As a mom of two now-teenage boys, I totally understand how important it is to keep our kids' toys clean and sanitized for their health and well-being.
With so many toys and cleaning products out there, figuring out where to start can be a bit overwhelming. So, I've put together this guide to help you properly clean and sanitize your little ones' toys.
First off, let's talk about the difference between cleaning and sanitizing.
Cleaning means removing dirt and visible grime from the toys, while sanitizing is all about killing those pesky germs and bacteria. Both are super important for keeping our kids healthy, so it's a good idea to do both regularly.
Depending on the type of toy and what it's made of, there are different ways to clean and sanitize.
Plush toys might need a spin in the washing machine, while plastic toys can be wiped down with a disinfectant solution.
With the tips and tricks in this guide, you'll be a pro at keeping your kids' toys clean and germ-free, making sure they stay healthy and happy.
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Why bother cleaning and sanitizing kids' toys?
Toys get dirty and covered in germs from daily use, and they can also become breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses that can make our kiddos sick.
Kids' immune systems are still developing, which makes them more prone to illnesses than adults. By regularly cleaning and sanitizing their toys, we can help prevent the spread of germs and keep our little ones healthy.
However, don't get too hung up on bugs! Studies have indicated that exposing young children to germs could potentially provide protection against conditions like allergies and asthma as they grow older. Find out more here.
In the next section, we'll talk about the best methods for cleaning and sanitizing different types of toys.
When to tackle cleaning and sanitizing kids' toys
So now we know that keeping our kids' toys clean and sanitized is super important for both their health and the toys' longevity.
But, when should you actually clean and sanitize your kids' toys?
Here are some guidelines:
- After playdates or when toys have been shared with other kids.
- When toys have been dropped on the floor or in dirty areas.
- When toys have been in contact with bodily fluids like saliva, mucus, or urine.
- At the end of the day or after long play sessions.
Keep an eye on your child's behavior and the state of the toys as they play.
If you see that a toy has gotten dirty, it's best to set it aside for cleaning and sanitizing later. Also, if your child has been sick, make sure to clean and sanitize their toys to prevent germs from spreading.
Not every toy needs to be cleaned and sanitized daily. Some toys, like stuffed animals or those that aren't played with often, can be cleaned less often. However, toys that are used daily or shared with other kids should be cleaned and sanitized more frequently.
Different methods for cleaning and sanitizing kids' toys
In this section, let's explore different methods for cleaning and sanitizing our little ones' toys.
- Soap and Water. One of the easiest and most effective ways to clean toys is with soap and water. Just mix a small amount of mild soap with warm water and use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe down the toy. Rinse it with clean water and let it air dry. This method works great for most toys, like plastic, rubber, and metal.
- Dishwasher. If your kid's toys are dishwasher safe, this method is super convenient for cleaning and sanitizing them. Pop the toys on the top rack of the dishwasher and choose the normal or sanitizing cycle. Make sure to thoroughly air or towel dry any toys that might still be wet after the dishwasher.
- Bleach Solution. A bleach solution can be used to sanitize toys that can't be washed in the dishwasher. Mix one tablespoon of bleach with one gallon of water and use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe down the toy. Let it sit for two minutes, then rinse with clean water and let it air dry.
- UV-C Light. UV-C light is a type of ultraviolet light that can be used to sanitize toys. Simply place the toy in a UV-C light sanitizer and let it run for the recommended amount of time. This method is effective for toys that can't be washed or wiped down with soap and water.
- Steam Cleaning. Steam cleaning is another awesome method for sanitizing toys. Use a handheld steam cleaner to steam the toy for a few minutes, then wipe it down with a clean cloth. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the steam cleaner and the toy.
Always remember to read the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and sanitizing your child's toys.
Tips for cleaning and sanitizing kids' toys
Here are some tips to help you keep your kids' toys germ-free:
- Read the labels. Before cleaning any toys, check the labels to see if there are any specific cleaning instructions. Some toys might require special care, like being wiped down with a damp cloth instead of being fully submerged in water.
- Separate by age group. If you have kids of different ages, it's a good idea to separate their toys by age group. This helps prevent the spread of germs and ensures that the toys are being cleaned and sanitized appropriately for each age group.
- Use the dishwasher. Many plastic toys can be safely washed in the dishwasher. Choose the normal or sanitizing cycle and heated dry, and make sure to thoroughly air or towel dry any toys that might still be wet after the dishwasher.
- Sanitize plush toys. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or plush toy, you can sanitize it using a mild detergent and laundry sanitizer. Hang the toy to dry or use the dryer, depending on the care instructions on the toy's tag.
- Wipe down electronic toys. Electronic toys should be wiped down with a damp cloth and a disinfectant spray or wipe. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and sanitizing these types of toys.
- Regularly clean high-touch areas. Toys that are frequently touched, like play kitchens or train sets should be cleaned and sanitized regularly. Pay special attention to areas where germs can easily accumulate, such as knobs, handles, and buttons.
Always start by cleaning off any dirt or debris with soap and water. Then, sanitize the toys by reducing the number of germs to safe levels using a solution of water and bleach or a disinfectant spray. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label and let the toys dry completely before letting your child play with them again.
If you have plush toys that can't be washed in the washing machine, try using a mild detergent and laundry sanitizer. And for toys with batteries or lights, wipe them down with a damp rag dipped in a solution of bleach and water, then dry with a clean rag.
It's also important to clean and sanitize toys more frequently when your child is sick or has been playing with other children who are sick.
Not only does cleaning and sanitizing help prevent the spread of germs and illnesses, but it also helps prolong the life of the toys. And who knows, maybe you'll even get a little extra playtime out of them before they move on to the next thing!