Most toddlers have no trouble collecting a mountain of toys thanks to generous family members and friends. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure their toys stay clean after your kiddo is finished playing with them and (probably) putting them in their mouth. But what do you clean them with? Many cleaners on the market have harsh and harmful ingredients in them that can be unsafe for small children. What’s the best cleaning option that is safe yet effective?
There are many homemade and store-bought options. The main thing to ensure is that the products you are using are kid-safe and baby-friendly. Make sure to stay away from products with bleach, ammonia or harsh fragrances in them. Of course, these ingredients can be useful for other cleaning jobs in the house (like for bathrooms) but exposing your kiddo to them can be dangerous. Thankfully, there are many cleaning products with ingredients derived from plants that can easily clean and sanitize toys safely. Keep in mind that no matter what, ALL cleaning products should be stored away from children and out of their reach.
If you want to make an easy all-purpose cleaner at home, all you need is water, kid-safe liquid soap and tea tree oil. Studies show that tea tree oil is helpful in killing certain bacteria, viruses and fungi, according to Healthline, an online health resource. Combine three cups of water, four to five drops of liquid soap and 30 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle before using the spray to make sure everything is combined. This cleaner can be used to sanitize hard plastic baby toys and play area equipment.
If you want to go the store-bought route, some popular and safe brands on the market right now are Babyganics and Everspring. These brands’ products are plant-derived and leave out harsh chemicals, making them safe for toys and play areas that are frequently touched by kiddos.
For plush toys, blankets and fabric books, chances are they are safe to throw in your washing machine! Run them through a normal cycle with your everyday kid-safe detergent to make sure they are sanitized. As long as none of the toys have plastic pieces on them, they can be thrown in the dryer as well. Just double-check any product tags for care instructions.
For hard plastic toys, many of them are dishwasher safe, which is such a relief. Run them through a normal dishwasher cycle with your everyday kid-safe dish detergent. The soap and hot water will kill off any unwanted bacteria. For those toys that you know are not dishwasher safe, wipe them down with hot water and dish detergent. Please note that bath toys need extra attention when cleaning, as water can get trapped in them and mold can grow. It is better to wash them by hand and air dry so that the water can drip out of any holes.
As a rule of thumb, you should sanitize or wash your toddlers’ toys at least once a week if they are used every day. For toys or play equipment that they use less often, sanitize them every two weeks. With these efforts, you can rest easy knowing that your kiddos’ toys are clean and safe for all-day play!
*Keep all cleaning materials away from children. Make sure all cleaning product is washed off of toys before giving back to children.