Plan of Attack for Large-Scale Disinfecting of Toys

Updated on November 10, 2010
A.B. asks from El Paso, TX
21 answers

Hi, Mamas,

I need advice on cleaning ALL of my boys' toys.... I'm not even sure where to begin; the task is rather daunting since we have a HUGE playroom.

What is the best cleaning solution? Bleach and water in the bathtub? What about just dish soap--so I don't risk speckling my rugs with bleach?

What about the battery-operated toys--and those made of wood--like blocks? How do I clean those?

This is going to be a challenge, so I would appreciate any advice you can offer! I've cleaned the toys on an as-needed basis before, but this will be my first large-scale attack on the entire lot of them....


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answers from New York on

Not for nothing - but if you're wiping down the toys that need to be wiped down (I use either windex-ed paper towel or those anticpetic wipes) why do you need to do this large scale attack? It's not a bad thing for kids to be exposed to some bacteria and germs from time to time - it helps build their immune system. I think the only time I undertook such a large scale cleaning was after one of my kids began a stomach virus into the toy box.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

When I was teaching in back home we used to wash and disinfect all the toys before the summer break. Sunlight is the best germ killer there is. So we washed the toys in hot soapy water, small plastic things ( like legos, perls) we put in a linnen pillow case and tied it and them washed in the washing mashine. After that we spread them on a clean sheet outside on the lawn and let the sunlight dry it. Worked great. Wooden blocks you have to wipe with a damp cloth dipped in hot soapy water. Do not bleach wood, it only ruins them. Dishwashing liquid is a fine cleaner for that task. Let the blocks airdry.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

Quick warning: don't use chlorine bleach on wood – this can create dioxins as a byproduct, and those are among the most dangerous and durable class of chemicals in the environment.

In fact, there is so much chlorine used and entering our waste stream that we are seriously polluting our environment with it. Google "chlorine in the environment" for lots of information from sites like this one: .

Honestly, A., children not only thrive in spite of dirt and germs in their surroundings, but the human immune system actually requires a certain amount of it to function correctly. Not only by building resistance to common microbes, and actually using good bacteria to help digestion and other body functions, but it's been established that children who grow up in conditions that are too antiseptic are much more likely to develop asthma and other auto-immune problems. Our bodies need "enemies" to work against, or they tend to turn against their own cells.

One other thing to know is that most bacteria are dead within a couple of hours of drying out completely. Within 24 hours at most, kids' toys are no longer harboring any live infecting agents.

If you want to clean toys because they look dirty and unappealing, that's fine. Vinegar or baking soda in water are both fabulous, non-toxic cleaners. But don't get too hung up on the idea of germs. Advertisers want you to worry so you'll buy their chemical-laden products, but your sons will be healthier if you don't.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Just wash the washables in the washing machine, and spray the rest with lysol...if you have too many toys to spray, then maybe you should look into getting rid of some, most kids only play with what's on the top ne ways so most of it's just "there"

my mom suggested when my daughter was young, take some toys, box/bag them up, put them in the garage, then alternate every 6 months, give the child "new" toys to play with :) worked like a charm

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

If you have a dishwasher, utilize it! Put whatever CAN go in there in & run it. Several times if needed for more loads.
Blankets, stuffies, etc into washing machine.
Wipe down electrical/battery op stuff with Clorox wipes or bleach water. If you use bleach water, make sure to ventilate the room.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

What was your child sick with that you feel you must disinfect everything? I clean stuff if it gets nasty but a little dirt and germs is good for the immune system.


What was your child sick with that you feel you must disinfect everything? I clean stuff if it gets nasty but a little dirt and germs is good for the immune system.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Remember in the Velvetine Rabbit, how they just gather up all the toys and burn it all... Sounds like a darn good idea now, huh?!

Go through the toys and separate based on how you'll clean them. Things for the washing machine in one pile; things for bleach soak, another pile; things for clorox wipes, another... Use post it notes to mark large things you want to disinfect; when you've clean it, take of the post-it note. That way, you'll be able to keep track of what has and has not been gotten to.

You also want to check your water heater setting; to disinfect (stuffed animals, bedding, etc) the water temperature needs to be at least 170 degrees.

For clorine bleach, you ideally should use a container that has not be opened/unsealed longer than 30 days. That insures the concentration is the strongest. Dilute 1Tbls bleach for every gallon of water.

The reason I've never thrown toys in my dishwasher is because, if a toy were to melt, it would melt in my dishwater!! That could be a costly/annoying clean-up... And a smoke/fire hazard if the plastic melted onto the heating coil. So I always do it in the bathtub; surface spray toys with batteries. Used clorox wipes on book covers/pages, board games, etc.

