How to Keep Toys Germ Free

From plastic phones to your child’s favorite bedtime lovey, kids’ toys need to be cleaned to help keep them healthy. Since young children constantly put stuff into their mouths, cleaning their toys regularly can help rid them of cold causing germs. Toys should be cleaned weekly, after a play date where toys were shared and after a child’s illness to help keep kids healthy. Toss toys to be cleaned in an out of reach storage bucket so you can tackle them all at once.

Plastic Toys

From little rings and rattles to outdoor playhouses and slides, cleaning toys regularly helps to keep kids healthy. Small, plastic toys without batteries can be cleaned by simply placing them on the top rack of the dishwasher and running them through a wash and dry cycle. To sanitize toys, use the sanitize mode on the dishwasher. If the toys are small, place them in a dish washer basket or lingerie bag before placing them in the dishwasher.

For larger plastic toys or toys with batteries, spray them with a diluted bleach sanitizing solution. Mix 1 tablespoon of bleach with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the toy and let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe the toy down. Be sure to rinse the toy or wipe it down with water afterwards. While a stronger bleach solution can be made for disinfecting toys using a solution made by adding ¼ cup of bleach and a gallon of water, this is not recommended for toys that a child may put in his mouth.

For parents who are concerned about using chemicals on their children’s toys, adding equal parts distilled vinegar to water can be used as a natural mild disinfectant. Soap and water can also be used to clean toys.

When cleaning plastic toys, don’t forget about the ones in the bath tub. These can harbor mold and mildew and become really nasty, really fast. Be sure to squeeze any water out of bath toys after use, allow to air dry and soak them in a diluted bleach solution for a few minutes. Thoroughly rinse and allow to air dry.

For outdoor plastic toys, using the hose as a power washer can help remove caked on dirt and grime. These toys can also be washed with soap and water or with a diluted bleach solution.

Stuffed Toys

Stuffed toys and dust mites are like peanut butter and jelly. Wash your child’s stuffed toys by putting them into the washing machine and dryer on the highest temperature setting. For delicate toys place them into a lingerie bag first and then use the gentle cycle. There’s also a product called Teddy Needs a Bath that can hold larger toys. While like a pillowcase, it has a much sturdier zipper and is made of thicker material that lends itself to standing up to the washer and dryer.

Putting stuffed toys in a freezer is another alternative for ridding stuffed toys of dust mites, according to

For stuffed toys whose labels state to only surface clean, if you’re not willing to risk tossing it into the washer and dryer, wiping them down with a damp cloth that was soaked in soapy water can clean the toy.

What's your best toy cleaning tips? When do you decide a toy is ready to be tossed? Share your tips in the comments below.