How to Sanitize Different Types of Baby Toys

Published July 5, 2018
cleaning plastic truck

Keep some peace of mind as your little one plays by taking time to sanitize her toys. Avoid harsh chemicals by using the soaps you already use for baby's bath, laundry, and dishes or common household products and methods that can combat germs.

Sanitizing Soft Toys

Check to see if the toy has cleaning directions on the tag and follow those when possible. Avoid strong disinfectants like bleach as they can discolor the toys and may not completely rinse out of stuffing.

Washing Machine Method

Teddy Bear Laundry

Many soft toys can be cleaned in your household washer and dryer as long as they don't have batteries, inner structural pieces, or electronic components. Spot treat with a baby wipe or get a deeper clean in your washer.

  1. Place toys in a pillowcase and tie the top in a knot.
  2. Wash the case of toys on a gentle cycle in cold water with the detergent you use for baby's clothes.
  3. Dry the case of toys on low heat.
  4. Vintage and handmade toys should be hung to dry, but not in direct sunlight.

Freezing Method

If you're hoping to avoid tons of extra work and all cleansers, try throwing teddy and other plush toys in the freezer.

  1. Put soft toys in a zip-top bag and squeeze out excess air.
  2. Close the bag and place in the freezer.
  3. Freeze for at least three hours, but preferably overnight.

Cleaning Electronic Toys

Always remove the batteries or unplug a toy before cleaning. Soap is not recommended on toys with batteries because it can leave a residue that attracts dirt.

  • Disinfecting wipes: Look for a mild wipe that has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Baking soda paste: Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one drop of water to form a paste.

Plush Toys With Batteries

You'll need to clean the plush parts and the battery compartment separately.

  1. Use the vacuum hose and brush attachment to give the soft parts a quick cleaning and spot treat stains with a baby wipe.
  2. Wipe the outside of the battery compartment and other plastic components with the wipe or a baking soda paste.
  3. Wipe those surfaces with a damp cloth dipped in plain water.
  4. Dry hard surfaces with a clean cloth and allow plush to air dry.

Wooden Toy Sanitizing

Wooden toys like blocks and cars can warp if soaked in water, so you'll need to spot clean these.

  1. Dip a microfiber cloth in a 50/50 soap to water cleaning solution and wring until almost dry. Use the soap you already use on baby or his dishes.
  2. Wipe the toy with the cloth.
  3. Wipe the toy again with a second microfiber cloth dipped in plain water.
  4. Allow to air dry.

Board Book Cleaning

Opt for a baby wipe or barely damp cloth to clean board books.

  1. Dip a cloth into a 50/50 white vinegar to water or soap to water cleaning solution and wring until nearly dry.
  2. Wipe each cover, then each page gently with the cloth.
  3. Wipe all pages with a damp cloth dipped in plain water.
  4. Open the book so the pages are separated and stand upright so they dry.

Sanitizing Plastic/Rubber Toys

Rubber and plastic toys are often the easiest to clean. If the toy has lots of crevices, use a small bristled scrubber to remove the gunk before cleaning.

Dishwasher Method

Toys In Dishwasher

Place toys in the silverware tray of the dishwasher or collect them in a colander that fits on the top dishwasher rack. Run on the most gentle cycle with cold or warm water and allow them to air dry.

Spot Cleaning or Single Toy Cleaning

Use a toothbrush and your choice of cleaning solution to sanitize the entire toy. Then rinse it off with water and let it air dry.

  • Mix white vinegar or soap to water in a 50/50.
  • Make a paste with one tablespoon of baking soda and one drop of water for plastic toys or one drop of mild dish soap for rubber toys.

Soaking Method

Use this method for large batches of toys or those in need of the deepest clean. Soak toys for 15 minutes to an hour in your chosen solution. Allow toys time to air dry, then rinse with regular water and allow them to air dry again.

  • Add a few drops of dish soap a sink full of warm water
  • Add half a cup of vinegar to a sink full of warm water
  • Add one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of warm water

Cleaning Toys With Hair

Toys like pony's or other dolls with hair require two-step cleaning methods.

  1. Wipe the body down with a damp cloth dipped in a soap or vinegar cleaning solution.
  2. Put a few drops of dish soap on the hair and gently scrub. Then rinse the hair and lay flat to dry.

When to Clean Baby Toys

A completely sterile home environment isn't necessary, however there are certain times when toy cleaning is a must.

  • After play dates
  • After baby's been sick
  • When playing with an old toy that hasn't been touched in a while
  • About every week after a toy has been regularly played with

Keep It Clean

Baby toys spend a lot of time on the floor and inside mouths, so they can easily collect a lot of germs. Keep your baby's favorite playthings clean and fun by adding toy cleaning to your regular household schedule.

How to Sanitize Different Types of Baby Toys