We all know that toddlers can be very messy. They are just learning to do so many new things. They haven’t quite mastered coordination yet. They are too busy to slow down and “be careful.” So, accidents will happen.
With toys, the possibility of acquiring germs is probably limitless. Toddlers may still put toys in their mouths. They certainly have plenty of germs on their hands. Even if their hands are washed frequently, toddlers check out most everything with their hands. They also wipe their nose, pet the dog, pick up trash and then go right back to playing with toys. They may even share toys with each other, spreading the germs from toy to toy.
We now realize how important it is to keep toddler toys clean. What is the best method of cleaning toys? Can all toys be cleaned the same way? Let’s look at how to clean five common types of toddler toys.
Plastic toys are the easiest to clean. Fill your bath tub three quarters full with hot water. Add three quarters of a cup of bleach to each gallon of water. Let the toys soak in the bleach water for five minutes. Rinse the toys after cleaning. Allow toys to dry.
Most plush toys are machine washable. They do best when washed in the “gentle” or “delicate” wash cycle. They should be washed with towels or linens. It is sometimes recommended to put the plush toy or stuffed animal inside a pillowcase before placing it in the washing machine.
Once the toys come out of the washing machine, you can opt to air dry them or put them in the dryer with the other laundry that they were washed with. You may want to use a lower heat setting if drying them in the clothes dryer.
Some plush toys may require special attention if they “talk” and have a battery pack inside. Those will need to be spot cleaned using a warm, damp washcloth with a mild detergent.
Tip: Add a cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle of your wash to remove odors from plush toys.
Like plastic toys, bath toys will need to be washed in a bath tub of hot bleach water. The only difference is that many bath toys have the ability to “squirt” water. Therefore, they have the ability to retain water inside the toy. This can cause mildew inside the toy.
To clean the inside of bath toys that can hold water inside, fill them with bleach water. This may require squeezing the toy under water to let it fill with water. Let the bleach water stay inside of the toy while you clean the remaining toys. Empty the bleach water from the toy completely and allow drying.
It may be time to break out the car washing supplies. Grab a bucket, some dish detergent, a sponge and the water hose. Gather all outside toys in a small area. Fill the bucket with water and add detergent. Use the water hose to “hose down” all of the outside toys.
Next, use the sponge to wipe down the toys. Spray the soap off of the toys with the water hose. Allow toys to dry. Inspect the toys for any remaining residue.
Battery Operated and Interactive Toys
Due to the sensitive nature of these toys, special care should be taken when cleaning them. In many cases, the exterior of the toy can be wiped down with antibacterial cleaning wipes. If you prefer, use a wash cloth sprayed with an antibacterial cleaner.
Tip: Remember to wipe down the entire toy, including crevices, knobs and battery doors.
It is always best to clean toys while your children are away. Remember to replace bleach and other cleaning supplies on a top shelf in a locked cabinet or closet. Clean toddler toys on a regular basis. I have always tried to clean them weekly. Daily checks of toys will reveal any spilled food or stains. Wipe those down immediately to keep germs at bay.