How to Clean Baby Toys and Disinfect Them Quickly or Thoroughly

If you want to know the different ways to clean baby toys, then you’re in the right place.

Here you’ll find quick ways on how to clean a variety of toys – plastic, wood, plush, etc.

And also more thorough methods on how to clean and disinfect baby toys.

Let’s begin with how to clean baby plastic toys.

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How to Clean Plastic Toys

Plastic toys can include teethers, pacifiers, rattles, balls, or those that are generally made of food-grade silicone, or rubber.

For other plastic toys that can’t stand higher temperatures because it can affect the quality of their parts (like legos), clean them by using some of the quick methods below.

Quick Ways To Clean Plastic Toys:

  • Using the Dishwasher

Put the toys in a colander or dishwasher container then place them on the top rack of the dishwasher. 

Wash on a normal cycle (or sanitize cycle if you have it) with a small amount of dishwashing detergent. Then use the heated cycle to dry toys. 

  • Using Soap and Water

Wash them like you’re washing utensils with a dishwashing liquid and water then air dry or place them in a UV sterilizer.

  • Using Antibacterial Wipes

Wipe them with antibacterial wipes, rinse with water and air dry.

  • Spray and Dry

You can also spray the toys with a baby-safe cleaner, wait for it to dry then rinse and air dry.

  • Steam Cleaner

Use a steam cleaner but obviously, not on teethers, pacifiers, and any mouthing toys.

Thorough Ways of Cleaning Plastic Toys:

  • With Boiling Water

One way of meticulously cleaning heat-resistant plastic toys, silicone toys, and pacifiers is by boiling them. 

You just boil a large pot of water, then submerge the toys for 2 minutes.

Get them out with a tong then air dry them or dry them in a UV sterilizer.

  • With Water and Bleach

Another way of cleaning plastic toys is first, to remove visible dirt and grime with a toothbrush or sponge. 

Then submerge the toys in water with a bleach solution (1/4 tsp per 24 oz of water) for a minimum of 2 minutes.

Then rinse it with water and just a mild dishwashing liquid or mild soap and air dry it.

Recommended Products for Cleaning Plastic Toys:

Antibacterial/ Disinfecting Wet Wipes or Spray Cleaner

Dishwashing detergent

Dishwashing liquid

UV sterilizer (for heat-resistant plastic toys)

Steam Cleaner

How to Clean Wooden Baby Toys

Wooden baby toys are mostly wooden blocks, cars, activity toys, and whatnot but can also include rattles, teethers, mouthing toys.

Quick Ways To Clean Wooden Toys:

  • Just Wipe

Wipe with a damp cloth then wipe with a clean, dry cloth or just air dry it.

Thorough Way of Cleaning Wooden Baby Toys:

  • Spot Clean

The best way to clean and maintain wooden toys is to clean them frequently with a damp cloth. 

But accidents do happen so spot clean them by using a microfiber cloth and a gentle toy cleaning solution.

The cleaning solution can either be a diluted combo of water with a few drops of mild dish soap or vinegar or a natural multi-purpose cleaner. 

Then wipe with a dry, clean cloth or simply air dry.

Recommended Products for Cleaning Wooden Baby Toys:

Microfibre cloth

Dish soap

Natural multi-purpose cleaner

White or apple cider vinegar

How to Clean Washable Plush and Soft Toys

Plush and soft toys are teddy bears, stuffed animals or dolls, softballs, clip-on hanging toys, and even dolls made with cloth or fabric.

Quick Ways To Clean Plush Toys:

  • Spot clean

Spot clean with a damp cloth and mild soap solution.

Thorough Way of Cleaning Plush Toys:

  • Via Washing Machine

You can stuff them in a mesh bag/ laundry washing bag or zippered pillowcase and put them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle setting. 

Check for any loose threads, eyes, or any choke-hazard items afterward. Then air-dry them.

  • Via Handwashing

If the toy is old, has sequins or beads, or is in a delicate condition, just hand wash them!

