Why We Disinfect Kids Toys
Small kids always have a natural tendency to put everything in their mouths. This is a natural way for babies to explore their surrounding environment.
But with all these bugs and germs around, you have to be careful. That is why we need to know the best way to disinfect toys.
When To Clean And Disinfect Baby Toys
In normal situations, you can stick to a weekly or even monthly cleaning schedule. But in the following conditions, you should get the toys cleaned and disinfected immediately:
- When your kid or her playmates fall ill
- When your baby has a playdate with other kids
- If there is milk, food, mucus, or saliva on the toy
- If the toy falls to the ground
Best Way To Disinfect Toys
Toys are made from different materials. So no one method is suitable for all. But generally speaking, cleaning should always come before disinfecting.
Cleaning means using soap or detergent. Disinfecting means using a disinfectant substance to kill all germs and prevent their future growth on the toy.
Start With The Hands That Touch The Toys.
Help your baby keep her hands clean. This is the first step to protecting her from infections. Clean and disinfect their hands using mild soap and water.
Make sure that you do this after taking them to the toilet, feeding them food, and after they do stuff like swiping their nose.
Sanitize When You Must
Sanitizers kill the bad bugs, but they are not 100% safe for humans, especially babies. So you should only use sanitizers as a last resort. Stick to good old soap and warm water.
They can kill a lot of germs on their own. Often, it is better to use a simple homemade sanitizer solution. A fresh bleach solution, made using one tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water, is a good option.
It can be used to sanitize hard plastic toys by soaking them in it. Other materials like metal and wood can be sanitized by simply wiping them with this solution.
When it dries out, the active ingredient chlorine is also vaporized. So the toys will be safe for your kids to use.
Use The Right Way To Disinfect Toys.
Different toy materials require a different cleaning and disinfecting strategy. Thankfully none of them are too complicated.
1. Soft Toys
Soft or plush toys are often the easiest to deal with. Many of them can be safely washed in the washing machine.
You can either do them along with your laundry or have a dedicated session for the toys. Always check the manufacturer instructions before attempting this.
2. Plastic Toys
Most kid-safe plastic toys can be boiled in hot water to clean and disinfect them. Keep the toys in the water for at least five minutes. Then just allow them to cool off.
You can also put them in the dishwasher if they are made from 100% plastic. Please note that these two methods are only valid for simple plastic toys. Anything with batteries or other stuff inside them cannot be handled this way.
Wash the simple toys in the gentlest cycle. And if they have lots of uneven surfaces, nooks, and crevices, use a brush or toothpick to clean those as well.
3. Wood Toys
Natural wood will probably warp if you put it in water for some time. So never dunk these in water. Instead, use a mild cleaning solution of either white vinegar and water (50:50), or a mild soap solution.
The soap can be a regular kid soap, hand soap, or dish soap. Use a clean lint-free cloth to wipe all the surfaces. If using soap, don't forget to wipe clean with a damp towel.
4. Fabric Toys
Some knitted toys can be washed safely in the machine. And others can be wiped clean on the spot with a simple baby wipe.
Use common sense when dealing with these toys. If any of them has any electronics or batteries inside, the washing machine is out of the question.
5. Board Books And Rubber Toys
Use the same 50/50 vinegar and water solution on the surface of these toys and objects. The vinegar solution will evaporate away, leaving no harmful traces.
6. Bath Toys
You may think that these toys need no cleaning since they get cleaned during the bath itself. Unfortunately, that is not true.
Use a combination of white vinegar and hot water, again in the 50/50 ratio to clean these toys every week. You should soak the toys in the solution. You can even run them in the dishwasher if they look really dirty.
7. Metal Toys
Many metal toys usually have rubber parts. Think wheels of cars and trucks and you get the idea. A dishwasher may not be the best option for such toys, as the heat can degrade the rubber.
Bleach and water combination is the best option for such metal toys. Wipe them clean, and blow dry.
8. Teething Toys
As far as potential for germ invasions is concerned, these toys are pretty much ground zero. They are almost always in your baby’s mouths, and that can present some challenges when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting them safely.
