Buying manufactured playsets for your kids’ Hot Wheels or matchbox car collections can be a huge expense. And since kids rarely take care of their toys, it can be maddening to find missing pieces that make these expensive sets totally useless. It’s always so much easier, cheaper and more fun to make your own upcycled playsets for your toddler. That way, if it breaks or gets lost, you’re not out any money, and you can totally just make a new one!
This simple and fun DIY cardboard car wash is the perfect little playset for your toddler. It uses items you have on hand to create a fun little imagination activity for your little one. And, if you pair it with a DIY Cardboard Toy Car Repair Garage, you have a great way of keeping your child occupied for a while.
Everything you need is probably already on hand, so gather your supplies and knock this one out in just a few minutes. You can build it all yourself or let your child help. Either way, it’s going to make them smile!
Cut the instant oatmeal box in half the long way. Use the bottom with the sealed flaps for the project. (7 ½” long x 3” wide x 2 ½” tall)
Make a square shaped cut at each end of the box that is 2” wide and 2” tall.
Make a rectangle cut in one long side of the box that is about 5” x 2”. (This opening is for small fingers to push the cars through the inside of the carwash.)
Cut two square pieces of construction paper that fit on each end of the box (3” x 3”). Make a ½ inch fold in each of the papers and use the hot glue gun to secure the fold to the top of the box at each end. Use the hot glue gun to secure these papers the the rest of the box.
Use the scissors to make vertical cuts in the paper to create the entrance and exit of the carwash as shown.
Use the glue gun to cover the rest of the box with blue paper and use the scissors to trim the edges around the box.
Take a discarded piece of cardboard from Step 1 and cut two small rectangles 1 1/2 “ x 1”. Then cut a larger rectangle 5” x 1 ¼”.
Use the marker to write the words “CAR WASH” on the larger piece of cardboard. Then write “ENTER” and “EXIT” on the smaller pieces. Glue these to the box as shown.
That’s it! Isn’t it such a cute little craft?
Your kids will have hours of fun pushing each car through the car wash and pretending to wash them. You can make it into a sensory activity by giving them a small sponge, scrub brush, paper towels, or other instruments of pretend cleaning. It’s probably best to keep the playset away from water, lest it gets ruined, but careful use of bubbles may be used to make the car wash more realistic.
Remember to check out the super fun toy car repair garage for another great playset idea.
Katie Reed is a passionate writer and mother of four vivacious boys from Salt Lake City, Utah. Drawing from her own journey through TTC, pregnancy, and the joys of raising children, she offers a wealth of insight into the world of motherhood. Beyond her heartfelt tales, Katie delights her readers with family-friendly recipes, engaging crafts, and a curated library of printables for both kids and adults. When she’s not penning her experiences, you’ll find her crafting memories with her husband and sons—Dexter, Daniel, Chester, and Wilder.