Cleaning toys can be a real pain. Beleaguered moms, we feel you. The pandemic has dragged on and if you're anything like us, you stopped singing the Happy Birthday song while handwashing months ago. Soaping up and scrubbing down has lost its early-pandemic novelty. It's joined mask-wearing and social distancing as part of the new normal.
At Toycycle headquarters, we quickly implemented extra cleaning and sanitizing precautions following CDC guidelines. That was back in March when demand for second-hand toys for stuck-at-home kids skyrocketed. We're passing along a few tips for COVID-era cleaning of secondhand toys–no Happy Birthday song required.
Cleaning Soft Toys
(Stuffies, activity blankets, cloth books, soft blocks) You can wash most of these items in the washing machine. Use a cool or warm water setting depending on the fabric, combined with your regular laundry detergent. Machine dry on low, or air dry if you've got the time. The dryer can be harsh, especially on velcro or attached plastic pieces like this Skip Hop Bandana Buddy. Don't machine wash wool or wool-blend toys. We recommend soaking them in cool water with child-safe wool wash instead. Gently remove excess water and lay flat to dry on a folded towel.
Cleaning Hard Plastic Toys
(Balls, building blocks, train tracks, battery-operated toys) Place Lego, Duplo, and Mega Bloks in a lingerie bag and run them through the dishwasher (top rack only, air dry setting). Wash other water-safe toys, like plastic train tracks and silicone teething toys, with dish soap. Wipe battery-operated toys like the VTech Alphabet Activity Cube with a disinfecting spray or hydrogen peroxide solution.
Cleaning Wooden Toys
(Blocks, rocking horses, train tracks, puzzles): It goes without saying that wood and water don't mix! Avoid heavy wetting or soaking. Use a damp rag and gentle dish soap. Alternatively, a diluted solution of white vinegar and water will work. Wood has natural antibacterial properties and does not generally harbor germs in the same manner as plastic. Dry wooden tosy in the sun, but keep in mind that overexposure can cause fading of painted surfaces.
Again, go light with moisture. Disinfectant wipes are great for book covers but don't wipe inner pages unless the book is laminated throughout, and then be sure to air dry all pages thoroughly before closing. Studies show that Covid-19 doesn't survive well on porous, absorbent surfaces such as paper and cardboard, so don't fret too much about non-coated inner pages.
Outdoor Ride-On Toys
(Balance bikes, wagons, tricycles, bouncy toys, scooters) Let the kids get involved! Set up your pretend car wash with liquid dish soap, a few rags, and the garden hose for a splashing, sudsy good time. Battery-operated toys should steer clear of the hose and can be wiped with your favorite child-safe household cleaner instead.
Have questions about safe cleaning practices for a specific second-hand item? Contact us and we'll tell you how the pros get it done!