And if you can afford it, you can always throw out popular toys that can be easily replaced with new ones. Of course, don't let your kid(s) know you're doing this... I've done this with various toys that are always at Target as well as just completely replacing crayons, markers, playdough.

If you think you'll get bleach drips on your carpet, you can always buy 2 brand new plastic garbage cans and do it outside.

When my daughter got Pertussis, I also had a steam carpet cleaning company clean rooms that she had been primarily in. Usually you can find an online coupon for 3 rooms for $99.
Here's an article that discusses disinfection aspects. Has good tips on remembering to clean light switches, faucets, door knobs, etc.:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I use Lysol wipes on anything that can't go in either the bathtub, washing machine or dishwasher!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Skip the bleach. Few people actually use it the right way to get the disinfecting powers. For example, clorox wipes say "To disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces, to clean the surface so that it remains wet for 5 minutes. To sanitize and deodorize hard, non-porous surfaces, the surface must remain wet for 30 seconds."

I bet most people give things a quick wipe and think it's disinfected but it's not. Bleach is so toxic, I would avoid it. Try vinegar and not water instead.

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answers from Houston on

Why? I have three kids-12, 15, and 18- and never disinfected more than the occasional wipe down or throw it in the dishwasher (for baby things that they mouthed on a lot). If there was dirt on it , then I'd do a bit of soap and water. Otherwise I figure the germs die off or help build their immune system.
Save yourself the trouble. Too much disinfecting causes it's own problems.

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answers from Tulsa on

A bathtub is dirty...eeewww.

Use a storage tub in the bathtub, they are only about $4 at Wal-Mart. Follow the instructions on the link I added. At my child care center we made bleach water every day and dumped it every night. It had very little bleach in it but was the correct ratio.

We lightly sprayd the toys that could not be submerged.

I used several white towels laid out on an 8 foot table and used it as a drying area. I always made sure that air could get to all parts of the toys/dishes, no cups/glasses with the rim flat on teh towel, air needs to be able to get inside and all around. Towel drying is so nasty. They must air dry, over night.


answers from Dover on

I don't use bleach at all in my home anymore. Yes, it kills germs but it is also a pesticide!!! I use Sol U Guard. It is a non-toxic disinfectant.



answers from Houston on

When I worked in a daycare we would use a bleach and water solution. I believe it's 1 capful of bleach to a gallon of water. We would use this in a spray bottle to wipe down all hard surfaces, and then we would soak the hard plastic toys in it at night. For soft toys we would spray with disinfectant, but you could run most of those through the washer. This mild bleach and water solution is the safest, easiest and cheapest way to clean and disinfect. I have also used a solution of dish soap and water to wipe down everything in my sons room.



answers from College Station on

Are you sanitizing or just cleaning? If you are just cleaning, then hot, soapy water is just fine. Toss everything except the battery operated toys in the tub. Wipe the battery operated ones down with some clorox wipes or something.
Spread towels on the bathroom floor and work in batches.

Good Luck!


answers from Washington DC on

Dishwasher... Load 'em up and turn it on. Whatever doesn't survive the heat gets pitched. Battery operated toys - you need to surface wash them with bleach water or clorox clean up. Blocks - spray 'em with lysol.

Good luck!


answers from Dallas on

Clorox wipes or a mixture of clorox/water.

Clorox is a great thing....kills germs.



answers from Buffalo on

Fill tub with water and bleach and toss them in (drain then rinse, then lay them out on a sheet, blanket, tarp what ever, out side they will dry fast.

Wash the washer safe in the washing machine

Battery toys, lay on a sheet, blanket, tarp outside and spray w/ lysol. let dry. Then take a washcloth (wet with just water) and wipe off as you put them away to get the residue off.

Good luck


answers from Houston on

I throw them all in the bathtub, and rinse them off first, then clean the with cleaner! Smaller things like toy cars and leggos go in the dishwasher. Except the washables go in the washing machine and the wood blocks/toys can be wiped down and then sprayed with the lysol. Battery toys get wiped down and lysole'd. Lay them all on a blanket or towel to dry.



answers from Corpus Christi on

Stuffed toys can be washed in the machine
Plastic and be washed with a mixture of bleach and hot water
Wood if just for a few minutes can be dunked in the same water as the plastic and then let to air dry.
Rugs use oxi-clean and either hot or warm water. then dry in dryer.

YOU did not say why all the extra work for your self but sit back and take a breath and relax for a few minutes before going over the edge. There is always going to be germs around us and some help us keep from getting even sicker later.



answers from Anchorage on

I would use the dishwasher, and lysol wipes for the electronic stuff.



answers from Allentown on

Don't use bleach!!!! Leading carcinogenic in our homes!! Use Sol-u-guard!! It kills 99.9% of germs, including the H1N1 virus. Let me know if you need more info on where to get this!

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