Scenic Erie Station Village

Your Guide to Cleaning Toys

Toy car covered in mud. Image credit: Chris F

October 2022


If you have kids, your apartment or townhome is probably overrun with toys. A few years ago, you probably didn’t think much about cleaning them. Since Covid came along, everyone is giving more thought to how often they clean the everyday items in their lives. While it’s kind of gross to think about, toys can not only harbor germs but also allergens and even mold. Different toys require different cleaning methods. Not only to get them clean but to prevent damage. Since they’re probably your child’s most prized possessions, here are some simple and effective way to clean each type of toy.

Hard Plastic, Metal or Wooden Toys

You can wipe these down with a disinfectant cleaner or wash with soap and water. Just don’t immerse toys with batteries, electronic components, or internal compartments that will hold water. Unfinished wooden toys can be tricky, since water can easily damage them. Wipe them down with a damp cloth using a 1:1 mix of water and white vinegar. Some toys can be placed in your dishwasher, which is a great way to disinfect them. But check the toys instructions before doing this. If they can’t stand the heat of a dishwasher, you could ruin the toy and your appliance.

Clean these types of toys every two weeks, or more often if your child or a playmate has been sick.

Stuffed or Plush Toys

It’s important to check labels. Use a gentle cycle and low heat for toys that can be machine washed. Those that can’t, can be hand washed and air dried. Any toys that can’t be immersed in water at all can be disinfected by using a garment steamer.

If your child has a favorite stuffed animal that goes everywhere with them, wash it weekly. Their less popular stuffies can be washed every couple of months. Overall, let frequency of play and physical appearance be your guide.

Electronic Toys

Just like your TV remote, most electronic toys can simply be cleaned by wiping down all surfaces, keys, and buttons with a disinfecting cleaner. But also like your TV remote, these types of toys have a lot of hands on them and should be cleaned every few days. It probably goes without saying, but never immerse them in water.

Baby Toys

Because babies love to put things in their mouths and their toys often end up on the ground, this is a toy cleaning category all by itself. Depending on the material, baby toys can be wiped down, washed with soap and water, or machine washed. The only difference compared to the types of toys covered above is the frequency of cleaning. If a toy gets dropped on the floor, disinfect it before giving it back to your baby or put it away until you can. Toys that don’t hit the ground should be cleaned every day or two, but more often if other children are playing with them.