How To Clean Baby Toys – The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Baby’s Toys

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Baby, Parenting

How To Clean Baby Toys – The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Baby’s Toys

Babies interact with their environment through touching and tasting. You can be sure that every toy your child has, has spent considerable time in their mouth, on the floor and is covered in drool. As a parent, guarding against the spread of germs and illness is crucial.


Naturally, how to clean the toys is the first question parents ask themselves when they realize the amount of germs and bacteria toys accumulate. This is particularly a problem for little babies whose immune systems are weaker and less developed.

We accounted for the best ways to clean baby toys as well as what not to do, because a healthy baby is a happy one!

Here’s a look at how to clean baby toys of all kinds.

How To Clean Wooden Toys

Wood toys are sturdy and durable, made from aesthetically pleasing and non-toxic material that blend in beautifully with home décor. When it comes to cleaning them, keep it simple and keep it natural. You want to use gentle cleaners when it comes to wood: simple vinegar diluted in water, a mild dish soap and warm water, or a multi-purpose cleaner with warm water will do the trick.

A step-by-step guide on how to clean wooden toys: Spray the toy with the cleaner of your choice; gently wipe it down with a soft cloth or sponge and water; allow it to air dry.

How To Clean Wooden Toys – The Don’ts

When it comes to how to clean kids’ toys made of wood, you never want to soak them because of how porous wood is. The shape of the toy can swell and distort. Too much moisture can also make the wood crack, chipping away at the paint finish.

How To Clean Stuffed Toys

Stuffed toys, or plush toys, are versatile when it comes to maintenance. Because they are made from fabric they can be both machined wash and hand washed. Unlike wooden toys, plush toys do not react adversely to being soaked, but caution needs to be taken nonetheless.

A step-by-step guide on how to clean plush toys: Surface clean first with a damp cloth; before using any cleaner test it on a part of the toy’s fur; if there is no discoloration put them in the washing machine, in a mesh laundry bag, on a gentle cycle; leave them out to air dry.

For a more detailed look into how to clean plush baby toys, watch this great video:

How To Clean Stuffed Toys – The Don’ts

When considering how to clean soft baby toys it is important you do not do a couple of things. You do not want to dry plush toys in direct sunlight or in the dryer. The first can cause the colors to fade and the latter can cause them to lose their shape and shrink.

Do not wash plush toys if they are: old and delicate, large (over 18 in), stuffed very densely or if they have batteries. Instead, gently hand wash them.

How To Clean Plastic Toys

Plastic toys are relatively simple to wash because the material is not greatly affected by water. You can either leave them in a pot of boiling water for five minutes; run them through the dishwasher if they are made completely of plastic; or machine wash them on a gentle cycle.

A step-by-step guide on how to clean plastic toys: Surface clean first using a toothbrush, Q-tip or toothpick to get into those tricky crevices; load them in the dishwasher on a gentle cycle by putting them in a mesh bag or silverware holder to keep them together; leave them out to air dry.

Watch this video for an in-depth look into how to clean plastic toys:

How To Clean Plastic Toys – The Don’ts

There are no serious don’ts when it comes to plastic toys, however, when putting them in a dishwasher or washing machine, make sure the toy is made of only plastic. No batteries, fabric or buttons that might not be water tight.

How To Clean Teething Toys

When it comes to how to clean baby toys meant for teething, dishwashers and machine washing all pose certain problems. Instead, white vinegar and water solution or baking soda and water are better options because they allow for a more thorough, safer cleaning.

A step-by-step guide on how to clean teething toys: create a mixture of either vinegar or baking soda and water; let the toy sit in it for five minutes before rinsing and drying it off. Alternatively use a wash cloth with the mixture to manually scrub the toy.               

How To Clean Teething Toys – The Don’ts

Washing machines and dishwashers are not the ideal option when considering how to clean used baby toys meant for teething because they do not clean the toy through and through and they might leave an undesirable residue on the product.

Safe Way To Clean Baby Toys

Because babies are constantly playing, if their toys are not cleaned properly, they are at greater risk of falling sick or being exposed to germs. As we saw with teething toys, dish washers and washing machines aren’t always the safe way to clean baby toys. Instead, natural cleaners are more effective even though they might come with an uncomfortable odor. Here’s how to clean baby toys in a non toxic way that goes one step further and actually disinfects as well.

How To Clean Baby Toys With Bleach

When considering what to use to clean baby toys keep in mind that there is a difference between a clean up of toys and disinfecting them. Cleaning removes germs while disinfecting kills germs and prevents them reproducing. Cleaning should always come before disinfecting. Clean using soapy water, a gentle cloth or machine cycle before applying a disinfectant like bleach.

After cleaning, disinfectant with a chlorine bleach solution of one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water then leave out to air dry.

How To Clean Baby Toys With Vinegar

Vinegar can be used in a few ways when it comes to the clean up of toys. You can put them in a dishwasher or make a DIY sanitization spray.

In the dishwasher, load the toys that need cleaning; start the dishwasher; once the drain cycle is over, open the dishwasher back up and add a cup and a half of white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher. The entire process should take only 5 minutes.

For a sanitization spray, combine 1 cup of distilled white vinegar or baking soda with 1 cup of distilled water into  large spray bottle. Spray the toys and allow mixture to sit for a couple of minutes. Wipe clean with a damp cloth and allow the toys to air dry.

For a step by step guide to making your own sanitizer, watch this instructional video:

How Often Should You Clean Up Toys

When looking at how often you should clean up the toys, it is best to not go too crazy and rather, play it by ear—or in this case, by sight. Take once a week as a general rule of thumb and in the following certain situations:

When your baby is recovering from an illness like the flu, a cough or diarrhea.

After or before a play date since other children will or have come in contact with your baby’s toys.

If the toy has been sitting unused for a while. It is probably accumulating bacteria and germs daily.

Final Word

Our look into how to clean infants’ toys is meant to provide insight into the best practices regarding what to clean baby toys with. So, what is the best way to clean toys? Different kinds of toys come with different considerations when determining the best way to clean them. Material, size and how a baby uses them all factor into play. Generally, cleaning comes before disinfecting and make sure to read all the tags on a toy before putting them in a machine cycle.

As for how to safely clean baby toys, make sure to disinfect and wipe down before letting your child play with it. As always, follow the instructions on the toy tag and don’t forget that not all materials react the same way to cleaners. Remember, a healthy baby is a happy baby!

If you want to look at some of the toys we have mentioned here; check out these articles we prepared:

By Editorial Team

NetParents is the go-to resource for all parenting issues. We are an independent body that seeks to offer general information on various parenting topics and unbiased reviews on baby products.