Keeping your daycare clean and your toys in good repair is crucial for the health and safety of the children in your care. However, with regular playtime and wear and tear, toys can become dirty, damaged, and even hazardous. That’s why it’s essential to know how to clean toys effectively. In this blog post, we’ll provide valuable tips and tricks for maintaining a clean and safe toy collection for your young kiddos.
Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to note that different baby toys require different cleaning methods. Some toys are water-safe and can be washed with soap and water, while others are not.
Here are some tips for cleaning common types of toys:
Cleaning Plush Toys
Plush or cloth toys are one of the most popular types of toys and with good reason. They provide comfort, security, and emotional support to young children. However, these toys are also at a higher risk of harboring bacteria and dust due to their soft and porous materials. Therefore, regular cleaning is essential for maintaining their hygiene. Start by removing any loose dirt with a soft-bristled brush. Next, check the label to see if the toy is machine washable.
Washable Plush Toys
Firstly, it’s important to note that you can’t wash all plush toys in the washer. Before washing:
- Check the care label of the toy for any specific washing instructions.
- Avoid washing plush toys with built-in battery packs, noise makers, or metal parts, as the water may damage them.
- Ensure all decorations and buttons are securely attached and repair any rips and holes.
First, protect the plush toy by putting it in a washing bag or pillowcase. If using a pillowcase, knot the top so the plush does not fall out. A wash bag will help prevent any damage to the toy during the wash cycle. When selecting a washing cycle, go for the gentle cycle with warm water and a slow spin. The delicate cycle will help prevent any damage to the toy’s fibers or stuffing.
Once the washing cycle is done, it’s time to dry the plush toy. You can dry it in the pillowcase in your dryer on a low-heat setting or on a drying rack to let it dry without tumbling. Using a dryer on a high heat setting can damage the toy’s fabric or may melt any cheap plastic part. Alternatively, dry the toy with a hair dryer on low heat and speed settings. This method ensures more gentle drying and helps fluff up the fur.
How to clean plush toys that can’t be washed in the washing machine
What about those beloved stuffed animals or plush toys that desperately need cleaning but are too delicate to withstand a spin in the washing machine? Fear not, for there are safe and effective methods for hand-washing and spot-cleaning plush toys. Here’s how:
First, inspect the toy for any loose or delicate parts requiring extra care. If there are any loose threads or seams, use a needle and thread to carefully mend them before beginning the cleaning process.
Next, use mild soap or baby shampoo and water to create a warm, sudsy solution. Be sure to test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the toy first to ensure it won’t cause discoloration or damage.
Using a soft cloth or sponge, gently and evenly apply the solution to the entire toy, taking extra care around any intricate or hard-to-reach areas. Be sure to avoid soaking the toy with excess water, as this can cause damage and prolong drying time.
After applying the solution, rinse the toy thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth, ensuring you remove all soap residue. Again, take care to avoid over-saturating the toy with excess water.
Time To Dry
Next, gently squeeze out any excess water from the toy and blot it dry with a clean towel. To help speed up the drying process and fluff the toy’s fur, use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting. Alternatively, you can hang the toy in a well-ventilated area to air dry, but avoid direct sunlight or heat sources that may cause discoloration or damage.
Finally, to eliminate any bacteria or allergens that may be lurking on the toy’s surface, use a garment steamer to slowly and evenly go over the entire toy. A garment steamer will not only sanitize the toy but also help restore its shape and fluffiness. If necessary, thoroughly vacuum the toy with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.
Cleaning Hard Plastic Toys
Hard plastic toys are durable but can become grimy over time due to frequent use. To clean these toys, you can soak them in a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaners that can damage the plastic material. If the toy has small crevices or details, you can use a cotton swab to clean them thoroughly. Alternatively, you can place the toys in a wash bag a run it through the dishwasher on the sanitizing cycle. Remember only to use the top drawer of the dishwasher.
Cleaning Inflatable Toys
Inflatable toys require special attention. These toys can be challenging to clean due to their shape and material. However, a simple solution is to seal any holes or leaks with a repair patch. Apply a repair patch over the hole and allow it to dry completely. The repair patch will seal the hole, preventing air from escaping and making the toy usable again.
Cleaning Wooden Toys
Wooden toys are durable and can last years but require proper maintenance. To clean wooden toys:
- Use a damp cloth and mild dish soap.
- Avoid saturating the wood with water, as it can cause warping or cracking.
- After wiping the toy with soap and water, allow it to dry thoroughly before returning it to the toy box.
Repairing Torn Books
Books are a valuable teaching tool in daycare, but they can become damaged over time due to frequent use. If a book has a tear in the pages or binding, you can repair it with clear contact paper. Cut a piece of contact paper slightly larger than the tear and place it over the damaged area. Press down firmly on the paper to ensure it adheres and smooth out any bubbles.
Disinfecting Baby Toys
In addition to cleaning, disinfecting baby toys is another essential step in keeping them germ-free. Here are some guidelines for disinfecting baby toys safely:
- Use a disinfectant that is safe for children. Look for products that are labeled “child-safe” or “non-toxic.”
- Test the disinfectant on a small area of the toy first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disinfecting, including how long to let the product sit on the toy before rinsing it off.
- Avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals to disinfect baby toys, as these can be dangerous to children if not rinsed off thoroughly.
Additional Tips for Keeping Baby Toys Safe and Clean
- Encourage children to wash their hands to reduce the spread of germs.
- Use a separate bin or container to store toys that have been recently cleaned and disinfected.
- Regularly inspect toys for signs of wear and tear, and remove any broken or damaged toys from circulation.
- Be mindful of the materials used in certain toys, such as those made with small parts or magnets, which can be dangerous if swallowed.
- Communicate your cleaning and disinfecting procedures with parents to ensure they are informed of the steps you are taking to keep their children safe and healthy.
Tip: Toy Maintenance Schedule
Try to have a routine maintenance schedule to maintain a clean and safe toy collection. Create a system that enables you to regularly clean and inspect toys for damage, wear, or missing parts. Establish which toys need cleaning daily, weekly, or monthly, and stick to the schedule.
As mentioned earlier, toys that are most likely to be put in a child’s mouth or dropped on the floor should be cleaned every one to two days. These toys include teething toys, pacifiers, and toys infants play with frequently. Other toys can be cleaned on a weekly basis. Of course, if a toy is visibly dirty or has been soiled by bodily fluids, it should be cleaned immediately.
Cleaning and disinfecting baby toys is crucial to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for infants and toddlers. By following the guidelines outlined in this blog post, daycare providers can ensure that their facilities are clean and hygienic for children to play in. Remember to pay extra attention to toys that are more likely to be put in a child’s mouth or dropped on the floor and to disinfect toys frequently to kill harmful germs and bacteria.