How To Clean Your House Naturally: How To Clean Toys?

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Springtime is here again. I am very much a fan of the season, but perhaps  less of the cleaning and “nesting” which traditionally comes with it. Some people feel this urge to clean on a primal biological level – more power to them. This post will be on how to clean your house naturally, and more specifically on how to clean toys.

George Bernard Shaw famously said: “we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”. Play is such a spontaneous and wondrous activity – a way to exercise your imagination and develop your curiosity. Adults, kids, even animals – we all love to engage in play. As much fun as games can be, though, you need to make sure that hygiene doesn’t go out the window. Before we get carried away, let’s take a closer look at what exactly it is that we’re trying to clean – germs, bacteria, microbes and more!

Antimicrobial Vs Antibacterial Explained

Microbes are microorganisms, life forms that exist inside and outside of our bodies. Some of these microbes are beneficial, and some are potentially detrimental to the point of mortal danger. Bacteria are a kind of microbe, as are viruses, fungi, protozoa, and different parasites.

An antibacterial agent is a chemical or substance which kills bacteria. An antimicrobial agent is a chemical or substance which manages microbes in general. As such, an antimicrobial agent has a broader field of operation and protection, compared to an antibacterial.

When targeting a specific bacteria, a designated antibacterial substance may be exactly what’s necessary. This varies on a case-by-case basis.

Why You Should Use Safe Cleaning Products

Open box of wet wipes.

Wet wipes for cleaning.

There are many reasons to use conventional, mainstream cleaning products. Conversely, there are some reasons not to. It’s a judgment call, based on your situation and your desire (or need) to use safer products. And make no mistake, there are products which are safer than others. The different warning labels on the containers can give you some idea of what’s safe and what isn’t.

Greener and more natural cleaning products are less of a safety hazard, by and large. Using safer products minimizes the risk factor inside and outside while still being efficient, and also gives you a chance to DIY the whole thing and save some money in the process.  

Germ Safety For Kids

Child and baby playing outside.

Kids playing outside.

Kids and toddlers are sensitive creatures. They have an immune system that is still developing, and as such, they are more susceptible to invasion and infection. Germ safety for kids is a real concern because they (babies, toddlers, and onward) are more likely to be affected by microbes and other pathogens.

This is not only true to illness or disease, but also to allergies and sensitivities in general. Keeping things clean also means keeping the household somewhat safe(r). You can’t control every little thing, of course, but with children it’s nice to put in the extra effort when possible.

Younger children are even more unpredictable than usual. Always placing different things in their hands and in their mouths, as they experiment and explore the world around them more closely. This can become an issue sometimes. Toys should be clean and safe, but they usually don’t need to be overly clean.

How To Clean Toys?

Some toys will come with cleaning instructions. With other toys, you may be able to contact customer support and ask them about keeping the toy clean. In lieu of that, if you’re interested in cleaning and disinfecting toys, then there are several ways to get that done.

You can use industrial cleaners. You can use a washing machine. You can use warm soap and water. You can use diluted bleach or stain-remover of some kind. Some of those options are less ideal. From a safety perspective, it is best to avoid harsh and/or abrasive chemicals.

Baby Safe Cleaning Products

Birds eye view of baby playing with toys.

Baby playing with toys.

Sometimes, it’s a fine line. On the one hand, you want to clean your baby’s surroundings and playing surfaces, etc. On the other hand, you don’t want to use substances that could potentially cause harm. Non-toxic cleaning products (aka baby-safe cleaning products) and DIY options are your best bet.

Exposing your baby to new substances and micro-organisms is not always a bad thing. It helps the baby to develop, inside and out, and to understand the world around them that much better. It’s our job as parents or caregivers to oversee that line between cleanliness and healthy development. Some toys are meant to get dirty and mucky, after all, although usually at later ages.

How To Clean Baby Toys

Cleaning baby toys can prove to be a challenge before any cleaning even takes place! Some of them are battery-operated, some have moving parts and/or lights, some are wooden, some are plastic, some are plush or fabric. Some are meant to be cleaned by hand, some are meant for the washer or even dishwasher. It’s a whole smorgasbord of differences and particulars, and it can make for a difficult task.

The best way to clean baby toys is to look no further than the label or box. If there are no instructions on the toy itself or its storage container, then it is advised to use a gentle and mild cleaner, some wipes, and other hands-on methods such as soap and warm water, followed by paper towels. If you’re dealing with toys which liquids could get into – and potentially ruin it in the process – make sure to use caution and good judgment.

How To Clean Baby Toys That Can’t Be Washed

Pile of alphabet blocks.

Alphabet blocks for kids.

For toys that cannot be thrown into the laundry washer or dishwasher, there are commercial non-toxic toy sanitizers that can be purchased. There is also the DIY option, using substances such as lemon juice, essential oils, or white vinegar – diluted with water and placed in a squirt bottle.

Now, let’s be real. There’s a good chance you won’t want to spare valuable washer or dishwasher space on a bulky toy with stains on it. With a DIY cleaner, you can take care of business, save washer space, and have the added bonus of knowing exactly what it is that you’re squirting all over Junior’s prized possessions.

How To Clean Plush Toys

Teddy bear with red bow.

Plush toy teddy bear.

You can clean plush toys by hand or by machine. Unlike some other dirty toys, stuffed animals and other treasured cuddle-partners require a more gentle touch. Choose a detergent that is safe for babies, or perhaps one meant for those with sensitive skin. As always – look at the label, follow instructions. With a machine wash, use cold water and a gentle cycle unless specified otherwise. Some items may call for use of the “hygiene” setting, which is hot.

When washing by hand, remember to be gentle. Sometimes you need to scrub harder, but you’re sleep-deprived and are temporarily a mere shell of your former self…so, avoid venting through toys because being too rough carries risks. It’s advised to use less detergent than you would for a machine wash. A little could go a long way in an intense hand wash.


Cleaning your house naturally doesn’t have to be such a schlep. You can make some fairly minimal changes, then see what agrees with you. Switching to a natural all-purpose cleaner is easy, using ingredients like baking soda, essential oils, and lemon juice.

Kids toys can become seriously filthy, and fast. Sometimes they are downright unusable even after one afternoon. When that time comes, try to whisk it away in the morning (while the kid is out) and give it a proper bath. With toys, the key is not to be abrasive, and to use baby- or kid-friendly ingredients.

When you’re cleaning toys, make sure to follow any guidelines which may be on the label or box. It might save you time, energy, and unnecessary heartache. Toys were meant for fun and games, for physical and mental stimulation. Whether you’re a child or a grownup – use these toys, enjoy them, and help yourself stay younger.

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