Just fill a basin with water, add some laundry detergent and swirl to mix.

Soak the plush toy in that solution for 15 minutes and so. 

Then use your fingers to gently rub the dirty spots. 

Drain the basin and squeeze the water out of the toy but don’t wring it. 

Then rinse it by continually squeezing the toy under running water.

Recommended Products for Cleaning Plush Toys:

Mesh laundry bag

Laundry detergent

Mild soap

How to Clean Non-Washable Plush and Soft Toys

Non-washable plush toys or soft toys are those interactive, musical toys that usually come with batteries.

Quick Ways To Clean Non-Washable Soft Toys:

  • Spot cleaning

Spot clean with antibacterial/ disinfecting wipes then air dry.

Thorough Way of Cleaning Non-Washable Soft Toys:

  • Clean manually

Get a microfiber cloth and dip that in a cleaning solution made with water mixed with dishwashing liquid or mild soap.

Then manually and lightly scrub the toy with the cloth. 

You can also use a soft toothbrush dipped in a cleaning solution to clean specific areas.

Then rinse the cloth and continue clean until the toy is well, clean.

Air dry or use a hair dryer on a medium setting.

Recommended Products for Cleaning Non-Washable Soft Toys:

Antibacterial/ Disinfecting Wet Wipes or Spray Cleaner

Microfibre cloth

Dishwashing liquid

Mild soap

How to Clean Electronic Toys 

This includes toys with battery packs and wires inside, or even an electronic vehicle for kids!

Quick Ways To Electronic Toys:

  • Wipe

Remove the batteries and just use a slightly damp microfiber cloth or disinfectant wipes and just wipe the safe surfaces.

Air-dry then put back its batteries.

  • Spray and Dry

Just use an all-purpose cleaner, carefully target and spray certain dirty parts, then wait for it to dry.

Always remember to remove the batteries first before cleaning.

Thorough Way of Cleaning Electronic Toys:

  • Spot clean carefully

Dunk a microfibre cloth in a basin filled with water mixed with fabric softener or dish soap. 

Wring the cloth and use it to wipe or spot clean the toys.

Use a cotton swab to get into nooks and crevices.

Recommended Products for Cleaning Electronic Toys:

Antibacterial/ Disinfecting Wet Wipes or Spray Cleaner

Microfibre cloth

How to Clean Bath Toys

These usually include those squirting toys with holes, bath foam letters and numbers that can stick to the wall, and such.

Quick Ways To Clean Bath Toys:

  • With Disinfectant Wipes

Wipe it down with antibacterial or disinfectant wipes.

  • Using the Dishwasher

Just like the plastic toys, you can also place some heat-resistant bath toys in the dishwasher for cleaning.

Remember to put them on the top rack and if the dishwasher has it, use the sanitize cycle, to kill mold and mildew.

Thorough Way of Cleaning Bath Toys:

  • By Soaking

Soak the bath toys in hot water mixed with dishwashing liquid for at least an hour. Then scrub and rinse then air dry.

  • With Boiling Water

Check first if the bath toys are heat-resistant.

Then you can boil a large pot of water and submerge them in it for a few minutes.

Take them out with a tong then thoroughly air dry.

You can also put them in the UV sterilizer for drying.

Recommended Products for Cleaning Bath Toys:

Antibacterial/ Disinfecting Wet Wipes or Spray Cleaner

Dishwashing detergent

Dishwashing liquid

UV sterilizer (for heat-resistant plastic toys)

How To Clean Dolls

Dolls that you can clean using the methods below are usually those that are made of plastic or vinyl.

Quick Ways To Clean Dolls:

  • Quick Wiping

Do so with an antibacterial/ disinfectant wipe. Wipe again with a damp cloth then air-dry.

  • Spray and Dry

Use an all-purpose, baby-safe disinfectant spray. Wait for it to dry then rinse with water and leave for air-drying

Thorough Way of Cleaning Dolls:

  • Via A Bathing Activity

Tell your kid you’re going to “bathe” their doll in the bathroom.

