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How to Clean Baby Toys: You’re Fuss-Free Guide to Toy Cleaning

Your little one isn’t going to just play with her toys—she’s going to nibble and gnaw on them, and maybe try to stick them up her nose. So you want to keep those playthings as germ-free as possible (without driving yourself nuts). We got the dirt for you!

If you want to clean stuffed or fabric toys:
They may look all cute and innocent, but stuffed toys can harbor germs and dust mites (even babies can have allergic reactions). "The more often you can wash them, the better," says Kelly A. Reynolds, PhD, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at The University of Arizona in Tucson.It’s especially key to clean playthings after your baby’s been sick or another tot has been slobbering all over them. For machine-washable toys, use hot water. "However, the majority of germs will be killed in the dryer regardless of wash conditions," notes Reynolds, "so dry the item completely using the highest temperature."

If you want to clean stuffed or fabric toys that aren’t machine washable:
Surface clean the toy with a sanitizing spray that has ‘disinfectant’ or ‘sanitizing’ on the label and says it’s EPA certified. Also check the label to see if the product needs to be rinsed before children come into contact with it. Then let the toy completely air-dry.

If you want to clean plastic toys:
Before your child gets his hands on a new plastic toy, wash it in the top rack of your dishwasher using hot water or the sanitizer cycle. Or clean it well with disinfecting wipes, sanitizer sprays, or diluted bleach (check the instructions on the bottle for specific diluting instructions). "Bleach is much cheaper than other cleansers, kills a broader spectrum of germs, and works quickly," Reynolds says.

If you want to clean bath toys:
Dump water out of bath toys after each use and dry them to avoid mold. As often as is realistic for you, submerge them in a sink with diluted bleach. If you can see or smell mildew or mold after disinfecting, toss the toy.

If you want to clean board books:
Swipe baby’s reading material with disinfecting wipes (not the same as baby wipes). Goodbye, germs!

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