Kids are little walking germ factories. They openly sneeze, pick their nose, put things in their mouth and do all of this on the floor. Let me first say, I love kids! But, kids are GROSS!
It is important to allow your little ones to be exposed to germs to help build their immune systems. That being said, we don’t want to just leave our kiddos in a germ infested cesspool.
Cleaning and sanitizing toys is actually very important. I typically clean my little ones’ toys every other week, unless their sick. (I also try to keep them clean by vacuuming or sweeping the floor of their play areas weekly and not allowing shoes to be worn on that floor.)
I use my own easy-to-make laundry soap that’s kid friendly and baby safe for the soft toys. I also make a basic disinfectant spray to use on wooden and battery operated toys. Now, we’re going to go over how to do these together so that you can keep your nanny kids clean and healthy!
How to Clean
Divide and conquer. First, gather all of the toys from the toy chest, play areas, diaper bags, bedroom, car, and any other place they may be. Bring them all into the kitchen. If your kitchen isn’t very big, you can use another room. The goal is to get all of the toys into one area, so you can divide them into four categories:
- wooden toys
- hard plastic toys
- battery operated toys
- soft toys
How to Decide What Category to Choose
If a toy has a battery, no matter what material it’s made of, it goes into the battery operated category. If a toy is primarily soft with a few hard pieces, it can go into the soft toy category. “Wooden toys” include blocks, wooden puzzles, wooden trains or cars and your toy box, if that’s wooden.
I did add some links to specific toys that I’ve gotten questions about in the past just as visuals. I have used all of the toys linked and do like them, so the links are also affiliates if you want to give them a try. However, I mainly linked them for visuals.
A quick note about sick kids & sterilizing toys:
When they’re sick, I do limit the toys they can play with to the wooden, hard plastic toys and soft toys. I don’t typically let them play with battery operated toys when they’re sick because they take the most time to clean.
Once you’ve separated all of the toys, it’s time to get cleaning. Now this next part can take less than one hour! Depending on how big your sink is and how many toys you have, it’ll be over in one nap. They don’t have to miss a second of play time.
These stuffed animals, discovery cubes, play mats, sock rattles, can all go in the wash. I like to use my DIY laundry soap for baby clothes and toys, but Dreft works well too. I like making this DIY laundry soap because it’s quick and easy to make. It’s also quite inexpensive to make and lasts forever! Once your little one is past the point of putting everything into their mouth, you can use whatever laundry detergent you use to wash your clothes.
You can put all of these right into the wash. I even put soft toys in the dryer! I haven’t had any issue with toys melting or coming out mis-shappen.
Once you’ve started the washing machine, rinse out your sink and fill it with some warm water. Then, run and grab the hard plastic toys.
Hard plastic toys
Add soap to your sink full of warm water. You can use the laundry soap (just use about ¼ tsp) or a squirt of dawn dish soap.
Double check that none of these toys are battery operated. If they are, set them aside.
Dump all of the hard plastic toys into the soapy water. I like to swish them around in there for a bit. If there are toys with grooves, I do use a wash rag to get into those little spaces.
Once, I’ve wiped all of the grooved ones, I let them soak for about five minutes.
Next, let the sink water drain and rinse them off with warm water. Set them out to dry, usually on a big towel on the counter top.
Make sure to squeeze any “bath” toys, to make sure water doesn’t get trapped inside.
Once they’ve air dried completely, they’re ready to go!
For cleaning these, lay down a towel on your kitchen floor. Dump your wooden toys on the floor and spread them out, so none of them are overlapping.
Spray them thoroughly with my DIY Disinfectant Spray. They shouldn’t be soaked. Spraying them about a foot away usually gives you the perfect coverage. After waiting about 3 minutes flip to the other side spray them again.
Once, they’ve completely air dried, they’re done!
For the bigger wooden toys or wooden toy chest, grab a rag. Spray some of the disinfectant on the rag and wipe the toys down.
Make sure to wipe down the outside as well as the inside of the toy chest.
Battery operated toys
You can use the same rag as you did to clean the wooden toys. If it’s black or completely soaked, grab a new one and your Disinfectant. Because they have batteries, these toys can’t go into the sink with the other plastic toys, but they are super easy to clean. Spray some Disinfectant on a rag and wipe them down.
If your little ones have a ton of battery operated toys, consider rotating them. You can pick five or six to use at a time and the rest can go in a tote for storage. Every time you clean and sanitize their toys, you can swap out the ones they aren’t using for a few that were in storage. This will help you save time on cleaning days and give them a “new” toy every once in a while. Rotating out their toys this way can also help you figure out which toys just don’t get played with if you are trying to simplify. Donate old, or unused toys to your local thrift store or save and re-gift them!
This DIY Disinfectant Spray can be made oh so simply! It only uses two ingredients that are used in equal parts:
- White vinegar
Put equal parts of each in a container of your choice and BAM! you have a kid safe cleaner. I like adding orange or lemon essential oils to mine to help cut the vinegar smell and to mimic the traditional “cleaner smell”. You can add whatever essential oil you want, or none at all. I like storing mine in a spray bottle for easy use, but you can also put in an upcycled glass jar for cleaning other surfaces in your home.
Comment below if you have any other toy cleaning tricks or tips!