Written by Stacey Kelleher. Reviewed by Sean Busch.
Whether they’re reaching for their favorite toys or rediscovering some that had been forgotten about, it’s important to stay on top of our cleaning game. This is especially true before and after playdates.
To keep your children’s toys and play areas clean, we’ve compiled simple tips to eliminate dirt and germs while encouraging good hygiene habits.
Common Germs Lurking on Kids’ Toys
Even if you’re meticulous about keeping your home neat and tidy, the germiest spots in your home almost always include kids’ toys.
Some of the most common germs on children’s toys and play equipment include:
Additionally, COVID-19 can live on surfaces anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the material.
Want a Clean Play Space? Start by Tidying up
Whether your child has a favorite spot to play – or a dedicated playroom – keep this space organized to reduce clutter and grime.
1. Get Rid of Broken/Unused Toys
Each month, make it a point to go through your kids’ toys to discard broken toys. If some unused toys are in good condition, consider donating them to charity or giving them to younger children (after thoroughly cleaning them, of course).
It might be good to consider a “one in, one out” method for toys. In other words, for every new toy a kid receives, they should give an old/unused one to charity. Tackling this task as a family encourages children to be more charitable and less focused on material possessions.
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2. Keep a Few Toys Out at a Time
Allowing a few toys out at a time helps keep clutter to a minimum. It also makes clean-up much easier. If kids want to play with new toys, make sure they put their other ones away first.
3. Wash Hands Before & After Playtime
To reduce the spread of germs throughout the play area (and your home), children should wash their hands before and after they play with their toys. The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. That’s about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, or the first 3 verses of Baby Shark (i.e. with Baby, Mommy, and Daddy).
If your children are playing outside – or soap and water aren’t handy – hand sanitizer is the next best choice. To properly use hand sanitizer, use enough product to cover both hands and ensure that your kid vigorously rubs their hands together for 15-20 seconds.
How Often Should I Clean My Children’s Toys?
Cleaning toys should be a part of your weekly cleaning routine. At a time when we’re all trying to reduce the spread of illness, it doesn’t hurt to clean and disinfect toys (and other high-touch areas in your home) more often.
How to Clean Children’s Toys with Natural Products
To reduce the accumulation of bacteria, mold, and fungi on playthings, you need to clean them regularly. Different types require different methods, so we’ve outlined the best methods for cleaning toys.
How to Clean Wood Toys
Repeatedly dunking wooden toys in water can cause them to warp over time. Instead, use a gentle microfiber cloth that’s sprayed with our Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner (or dampened with soap and warm water). Allow them to air dry after cleaning. Since younger children tend to put toys in their mouths, avoid using wood furniture polishes.
How to Clean Plastic Toys
Most plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but always check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure they’re dishwasher-safe. To keep them from warping, place smaller toys in a colander on the top shelf.
If you’re unsure whether certain toys can be run through the dishwasher, a solution of hot, soapy water also works well. An old toothbrush and Puracy Dish Soap is ideal to get into those tiny nooks and crannies that collect dirt and germs – especially in bath toys.
Using an aerated faucet, rinse plastic toys thoroughly with cold water to remove water and soap residue. Squeeze or shake toys over the sink to get rid of remaining water droplets, then air dry them on a drying rack or clean towel.
How to Clean Stuffed Animals (and Other Plush Toys)
It may be tough to pry your child’s favorite teddy bear away from them, but it’s necessary to clean it with regularity.
- Spot-treat stains with Puracy Stain Remover, as directed. Take time to check for loose parts or fabric tears.
- Depending on the label instructions, you may be able to pop stuffed animals, blankets, and other soft toys right in the washer with a gentle laundry detergent. We recommend using a mesh laundry bag.
- If you want to sanitize stuffed animals, it’s recommended to shampoo or launder these items using the hottest water possible.
- For delicate toys that can’t be machine-washed, follow the directions on our Natural Stain Remover.
How to Disinfect Your Child’s Toys
While cleaning is necessary to remove germs, it doesn’t kill them. That’s why you should follow cleaning with disinfecting.
