Benson Tait

Benson Tait

Jan 16, 2023. 6 mins read


5 Simple Steps for Cleaning and Sanitising Toys

When you have kids, you know stepping on lego can bring you down faster than the greatest MMA fighter. Walking across the playroom floor becomes a lot like dodging landmines. Unfortunately, there's more hidden danger lurking in the toy piles – germs. Think about it. Toys go in your kid's mouth, on the floor, in the dirt, in your kid's friend's mouth, and in the toilet, and because germs get all over toys, they can get all over your kids.

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But don't you worry; there are easily preventable ways to combat this with the right supplies and a little elbow grease. Use these toy cleaning tips to keep your little ones healthy, so you have some relief that they'll be safe at home (unfortunately, the same assurance can't be said for childcare or school, eek!).

Five Essential Tips for Germ-Proofing Toys

Follow these five tips for sanitising new and second-hand toys. By not taking the time to disinfect toys, you may as well be giving your kids a petri dish for a plaything. 

1. Gather Your Toy Cleaning Supplies

Have the items you need for cleaning toys ready to go. It's much easier to clean and sanitise when you already have what you need. Add these supplies to your toy cleaning checklist for germ-free toys every time:

  • Disinfectant spray, like Glen 20, or a similar product

  • Regular dishwashing liquid

  • Vinegar

  • Spray bottle

  • Water

  • Scrub brush

  • Microfibre cloth

  • Disinfecting wipes

  • Pillowcase or laundry bag

  • Hair dryer

  • Laundry detergent

2. Know How to Sanitise Toys Safely

Toy cleaning for kids' health is more than just keeping toys clean. It's about disinfecting toys to eliminate all the viruses, bacteria and nasties you can't see. Remember, toys inevitably end up in your kid's mouth (and everyone else's).

But you don't want to start germ-proofing your kid's toys by dousing everything with bleach. Safe toy cleaning methods are critical to your kid's health. Always rinse off any cleaning agents or residue from toys before turning them over to your kids.

3. Clean Toys the Right Way

It's also vital to know the right way to disinfect different types of toys. Choose the proper cleaning method when looking over these toy cleaning tips.

To Clean and Disinfect Plastic Toys

  • Clean dirty plastic toys with dishwashing liquid and water, using a scrub brush or bottle brush to tackle stubborn, visible dirt.

  • Spray toys with a disinfectant spray or wipe them with disinfectant wipes and let them sit for three to five minutes. Follow the instructions on the product's label. For some products, more time is necessary for adequate sanitising.

  • Finally, rinse the toys with warm water to remove any remaining cleaning solution and disinfectant, and let them dry completely.

To Clean and Disinfect Wooden Toys

  • Many disinfectant sprays are only for non-porous surfaces and aren't suitable for wood. So this is where the vinegar from your supply list comes in handy. Mix a solution of four parts water and one part vinegar in a spray bottle.

  • Spray the toy with the vinegar and water solution, wipe it down, and let it dry.

  • If a wooden toy has no varnish or sealant, use a disinfectant wipe instead of a spray. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe off any visible dirt or grime. Avoid soaking wooden toys, as it leads to warping and other damage.

To Clean and Disinfect Soft Toys

  • For non-battery, non-electronic toys, the easiest way to clean and disinfect them is in the washing machine. Placing the soft toy in a pillowcase or laundry bag protects its fabric and shape. Knot the pillowcase or laundry bag at the top and wash in warm water on a gentle cycle.

  • To dry them, keep them in the pillowcase or laundry bag and put them in the dryer on a low setting. Alternatively, use a hair dryer or let the toy air dry. However, if air drying, ensure proper ventilation to avoid bacteria growth or mildew.

  • If the soft toy has batteries or isn't machine washable, spot clean and follow the instructions on the care label. Another option is to use a steam cleaner and wipe the toy with a disinfectant wipe. The steam helps loosen the fibres, making it easier for the wipe to target and eradicate germs.

4. Save Time with Effective Toy Cleaning Hacks

Safely cleaning toys doesn't have to take hours. If it did, you'd likely give the whole minimalism thing a try. But instead of throwing out your kid's precious possessions, try some time-saving toy-cleaning hacks. 

Wash plastic toys in the top rack of the dishwasher on a low-heat setting. (Make sure the toys don't have stickers or batteries and aren't electronic.) Use a toothpick or bottle brush for hard-to-reach grooves and crevices that collect dirt.

Put non-machine-washable plush in a sealed garbage bag with at least ½ cup baking soda. Shake and tumble the bag around for about two minutes, then let it sit for 15 minutes. Open the bag, shake out the toy, remove excess baking soda and dirt with a soft-bristle brush, and then vacuum the plush.

Sunlight also has natural sanitising abilities. Give your kid's toys a quick spritz of water and vinegar, and pull them out into the sun for about 30 minutes. The UV rays will give the toys a disinfecting boost.

5. Practice Good Toy Hygiene

Cleaning toys when you first get them is vital, and keeping toys clean is also necessary. Regularly wipe down your kid's toys with a microfibre cloth or baby wipe, especially when they look a bit icky. 

If you know bugs are going around your kid's childcare or school, or your child's been sick, give toys an immediate clean. To save your sanity, it's also a good time to limit the number of toys they have to play with, so you don't have to clean all of them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu virus lives up to 48 hours on non-porous surfaces. Additionally, Covid thrives for up to 72 hours on hard surfaces. 

Bath toys can be especially gross, and they're often hard to clean. Allow bath toys time to dry thoroughly after each use. Otherwise, mildew, bacteria, and grime start to develop. A recent study in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes found that over 80% of tested toys had harmful bacteria. If a toy looks especially slimy and has lots of crevices or hard-to-reach places (like squirt toys), you're better off tossing them.

Clean Toys, Safe Kids, Happy Parents 

These toy cleaning tips keep playtime worry-free for you and safe for your kids. But remember, even with these tips, your house will never be completely germ-free, and that's okay! All kids need to build immunity before entering the big bad world. And if all else fails, just tell them to wash their hands and hope for the best

Benson Tait

Benson Tait

Design . Digital . Fathering . Husbanding . Surviving . Founder

A man who loves design, technology, food and his family of two young girls and a smart gorgeous wife, who is on a mission to make parenting easier and help kids flourish for a happier home.

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