From stuffed animals to building blocks, toys are incredibly important to your baby’s development. But whether they’re chewed, thrown on the ground, or kept in the bathtub, these playthings can harbor plenty of dirt, grime, germs, and bacteria.
Before you reach for harsh chemicals like bleach, we’ve outlined the best ways to clean baby toys safely and naturally.
How Often Should I Wash My Baby’s Toys?
Well, that depends on how often they’re squeezed, teethed, touched by children outside your household, as well as the toy material. We typically recommend that plastic, wooden, and bath toys are washed every week. Every 1-2 days is better for items that are dropped on the floor, placed in the mouth, etc.
For stuffed toys and blankies, a trip through the washing machine every 1-2 weeks is ideal, but we recommend washing them after exposure to elements like long airplane trips. You can treat stains with a natural stain remover at any point.
The Best Way to Stop the Spread of Germs
Cleaning experts agree that the easiest way to limit the spread of germs is by keeping your baby's hands clean. Wash them with a clean washcloth and gentle hand soap before and after eating, playing outside, or exposure to another child who's sick.
It’s extremely important to clean baby toys after illness of any kind. If your child (or one of their play dates) has a contagious cold, be sure to wash toys before returning them to the toy bin.
How to Clean Stuffed Animals in the Washing Machine
A child’s love for their teddy bear is adorable, but the germs its fuzzy surfaces tend to harbor definitely aren’t.
While you should always check the label first, most stuffed animals can be popped directly in the washing machine. Make sure that you repair any tears or loose ends first: You wouldn't want Teddy to lose an eye (or an arm) in the process! More fragile plush toys can be placed in a mesh garment bag.
Pre-treat any tough stains with a natural stain remover, then run a warm cycle using a gentle laundry detergent.
Placing the toy in the dryer will help to eliminate any lingering germs, but if you’re nervous of shrinking or possible damage, you can either use a hair dryer or place it on a flat, indoor surface with plenty of direct sunlight.
The Best Ways to Hand Wash Plush Toys
Sometimes, it’s better not to risk throwing a beloved stuffed animal in the washing machine. If that’s the case, there are a few cleaning tricks to follow:
- Dip a clean microfiber towel in a solution of 10-15 drops of natural dish soap and warm water.
- Lightly scrub the toy all over. Continuously rinse the cloth out with clear water and wring throughout the process. Repeat as necessary.
- Slowly run a garment steamer over the entire surface to kill dust mites and other potential allergens.
- Let the toy air dry, use a hair dryer on a medium setting, or place on a flat, sunny spot inside.
How to Clean Wooden Baby Toys
Wooden, eco-friendly baby toys are a great way to introduce babies to natural materials – and they're also incredibly easy to clean.
Since it’s a semi-porous material, avoid soaking wood in water or putting it in the dishwasher, since it's such a porous material. Instead, spot clean using a microfiber towel and a gentle cleanser. This can either be a 10:1 mixture of water to vinegar, a diluted combo of water and a few drops of mild dish soap, or a family-friendly natural multi-purpose cleaner. When you’re done, simply allow wood toys to air dry.
How to Surface Clean Non-Porous Baby Toys
If toys have visible dirt, stickiness, and or stains, it’s definitely time to clean them off.
To wash baby toys by hand, mix 10-15 drops of a natural dish soap and hot water in a large bowl. Dip a clean microfiber cloth into this solution and scrub the toys completely. Rinse each toy well with hot water, taking care to remove any soapy residue. Let the toys air dry, or dry with a clean towel.
Washing Baby Toys in the Dishwasher
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If you’re thinking about running toys through the dishwasher, always double-check the toy's label. If the manufacturer has deemed that the product is dishwasher safe, then it can likely be run in the top rack. For extra security, prevent toys from falling by placing them in the silverware basket or a colander.
Some plastic melts and warps when exposed to a combination of hot water and heated drying cycles. Avoid this messy fate by sticking with a regular or gentle cleaning setting (not extra hot) and letting toys air dry on a designated dish rack.
How to Wash Bath Toys
Hold up: That yellow ducky needs a bath of its own. The rubbery material commonly used in bath toys is prone to mold and other gross build-up – not necessarily the safest thing for your baby to put in their mouth.
In your bathtub, you can soak bath toys in a few inches of hot water and dish soap for at least an hour. Scrub with a dish brush, rinse with hot water, and air dry. We recommend cleaning bath toys each week, and it’s the perfect opportunity to clean your bathtub, too!
You can do all of this in the bathtub, or – if they’re dishwasher safe – follow the directions above before returning them to the tub area.
How to Clean Electronic Toys
When cleaning electronic toys, be sure to disconnect the batteries and replace the cover. Wipe the surface with a clean microfiber cloth and the same soapy water mixture outlined above. Take care to wring the cloth extremely well to avoid water seepage. For getting into crevices, we recommend using a cotton swab.
To disinfect electronics, remove the batteries, spray thoroughly with a hydrogen peroxide disinfectant, and wait 10 minutes. Next, wipe down any remaining liquid. Wait at least one hour before reinserting the batteries.
Use a Product That Safely Cleans & Disinfects
In 2020, we released Puracy Disinfecting Surface Cleaner that was designed for safe use around your entire family. Not only does our biodegradable formula kill 99.99+% of germs, but it also cleans gunk and grime off of wood, plastic, rubber, and any other non-porous surface.
Best of all, you won’t find the following ingredients in any Puracy products:
All you need to do is thoroughly spray surfaces with Puracy Disinfecting Surface Cleaner, let it sit for 10 minutes, and wipe it away using a clean cloth. Our product is safe for food prep surfaces, so even if your little one puts their mouth on it, there’s no need to be concerned. It couldn’t be easier to safely clean baby toys (and nearly every other surface in your home).