unit is still soaked.

Once you’re done scrubbing, drench a clean towel in fresh water and wipe the solution clear. You don’t want to spray the bounce house with a garden hose to rinse it; water getting into the seams can drastically prolong your drying time. That having been said, wet/dry combos, inflatable water slides, and slip and slides are safe to rinse with a hose. If it’s intended to work in or with water, spray away!

The most important takeaway here is that you want to be sure to rinse away all of the soapy cleaning solution. And if you’re scrub-rinsing by hand, use a garden hose to spray down the towels and rinse them out so you aren’t just moving diluted cleaning solution around the bouncer.

Step 8: Disinfecting the Bounce House

With the bounce house clean, it’s now time to disinfect it. This is an important step as it protects against all sorts of dangerous and even deadly bugs. Disinfecting your bounce house helps prevent the spread of cold or flu viruses, MRSA, pink eye, head lice, and more.

Let’s use bleach-free disinfectant wipes and wipe down the full bouncer, especially the heavier traffic areas. Be extra generous around landings, sidewalls, railings, zippers, and other areas where people place their hands. And unless the manufacturer says otherwise, do not rinse away disinfectant.

Steps 9 and 10: Drying Everything Off

Now let’s dry off the bounce house, starting with getting rid of the pools of water that have more than likely built up on your vinyl.

Using hand towels (it’ll probably take a few), sop up and push off as much visible water as possible. Be sure to try and dry the underside of the bounce house, too. Mold and mildew can damage or even destroy a bounce house, and ensuring it’s dry before storing it is an absolutely essential step.

If you own a leaf blower, you can use it to speed up the drying process considerably. We’d recommend blow-drying the bounce house as much as possible, then giving it a nice once-over with hand towels.

After you’ve manually dried the bouncer with towels (and maybe a leaf blower), you’ll want to leave the unit outside in the sun for a while. It’s a myth that sunlight is a disinfectant—it definitely isn’t!—but sunlight is great at drying out a bounce house on a warm summer day.

a child enjoys a colorful bounce house on a nice warm day

Some professionals say it’s best to leave the unit deflated, but the majority opinion is that you should inflate the bounce house before sun drying it. This helps the sunlight reach more of the unit and generally dry it faster and more efficiently.

We recommend allowing the bounce house to air dry in the sun for at least three to five hours. Walk around the unit every so often and monitor its progress. It’ll be dry before you know it!

Congrats! Now You Know How to Clean a Bounce House!

The first time you clean a bounce house, it’s going to feel like a lot of work. The second time you do it, it’ll feel like you did a lot of work more quickly. But eventually, you’ll be able to clean your bounce house from top to bottom in ten to twelve minutes (excluding the sun drying time, of course). It really is easy once you get the hang of it!

We hope you found this bounce house cleaning guide helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or give our sales team a call at <1-512-743-5560>’