Tips for keeping your child’s toys clean and sanitized

Young children aren’t usually concerned about where their toys have been. Whether their teething ring is on the floor, their rattler is in the dog’s mouth or their dinosaur is in the dirt outside, babies and toddlers won’t think twice before handling or biting down on their favorite toys when they’re ready to play.

Here are some of our tips on how to best keep your child’s toys clean and sanitized:

  • Plastic baby and children’s toys can be disinfected and sanitized with Clorox or Lysol wipes or a cloth wet with a mixture of 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and one gallon of water. Make sure you let the toys air dry for 30 seconds or more to let the cleaning solution do its work. And any toys cleaned with bleach solutions or sanitizing wipes should be given a quick rinse with water to get rid of any cleaning solution remnants before your child handles them. If the toys are solid without tiny crevices, buttons or holes for screws, they can be washed in the dishwasher in a mesh bag on a gentle cycle.
  • For stuffed animals and other plush toys, check their tag for cleaning instructions. If you can throw them in the washer, put them in a tied up pillowcase and wash them on gentle with low heat. Dry it (in the pillowcase) on low in the dryer or use a hair dryer. If they’re not safe in the washer, spot-clean them with a cloth dipped in a sudsy solution and allow them to air dry.
  • Electronic toys or anything that runs on batteries should only be cleaned on the surface. Give them a wipe down with a wet cloth to remove any grime or sticky spots first. Then use a disinfecting wipe or alcohol wipe to kill any bacteria or viruses on the surface.
  • How often you should clean your child’s toys: Toys that a baby puts into their mouth need the most frequent cleaning. Clean these toys every one to two days. Hard plastic and bath toys are the easiest to clean, so you should clean and sanitize them weekly (especially if they’re played with daily). Toys that don’t get played with as much and stuffed animals can be cleaned a couple times a month or as needed.
  • Hand-washing: Most contact between a child and their toy is made with their hands, so hand-washing can be one of the most effective ways to fight off germs. Help your child learn good hygiene by teaching them to wash their hands well and often. Use lukewarm or cold water and soap and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care.  Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article.  You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance.  Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.