How To Properly Clean And Disinfect Your Baby’s Toys

How to Properly Clean and Disinfect Your Baby's Toys - Featured ImageYour child deserves to be free from illnesses. They also deserve to have great toys. But everyone knows that children, especially when they’re young, are very messy. Toys spend their time on the floor. They get covered in food. Your child’s toys might even rest in the grass outside.

So, what’s a responsible parent to do? How can you protect your child from the microbes in the environment so that they stay healthy? Is there any hope of protecting your child from their habit of putting toys into their mouth?

In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more. By the time you’re finished reading you’ll be ready to help your child through the germ warfare that is waged in your home.

Why Disinfect?

There are many reasons why you might want to disinfect your child’s toys. But the truth behind the effectiveness of disinfecting toys might surprise you. Many people are misinformed about the purpose of disinfecting, and so they expect it to protect their child from unrealistic hazards.

Disinfecting your child’s toys can protect them from the following hazards:

  • Bacteria
  • Bodily fluids
  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Dirt
  • Protozoa
  • Lichen

Notably, these hazards are some of the most common that your child will face. When your child plays with toys, the toys naturally accumulate all sorts of these contaminants. But not all contaminants are created equal.

Pollen can trigger your child’s allergies — although if they aren’t exposed to any pollen whatsoever, that may cause them to develop these allergies in the first place, so plan accordingly.

Likewise, dust mites are known to cause allergies. It’s also disgusting to have traces of tiny insects on your child’s toys, so it’s desirable to remove them and their eggs. Dust mites are far more likely to reside in stuffed animals than other kinds of toys.

On Bacteria

Bacteria warrant special mention because they are one of the most denigrated environmental contaminants which disinfectants can address.

Bacteria, if left to grow, can eventually harm your child if consumed. Bacteria can produce toxins which cause indigestion or worse.

Most toys are resistant to overt bacterial growth unless there is some kind of nutrient on the toy itself, however. Bacteria won’t simply grow on a plastic or metal surface unless there is something for them to eat.

The same goes for lichen or protozoa, two other simple microorganisms that are hardy and ubiquitous.

Nonetheless, you’d be surprised at what these tiny creatures might consider food. Bodily fluids — which are nearly always present on children’s toys — can be suitable nutrient sources for these organisms. Even a small dab of snot could sustain millions of them for a long time.

But the picture isn’t as bad as it might seem at first. Millions of babies are fine after extensive encounters with bacteria every day.

There’s no guarantee that if microorganisms are growing on your child’s toys that they will be harmful to your child. Indeed, most of the surfaces that you touch are covered in them. Likewise, there are probably more bacteria living in your body than there are human cells.

You may still want to prevent your child from having encounters with external bacteria, however. Disinfecting your child’s toys will very temporarily provide that opportunity.

How to disinfect plastic, wood, or metal toys

  1. Purchase a commercial disinfectant wipe
  2. Prepare the toys by removing large clumps of dirt or contaminants
  3. Wipe down every surface and cranny of the toy with a wipe
  4. Discard the wipe
  5. Rinse the toy with water
  6. Return the toy to your child after the disinfectant has dried

Disinfecting toys that are made of cloth or other materials is substantially more difficult. You may want to purchase a special cloth disinfecting spray. If you choose to purchase a spray, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure that the toy is dry before returning it to your child.

Keep in mind that there is a very low chance that you will completely remove all of the microorganisms on the toy for very long. Remember that they aren’t going to harm your child unless they’re extremely overgrown.
Separately, many people have incorrect expectations about what disinfecting toys can accomplish.

What Disinfectants Can’t Do

You probably won’t be able to remove the following hazards by disinfecting your child’s toys:

  • Chemical contaminants
  • Viruses
  • Fungi

Chemical contaminants might include lead or radioactive chemicals. Disinfectants don’t do anything to address these issues. You need to look out for manufacturer warnings and quality reports to stay ahead of these problems.

While many disinfectants claim that they are effective against viruses, the reality is that very few viruses can even survive outside of their host. If there are bodily fluids in the environment, clean them up with soap and water to be confident that there are no viruses lurking.

Otherwise, concern about viruses is heavily overblown. There’s no way to prevent your baby from coming down with a virus beyond keeping them clean and making sure that you are clean when you interact with them.

Fungi, on the other hand, are simply too hardy to be addressed by disinfectants. Soap and water will be sufficient to remove them.

Enjoying A Healthy Baby

Now that you know all about how to disinfect your baby’s toys, what disinfectants are for, and the risks of not disinfecting the toys, it’s time to go forth and clean.

Remember, the biggest factors in keeping your child healthy are good hygiene. Good hygiene starts with you washing your hands before handling the baby. Likewise, keeping your child washed and hydrated will go a very long way to keeping them healthy.

When you find that your child’s toys are a total mess it is appropriate to disinfect them. Don’t expect the disinfectant to solve the problem of environmental contaminants, and stay vigilant for contaminants which the disinfectant doesn’t address.

Temper your desire to protect your child with reality. Be sure to pass on your good habits, and your child will never have to worry about getting sick because their toys were dirty.

Brett Gordon
 

Brett is the brains behind The Toy Report. Having clocked tons of time in toys research and online resource development, today, he’s dedicated to making The Toy Report a trusted space in the world of toy reviews and recommendations.