If you use a diluted bleach solution (4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water) you're going to need to follow manufacturer instructions. This means thoroughly rinsing all surfaces to remove any potential residue.
Or you can use Puracy Disinfecting Spray instead.
Our biodegradable, CDC-approved, EPA-listed Disinfecting Surface Spray cleans just about any non-porous surfaces. And it kills 99.9+% of germs and viruses within 10 minutes of dwell time.
Simply spray this hydrogen peroxide disinfectant onto your children’s toys, let it stand for 10 minutes, then wipe using a clean, dry microfiber towel. You don’t have to worry about your child accidentally ingesting bleach residue or combining the wrong cleaning agents.
Keeping Outdoor Toys Safe and Clean
Don’t forget about outdoor toys like swing sets, bicycles, and sports equipment. First, carry out routine checks to make sure toys and equipment aren’t broken or missing parts. As long as you follow product instructions, you can clean outdoor play equipment just like indoor toys.
For extra-dirty outdoor materials, start by cleaning them off with a garden hose. Next, use a soft-bristled brush and Puracy Dish Soap, then follow with the other cleaning steps outlined above.
Avoid Sandboxes (or Keep Them Covered)
Sandboxes are a magnet for curious little ones, but they’re also one of the dirtiest spots on the playground. Sandboxes can contain parasitic germs like ringworm, toxoplasmosis, and C. diff bacteria, which are transmitted especially by animals depositing waste in the sand.
Unless you’re absolutely certain about your local sandbox’s hygiene, it’s best to steer children away from them. If you have a sandbox at home, keep it clean and germ-free by:
- Checking diapers for leaks before children enter the sandbox.
- Making sure children don’t eat the sand.
- Washing kids’ hands immediately after they play in the sandbox.
- If sand gets wet, allowing it to dry in direct sunlight before recovering.
- Keeping sandbox covered when not in use.
4 Tips for Limiting the Spread of Playground Germs
Here are a few simple ways to continue avoiding germs and illnesses at playgrounds, parks, and beaches.
1. Carry Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer
When you’re away from home and unable to wash hands with soap and water, use an antibacterial sanitizer, like Puracy Gel Hand Sanitizer (which is perfect for little hands).
They both kill 99.9% of germs without burning, drying, or irritation. And their plant-based moisturizers leave skin soft and smooth.
To help children use hand sanitizer effectively:
- Pump a small amount of sanitizer into their hands.
- Rub sanitizer over every part of both hands.
- Rub hands together until dry (at least 15 seconds).
2. Encourage Good Hygiene
While we can’t wipe down every single playground surface, we can teach children to keep their hands off their faces and out of their mouths. In fact, it’s one of the best, easiest ways to avoid spreading germs, especially when kids are back in daycares and schools.
Remind children that when they have to cough or sneeze, they should turn away from the playground and any people who are in close proximity. Teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbow and then wash that area (with soap and water) as soon as they can get to a sink.
3. Implement Bath Time When You Get Home
Instead of tracking germs through your house, have kids remove their shoes, immediately throw clothes into the washing machine, and march up to the bathroom to wash up. A rich, sudsy bubble bath isn’t just the perfect way to end playtime – it washes away dirt and grime without drying or irritating even the most sensitive skin.
4. Hold off on Playdates
As we transition out of shelter-in-place, some habits are worth continuing. For example, if children aren’t feeling well (or showing symptoms of illness), hold off on playdates until they feel better.
Anyone who’s had a stomach bug go through the family knows just how unpleasant – and contagious – they can be. Your child may not want to forego the fun, but remind them that it’s both necessary (and temporary) and to keep everyone healthy.
Always consult your physician for individual care, but the following guidelines are typically recommended:
- Children with flu-like symptoms should stay home.
- Children with fevers should remain at home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medications.)
- Immunocompromised children may need to stay home longer.
Fight Germs & Viruses All Year Round with Puracy
Keeping clean hands and a clean home are the first steps to reducing exposure to germs and viruses. And our Disinfecting Surface Cleaner is designed (and proven) to remove life’s biggest and smallest messes.