Toys are a great learning tool for babies and they often end up making a long journey with your baby around the house, garden, park, playground,... ending several times in your baby’s mouth in the meantime. For babies, it is normal to explore their environment by touching and tasting, so you can be sure that most of their toys have been drooled at least once before falling on the floor. As a consequence, with things constantly ending up in their mouths, babies can easily pick up germs and illnesses from many sources, including their toys. So, it’s crucial to regularly clean your baby’s toys to stop the spread of germs and illness, so they can keep being healthy in their daily adventures.
How often should you clean?
Knowing that children's toys can harbour viruses for hours, even more than 24 hours, and with the fact that the little babies' immune systems are weaker and less developed, is it really necessary to clean toys every day? Although it may surprise some people, in general, the answer is no. Concerning everyday toys, such as baby travel toys, which are always in the diaper bag, and teething toys, just cleaning them once a week is enough. For other toys, once a month with your regular cleaning is fine enough, or when you notice that they're particularly gummed up with food or saliva.
That being said, please be careful and clean toys daily or straight after its use when these situations occur:
Your baby is sick or recovering from a cold or diarrhea
If food, milk, mucus or vomit is spilled on a toy
After organizing a playdate with kids who joyfully shared their toys and saliva
If the toy has been sitting unused for a while accumulating dust and bacteria
How to clean
To start, it is important to remember that cleaning will physically remove the dirt and germs while disinfecting will kill germs. Cleaning should always come first as you can’t disinfect with good results a dirty object. Depending on the toy, different techniques can be used to clean them.
1. On a dishwasher or using water and soap
For toys made completely of plastic (and that don't have batteries) you can place them into the dishwasher and use your normal dishwashing product or, if you don't have one, you can wash them in warm soapy water using, for example, our Arau Baby Foam Bottle Wash, formulated so that is completely safe for babies. The main advantage in using the dishwasher over just warm water is that it will also disinfect the toys due to its high temperature, so if you have one considering using it from time to time.
Don’t forget to also wash the plastic toys used during bath time, as even if they are soaking regularly, they also need, as your bathtub also does, to be cleaned. After, air-dry all the toys well before giving them back to children.
2. Using soapy water with a cloth and/or wipes
For toys made of wood, rubber or with batteries, you won’t be able to soak them into water. Instead, wipe them with a wet cloth inserted before in soapy water (use body soap or dishwashing product) to eradicate the visible dirt. If dirt still remains, do not hesitate to use a clean toothbrush to give it a bit more pressure on the dirty spots. If there is no visible dirt from the start, you can just clean and disinfect the toy with wipes, such as our Arau Baby special wipes that are safe to use for baby belongings.
3. With diluted bleach or white vinegar
For metallic toys that you can’t soak either, the easiest solution is to use a tablespoon of bleach diluted in a quart of water. But if you don’t want to use bleach, another method that works is a mixture of 50% white vinegar and 50% water. It will leave the toys sanitized once air-dried.
4. In your washing machine
For all plush, stuffed animals, blankets or cloth books the easiest option is to use your washing machine, but pay attention beforehand, and carefully read the tag to see if you can put the toy in the machine. Place them in a lingerie bag or in a pillowcase before washing, as they are delicate and we know how much the little ones care about their favorite plush. Lastly, preferably use a detergent for sensitive skin or babies like our natural, additive-free Arau Baby Laundry Soap, for a softer finish. Once it is dry, your baby can play with again.
Young children may always put toys in their mouths, but there is no need to worry. Just remember to clean regularly their belongings, minimizing the spread of germs and sickness in your family and allowing more time to have fun all together.