Cleaning toys should be part of regular home cleaning in order to keep young children healthy and happy. With so many different sizes, surfaces, and electronics, where do you start? The first step is to always check the care guide for any specific instructions from the manufacturer. Depending on the type of toy, what the surface is, how often the toy is used, or if a child is sick will determine how often to clean the toy. Follow our easy toy cleaning guide to keep your little ones safe!
Most kids tend to go through cycles with their toys. Unless your kids have been sick or have played with someone who has been sick, wait until your kids aren't playing with a toy before washing it.
Be aware, if using hot soapy water to clean toys, a mineral build-up can occur. Simply remove the build-up by wiping with a rag soaked in vinegar, followed by rinsing with water and then patting dry.
In general, hard toys (wood, plastic, and metal) can be wiped down with disinfecting wipes. Limit the use of wipes on toys with paint or decals because the cleaner in the wipes can take off the paint or decal. Over time, wipes can break down plastic, rubber, and vinyl, making the toy sticky. If you do use wipes, always rinse with water and let air dry.
If your toy has batteries, remember to take the batteries out before you start cleaning. It's a good idea to avoid high heat when washing or drying toys that need batteries. The high heat from a clothes dryer or hairdryer can cause the internal wiring to break or come apart.
Building bricks (Lego, K’nex, Duplo, mega blocks) – Wash these with hot soapy water, rinse in clean water and let them air dry on a towel. Do not wash building bricks in washing or laundry machines as these can make your bricks warp from the high heat.
Wooden toys – Do not soak wooden toys as this can make the wood swell and go out of shape. Wooden toys can be washed with a cloth wrung out in warm soapy water, a disinfecting wipe, or a disinfecting solution. Rinse with clean water and dry them right away. If there are tougher stains, put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or Q-tip, and gently scrub the area; follow up with a rinse with water.
Cars and other vehicles – Hand wash in warm, soapy water, rinse well and let air dry. You can use a toothbrush to get into any fine details. Be careful! Any stickers might come off in the water.
Dolls are often made from either plastic or vinyl. For hard-bodied plastic dolls, spot clean them with a cloth and warm soapy water, rinse, and leave them to air dry.
Vinyl is a soft, porous plastic that can easily absorb scents and dyes. For regular washing, just wipe vinyl with warm soapy water and pat dry. For very dirty dolls, make a paste with warm water and baking soda. With a clean cloth, gently buff the area with baking soda paste until clean, then rinse the area and pat dry.
If your doll has eyes that open and close, take care when washing your doll. These eyes can rust if they get wet. When washing, cover eyes with tape to stop water from seeping into the eyes.
Fabric Toys (stuffed animals, cloth baby toys, and play mats)
Spot clean with a damp cloth and small amount of soap suds for small marks and scuffs. Rinse with a clean damp cloth. For a full clean, place into a lingerie bag or pillowcase tied shut and wash in the washing machine. Use a gentle warm water setting and tumble dry on medium heat for at least 15 minutes. You may need to use a small brush to carefully comb out fur or hair. Do not wash in the washer if the fabric toy has any wired parts.
Toys that have been chewed on – If you are dealing with a fully plastic toy, clean with a disinfecting solution of 2 tbsp chlorine bleach in 4 cups water, rinse in clean water and allow to air dry.
Puzzles and Board Games
Small plastic or rubber parts only can be either hand-washed with warm, soapy water or can be placed in a cutlery tray with lid and washed in the dishwasher.
For board game boards and puzzles, try wiping with a slightly damp cloth. Some board games do not have a plastic coating on the game board and the inks can run. For board games or puzzles with plastic coatings, wipe gently with a disinfecting solution (2 tbsp chlorine bleach in 4 cups water), follow up with a damp cloth, and allow to air dry fully before putting away. If you put board or puzzle pieces away while still damp, they might go mouldy. Puzzles will be easier to wipe if they are fully put together first.
Even though bath toys spend a lot of time in hot soapy water, they too need to be cleaned.
First look for any signs of mould. Is it on the outside or inside? If you find a toy that has dark shadows on the inside, get rid of it. This is mould inside the toy, and you will not be able to get rid of that mould. Remember, many kids like to use toys to spray water into their mouths.
If the mould is on the outside, remove mould by washing with hot soapy water followed by a disinfecting solution of 2 tbsp chlorine bleach in 4 cups water. Let the bleach solution to sit on the toy for 10 minutes before washing off and let air dry. Repeat if needed. Solid plastic bath toys, with no electronic parts, can also be washed in the dishwasher.
Video Game Controllers and Consoles
Always follow the manufacturer’s information before cleaning any electronics
Do not submerge in any liquid
Whenever possible, fully remove any batteries before cleaning
Using a clean, soft toothbrush, gently brush all movable parts and seams to dislodge any build-up
With a clean, barely damped cloth, wipe down console/controller
Wipe dry at once.
Touchscreen Devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.)
Always follow the manufacturers' information
Do not submerge in any liquid
Unplug and turn off touchscreen devices before cleaning
Cleaning products are not recommended as many touch screen devices have protective coatings on the screen and case. Using cleaning products may cause the coating to break down
Wipe devise with a dry micro-fibre cloth
Many manufacturers suggest using wipes containing 70% isopropyl alcohol. Spray alcohol onto a clean, dust-free cloth, just enough to be damp. Wipe device, being careful to avoid openings; allow to air dry. Do not spray solutions or water directly onto the device.