hands over sink cleaning toys

How to clean baby’s toys to keep them from getting sick

Amy

By Amy Roach

hands over sink cleaning toys

Baby toys are a baby’s best friend—and yours, as they keep baby busy and happy while helping to promote their cognitive growth and development. If you don’t keep them clean, however, baby toys can be breeding grounds for germs for your little one. After all, babies are pretty rough on their toys: they chew them, spit up on them, share them with others, and touch them over and over. That combination is a natural environment for the growth of germs and mold.

Luckily, most toys are fairly easy to clean, and as long as you’re diligent, you don’t have to worry too much about your baby toys making your baby sick. If you’re unsure about how to clean baby toys, and how often they need to be cleaned, this handy guide will help.

In this article:

  • How to clean baby toys?
  • What cleaning methods work for what kind of toys?
  • How often do I need to clean baby toys?
  • How to clean baby toys

When it comes to cleaning, the biggest challenge is understanding there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The first thing to know is that toys made of different materials need different cleaning solutions. Also, that one toy which baby can’t live without vs one they barely use will need different levels of cleaning power. As a general rule, you’re going to need either appliances; disinfecting wipes; or warm water, a mild cleaning solution, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease.

What cleaning methods work for what kind of toys?

Here’s a breakdown of common cleaning methods and which toys you can apply them to:

Washing machine

We love toys that you can toss in the machine! Check labels to be sure they are safe for machine-washing, then use a mild, baby-friendly detergent and wash in your machine’s delicate cycle. You can also put machine-washable toys in a pillow for safeguarding, or purchase a specially designed toy bag like this one. This works best for:

  • Stuffed animals
  • Loveys
  • Dolls (fabric only, not plastic)

Hand wash with soap and water

When you can’t launder a well-loved fabric toy, hand washing with a cloth and warm, soapy water is a great substitute. Try a typical hand-washing method like you would for clothing or other fabric goods: with a sudsy solution of mild detergent and warm water, use your hands and/or a wash rag or microfiber cloth to clean the toy, then rinse lightly, and air dry. This method works for:

  • Stuffed animals
  • Loveys
  • Dolls
  • Cloth books, blocks, etc
  • Crinkle toys
  • Solid plastic toys that are not dishwasher-safe

Dishwasher (top rack only!)

Super-easy and effective, the dishwasher works great for toys that are dishwasher-safe. Be care to use the top rack only. Secure toys tightly, or place them in a mesh bag to keep them from getting caught or damaged. You can use the regular wash cycle or a sanitize cycle if youf dishwasher has one. Use for:

  • Solid plastic toys (rubber rings, plastic animals, plastic blocks, etc.)
  • Solid bath toys

Surface clean with a wipe or a cloth with cleaning solution

This may end up being your most-used cleaning approach, as nearly everything can be cleaned this way. For toys with only mild dirt, you can use a mild disinfectant wipe: wipe the toy down thoroughly and allow it to dry completely. For a next-level surface clean, generally, you’ll want to mix your cleaning solution, then soak a rag or microfiber cloth in the solution, and wring it out so it’s not sopping wet before thoroughly wiping down the toy. There are a few different cleaning agents that can be mixed with warm water (we recommend a 1:1 ratio):

  • Mild baby detergent
  • Mild baby shampoo
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Vinegar

Spot-cleaning is great for:

  • Plastic toys
  • Plush toys
  • Bath toys
  • Electronic toys (just be careful to keep rag away from battery compartment)
  • Wooden toys (be sure the cloth is not too wet so you don’t damage the wood)
  • Silicone and rubber toys

Disinfect

When your baby toys are at their grimiest, it’s time for a thorough disinfection. We recommend soaking these toys for at least 10 minutes in a bleach solution at a ratio of 1.5 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water. After soaking, thoroughly rinse the toys and allow to air dry completely. This method is best for:

  • Solid plastic toys
  • Bath toys

How often do I need to clean baby toys?

We get it: You want to make sure baby’s toys are squeaky clean for playtime, but you don’t want to spend all of your time cleaning them. Here’s a breakdown of reasonable cleaning frequency:

  • Hard plastic and bath toys: clean and sanitize once every week if they are used every day
  • Plush toys and stuffed animals: lander or spot clean once every week or every other week
  • Electronic toys: surface clean weekly
  • Plastic toys: For toys that baby uses each day and frequently puts in their mouth, we recommend a surface clean every day; for plastic toys that don’t get as much use, once every few days is sufficient.
Amy

Written by:

Amy Roach

New York-based journalist-turned-business storyteller Amy Roach is a veteran writer and editor who has contributed to many lifestyle, family, business, trade, and educational publications. Currently, she runs her own boutique writing firm, providing content, copywriting, and communications services to a wide range of businesses. When not playing with words, she's playing with her two children, Natalie and Owen. Mom duty takes her from the soccer, football, and basketball sidelines to art shows, science fairs, and band concerts. Despite the occasional teenage drama and arguments over too much screen time, she still counts parenting as her most-rewarding gig.