With babies and toddlers, you can bet that most toys end up on the floor, or on dirty surfaces, and then in their mouths. As such, toys can become a breeding ground for germs and allergens over time, and babies can get sick as a result. This handy guide will let you know exactly how you should be cleaning your child’s toys to keep them safe.
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Aside from the old-fashioned method – with soap and water – there are a few safe ways to clean solid plastic toys:
- In the dishwasher. If they are completely plastic (and contain no fabric or batteries) pop them in the top rack or in a mesh bag, depending on their size. Let them air dry afterwards.
- Wipe with disinfectant wipes.
- Submerge them in boiling water for a few minutes and then allow them to cool off.
- Use a toothbrush to scrub small places or a toothpick to get into tight crevices.
Toys made from natural wood will warp eventually if you submerge them in water. Instead, wipe them with a clean cloth that has been dipped in mild soapy water. Wipe again with clean water if any residue is left. You can also clean rough stains with a cotton wool pad dipped in alcohol, but be sure to follow with a damp cloth afterwards.
Plain, stuffed animals, fabric books, and blankets can be popped in the washing machine, but not if they contain a battery pack or any metal parts. If you’re unsure, though, check the toy’s care instructions.
Before washing, put the toys in a pillowcase and make a knot at the top. Select a gentle cycle with warm water. When it’s done, put the toy (in its pillowcase) in your dryer on a low setting.
If the toy is particularly delicate or can’t be machine washed, spot clean it by wiping over the toy with a cloth dipped in a warm, soapy solution. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth and then allow the toy to dry. You can even use a hairdryer to fluff up the fur. Lastly, use a steamer to eliminate bacteria and allergens before vacuuming the toy with the upholstery attachment.
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Because they usually contain batteries, electronic toys should only take surface cleaning. Turn them off, disconnect them and remove any batteries. Then, wipe with a clean cloth that’s been dipped in warm soapy water and then wrung out. Be careful not to let any excess liquid seep into electrical components. Lastly, wipe with a clean damp cloth and allow to air dry.
Alternatively, you can wipe the toy with a cotton wool pad dipped in alcohol, but if you think it’s likely to end up in your child’s mouth, wipe it again with a clean cloth.
How Often Should You Clean Them?
You don’t need to become obsessive about cleaning your child’s’ toys. If you notice that one or two are looking particularly grimy, give them a once-over with hot water and soap, or a disinfectant wipe. If a toy is played with daily, clean it once a week, if possible.
However, if your child is sick with a cold or is recovering from an illness, it’s important to clean and sanitise more frequently. This is also the case if the toy hasn’t been touched in a while or if another child has played with it.
Practising these habits as often as possible will help to keep your little ones safe and healthy.
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst