Best Way to Disinfect Toys (Quick Answer!)

By KidSpaceStuff •  Updated: 05/15/24 •  8 min read

Keeping a child’s play area sanitized is more than just a cleanliness routine; it’s a commitment to their health and well-being. Toys, being a child’s constant companion, can accumulate a fair amount of germs and dirt quickly, especially if they’re often taken outdoors or shared among friends. Given this, it’s vital to understand the best methods to disinfect them without causing any harm to the toy or, more importantly, the child.

In this article, I’ll dive deep into the most effective, safe, and hassle-free ways to ensure toys are free from harmful bacteria and ready for endless hours of fun. Let’s dig in!

What is the Best Way To Disinfect Toys?

Hands in nitrile gloves are cleaning and disinfecting toys

The best way to disinfect toys is to use a solution of a gallon of water, half bleach, or a mild soap, ensuring that the toys are thoroughly rinsed and left to air dry. 

This method effectively eliminates germs without the use of harsh chemicals. For toys that are electronic or not water-safe, it’s advisable to use disinfecting wipes or a cloth dampened with the vinegar solution. Make sure to wipe every surface and allow the toy to dry completely. Regular cleaning and disinfection can keep toys safe and extend their lifespan.

Why Do We Need to Disinfect Toys?

We must clean and cleanse toys because kids often play with, drop, or sneeze on them, making them dirty and full of germs. Simply washing your hands can help keep you from getting sick, and cleaning toys can do the same. 

Kids who play with dirty toys are more likely to touch their faces or mouths afterward, which can make them sick. The health and safety of our kids are affected by how clean their playthings are.

Types of Toys and Materials

Toys play an essential role in a child’s growth and development. They entertain and help children learn about the world around them. Let’s delve into some common types of toys and their materials.

  1. Plush Toys: Made primarily of soft fabric and stuffing, plush toys, like teddy bears, are cuddly companions for kids. They provide comfort and can also encourage imaginative play.
  2. Educational Toys: These toys, such as puzzles or building blocks, are designed to stimulate a child’s intellect. They help in developing cognitive and problem-solving skills.
  3. Wooden Toys: Durable and eco-friendly, wooden toys like building sets, pull-along toys, and stackers offer tactile experiences and often have a classic, timeless appeal.
  4. Plastic Toys: Made mainly from plastic, these toys range from action figures to dollhouses. They are lightweight and come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.
  5. Outdoor Toys: Items like swings, slides, and balls are meant for outdoor play. They encourage physical activity and interaction with the environment.
  6. Art Supplies: Crayons, paints, and craft kits fall into this category. They stimulate creativity and help improve motor skills.
  7. Electronic Toys include remote-controlled cars, musical toys, or interactive games. They can be engaging, but ensuring they are age-appropriate and used in moderation is essential.

Tools and Supplies You’ll Need

Disinfecting toys is essential to keep children safe from germs and bacteria. Here are some simple tools and supplies to ensure your child’s toys are clean:

The Disinfection Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Plastic Toys 

Plastic toys are versatile and durable but can also harbor germs. To clean them, wash the toys with some mild detergent to remove visible dirt. For a deeper clean, soak them in a bleach solution — a small amount of bleach mixed with water — for a few minutes. This will ensure any lingering germs are killed off. Once they’ve been soaked, it’s vital to rinse them thoroughly to remove any bleach residues. Finish by letting the toys air dry, ensuring they’re thoroughly dried before your child plays with them again.

Wooden Toys 

Wooden toys have a natural charm, but their porous nature can trap germs. To disinfect wooden toys, wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove dirt. If a deeper clean is required, use a mild detergent with water, ensuring the solution doesn’t soak the wood, as this can damage or warp it. After cleaning, it’s crucial to let the toys air dry completely. This prevents any moisture from getting trapped and leading to mold growth.

Fabric Toys

Soft and cuddly, fabric toys are a favorite among children. However, they can also become breeding grounds for germs, especially if they’re often snuggled with. The easiest way to disinfect fabric toys is to put them in the washing machine. Use hot water for the wash cycle, ensuring a thorough clean. Once washed, you can either air dry the toys or put them in a dryer, depending on the care instructions.

Electronic Toys 

Cleaning electronic toys requires extra caution because of their sensitive components. Begin by wiping them with alcohol-based wipes, ensuring the toy’s surface is free from dirt and germs. It’s essential to avoid using water on these toys as it can damage their internal electronics. Additionally, if the toy has batteries, consider removing them before cleaning or ensuring they don’t come into contact with any liquid.

Outdoor Toys 

Toys used outdoors can accumulate dirt and germs from their environment. For more oversized items like slides or ride-ons, a good hosing down will remove most of the visible ground. Consider using a diluted bleach solution for a more thorough clean for playground sets or toys with hard-to-reach nooks. Additionally, allowing these toys to sit in the sunlight can provide a natural disinfection process, as UV rays can help kill bacteria and germs.

When to Disinfect

Toys are a constant companion for kids, but they can quickly become a haven for germs. It’s especially crucial to disinfect them after an illness. Whether it’s a cold, the flu, or any other sickness that has visited your home, cleaning toys can help prevent the spread of harmful germs to other family members. Even if everyone is healthy, cleaning toys at regular intervals, say every few weeks, to ensure they remain sanitary is good practice.

Playdates are another occasion that calls for toy disinfection. When children from different households play together, they can bring along other germs. Similarly, toys taken outside may come in contact with dirt and outdoor bacteria, requiring a thorough cleaning after each play session. And let’s not forget the youngest ones; babies and toddlers have a habit of putting toys in their mouths. So, any toy that’s been mouthed should be disinfected more frequently.

Check out this video to learn top methods for cleaning and disinfecting toys!

Tips for Disinfecting Toys

Tip #1: Read the Instructions: 

Check the toy’s label or manufacturer’s guidelines before cleaning. Some toys may have specific cleaning recommendations or materials that shouldn’t be soaked.

Tip #2: Use Mild Soap: 

For a basic clean, especially for plastic toys, mild soap and warm water work wonders. Scrub, rinse and let them dry.

Tip #3: Natural Solutions: 

White vinegar mixed with water can be a gentle, effective disinfectant for many toys. It’s non-toxic and safe, especially for toys that kids might put in their mouths.

Tip #4: Avoid Excess Moisture: 

For electronic and wooden toys, avoiding too much moisture is essential. Wipe them with a damp cloth and let them air dry completely.

Tip #5: Bleach for Deep Cleaning: 

A diluted bleach solution can disinfect toys thoroughly. However, ensure you rinse the toys well after and let them dry completely before handing them back to the kids.

Tip #6: Rotate and Air Out: 

Instead of frequently cleaning toys, consider rotating them. Let some toys be used while others air out, reducing the need for constant disinfection.

Tip #7: Regularly Scheduled Cleanings: 

Set specific days for toy disinfection like you schedule house cleaning. This ensures toys remain germ-free and reduces the chances of illnesses spreading.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, to clean toys properly, mix a gallon of water with half bleach or a light soap, make sure the toys are completely rinsed, and let them dry naturally. ‘

Whether opting for natural solutions like vinegar or using diluted bleach for a deep clean, it’s crucial always to consider the toy’s material and the manufacturer’s guidelines. Regular cleaning, coupled with being attentive to the specific needs of each toy type, will guarantee a safe and enjoyable playtime for every child. It’s a small step with significant implications for the health and happiness of our young ones. Thanks for reading!