We all know that we shouldn’t put dirty objects in our mouths. Nevertheless, it is hard to explain to your little curious baby why this rule must be followed. The truth is that even grown ups forget about it every once in a while. When distracted, we often let objects like pens, markers and sometimes even our own dirty fingers to get in contact with our mouths. This exposes us to dangerous bacteria which could later result in various conditions - from common flu to more serious diseases.
While we have a strong immune system to fight the germs, babies are still developing theirs. This alone makes them quite vulnerable. That’s why good hygiene is extremely important and should extend to everything the child is coming in contact with, especially toys.
There are a few things to keep in mind for maintaining toys germ-free. For starters, scheduling a cleaning every two-three weeks will be beneficial, although, the frequency should be changed under specific circumstances. Here’s in which cases a cleaning should be done more often:
- Illness or infection;
- Contact of the toys with another sick child or adult;
- Exposure to pets (licking or biting the toys);
- Well-known allergies and high sensitivity of the child;
- Contact with unhygienic surfaces;
- Having toys that tend to detain more bacteria (stuffed toys).
It’s not enough to just decide on a cleaning, you have to do it right in order to be effective. A simple sanitation with wipes or water can make a toy’s surface clean. However, that doesn’t guarantee the removing of all germs. A lot of them remain trapped in hard-to-reach places, which only a deep cleaning with the right products can eradicate.
Don’t be in a rush, though, to get the store-bought cleaners. Although recommended, bleach and other similar products are quite strong and could be dangerous for your baby’s health. There are, however, all kinds of safe and very effective eco-friendly cleaning solutions that can work even better.
Vinegar and dishwashing liquid
Vinegar is a popular ingredient in various homemade cleaners’ recipes. So, it is only natural to test its effectiveness for disinfecting your baby’s toys.
Start by mixing equal parts of vinegar (preferably white vinegar as it is gentler) and lukewarm water. Then add a few drops of the dishwashing liquid. You can either pour the solution into a spray bottle or leave it in a container where the toys can be soaked for a few minutes. Now all that’s left to do is scrub the germs away and rinse well with water.
Tip: Adding several drops of lavender, lemon or tea tree essential oil will reduce the vinegar scent and will provide extra disinfection. Just test to make sure that neither you or your baby are allergic to such products.
Suitability: This method is great for cleaning plastic and rubber baby toys. You shouldn’t use liquid on any electronic toys, as well as on metal ones because the vinegar doesn’t react well with them.
Mild soap and water
This is a safe and quick way to eliminate bacteria. Just fill a clean container with hot water and add the soap. Any product with milder formula will do, so why not directly use your baby’s special products.
Give the toys a good scrub using a sponge and toothbrush. The latter is perfect for reaching all those areas that are usually tough to clean but provide perfect place for germ accumulation. Remember to rinse well with water and leave the toys to dry.
Suitability: You can hand-wash plastic, rubber and toys for babies made from different fabrics, unless their labels say otherwise. It is best to check them every time since some of the toys can be easily placed in a bag or pillow case and put in the washing machine. As for wooden and metal baby toys, they can be just wiped with a cloth dipped in the solution.
In case you’ve never used the white powder for cleaning carpet stains or eliminating nasty odours in the house, now is a good time to test its powers. The baking soda can be combined with water and sprayed on toys for refreshing their looks. It is also very helpful for removing old and stubborn stains from stuffed animals.
You need to create a paste using a pinch of baking soda and little water (double the amount for larger stains). Apply the paste on the stain with a toothbrush and rub gently. Then leave it to dry and dust off the powder. You can also vacuum the toy if you have the right attachment. This technique is very effective for making yellowish fabric look white again.
The baking soda can help make all soft and fluffy toys smell better, too. Just place them on a towel and sprinkle white powder until they are completely covered. Do the same on both sides and then leave the soda to work its magic for about 15 minutes. Finally, dust the powder off completely and use a brush for the more challenging places.
Suitability: Baking soda is safe to use on pretty much all toys, except the wooden, metal and electronic ones due to bad reaction with the materials.
Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
When mixed with water, rubbing alcohol becomes an effective germ killing solution. Whether sprayed or applied with a cloth, the cleaning mixture needs to be washed off after and the toys can be air dried.
As for the hand sanitizer, most such products contain different amounts of alcohol in them for providing thorough and long-lasting disinfection. So, you can directly apply part of the gel on the toy and rub with fingers until it dries completely. It is very important to wash with water after at least several times because the gel has a strong formula and very unpleasant taste.
Sometimes the germs are lurking closer than expected, but that shouldn’t deprive your precious baby from the possibility to have fun and explore.
Guest Blog Written By Marieta Ivanova
Bio: Marieta Ivanova loves sharing clever and useful tips on home organisation and cleaning, as her favourite topic remains the eco-friendly way of life. She is a blogger and home improvement expert for Fantastic Cleaners Brisbane, a company which specialises in expert residential cleaning, offering a big variety of services in the Brisbane area.