9 Steps to Clean Your Baby's Toys

Squeaky rubber toys, colorful educational tools and all the shapes you can imagine. These are all the staples of a household for a young child. A baby's first experiences are tactile. Soon after your baby arrives, you'll find that their inquisitive little mind will push them to discover the world around them. When your baby starts exploring, they do it through touch--and they'll clutch to their favorite toys like you wouldn't believe. Here are some tips to help you keep your baby's toys clean.

1. When Should You Clean Your Baby's Toys?

Babies latch on to anything and everything in their surroundings. They put their hands (and mouths) on anything in their path, so it's crucial that you clean their toys and belongings regularly. As a good rule of thumb, you should clean your baby's favorite toys at least once a week and plan to wash their entire collection at least once a month.

Having said that, if a toy gets soiled or stained, clean it immediately. You should also take care to clean toys passed between babies during a playdate as soon as possible.

2. The Difference Between Disinfecting and Cleaning

Cleaning your baby's toys is great for preserving them, keeping them tidy and creating a sanitary environment for them to play. You clean toys by washing them, scrubbing them or wiping them down, depending on the manufacturer's instructions and the materials they're made of.

Disinfecting, on the other hand, is more thorough. If your baby gets sick or if they're around sick children, their toys require more than a cosmetic scrub. Disinfecting seeks to get rid of germs and sanitize the toy to the highest possible standards. Keep in mind that there are many methods of disinfecting toys; some are more effective than others.

3. The Basics of Cleaning Your Baby's Toys

Whenever you buy or receive a new toy as a gift for your baby, read the instructions that come in the box. More often than not, the manufacturer provides you with all of the information you need to know about care and maintenance. Also, take note of which toys you can pop into the dishwasher and which are suitable for the laundry machine.

After you wash or disinfect your child's toys, you'll need to dry them before giving them to your baby.

4. Cleaning Stuffed Animals and Plush Toys

Before spraying any water on a plush toy, make sure it's safe to put in water. If the toy is water-safe, there are two options: spot cleaning stains or cleaning with a wet (and clean) rag and mild soap.

At least once a month, vacuum the surface of the toy to get rid of dust and other particles.

Set stuffed animals and plush toys out to dry under direct sunlight.

5. Cleaning Baby Toys Made of Fabric

As with stuffed and plush toys, vacuum fabric toys once a month. Remember, you have to check the label on fabric toys to see if they're water-safe. If they are, you can hand-wash them or use your laundry washing machine. Before putting fabric toys in a laundry machine, be sure to load them in a protective wash bag and opt for the shortest wash cycle. Take the fabric toys out as soon as the cycle is complete and air dry them in the sunlight.

If your baby has a fabric cloth that isn't machine washable, the other option is dry cleaning.

6. Cleaning Plastic Toys

Plastic toys are among the easiest to clean: scrub with detergent and warm water. After you've finished, dry them off with a towel. For toys that come with explicit instructions allowing for dishwasher use, load them for a cycle.

It's not a good idea to air dry plastic toys under direct sunlight. Depending on the quality of the plastic, the heat from the sun could damage the toy.

7. Cleaning Wooden Toys

Wood requires very light maintenance. Wipe with a damp cloth and mild soap and then wipe down with a dry towel. Unlike other types of toys, wooden toys call for as dry a cleaning method as possible. If you drench wooden toys in water, you will likely ruin them.

8. Cleaning Bath Toys

Despite the fact that bath toys are usually used to entertain your baby while bathing, they also need to be washed regularly. Luckily, all you need to do is put them in a bucket or container with hot water and distilled vinegar. After five minutes, rinse them off and let them dry naturally.

9. Disinfecting Baby Toys

For heavy-duty sanitizing, you have to take extra precautions in most cases. After washing with soap and water, disinfect your baby's toys with alcohol or a homemade bleach solution, which calls for one part bleach and ten parts water.

Any toys that you can put in the dishwasher don't need to be disinfected separately.

Your baby's toys keep them entertained, happy and engaged. Once you have a routine down, washing your baby's toys is easy. Remember to stick to a schedule and to always refer to the manufacturer's instructions if you have any questions or doubts.

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