Let’s talk about it. It’s certainly a hot topic. Every parent blogger up and down the country has at least one Soft Play blog in their repertoire. The Un Mumsy Mum wrote one of my particular favourites – ‘Surviving soft Play’, including far too much detail on the sights, sounds and smells that may be encountered in some soft play centres. I’m pleased to tell you that at Play Valley you’ll get quite a difference experience. We are a super clean soft play and very proud of it.
So, what are the British Standards for cleanliness in Soft Play?
Would you be surprised if I told you that there are no standards that are enforced by law when it comes to Health, Safety and cleanliness of Indoor Play equipment? Yep, I was shocked too. The British and European Standard for playground equipment is BS EN 1176 but the problem is, this is only voluntary and in all honesty it’s very vague when it comes to providing guidance on cleaning. The lack of specific guidance and the fact it isn’t a compulsory standard means that not all soft play providers stick to these standards throughout the lifetime of their business as keeping on top of things can become very costly.
But it’s the health of our kids?! Why should cost matter when it comes to keeping Soft play clean?
Speaking as a Mum to two tearaway boys, I couldn’t agree more. Long before Play Valley was born I would mentally blacklist soft plays that after visiting, I had decided were a “hive of germs”, rather than a “soft play haven”.
Fast forward 12 years and I’m speaking to you now as a soft play owner and let me be clear. Keeping a soft play clean is no easy task. Hundreds and hundreds of meters of knotted netting and twine – trust me when I say, it’s harder to clean that those splatter marks from dried on baked beans you find on the roof of your microwave!
However, this doesn’t faze us here at Play Valley – the challenge of the cleaning or the cost. We view it as an investment. We know a lot of customers come back time and time again because we are clean and safe (and we have the best play equipment – but that’s another blog post entirely!!).
How we keep it clean at Play Valley
Firstly, we have a cleaning team. This for me was of huge importance. Don’t get me wrong, our team members also spend a big part of their day cleaning. Our ‘clean as you go’ mentality means that cleanliness is top priority. But from the outset I knew I wanted a cleaning team who became experts in looking after Play Valley. We have between four and eight hours per day spent on cleaning the centre from top to bottom!
Not only that, twice a year we call on the experts! Okay, our cleaning team are pretty amazing but you might have noticed that our ceilings are fairly high! 7 meters in fact. So bi-annually we close our doors for the full day and call on the soft play experts – The Soft Brick Company to get harnessed up and remove all of the dust from the hard to reach places. As well as cleaning during these maintenance visits, we replace any damaged padding and equipment. This ensures that our play centre stays in the best condition.
Furthermore, we invested in antibacterial vinyl flooring. Not a sticky carpet in sight! Our signature bright green flooring was one of the biggest investments we made beside our play frame when setting up our soft play centre. It is treated with Sanitec which means is it resistant to bacteria giving Mums with crawlers that extra piece of mind.
How are we pushing expectations when it comes to cleanliness of Soft Play?
Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to go that extra mile to keep Play Valley completely clean and germ free. I contacted a company called who disinfect hospitals using a treatment called Fogging. It’s an incredible technology that kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses using machinery that fills the entire atmosphere in the building with a mist of Hydrogen Peroxide. There is nowhere that this disinfectant can’t get to! And yes, right to the bottom of the ball pools too!
Fogging is the only way to remove germs from certain items and as it’s safe for use in all areas including kitchens, we now carry out this treatment every quarter so you can play in confidence at Play Valley.
Finally, we listen to you! No one knows better than parents. So when you make a suggestion or give us some constructive feedback we act on it. Last week you asked for hand sanitizer points throughout Play Valley, this week we had them fitted.
Do we really know how clean Soft Play is then?
All in all, the question of how clean a soft play centre is, certainly isn’t easy to answer. Parents will have to make decisions for themselves based on what they see as until legislation becomes compulsory in the UK and standards are enforced.
This post isn’t to pick fault at other Soft Play centres when it comes to cleaning standards, it’s to highlight the fact that when the health of our children comes into play, more should be done via the use of government legislation to protect children and guide business owners. It’s a tough industry to be in and we want the best for all.
We’re proud that at Play Valley we are leading the way in cleaning, safety and standards. If you do have any feedback to share please send us an email so firstname.lastname@example.org