Dishwashers are not an option, mainly because this method can leave harmful soap residue behind on the toys. That also rules out the washing machine for the same reason.
White vinegar and water combo are safer, and natural as well. You can forgive them for not being the best smelling because they do not cause your baby any harm.
You can wipe the toy using the solution, or fully immerse and soak the toy in it. All you have to do afterward is dry the toy before handing it back to your baby.
Baking soda and water is another safer combo for cleaning teething toys. Use them the same way you would use the vinegar and water combo. Another simple option for the harder plastic toys is boiling in hot water.
How To Clean Toys With Germ-Busting Agents
There are many different species of bacteria, viruses, and other germs. And there are many different disinfectants out there as well. Not all of these disinfectants can kill all kinds of germs.
And some of them are also not very good for human health, or the environment. Let's check out the strengths and weaknesses of each popular disinfectant option.
On the plus side, bleach is very cheap and easily available. It is also very effective against fungi, molds, as well as some of the most dangerous bacteria, like E Coli, salmonella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus. But bleach is, unfortunately, one of the most dangerous products on the list for humans as well.
It has been linked to respiratory disorders, and even birth defects. And it is also harmful to animals and the environment. Bleach should never be used on the skin.
2. Soap And Water
Due to our fear of germs, supermarket shelves are loaded with dozens of different brands of antibacterial soap. But contrary to widespread perception, most antibacterial soaps are not radically different from ordinary soap. Both are capable of killing many bacteria, but not all of them.
And they do nothing against viruses. And many antibacterial soaps contain an ingredient called triclosan, which has been linked to hormonal imbalances in the human body. And excessive use of antibacterials results in the growth of bacteria resistance and superbugs.
3. Ammonia-Based Cleaners
Ammonia can kill some bacteria, like salmonella. But it is ineffective against others like staphylococcus. In fact, ammonia is a mixed bag. It is very eco-friendly and green, but not classified as a disinfectant by the EPA.
4. Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers
Many of the claims by OTC hand sanitizers are not backed by hard scientific evidence. The US FDA has been cracking down on many such instances. Claims that some products can kill 99.9% germs are an example.
The same goes for claims that they can kill everything from MRSA to Salmonella, E. Coli, and even the flu. The FDA suggests that you wash your hands as often as possible with soap instead.
Vinegar is undoubtedly safer than bleach. It is also biodegradable and very safe for the environment. But it is not a true disinfectant and is not classified as such. It cannot kill germs like the staphylococcus bacteria.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
Peroxide is highly biodegradable household cleaner and disinfectant. But in its concentrated form, peroxide can cause severe burns and injuries. When using it as a disinfectant, keep the concentration strength at below 3%.
7. Baking Soda
Baking soda can be used as an effective cleaner. But it ceases to be useful if you think that there is a danger of actual bacterial contamination.
Baking soda is ineffective against many bacteria. You should instead use a registered disinfectant if you are worried about contamination.
8. Tea Tree Oil
This is one of the most natural antiseptics out there. It is very useful for treating cuts and wounds. But it may not work against all species.
9. Boiling In Hot Water
This is one of the oldest tricks in our fight against disease and germs. And it is also one of the most effective. But the main limitation of this approach is that it cannot be used on all materials.
The high temperatures can degrade many substances like some plastics, or rubber. It is also not an option for anything but the most simple objects.
10. Avoid Dishwashers
Dishwashers can clean things, but when it comes to disinfecting objects, they cannot compete with actual disinfectants. The soap used in the machine can kill some bacteria, but not all.
11. Avoid Washing Machine
For the same reason, a washing machine is also not a recommended device for the express purpose of disinfecting. They can remove some bacteria and germs during the cleaning process, but not all. As always, use a safe, registered disinfectant for the purpose.
It is your sacred duty to protect your baby against germs and illnesses. Due to their play habits, babies are especially vulnerable to infection. You should use a balanced and comprehensive approach for best way to disinfect toys.
This is the only way to protect your little one against the nasty bacteria and viruses out there. Use a combination of household cleaning agents and EPA sanctioned disinfectants for comprehensive protection. Never use an all-in-one approach when cleaning kids toys.