Kids love their toys as much as parents love their cars and other extremely valuable possessions! That’s because, for kids, toys ARE valuable possessions that they never want to part with (until new ones come along, that is). Still, there are some toys that kids grow particularly fond of which stay with them for many years. These, along with toys that are played with on a daily basis, require frequent cleaning and sanitising because they harbour germs which can make your kids sick.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are under the impression that toys which are played within a crib or on a clean surface remain free of bacteria because they do not come in contact with the floor or other dirty surfaces. However, toddlers and young children often put toys in their mouths or use grubby hands to play with them, causing bacteria to build up on the surface. For older children that play on the floor, the presence of germs on toys is more evident because of bacteria in the room. Hence, it is important to kill germs or bacteria in childrens’ bedrooms/playrooms with daily cleaning and disinfection to minimise the transmission.
Now that you know why you need to clean and sanitise your kids’ toys, let’s discuss how to do it!
Cleaning Stuffed Toys
Along with germs in the form of bacteria, your children’s stuffed animals are prone to dust and dirt. Getting them all cleaned up and sanitised can be a rather simple task if their cleaning labels specify that they are machine washable. Generally, colourfast plush toys are sturdy enough to withstand a wash in the machine, however, a few measures will ensure a 100% safe and effective clean. Similarly, hand-washing soft toys must also be carried out carefully to avoid damaging the toy.
How to Wash Stuffed Toys in a Washing Machine
- If you have a laundry wash bag for delicates, place your kids’ soft toys inside them when washing. Avoid stuffing the bag as the toys need to move around freely in order to clean them effectively. If you don’t have laundry wash bags, clean pillowcases make ideal alternatives (tie a knot at the top so that the toys don’t fall out).
- Set the machine to a gentle wash and run a warm water cycle.
- Some plush toys can be tumble dried while others cannot; if you are putting them in the dryer, be sure to place them inside a pillowcase for added protection. Air drying, on the other hand, is the safest option; simply place the soft toys over a rack and leave them overnight or until they are completely dry.
WARNING: Stuffed toys with battery packs, in-built rattles, or external embellishments should not be washed in a washer. Similarly, ripped stuffed toys should be stitched up securely before washing to avoid further damage.
How to Hand-Wash Stuffed Toys
Before you hand-wash the toy, perform a colour fastness test on the stuffed animal by adding a few drops of water to an inconspicuous area. Squeeze the dampened part between your fingers and check if it bleeds. If it does, use the following cleaning method:
- Vacuum the plush toy to remove dust and debris.
- Make a mild solution of water and laundry detergent. Dampen a clean towel in it and gently wipe the stuffed toy (pay attention to dirty areas). Avoid scrubbing but expect some colour to rub off onto the towel either way.
- Use a fresh towel dampened with water to wipe over the toy; do this thoroughly to remove the cleaning solution.
- Allow the toy to air dry or, if you have a steam iron, use this on the stuffed toy to kill bacteria and dust mites.
- Finish off by vacuuming the toy again to ensure that any residue left by the cleaning solution is removed.
NOTE: Use baby safe cleaning products to machine or hand-wash kids’ soft toys.
How to Clean Plastic and Rubber Toys
From bath toys and building blocks to barbies and animal figures; 90% of your child’s toys are most likely to be made of plastic or rubber. Thankfully, they are easy to clean and sanitise, however, they are also prone to dirt, stains, and germs. Given below are two methods to clean plastic and rubber toys.
In a Dishwasher
- Place large, solid plastic and rubber toys on the top rack of your dishwasher
- Put smaller toys into a mesh bag so that they don’t move around too much with the water sprays
- Run a normal cycle and use baby-safe dish soap to clean
- Once dry, leave them to air out for about 30 minutes before storing or organising the toys
WARNING: Do not put thin or flimsy plastic toys in your dishwasher as they may get damaged
Clean and Disinfect by Hand
- In a bucket of water, add a baby-safe disinfectant to make a mild cleaning solution; for correct ratios, follow instructions on the label
- Soak plastic and rubber toys in the solution; for toys that float, dunk them in the water every now and then to allow the disinfectant to act on the surface
- After 30 minutes, use a clean sponge or non-abrasive scrubber and clean each toy one at a time
- Focus on removing stains and stuck-on dirt; if needed, make a separate cleaning solution with dish soap and scrub the toys till they are clean
- Rinse off the cleaner thoroughly, pat dry, and leave them to air out until they are completely dry
TIP: Rinse off plastic and rubber toys and sanitise with disinfectant wipes at least once a week.
How to Clean Electronic Toys
Older kids spend more of their ‘playtime’ with electronic toys which, again, harbour many germs. In fact, viruses are commonly spread between children within a household by sharing electronic devices such as gaming consoles. If not disinfected on a daily basis (or as often as they are being used), germs remain present on the surface and promote bacteria buildup.
Use the following method to clean and disinfect electronic toys:
- Dampen the tip of a clean cloth with all-purpose cleaner (make sure that it is child-safe); squeeze out excess liquid if any.
- Clean between buttons and crevices to remove stubborn grime. This may take a while and a couple of corners or fresh areas of the cloth!
- Soak and wring a clean cloth in the solution and wipe down the rest of the toy. Be sure to use a merely damp cloth for this.
- Spot clean sticky or stained areas.
- Wipe over the entire toy with a damp cloth to remove the cleaning solution.
- Finish off by sanitising the electronic toy with disinfectant wipes. This will ensure that any germs or viruses on the surfaces are eliminated.
- Allow the toy to air dry completely before storing it.
NOTE: When using disinfectant wipes, take your time with them as the surface needs to remain damp (by the wipes) in order for it to work effectively.
The importance of cleaning and disinfecting kids’ toys is higher than ever with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Encourage your children to take precautionary measures to prevent contracting the coronavirus while you take care of sanitising your home and their toys!