In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping yourself and your surroundings — especially your home — clean is more important than ever. This should include everything your child touches often, like toys.
But wait! First, remember that cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing are three different things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning removes germs and dirt and is usually using water and soap or detergent. It doesn’t necessarily kill germs but can still help halt the spread of infections.
On the other hand, disinfecting kills germs on surfaces using chemicals. It doesn’t necessarily clean or remove germs but can lower the risk of spreading infections further. Finally, sanitizing lowers the number of germs on objects through either cleaning or disinfecting.
How to clean hard plastic toys
To clean plastic toys like cars, Legos, and pretend kitchen items, first, place them in a bucket or tub filled with hot, soapy water. Scrub them to get rid of debris, rinse them in clean water, and then let them air-dry. Next, fill up the bucket or tub with a solution of disinfectant (refer to the product directions to know how much of it to mix with water). Soak the toys in this solution, rinse them in clear water, and then let them air-dry.
Good Housekeeping also suggests disinfecting or sanitizing plastic toys using either Clorox or Lysol wipes, a cloth soaked in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, or a solution of 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach and a gallon of water.
How to clean porous and battery-operated toys
To clean porous and battery-operated toys like wooden blocks, books, and tablets, first, wipe them down with a cloth that has been soaked in hot water. Use a brush to get rid of debris, rinse the toys, and then let them air-dry.
Next, soak another piece of cloth in a disinfectant solution (refer to the product directions to know how much of it to mix with water). Use that cloth to wipe the toys and let the solution sit for the time stated by the product that is needed to kill germs. Then, get another piece of cloth, soak it in clear water, and use it to get rid of any remaining dirt or disinfectant solution on the toys. Let the toys air-dry.
To clean electronic toys, start by disconnecting them or removing their batteries. Get a piece of cloth, dip it in warm, soapy water, and wipe any dirt or grime on them. Make sure not to let any liquid get into the electronic components of the toys. Rinse the toys with cloth dipped in clean water.
Use a disinfecting wipe or cloth dipped in a solution of four teaspoons of chlorine bleach and a quart of water to kill bacteria on the surfaces of the toys. Leave those surfaces wet for five minutes (or whatever time stated by the wipes’ label to kill germs), and then let the toys air-dry.
How to clean plush toys
To clean plush toys that are washing machine-safe (check the product label to be sure), put them in a pillowcase, and secure the opening into a knot. Wash these in warm water on the gentle cycle and a slow spin. Later, leave the toys in the pillowcase and dry them on a low-heat setting.
Plush toys that are not washing machine-safe should be hand-washed. First, dip a cloth in warm, soapy water and wipe it all over the toys. Get another piece of cloth, dip it in clean water, and use it to rinse the toys. Let the toys air dry (you may also use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process).