Spring is finally here, and as the brightness of the sun begins to illuminate the grunginess of your child’s toy box, perhaps it’s time to consider a little spring toy cleaning. After working for a decade in the field of early intervention and spending what seemed to be a sizable portion of that time cleaning and disinfecting toys used as part of my work with families, toy cleaning has become, surprisingly even to me, a bit of an area of expertise. As such, there are few things that bother me more now than really dirty, grimy toys…and yet they get that way soooo easily!
Toy cleaning actually isn’t as straightforward as it seems, and knowing what you are doing can make this potentially very big task much simpler. So before you begin tackling a little spring toy cleaning, here are a few helpful toy cleaning tips to get you started…
Remember that not all toys are created equally, and not all toys should be cleaned in the same way!!! Generally speaking, toys can be divided into three cleaning categories:
· SUBMERGABLE TOYS – Most plastic toys, excluding battery operated toys or toys with small holes in which water can become trapped, can be submerged in water. These are the easiest toys to clean, and can be scrubbed down with dish soap and hot water, thoroughly rinsed and allowed to air dry. If you are worried about really disinfecting toys, using a mild bleach solution is most effective. And if you are looking for an easy way out, many of the studier plastic toys (i.e. nesting cups, plastic links, teething rings, etc.) can be washed safely on the top rack of the dishwasher.
· WIPE DOWN TOYS – Many toys should NOT be submerged in water as this may result in damage to the toy. Toys in this category include battery operated and electronic toys, toys with small holes in which water could become trapped, toys with stickers or paper labels, books, some wooden toys, and puzzles. To clean wipe down toys, wipe toys thoroughly with a damp soapy cloth, then again with a clean damp cloth OR use a dry antibacterial cloth OR wipe down with a cloth dampened in mild bleach solution, allowing to air dry.
· CLOTH TOYS – Most cloth toys, including stuffed animals, cloth baby toys, and doll clothes can be easily washed with a mild, baby safe detergent in the gentle cycle of your washing machine. If cloth toys are handmade, delicate, or of great sentimental value, hand washing in warm water using a gentle hand washing detergent is a better option. Allow toys to dry inside on a drying rack or outside on a clothesline.
Before returning clean toys to their rightful place, be sure to thoroughly wipe down the toy box or storage unit. And rather than just dumping all of the toys back into toy chaos, take the opportunity to purge, organize, and rotate your child's toys – it will save your sanity while at the same time creating a better learning environment for your child.
And just a few more HELPFUL HINTS:
· To get into grimy, hard to reach spaces while cleaning your child’s toys, try using an old toothbrush. If that doesn’t do the trick, use the tip of a wooden kebab stick (available at most grocery stores) to dig into all those dirty little crevices.
· For a natural and environmentally friendly cleaning solution, try scrubbing your child’s toys using just a dish brush, water, and a sprinkle of baking powder – a great, non-toxic cleanser.
· To eliminate germs from a hard-to-wash stuffed toy, simply wrap the toy in a plastic bag and pop into the freezer overnight.
Happy toy cleaning, joyful mommies!!!!