How to Safely Clean Baby Toys

baby toysI’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little bit of a germaphobe.  Before having kids, I always had my trusty squirt bottle of bleach cleaner and Clorox wipes to clean and sanitize my house.  Although I still use bleach in my bathroom, I have found gentler and less abrasive options to clean my kids’ toys.  I clean most of our toys using the following three methods:

Vinegar: Instead of a bleach cleaner, I now use a vinegar solution to sanitize toys.  To make the vinegar solution, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a squirt bottle.  Spray the toys down with the solution, let them sit for about 15 minutes, and then wipe off and solution that is still on the toys.  Vinegar is a dilute solution of acetic acid which denatures proteins in many viruses and bacteria that cause colds and other illnesses, making it a suitable–and safe–cleaner to sanitize.  I clean many of our larger plastic/rubber toys, toys with batteries, wooden toys, and board books with the vinegar solution.  Just as a warning, some people are very sensitive to the smell of vinegar, like my husband, so make sure you can open a window or two if needed. You can also infuse your vinegar with natural scents like lemon, thyme, or lavender.

Dishwasher: Many toys are dishwasher safe, and it is a great tool to use to clean many toys at once.  Any toy that is made out of plastic or rubber that fits in the dishwasher can be washed in it.  Toys that require batteries or are made out of wood should not be cleaned in the dishwasher.  I set my dishwasher to the sanitize setting (or use your hottest setting), add regular dishwashing detergent, and run the dishwasher.  Let the toys completely air dry before using.  I always use my best judgement about whether or not to put something in the dishwasher.  If there is any question about whether or not it’ll melt or get ruined by the dishwasher, I clean the toy using the vinegar solution instead.

Washing Machine: I use the washing machine to clean our blankets, playmats, and stuffed animals (again no batteries).  I put the stuffed animals in a pillow case (two to three together in one pillowcase), and tie the top, to offer a little extra protection.  Use the hot setting and wash like normal.  To dry, you can either let the toys air dry or dry on a low heat, gentle setting in your dryer.

Kids are inherently germy and dirty.  Although I will never be able to completely stop the spread of colds and other illnesses in my house, using these three methods keeps our toys as clean as possible.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

 

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