You wash their bedding, you wash their sippy cups and pacifiers, but how often do you wash and clean your children’s toys? Those icky germs that cause the flu and winter colds are famous for latching on to toys and making little ones sick. By following the tips below, you can help prevent the spread of germs through toys and hopefully keep your little one healthier this cold and flu season.
Hard Surfaced Toys
Battery free hard surfaced toys that look clean can go into the dishwasher to be disinfected. Just be careful with plastic toys that could melt or with painted toys. If the toy looks visibly dirty, spot clean it like you would with dishes before putting it inside the dishwasher.
Toys that might melt can be washed in the sink with soap and water, or sprayed down with kid safe disinfectant. Toys with batteries will need to be wiped clean, but be careful not to submerge them in water or get any of the battery areas wet.
Many stuffed animals and dolls can be cleaned in the washing machine. Check and see if there is a care label first, as it may actually have washing instructions on it. Wash this type of toy on a gentle cycle. Use your judgment on the dryer. Many toys do just fine in the dryer on a low temperature tumble dry, you just need to make sure that the doll or toy doesn’t have any plastic parts that could melt if they get too hot. When it doubt, use the lowest heat setting and check on the toy frequently until it’s dry. You do need to make sure that the toy is dried all the way through though, as you don’t want the inside staying moist and growing mold.
How often should my child’s toys be cleaned?
According to Fisher-Price, toys should be cleaned once a month minimum. If the toy looks dirty, go ahead and clean it. If you had a playdate and another child stuck the toy in their mouth, go ahead and clean it. If your child has been sick, remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Go ahead and clean their toys to prevent them from getting sick again and to prevent them from sharing germs via toys with their friends.
Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners with scary ingredients!
Keep in mind that your little one (and their friends) are probably going to have these toys in their mouth before you know it. Always use cleaners and soaps that are kid safe and pet friendly. Also, when you’re washing toys it’s fine to use regular dish or hand soap, you do not have to use antibacterial soap.
While you’re doing what you can to keep your little one safe from germs this winter, check out our post Eldercare Series: Protecting Your Elder from the Flu. By keeping both grandma and your little one flu free, you also lessen your odds of getting sick!