How to Clean and Disinfect Children’s Toys

Children’s toys are not just tools for play; they’re also common carriers for germs and bacteria. Given that young children often put toys in their mouths and have immune systems that are still developing, keeping toys clean and disinfected is paramount for their health. Let’s explore some effective methods to ensure your children’s toys remain as clean as possible.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

Understanding the distinction between cleaning and disinfecting is essential when it comes to children’s toys. Cleaning is the first step—it’s about removing visible dirt, crumbs, and residues from surfaces. This can be done with simple soap and water, which physically removes particles that can harbor germs. Cleaning also helps in reducing the overall microbial load, making the disinfecting process more effective.

Disinfecting, however, involves using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This step is crucial, especially for toys that children frequently touch and place in their mouths. Disinfecting doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces, but it kills germs that can lead to illness, effectively stopping the spread of infectious agents.

Non-porous Toys

Plastic, metal, and rubber toys fall into this category and are the easiest to clean.


  • Wash with warm soapy water to remove dirt and grime.
  • For electronic toys, use a cloth dampened with soapy water, being careful not to let any liquid get inside.


  • Use a mild bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water) and wipe down toys.
  • Rinse with water after disinfecting and let air dry.

Porous Toys

These include stuffed animals and cloth books.


  • Most stuffed toys can go in the washing machine. Use a gentle cycle and wash with a mild detergent.
  • For delicate stuffed toys, spot cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent is best.


  • Dry in the sunlight if possible, as UV rays have natural disinfecting properties.
  • For a more thorough disinfect, use a garment steamer or put the toy in the dryer on a high heat setting if the material allows.

Wooden Toys

Wooden toys require special care since wood is porous and can be damaged by too much moisture.


  • Wipe with a cloth dipped in soapy water and wrung out almost dry.
  • Avoid submerging wooden toys in water or leaving them to soak.


  • Use a vinegar and water solution (equal parts) to disinfect. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that is safe for wood.
  • Wipe the solution on with a cloth and let air dry.

Regular Maintenance

  • Clean toys regularly, not just when they look dirty. Once a week is a good rule of thumb for frequently used toys.
  • After playdates or illness, make a point to clean and disinfect toys more thoroughly.

Safe Storage

  • Once toys are clean and dry, store them in a clean, dry area to prevent recontamination.
  • Bins and toy chests should also be cleaned and disinfected regularly.


Regularly cleaning and disinfecting your children’s toys can prevent the spread of illness and keep your children healthy. It doesn’t need to be a daunting task. By incorporating toy cleaning into your regular household routine, you can ensure that playtime is both fun and hygienic. With the right techniques and some simple household products, you can create a safe environment for your children to learn, explore, and grow.

Remember, a clean toy is a safe toy. Happy cleaning!

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