Is your baby at that fun stage when everything goes in their mouth? Your doctor may reassure you that’s the developmentally appropriate way all children learn about their environment – toys will go into their cute little mouth no matter how disgusting it may seem. While it’s lovely that your baby is hitting its developmental milestones, it doesn’t take away from the fact that there are germs everywhere.
So how do you sanitize baby toys and protect your little one? We’re glad you asked!
Before jumping into the how of sanitizing your baby’s toys, it’s essential to understand the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing. Likely you’ve done all three when caring for your little one, and all are crucial in maintaining cleanliness in your home.
- Cleaning: Removes dirt and germs on the surface level of an item. You do so by washing your hands with soap or throwing clothes and detergent in the washing machine.
- Disinfecting: This process kills germs on an object’s surface. You use chemicals to disinfect an object. Disinfection doesn’t always clean an item, however.
- Sanitizing: When you sanitize an item, you lower the number of germs on its surface until it no longer poses the risk of infection. You reach this result through a thorough process of cleaning and disinfection.
The reason it’s crucial to understand the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing is that the result of each process is very different. Sometimes cleaning your baby’s toys is all that is necessary – maybe they spill a drop of oatmeal on their lovey, and you can easily wipe it away. However, if your ultimate goal is to sanitize your baby’s toys, you’ll need to both clean and disinfect them.
To sanitize plastic toys that aren’t battery-operated, you can load them on the top rack of your dishwasher. Ensure you pack the toys closely together. If the toys are smaller, put them in a porous bag and place them on the top rack. Then run your dishwasher on high heat or sanitizing cycle. Ensure you clean bath toys weekly as they are especially at risk of growing mold and mildew.
If you’re out with your baby and need to clean their pacifier, there are several pacifier cleaning wipes on the market designed to remove germs in a pinch. However, the best way to sanitize pacifiers is to wash them with soap and hot water or to load them in the dishwasher.
When it comes to electronic toys, you’ll want to practice the two-step process of cleaning and disinfection.
- Before cleaning, turn off the toy and remove any batteries.
- Start with a clean, soapy rag to wipe away all the dirt and grime on the toy.
- Next, rinse the toy with a new wet rag and let it air dry.
- After the toy is dry, use a disinfecting wipe to kill the remaining germs.
- Ensure the electronic toy dries for at least five minutes before returning it to your child.
Do your best not to let water get into the toy as you clean it, as that could cause the device to short circuit and no longer work.
Plush loveys or baby blankets are typically machine washable. Before loading your washer, check the tags for any washing instructions.
- Put stuffed animals in a pillowcase and knot the end.
- Choose a gentle cycle with warm water.
- After you wash the plush toys, load them in your drier. Depending on the shape of the lovey or blanket, utilize a sanitize setting or a high heat. If the toy is a bit more fragile, use a lower heat.
For plush toys that you can’t wash because they contain batteries or their washing instructions indicate otherwise, it’s best to spot clean them. Here’s how:
- Create a soapy concoction, dip a clean cloth into the mixture and run it over the whole plushie part of the toy.
- Rinse the toy with a different damp cloth.
- Let the stuffed animal air dry or use a hairdryer to speed up the process.
- If you have a garment steamer, you can use this to kill any remaining bacteria on the plushie. Or run a vacuum attachment over the stuffed animal.
It’s wise to wash any fabric toys your little one sleeps with on a bi-weekly basis.
Your baby won’t always explore the world by putting everything in their mouth. Soon they’ll say their first words and next take their first steps. But you – you’ll be prepared for anything!