Hand wash the doll’s clothes (or put them in the washing machine), then let your kids wash its hair and body with baby shampoo/ body wash!

Recommended Products for Cleaning Dolls:

Antibacterial/ Disinfecting Wet Wipes or Spray Cleaner

Dishwashing detergent

Dishwashing liquid

UV sterilizer (for heat-resistant plastic toys)

FAQ on Cleaning Baby Toys

How do you disinfect baby toys?

You can disinfect baby toys by using EPA-registered disinfectant wipes or an all-purpose disinfectant spray.
You can also boil them, just make sure that they’re heat-resistant, so they won’t melt or get damaged in the boiling water.

How often should you clean baby toys?

Experts would suggest cleaning baby toys regularly – once a week or disinfecting it once a month would do.

It’s also best to clean toys immediately once they’re visibly dirty, have been licked by your fur babies, or have been exposed to sick kids or adults.

Can I disinfect toys with vinegar?

No, you can’t disinfect toys with vinegar.

It’s popularly used for cleaning toys naturally but it’s not powerful enough to effectively kill most bacteria, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you want to disinfect your baby’s toy, it’s better to use an EPA-registered disinfectant such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes.

Do you need to sanitize baby toys?

Yes, occasionally, you need to sanitize baby toys. 
Especially if they’re teething toys or it has been exposed to sick children or adults.

What is the easiest way to clean baby toys?

The easiest way to clean baby toys is by using disinfectant wipes or spray. 
Another quick method is by putting them in the dishwasher for cleaning!

Tips on Cleaning and Disinfecting Baby Toys

  • Look for safe baby toy cleaners

Look for baby toy cleaners that do not include dyes, are biodegradable, and are free of phthalates and parabens.

Those that don’t have any animal byproducts, sulfates, perfumes, and artificial fragrances are also ideal to have.

  • Hot glue bath toys

They usually have holes in them which can be breeding ground for mold and bacteria. 

So some parents thought of a genius way of gluing the holes shut and then washing it normally afterwards!

  • Avoid squirting bath toys

Just don’t buy those bath toys with tiny holes, period. So you don’t need to deal with trying to prevent or clean mold.

  • Clean wooden toys with care

Wooden toys are durable but they’re sensitive to cleaning materials and water.

Toys made of wood are porous so take care not to soak them in water or place them in a dishwasher for cleaning, as they may swell or deform.

Refrain from using harsh cleaning chemicals on them too. And it’s best not to expose them to direct sunlight as it might get some cracks.

Just clean them with a damp cloth regularly then air dry or wipe with a dry cloth. That’s it!

  • Get a hanging mesh bag

Something like this. 

To easily hang and air dry multiple small toys

Or get a hanger, tie up a small or medium-sized laundry mesh bag in it for use.

  • Disinfect when it’s not new

If it was a second-hand bought toy, donated, came from a home with pets, or with someone who smokes, clean and disinfect them first before giving it to your baby.

  • Save cleaning instructions

You can either store all the toy manuals in a drawer or take a picture of the fixing/ cleaning instructions and save them in a folder on your phone.

Takeaway on How to Clean Baby Toys

I know how it feels to worry and excessively clean baby toys. 

I used to do it and I would pretty much always use the UV sterilizer, as I feel it makes the toy extra clean and safe.

But remember that exposing your kid to germs is better in the long run, for them to get a stronger immune system.

We clean and disinfect baby toys initially, to avoid exposing new bacteria to our baby’s system too early.

But if you can’t disinfect or clean baby toys regularly, that’s fine. 

I’ve read a lot of comments online from parents sharing how they just occasionally clean their baby’s toys. 

Some only clean them when they are really, visibly, obviously dirty and some, don’t even bother at all!

Besides, who has the time and energy to always clean toys when you have multiple kids?!

On a related note, if you want to know how I clean my house with my toddler without going insane, check out this article.