Contributed by Breathing Room
Whether or not there’s a global health pandemic going on, every parent needs to stay vigilant in keeping their children and homes safe and protected from preventable diseases.
There are plenty of precautions we can take to keep ourselves and our kids healthy. Cleaning kids toys regularly is one of them and is a big must, especially these days when the whole world seems to have the sniffles.
If your child or any of his or her friends are at the age where toys are still going in their mouths or if they’ve been sick, these are all good reasons for a round-up, followed by disinfection. The good news is that it’s a lot easier to get rid of germs than you might think.
But first, a word on what disinfecting children’s toys really means.
Cleaning vs Disinfecting
According to the Center for Disease Control, there’s a difference between cleaning and cleaning kids toys.
While cleaning removes surface dirt and germs (like a spirited wash with soap and hot water), it doesn’t necessarily kill them. Cleaning reduces the chance of passing a cold on by lowering germs in number, thereby reducing the risk of catching something.
Disinfecting via chemicals doesn’t necessarily clean or remove germs, but it does something even more important — it kills them. When done after cleaning, it further reduces the risk of an infection spreading. And cleaning on either side of disinfection makes for super-clean toys!
The best way to clean toys varies depending on both the toy’s material and how it’s built:
- For simple plastic toys, you can either hand wash with soap and warm water or set them on the top rack of your dishwasher. Bonus:if your dishwasher has a cycle for sanitizing, you can clean and disinfect all in one!
- Larger playthings can be cleaned similarly, with care. Remove batteries where applicable to prevent corrosion or water getting inside the toy.
- Fabric items, such as well-loved stuffed animals, blankets and knitted items can be spot cleaned or, if they can handle it, put in the washing machine for a thorough cleanse. Placing more delicate items inside a pillowcase can make sure the spin is as gentle as possible.
The solution to germ spreading is disinfection using a solution of one tablespoon of bleach for every gallon of water.
- After cleaning toys, wipe them down with this solution and then let dry
- If washing is ill-advised, you can also disinfect in a nice, hot germ-incinerating dryer for 15 minutes
Worried about exposing your kids to unsafe chemicals and ingredients? Try the following ways of cleaning toys naturally:
- A mixture of vinegar and water is an excellent disinfectant for your toys. Mix vinegar with water and spray to the toys until they get wet. Rinse the toys off and let them air-dry.
- Putting plush toys in the washing machine is not a problem but if you are afraid that they might somehow get ruined, cover them with baking soda, leave them for 20 minutes and then shake the soda off or vacuum it until there is none left on the toy.
- Tea tree oil has excellent ant-bacterial properties. Pour some water on a spray bottle and mix a few drops of tea tree oil and spray onto the toy. Wipe it with a clean cloth afterwards.
How Often To Clean Kids Toys
Cleaning your children’s toys should be done pretty regularly, especially if someone has been sick.
It’s important to note that germs and other bacteria live everywhere. Most of them are harmless and some can even be good for your child in that it’s important to build his immunity. But regular cleaning and disinfection is important to keep the nasty ones — the cold- and flu-causing cooties — at bay.
See how to clean your hands the right way here.