Germ Alert: How to Keep Toys Clean

All day long, your children handle dolls, trucks and trains while crawling and running through your home with their prized possessions in tow. Even though their smiles and giggles indicate that these toys make them happy, the reality is that their toys can make them sick if they are not cleaned on a regular basis.

It’s likely that your child’s toys are exposed to germs from sticky fingers, slobbery cuddles and pet hair and dander that reside throughout your home. Ensure that your children are safe and healthy by taking extra care to keep toys free from germ exposure.

Hard Toys

Finding safe chemicals to clean your child’s trains, trucks and wooden dolls can be a challenge, especially because most toys head straight to the mouth when you’re dealing with babies and toddlers. The last thing you want is to have your child consume harmful cleaning chemicals.

An easy fix is to put hard, non-electric toys in the top rack of your dishwasher, suggest the experts at Cardinal Maids. The high heat of the water will sanitize the toys and you can opt to run a sanitize, no-soap cycle. Another option is to soak hard toys that are too awkwardly shaped to fit in the dishwasher in a diluted tub of bleach and water. If you prefer to avoid using bleach, opt for a vinegar solution to deodorize and clean your child’s favorite toys.

For a quick cleaning method while on the go, use baby wet wipes to sanitize hard toys that cannot be immersed in water or natural cleaning solutions.

Soft Toys

That treasured doll, stuffed animal or plush ball your child clings to has probably seen better days. Germs, sweat, grime and slobber all seep into soft toys, festering bacteria and becoming a harmful playmate for your child. If the soft toy does not have plastic components, simply toss it in with your next load of laundry and wash on a gentle cycle. If you prefer not to use laundry detergent, the experts at Cardinal Maids recommend sprinkling baking soda and pouring in a few capfuls of distilled vinegar in the washing machine to help kill off those germs.

Many plush animals and dolls can be dried on low, but if you are concerned about keeping all arms and legs in tact, an air dry solution may be the best option for your little one’s prized possession.

If you have a steam cleaner lying around, it can be used for more than just the floors. Use the steam cleaner to deep clean plush toys and fluff those with batteries.

You can also spot clean plush toys with an extreme dusting method. Simply place the plush toy in a sealed plastic bag with cornstarch and baking soda. You can swap out the cornstarch with baby powder if you prefer. Shake the bag to coat the soft toy and leave it in the bag for one to two hours to absorb any odors. Once you remove the toy, brush it lightly or use the vacuum cleaner hose to remove the powder and reveal a fresh and clean plush doll or toy.

Electronic Toys

Cleaning electronics is not always the easiest task. You can’t douse them with water or scrub with a sponge to remove the germs. The experts at Cardinal Maids recommend using a canned air duster to remove dirt, grime and crumbs from small grooves and buttons. If you have resistant stains or dirt still present on the toy, take a microfiber cloth and put a few drops of soap or vinegar on it to wipe down the surface thoroughly.

Beware, though, if the toy has a rusty battery compartment. You can remove minor rusting with dishwashing soap and a scrub pad, recommends Sarah Gould, lead curatorial researcher at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, Texas. “If rust remains, a little mineral oil might be used with the scrub pad or a paste made of baking soda, salt and water,” she says. “Be careful not to scrub too hard or you may remove paint and you don’t want your child to have a toy with flaking paint.”

The best option, though, is to get rid of toys containing rust to reduce the risk to your child’s health.

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One thought on “Germ Alert: How to Keep Toys Clean

  1. This sounds crazy now that I’m reading this post, but I never even thought about cleaning my kids hard toys. I’ll definitely be sanitizing those using these tips soon…

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