Written by Stacey Kelleher. Reviewed by Sean Busch.
As parents of babies and toddlers, it’s important to stay on top of our cleaning game – especially before and after playdates!
Whether you need to know how to clean wooden toys, outdoor play equipment, or grungy stuffed animals, these simple tips eliminate dirt and germs.
How Often Should I Clean My Children’s Toys?
Even if your home is neat and tidy, toys and play equipment are germy spots in your home that can harbor:
- Staphylococcus aureus
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.
Start by Tidying up
Whether there's a corner of their bedroom or a dedicated play space, organization is key to reduce clutter and grime.
1. Get Rid of Broken/Unused Toys
Every month, go through your kids’ toys to discard broken ones. If some are in good condition (but unused), consider donating them to charity or neighbors once they've been cleaned.
Another great way to tackle overflow is – for every new toy a kid receives – they should give an old/unused one to charity. This could also encourage children to be more charitable and less focused on material possessions.
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, putting other ones away first is an appropriate chore for all ages.
3. Wash Hands Before & After Playtime
Before and after playtime, children should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. That’s about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice or three verses of Baby Shark (e.g. Baby, Mommy, Daddy).
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If soap and water aren’t handy outdoors, hand sanitizer is the next best choice. To properly use hand sanitizer, use enough product to cover both hands and ensure that hands are rubbed vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
The Best Way to Clean Toys
To reduce bacteria, mold, and fungi buildup, you need to clean toys regularly. And in order to properly disinfect them, toys need to be cleaned first.
How to Clean Wooden Toys
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.
Pro Tip: Because younger children tend to put toys in their mouths, avoid using wood furniture polishes on them.
How to Clean Plastic Toys
Most plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but always check the manufacturer’s instructions first. To keep them from warping, place smaller toys in a colander on the top shelf.
You can also use a solution of hot, soapy water and an old toothbrush to get into tiny nooks and crannies. Next, use an aerated faucet, then rinse thoroughly with cold water to remove water and soap residue. Squeeze or shake toys over the sink, then air dry them on a drying rack or a clean towel.
How to Disinfect Stuffed Animals & Other Plush Toys
It's tough to pry your child’s favorite teddy bear away from them, but you need to clean it regularly.
- If you see stains, spot treat them with Puracy Stain Remover (as directed).
- Look for loose parts and/or tears in the fabric. Repair these before washing.
- Check label instructions: You may be able to pop stuffed animals, blankets, and other soft toys right in the washer using a mesh laundry bag.
- If you want to sanitize stuffed animals, shampoo or launder these items on the hottest setting possible.
- For delicate toys that can’t be machine-washed, follow the directions on our Natural Stain Remover.
How to Disinfect Toys with Bleach
To kill the majority of germs, follow cleaning with disinfecting – but always be aware of the potential dangers of bleach.
You can spray hard and non-porous surfaces with a bleach solution for cleaning toys (4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water). You may also soak them in a basin full of the bleach solution for five minutes. Afterwards, always thoroughly rinse with water and let toys air dry.
Pro Tip: If you use bleach, always follow manufacturer instructions and thoroughly rinse all surfaces to remove any residue.
How to Disinfect Toys Without Bleach
We don't think that parents should have to worry about caustic chemicals – and we've got an ideal alternative. Our Disinfecting Surface Cleaner.
- hydrogen peroxide-based
- tested to kill 99.9+% of germs and viruses in 10 minutes.
Simply spray this hydrogen peroxide disinfectant onto objects, let stand for 10 minutes, and wipe using a clean, dry microfiber towel. It's the ideal disinfectant spray for baby toys.
How to Clean Outdoor Toys
Don’t forget about outdoor toys like swing sets, bicycles, and sports equipment. 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.
Pro Tip: For extra-dirty outdoor materials, clean them off with a garden hose. Using a soft-bristled brush and Puracy Dish Soap, follow with the other cleaning steps outlined above.
How to Limit Playground Germs
Here are a few simple ways to continue avoiding germs and illnesses at playgrounds, parks, and beaches.
1. Encourage Good Hygiene
We can’t wipe down every single playground surface, but we can teach kids how to keep their hands off their faces (and out of their mouths).
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 a sink is available.
2. Stop Germs at the Door
Don't let kids track germs through your house: Have them remove their shoes, immediately throw clothes into the washing machine, and march to the bathroom to wash up. A rich, sudsy bubble bath is the perfect way to end playtime: It washes away grime and germs while nourishing sensitive skin.
3. Avoid Sandboxes (or Keep Them Covered)
Sandboxes can contain parasitic germs like ringworm, toxoplasmosis, and C. diff bacteria, which are transmitted especially by animals depositing waste in the sand. Try to steer children away from public ones. If you have a sandbox at home, keep it clean by:
- Keeping the sandbox covered when not in use.
- Checking diapers for leaks before children enter the sandbox.
- Making sure children don’t eat the sand.
- Washing hands immediately after playing.
- Allowing wet sand to dry in direct sunlight (before replacing the cover).
4. Hold off on Playdates
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 it's vital to hold off on playdates until they feel better.
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.)
- Children who are immunocompromised may need to stay home longer.
Fight Germs 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.