Buzz Light Year and Barbie may seem like your kid’s best friend, but over time they can collect some serious bacteria. Keep playtime healthy by following these cleaning guidelines. If someone in your home has recently been ill, take an afternoon to clean any toys that have been touched. Otherwise, clean your kid’s most popular toys on a monthly basis.
Plastic toys without batteries (dishwasher method). To prevent the spread of bacteria from your plastic toys during playtime, toss them in a mesh bag and put them on the top rack of your dishwasher. You can go ahead and wash them with your other dishes. Note: Barbie’s bod may be plastic, but her hair is not. To keep her locks lovely, keep Barbie out of the dishwasher. We recommend cleaning her as if she had batteries (see step #3).
Plastic toys without batteries (sink method). If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can still get your plastic toys bacteria-free! Fill a sink with hot water, and then add a few tablespoons of mild dish soap. Place your dirty toys in the sink and let them sit for several minutes. Once the toys have soaked for five to ten minutes, use a scouring sponge to scrub the surface. Rinse the soap with warm water and let the toys dry on a towel before putting them back in the toy chest.
Plastic toys with batteries. To de-germ toys with batteries, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar. Liberally spray the toys with vinegar and then wipe the vinegar away. Don’t worry, your race car won’t smell like vinegar for long – the scent dissipates as it dries. Let the battery-operated toys dry on a towel before turning them on or putting them back in the toy chest.
Plush toys. If Mr. Teddy Bear has started to change colors, it’s okay to toss him in the washing machine. Give your kid’s stuffed friends their own cycle and run them through the dryer on the hottest setting twice. If they’re still damp to the touch after two cycles, run them through a third cycle. You want them to be completely dry to avoid any mold or mildew growth. Note: If someone in your house has recently had head lice or bed bugs, you’ll need to get more serious with your plush toys. Seal them in trash bags for a full week to kill the bugs, and then clean them with one of the above methods.
Board games and books. Many game boards and children’s books are made from cardboard, so you want to keep them away from water. Rub them with a soft cloth or paper towel dampened with white vinegar. Tip: Change the cloth you use after every one or two items to avoid spreading germs instead of removing them.