It’s never a secret when your child has a favorite toy. It could be a stuffed animal, a doll, or a squeezy water toy, but whatever it is they have it on their person 24/7. They’ll bring it with them to school, talk to it at the dinner table, and snuggle up next to it when they finally settle in for a good night’s sleep. In many instances even grownups can remember their favorite toys decades later, and it’s completely adorable to see your child so enamored. But that favorite toy is hiding something that’s not adorable at all: germs. Anything they keep with them wherever they go like that, dragging it through the dirt in the playground and swimming with it during bath time is likely to be covered in mold, dust mites and germs that easily lead to nasty infections. Just as kids spread colds through hand to hand contact, those favorite toys can do the same thing. So here are five tips for properly disinfecting your kid’s toys.
First of all, if you wash these toys regularly you may not have to disinfect that often, or perhaps ever. Try to choose washable toys, so whichever one your kid becomes enamored with can easily be cleaned up while they’re sleeping. A good rule of thumb is to wash them once a month if you’re busy. But throw them in the washing machine any time you can see the dirt. You could also place them on the top rack of your dishwasher, or do it by hand using simple soap and water.
There may be times you’ll need to disinfect, especially if your child visits with a sick friend. An easy and safe way to handle it is to throw the toy into a mix of bleach and water. You could also use Lysol, or some other non-aerosol based disinfectant. Just make sure that you read the label, especially if your child is in that stage when everything ends up in his mouth.
If you don’t particularly want to lean on chemical disinfectants, there is another option. Consider throwing the toy into a plastic bag and placing it in the freezer. You’ll need to leave it in deep freeze for around five hours, and you can do it once a week. This will take care of any dust mites, which are one of the most common triggers of asthma and allergies. Dust mites are only a problem for certain children, so consider having your little one allergy tested to see if this is something you need to worry about.
If the toy in question ends up in the bath tub, you’ll need to pay it special attention. Squeeze it free of every ounce of water possible after the bath, and then soak it in a bleach mixture for five solid minutes. Most bath toys have holes in them, so you might have to squeeze the bleach mixture inside the toy and then squeeze it out again. You can also scrub it with a toothbrush if you see any moldy bits. Rinse it with clean, cold water, and then make sure it is completely dry before giving it back to your child.
Finally, grab those disinfectant wipes to handle things like board books and wooden toys. These non-porous selections will clean completely with a single treatment. You can also use a spray bottle full of bleach mixture. Just make sure you dry them quickly and completely. You don’t want the toy to warp or ruin, or else you’ll be heading to the Toybuzz website, with fingers crossed that you can find a replacement.