Toys go through a lot. They’re thrown in the dirt, slid along the floor, coughed on, sneezed on, dropped into food, and are sometimes neglected in the “washing” department. It’s no wonder that 80% of toys that kids cuddle and play with have harmful bacteria on them.
Not only do people usually forget to wash their kids’ toys, but they often don’t know how to clean toys in the first place. Is soap and water enough? Or do you need to break out bleach and sanitizer to get the job done?
We’re going to take you through exactly how to wash and disinfect toys to keep you and your kids safe from dangerous germs.
When to Clean and Sanitize
Your kids are constantly playing with their toys. This means they are constantly getting dirty, dropped on the floor, touched my animals, sneezed on, etc. You should be sure to clean and sanitize toy regularly, ideally as often as possible.
But you should be especially sure to clean toys after your child has been sick. Sick kids can transfer germs, bacteria, and viruses to the surfaces or their toys, which can easily make other people who come in contact with the toys sick.
Stuffed animals and toys made with cloth or other soft materials hold onto germs and bacteria the easiest of all types of toys. In fact, there are more germs on a child’s stuffed animal than there are on the floor.
The plush material of these toys are absorbent, which allows them to easily absorb and retain germs, dirt, and more. The good news is that there are a few different ways you can clean these types of toys.
The easiest way to clean plush toys is to throw them into the washing machine. The hot water and detergent will kill off bacteria and germs to make it clean and good as new.
However, be careful before you throw in your child’s beloved stuffed animal friend into the wash. Washing machines are known to accidentally mangle or destroy stuffed animals, which would almost definitely result in a meltdown.
Check the tag for proper cleaning directions to avoid a potential disaster.
Many kids’ toys are made of plastic like the plastic trucks from Mytoys Bruder or almost anything from Fisher Price.
These toys go everywhere with kids: outside, through the mud, on the dog hair and dirt covered living room floor, and right into their mouths. To avoid spreading all the germs on these toys, you’ll have to both clean and sanitize them.
Cleaning Plastic Toys
Depending on the type of toy, you can put them in the dishwasher for a quick and easy cleaning method. As with the washing machine and plush toys, make sure the toy is dishwasher safe before using this method. Some toys could melt in the hot water, and toys with electronic parts or batteries are definitely not OK to put in the dishwasher.
If you can’t throw them in the dishwasher, you’ll need to wash them by hand. Washing toys with hot water and soap is great for getting dirt, grime, and debris off of toys. While this will get rid of some germs, it won’t kill off everything.
Sanitizing Plastic Toys
Soap and water will clean the toys, but it’s not the best method to disinfect toys. One simple way to sanitize is to put equal parts vinegar and water into a spray bottle and spritzing the toys with the mixture. While it doesn’t smell the best, it will kill off dangerous germs and is safe if touched or ingested accidentally.
For a more intense toy sanitizing method, you can use bleach. Combine 1 tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water. You can then soak the toys in this solution to destroy any germs on them.
Keep in mind that toys with electronic elements or batteries need to be carefully washed by hand and not soaked in liquid.
These types of toys, like blocks or toy cars, are often in contact with the floor as well as your child’s hands and mouth.
These toys are usually pretty easy to clean and disinfect. Simply take a damp cloth with some soap and wipe down any dirt or grime. You can also spray them with the vinegar spray or wipe with a sanitizing wipe.
They can then be left to air dry.
Bikes, sand pails, swing sets and other toys for fun outdoor activities aren’t immune to germs. In fact, they’re exposed to a whole new subset of dangerous contaminants from insects, animals, E. Coli, mold, and more.
While they won’t be as clean as some other toys, since they’re usually always outside and exposed to the elements, you can still wash them to get them as clean as possible.
Wipe down things like bike or scooter handlebars and swingset chains with a sanitizing wipe once in a while. You can also lay everything out in the driveway or the grass and give it all a good hot water spray with the hose and some soap.
Don’t Forget Your Hands!
It’s not just the toys that need to be cleaned and sanitized. Your and your child’s hands are the things that touch toys most often. If your hands are covered in germs, and they usually are, then all the washing and sanitizing in the world won’t keep them clean.
Keep hand sanitizer in your purse to give your kids after they play. Be sure to wash your hands and teach your kids the proper way to keep their hands clean as well.
How to Clean Toys: Wrapping Up
All kids have a favorite toy: a beloved stuffed animal, a red racecar, a sandbox.
But the truth is that even these favorite toys can make your kid very sick if you aren’t on top of cleaning and sanitizing them. Knowing how to clean toys will keep your child, and you, as healthy as possible.
Check out our other articles for more parenting tips and resources.