Protect your reputation and the quality of your inflatable units by keeping them clean and pristine! Imagine this scenario (or maybe this has actually happened to you): your crew shows up to a birthday party; it’s summertime, it’s hot, your client is getting a little cranky, and you got 3 more gigs for the day that you need to set up for. So you unroll the water slide your client ordered, install the blowers, get it settled in its spot for the day, and you head on out.
When you go back to pick up the water slide, your client mentions that this party was WILD and your slide was a total hit! “It was so much fun! The kids got on the slide after having a food fight, covering each other in silly string, and rolling around in the mud! Also, we wanted to be nice and tried to roll up the slide for you, but man is it heavy! It’s over there sitting in that muddy water.”
Total nightmare right? This baby is going to need some deep cleaning. Where to even start? Have no fear, we’re here to offer you a guide on basic cleaning of a unit (waterslides specifically) and some special tips and tricks for those stubborn cases.
Where to start?!
With any water slide, you want to make sure that everything is properly detached before rolling it up. Any hoses, misting units, anything connected to a water source needs to be removed.
Next, be sure to rinse it as well as you can. Any residual mud, grass, and debris should be rinsed off with water. The longer you wait, the drier the slide will get and the more difficult it will be to get it clean (especially if it’s warm out). There’s definitely going to be some mud and debris left over on the slide, but hey, there’s no harm in a pre-wash!
Make sure you have all the items that go with the unit (customers have a tendency to take things off, like roofs?! So make sure to get all your supplies). Secure your covers using the Velcro attachments.
Remove as much water as possible before loading a water slide so it’s not heavier and doesn’t create more mess for you in the future. An easy way to remove water is by unzipping one area of the unit and using the pressure of the air blower to push the water out. Then, turn off the blower, open up all the zippers and let it fully deflate.
Roll up your unit and take it home!
Our friends over at Bounce it Out Events made this really great blog post about taking down a unit! Check it out here!
The unit is back in my warehouse, now what?
So, it’s important to dry out your unit as soon as possible! Vinyl + sitting water= mold, damage, and just a smelly time for everyone that will make your cleaning job even harder.
Open up your water slide as much as possible and get all the water out. Towel dry any excess wet spots and (pro tip) don’t forget to open the drainage hole flaps and to pad dry the baffles!
If you need to store a unit before it’s properly cleaned, be sure to open up a zipper and keep it stored at an angle so that any water or excess humidity can escape.
Cleaning your inflatable doesn’t have to be hard! All you need is a solid cleaning solution (or 2 or 3) and some help.
First things first, blow up your inflatable and remove the covers and steps. We’ve found this to be the most efficient way to clean an inflatable. Make sure to lie down a tarp so you don’t get the bottom of the unit any dirtier.
Sweep your unit or use a ShopVac to remove any leftover debris. You can also use a microfiber towel to give the unit a once-over and get anything the broom or ShopVac may have missed.
If there are any particularly stubborn spots, a power washer on a lower setting does a great job at getting rid of caked on mud! We also recommend using Goof Off for black stains that are having a hard time coming off. Now to really clean this thing. Use a good soap like a specific vinyl cleaner or a mild dish detergent and wash the unit with a towel or mop. Pay close attention to the areas with excess dirt and debris! Then give it a good rinse with a hose and let it air dry (use a towel to dry any excessively wet areas). Lastly, use a disinfectant to kill any germs that may be remaining on the unit. Air dry some more and then roll it up for storage! Be sure to keep your units out of the sun so the vinyl does not fade or deteriorate.
Be sure to periodically inspect your units and check for any holes, tears, cracks, etc. Not only will this help the look of your unit, but it’s a safety concern as well!
Recommended Cleaners/ Disinfectants
We asked the members of the Event Professionals Alliance Facebook group and they offered their insights on working cleaners!
There’s traditional cleaners and all-natural cleaners, which could potentially help you reach a new market of clients! - Lysol Disinfectant Spray - OdoBan Odor Disinfectant. Recommended by Cassie Beardsley.
MonoFoil Antimicrobial Spray (Kills Staph virus) Recommended by Nathan Suddarth, KidZone Party Rentals, Noblesville, IN.
THIEVES essential oil cleaner (all-natural cleaner; kills MRSA and Staph virus) Recommended by Pamela Hoekstra-Corsner, 3 Monkeys Inflatables.
Red Lion, PA - doTERRA On Guard cleaner (all-natural cleaner) Recommended by Jumpin’ Wheelies, Crown Point, IN.
Simple Green d Pro 3 Recommended by Nathan Davis, RAD Bounce House-Party Rentals, Mesa, AZ.
Do you have a favorite cleaner you like to use or a technique that’s changed your cleaning game? Share it below in the comments!