Some babies, toddlers, and yes, even some older kids, have a very bad habit of constantly touching things they shouldn’t, placing things in their hands and their mouths, so it is easy to see how they some of them can get sick. Not only that, they spread those germs to their toys, which makes their friends and family more susceptible to being sick. Keep reading for tips on how to clean toys, the right way.
Now that the holidays are over and like us, you are probably in “purge” mode trying to get rid of unwanted toys and passing them to others, we thought it would be a good idea to share some tips and tricks on how to clean and disinfect toys. Even if you are not giving up any toys this year, we still think it’s a good idea to do a regular “clean & disinfect” cycle of your kids’ most popular toys.
Part 1 – How To Clean Toys
Step one is to clean the toys, then you can move onto to disinfecting them. Cleaning means scrubbing with soap and water, a process that removes most germs, grease, and grime. Washing with soap and hot water removes many germs and can be done regularly, in between disinfecting. Regular dish soap should do the trick most of the time. Here are a few tricks on how to clean toys, depending on the type of toy you are working with:
Fabric / Soft Toys
Plush, softer toys are more likely to contain germs than the hard plastic ones. That is why cleaning plush toys should be done more often. For most of them, they can be put into the washing machine with regular laundry detergent, on a hot cycle. They can then be put in the dryer. If you want to avoid dust mites responsible for allergies, they can be put in the freezer overnight. (Note: To be on the safe side, always check the label or manufacturer’s web site to confirm that the toys can be machine-washed and dried. If not, an alternative is to soak them for a while and air dry them.)
Plastic toys which do not require batteries (i.e.: no electronic parts) can be disinfected in one of two ways. The first is to wash them by hand in hot, soapy water. This removes surface dirt and bacteria. To get rid of “hard-to-remove” things like grease, you can add vinegar and baking soda to the mixture. Then rinse well. If washing the toys by hand is not feasible, another alternative (again, for those without any electronic parts), is to use the dishwasher and run them on a normal cleaning cycle.
Battery operated plastic toys, or even wood or metal toys with electrical components, should be gentle wiped down with a damp microfiber cloth. If the toys cannot go into the washing machine, you can use the mixture to scrub with a washcloth around the exterior, but be sure to get into every nook and cranny. Then clean the toy with plain water to remove any remaining residue. Let it dry in the sun. Then close it in a plastic freezer bag and store it for at least 72 hours in the freezer.
Now that you know how to clean toys, it’s time to disinfect them.
Part 2 – How To Disinfect Toys
Now that your toys are clean, it’s time to disinfect them using a sanitizing solution to kill the most dangerous of germs. To do this, there are a few options:
1. Buy a product designed specifically for disinfecting things around the house. If you want to go down this road, try to stick to products that have logos for third party testing agencies like Green Seal, the EPA, or ECOLOGO or something like this, which is available at Amazon:
2. Make your own solution. There are a ton of different solutions out there, but here’s one that we like a lot: DIY Toy Cleaning from Momtastic
Note: If you end of going with a homemade bleach solution, keep in mind that The Department of Health Services states that one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water is best.
Once the toys have been thoroughly cleaned, just use the solution to wipe down the toys afterwards. Try to get to every inch of the toy (i.e. cracks, compartments, etc.). Hard plastic toys that don’t have any electronic components can normally be soaked in the solution for 5-10 minutes, whereas wood, metal, or battery operated toys should be wiped down with the solution instead. Whenever you are done, just let the toys air-dry for a while. The amount of time will depend on the toy and how much solution you ended up using.
We hope that these tips on how to clean toys come in handy one day. So how often should you do it? Our kids are a little bit older, so we don’t tend to do it as often, however there was a time when we did it as soon as they recovered from a sickness like a cold or diarrhea and whenever they came back from a play date, where their toys would get passed around. Was that overkill or maybe too late at that point? Maybe, but we like to be on the safe side. Generally, we tried to do it on a monthly basis if possible.