Before I get started, go wash your hands and wipe down your cell phone.
Okay cool, let’s get started. There is a lot of hype and fear when it comes to protecting our family from germs and bacteria lately. I shared on my instagram stories how and how often to clean our toys and keep our children’s belongings clean. I wanted to also share the information on my blog so you don’t have to click through my voice if you don’t want to.
Types of Cleaners
When it comes to cleaning your home, there are usually two major categories of products you can go to, chemical based and natural. Bleach and ammonia, usually found in products from Clorox or Lysol are chemical based. These products are better for disinfecting food prep areas or bathrooms because of the types of bacteria or mold that can be found. Listeria, E Coli, and Staph are the big ones that need a chemical in order to really be disinfected. However, for toys and areas used by our children, those harsher chemicals really aren’t necessary. The bacteria and viruses related to common colds or the flu can be sanitized with a white vinegar solution.
Why not rubbing alcohol? It’s highly flammable, even diluted. If we’re talking about disinfecting common surfaces, its probably fine, but since this conversation will predominantly be about objects that your children could be putting in their mouths, we want to ease on the side of caution when it comes to toxic chemicals. Even ‘natural’ cleaners sometimes have fragrances in them that might not be great for your children. My sons get eczema easily, so I try to avoid anything too harsh for their skin like fragrance or extra softeners.
I choose a white vinegar solution after reading through the internet because its naturally occurring and won’t damage most materials. 50% water and 50% white vinegar in a spray bottle or sink should eliminate the basic bacteria and viruses most likely to come in contact with your home. You can add some citrus or oils if you really hate the smell.
Types of Toys
Plastic teethers can go in the dishwasher by themselves to be disinfected. Some newer dishwashers even have a sanitation setting. They can also be soaked in hot water and vinegar and then air dried.
Bath toys need to be dried out and then they can also go in the dishwasher or soaked in a vinegar solution. Make sure anything that is made of foam or absorbent material is cleaned more often and doesn’t get mildew.
Mixed material toys with fabrics can go in the washing machine, but using a garment bag or even a pillowcase will prevent the toys from losing parts or getting damaged. This includes dolls that have plastic arms and legs and then soft bodies.
Plastic figurines and cars can be soaked or wiped down with the vinegar solution. Check your hot wheels, if they’re older then you need to check if they have metal bottoms. The metal can rust or corrode if soaked too long, so a quick wipe down will help protect those metal parts. Barbies or other dolls with hair can be wiped or soaked. The best advice I found for their hair was to soak it in fabric softener and hot water after washing to detangle it and make it smell better.
Food toys go two directions. Felt food can go in the washing machine just like other fabric based toys. Wooden toys need to be wiped with a vinegar solution and then air dried. Be careful not to soak them so you don’t break down the paint or wood.
Frequency of Cleaning
Use your best judgement, obviously. Baby toys, especially the ones that travel in your bag need to be cleaned weekly. My suggestion, throw them in the dishwasher on a Sunday night when you’re getting ready for the week!
Bath toys need to be cleaned biweekly. They’re not clean and mold/mildew free just because you bathe every night. Don’t believe me? Google images of bath toys that have been cut open. It isn’t pretty.
Anytime your kiddos are sick, give the toys a rinse. After a playdate? Give them a rinse. Cousins are the grossest. I’m being sarcastic, but with over 40 first cousins, I shared everything growing up, even germs. Wipe down toys when you do your usual toilet scrubbing/dusting. Every other month it’s probably a good idea to clean out old toys and give the ones still getting love a good cleaning.
I didn’t share these suggestions on Instagram, but I am adding them since our recent trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. Wash your hands often, obviously. Here are some silly photos of songs that works with how long you should be washing. I went to the website Wash Your Lyrics and generated some popular Disney tunes that worked well, have fun making your own!
Keep hand sanitizer on hand for when you get off a ride, clip it to your belt loop or bag. The queues and ropes and “oh crap” handles are probably covered in germs. I watched some moms wipe them with wipes, but my heart cringed at the idea of the trash waste involved if EVERYONE did that for EVERY ride.
If you have an infant, wipe your changing mat and the station before and after you change a diaper. You know what makes a good sanitation wipe? Hand sanitizer on a damp paper towel. Also, Disneyland always has the toilet paper holders where your little can reach up and play with them. Rotate them so they can’t reach them.
Wash your hands after you go to the restroom and before you sit down to eat, OBVIOUSLY, but also wash them after you finish eating. You probably, absent minded, wiped your mouth or your nose and didn’t even think about it. Your children? They mined at least 50 boogers, coated them in applesauce and mac and cheese, and then shared them with a sibling.
As always, if you feel sick, stay home. Do what the CDC tells you to. Don’t panic buy. And of course, do what feels right for your family. The best parent for your child is you.