Children and germs go together like cookies and milk. You can’t have one without the other.
Toys are prone to myriad nasties thanks to those curious minds and always sticky fingers.
We have some easy ways to keep your child’s most treasured possessions clean. Let’s open the toybox and get started.
How to clean different types of toys
The chances are your child’s long-suffering toys have been dragged through the dirt, sneezed on, licked, slept with, coughed on and likely splattered with whatever food hasn’t made it into their mouth.
It’s no wonder toys are a hotbed for bacteria and germs.
Here’s a selection of popular toys and how you can keep them clean (for a little while, anyway).
1 Wooden Toys
Your best bet is to use natural products while cleaning toys made of wood. A little dishwashing liquid in hot water will do the trick, to begin with.
Detergent works well here because it effectively targets bacteria and virus cells. As a chemical substance, detergent breaks up and remove grease.
Detergents are a surfactant, so one end of their molecule is attracted to water, while the other end is attracted to dirt and grease. The surfactant molecules help water to get a hold of grease, break it up, and wash it away.
Your next step is to give it a wipe with a dash of white vinegar as well but use sparingly as the acidity in vinegar can wear down wood’s polish over time.
Vinegar is not only a safe, natural option, but it also has antibacterial properties to help treat germs, making it the ideal weapon against germy toys.
Vinegar is 5% acetic acid, which kills bacteria and viruses, by chemically changing the proteins and fats that make up these nasties and destroying their cell structures.
2 Bath Toys
It’s really important to stay on top of bath toys’ cleanliness, mostly due to the bathroom being prone to mould and mildew.
Mix up a disinfecting solution of 250mls water, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 5-10 drops of tea tree oil. Soak the toys for about an hour, give them a scrub and rinse well.
At the very least, soak everything in boiling water for at least half an hour.
Squirting bath toys should be replaced regularly as mould and mildew gets stuck on the inside of these and can be really tough to get rid of.
3 Toys with batteries
Any of your plastic or stuffed toys with batteries shouldn’t be put in waterfor obvious reasons.
Take batteries out if you can, dip a clean cloth into hot, not boiling, water and a squirt of detergent. Squeeze excess water from the cloth and give the toy a wipe down.
Use a towel to dry and then leave to air dry completely before using again.
Plastic toys without batteries can be cleaned this way, too or you could even run them through the dishwasher.
4 Stuffed Toys
Take any bows, clothes or decorations you can off the toy and pop the toy into the washing machine. It helps to maintain the structure of the toy if you pop it into a laundry delicates bag of sorts before washing. Even something like a pillowcase will do the job.
Wash with towels or on its own just in case any colours run.
Use a gentle wool cycle and a small amount of detergent and let it air dry out. A good wash and a little sunshine will do wonders for your child’s favourite teddy bear.
There are a couple of things to do here. If the hair (the type that is woven into the scalp) on the doll, Barbie or My Little Pony is looking a little worse for wear, you can shampoo it with a little dish or baby soap, give it a massage, rinse and dry.
For knotted hair, soak the strands in conditioner diluted with water for a few hours, then rinse out. You may need to give the hair a very gentle comb afterwards.
To clean the hard plastic body of these toys, create a 1:1 mix of rubbing alcohol like Isocol and waterin a spray bottle and give it a mist, before wiping down gently.
If there is a stain that you want to tackle on the doll’s body, you can use a cotton swab and a touch of nail polish remover before wiping with a lightly damp cloth – just be mindful not to remove or tarnish any features like doll makeup while doing this.
6 Dress-up Clothing
We recommend dress-up clothes be hand washed due to the delicate nature of most of the fabrics these clothes are made out of.
Make sure you’re using a very mild detergent in a tub of warm water. Gently rub the fabric against itself to clean effectively. Rinse thoroughly and air dry out of the sun.
7 How often should I wash toys?
Frequency is up to the parent, but you shouldn’t be waiting for a toy to look dirty or have something spilled on it before you clean it.
A good rule of thumb is to wash or wipe down regularly used toys fortnightly, or more often if the toy tends to get particularly grubby or if it goes out and about (on outings or to daycare) often.
|A few extra pointers:
If you’re out and about and a toy gets dropped, a baby wipe or disinfectant wipe will do a good enough job until you can get home to clean it properly.
It’s worth noting you shouldn’t machine wash anything with a music box, anything with foam beads or anything that is valuable or old.
Ensure the toy is completely dry before playtime – slight dampness could increase the chance of mildew.
Some toys may come with a care label. Check it first for cleaning instructions.