How to keep toys clean & bacteria free

July 28, 2015

Wash toys regularly to keep them clean and bacteria-free. But never use anything toxic. Even if your child no longer chews on toys, hands will wind up in their mouths. Here’s how:

How to keep toys clean & bacteria free

1. Wash easy-to-clean toys

  • Wash rubber and plastic toys with warm water combined with a squirt of dishwashing liquid.
  • Wipe clean with a soft cloth or sponge.
  • Be careful of painted-on features, such as faces, numbers or other designs, as these could rub off.
  • Dry with a cloth or air dry.
  • For bigger plastic toys, such as plastic wagons and plastic playhouses, use a hose, a bucket of soapy water and a soft-bristled scrubbing brush.

2. Wipe metal toys

  • Wipe down tractors, cars and other metal toys with a damp cloth.
  • Water leads to rust, so avoid soap (since suds require rinsing) and don't submerge such toys.
  • If a metal toy or a toy with metal parts does get wet, dry it immediately with a hair dryer to avoid rust.
  • If there are batteries, beeping sounds or blinking lights, don't wet the toy. Water will ruin the circuitry.

3. Clean wooden toys

  • Use a mild solution of a neutral cleaner and water. (Follow the manufacturer's instructions for amounts.)
  • Use a cloth or soft-bristled brush.
  • Don't soak or submerge the wooden toy. Instead, dip the cloth or brush in the soapy water and wipe the toy clean.
  • Rinse with a clean cloth and plain water.
  • Dry with a clean, dry towel.
  • If the toy is scratched, splintered or chipped, or if the water has raised the grain (making the wood feel rough), lightly sand it with fine sandpaper once the toy has dried.

4. Restore oil-based finish

  • If a wooden toy has a natural, oil-based finish, reapply small amounts of oil to keep the wood conditioned.
  • Since toys often wind up in children's mouths (wooden baby chew toys are expressly meant for this purpose), use a food-grade vegetable or paraffin oil.
  • Allow the oil to penetrate for about an hour and then wipe off the excess.
  • It is especially important not to clean wooden toys with harsh chemicals, because wood absorbs and harbours such chemicals.

5. Dress-up dolls

  • Clean Barbies and similar dolls by wiping with a cloth and water mixed with a little dishwashing liquid.
  • Wash hair with baby shampoo. (A drop of hair conditioner will soften the hair.)
  • Don't use any heat source, such as a hair dryer, to dry the hair, as that will turn it frizzy.
  • Instead, comb the hair out, starting from the bottom and working up to remove tangles.
  • Let the doll air dry.
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