Disinfecting Ball Pits

Updated on November 02, 2009
T.W. asks from Salem, OR
18 answers

What is the best way to clean balls from a ball pit? My mother gifted our 21 month old daughter with a ball pit and I have no idea how I should go about cleaning all those balls. She purchased a set from Target (about 150 balls) which feel very fragile. They are small and dent easily. She also purchased a set from a consignment store (about 100 balls) which are more like the kind you would find at McDonalds. They are large and sturdy. I thought about cleaning them in our dishwasher, but it is notorious for melting plastic---even when you secure it on the top shelf! Any ideas?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your extremely helpful tips and suggestions. The balls do have a tiny hole in them so I ended up not soaking them fully. I worried about the eventual mold and I want these balls to last as long as possible. So to clean them I put them in a mesh bag (I cannot believe I fit them all in!) and liberally sprayed it with a vinegar/water solution since we were out of bleach. I hung them up in our basement, over a towel, to drip dry. I did not wet them or wipe them down after they dried, I figured a little vinegar isn't going to hurt. In fact it may even help keep the balls from getting slobbered on. : ) Thanks again!

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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

washing machine with bleach! (10% bleach is the world's best known sanitizer... aside from heat like an autoclave). If you don't want the hassle of picking the balls out you could use a couple of mesh laundry sacks.

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J.L.

answers from Corvallis on

The only idea that comes to mind is soaking them in the tub with water and bleach(or any other disinfectant).
We too have a ball pit and I wipe that down with Lysol wipes.

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M.S.

answers from Portland on

I wouldn't recommend soaking them in water as many have suggested. Most of the balls have a tiny hole in them, and some even have cracks. The holes are just big enough for water to get in, but not big enough for the insides to dry. They will end up getting moldy inside.

What I did was spread them all out on a blanket in the living room and spray them liberally with Clorox Anywhere or similar product. Once they are dry, mix them up some and spray again to make sure you got all surfaces.

2 moms found this helpful
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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

washing machine with bleach! (10% bleach is the world's best known sanitizer... aside from heat like an autoclave). If you don't want the hassle of picking the balls out you could use a couple of mesh laundry sacks.

2 moms found this helpful
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K.M.

answers from Portland on

Hmmm...I have found that by if I put all my kids toys (all the plastic ones anyway) in the bathtub, I can spray them all at once with a 10% bleach solution. Then I just let the mist air dry. We haven't had a problem with anyone getting sick in awhile. Another idea would be to buy some of the anti-virus, antibacterial spray instead of the bleach. Good luck!

K.

1 mom found this helpful
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J.L.

answers from Corvallis on

The only idea that comes to mind is soaking them in the tub with water and bleach(or any other disinfectant).
We too have a ball pit and I wipe that down with Lysol wipes.

1 mom found this helpful

A.G.

answers from Seattle on

I would try using the bathtub. You could put them in with a mild bleach solution. As a bonus, while you are soaking them, you would get your tub clean.

1 mom found this helpful
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C.R.

answers from Seattle on

How about a bathtub filled with bleach water or even just dish soap?

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K.J.

answers from Anchorage on

I am a preschool teacher and we have a ball pit for the kids to play in. This is what we do when we clean it. We spread a sheet out on the concrete on the playground and pour the balls on top of it. We use a mixture of bleach and water in a spray bottle, spray the balls with it, and let them dry in the sun. Bleach water is economical and practical as it kills germs really well. Hope this helps.

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M.L.

answers from Seattle on

Two options:

1. if you have a kiddie pool, put some soapy water in there and then just stir it around

2. put them in the washing machine on a cold wash cycle with vinegar instead of soap

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J.R.

answers from Denver on

Personally, I would put water and vinegar in a bathtub and swish them around (at least for the sturdier ones). If you need to scrub them I would do water, vinegar and baking soda and then rinse them all after scrubbing.

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M.H.

answers from Seattle on

Hello T.,

At the preschool we dipped them in a bleach solution - can't remember the ratio, but I'm sure you can look that up. They sat in the bleach for about 30 seconds then we dunked them in water and let them air dry. That is how we cleaned all the plastic toys.

Positively,
M.

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K.M.

answers from Anchorage on

That was my idea too! Bleach solution in a bath tub. I would probably avoid using soap, as that would tend to leave a residue on plastic unless you're planning to painstakingly wash every ball by hand....Good luck!

I love the gifts our children receive from people that will never have to clean them. lol

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

When I worked at McDonalds we would put them in a mesh bag and take then to the car wash.

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G.D.

answers from Anchorage on

I have a front loader washing machine & if I was in your shoes I would put the balls in there w/ soap, bleach, vinegar, or whatever mix of cleaning solution desired & then spray on stain remover onto the used ones that may need it. Then, I would put the setting on handwash cycle so that the spin is gentle & water temp. is lower as to not destroy them! Then just lay them out on towels to dry. If you do not have a front loader, see if someone has one you could borrow or you can find one at a laudry mat...however, you would need to make sure you can choose the settings so as to not have a reg.million mile per hour spin or too hot of water that might melt the plastic. Good Luck!

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D.T.

answers from Portland on

I used my washing machine.

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J.B.

answers from Portland on

Cold or warm water and detergent in the wash machine.

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A.M.

answers from Seattle on

I would fill the bathtub with bleach water. I think it's like 1/4 cup to a gallon and disinfect them that way. Not sure on the exact dilution, but I am sure it says it on the bleach bottle. I wouldn't run then through the dishwasher, it seems a bit of overkill... If any of them are like, gross, you could hand wash them in soapy water, but for the most part, bleachwater is easy, and kills germs.

S.W.

answers from Eugene on

I would maybe throw them all in the bathtub and wash them with soap in batches. Just get each one soapy and then toss it in the tub and then rinse them all you pull them out? Sounds like a lot of work, lol! I hope you find something that is simple and works!

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D.C.

answers from Portland on

We fill our bathtub with part hot water and about a cup of pure bleach. After they have a good soak in the tub, we clean them as if they are dishes by adding a little dish soap to the hot water- to finish up with a towel dry. Its a little time consuming but works great.

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