Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean Team: How to clean and disinfect baby toys naturally.

Last Updated: December 29, 2020

We’re listing our favorite easy and natural ways on how to clean baby toys so your little one can play safely and germ-free!

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Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

Baby toys can get quite dirty and germ infested if you don’t clean them on a regular basis. Since these toys often go right into your baby’s mouth, it’s important to keep them as clean as possible and to disinfect them regularly.

There are many ways of cleaning toys, some of them using natural ingredients, and some with chemical products. For the health and safety of your baby, it is always better to opt for natural methods whenever possible. Listed below are 3 of our favorite easy and natural ways of cleaning baby toys so that your little one can play germ-free.

How to disinfect baby toys naturally

Method one: How to clean baby toys by boiling

This method is ideal for baby toys that come into contact with your baby’s mouth, since you are not using any chemicals — natural or otherwise — to clean them. The water will simply boil away any germs and bacteria that are present.

Keep in mind that soft plastic toys are not suitable for this method. You can however, boil items like pacifiers, hard plastic toys, silicone toys, baby bottles, and other items that won’t start to melt or release chemicals when heated.

What you'll need:

  • Water
  • Large Pot
  • Tongs

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Step 1: Boil a large pot of water.
  • Step 2: Turn off the heat and submerge the toys.
  • Step 3: Wait for 5-10 minutes before removing toys with a tong or a similar utensil.
  • Step 4: Place on a cooling rack and air dry before use.

Method 2: How to clean baby toys in the dishwasher

This method is perfect after a long hard day! It works effectively for all non-electronic toys, preferably hard plastic that is heat-resistant, like toy cars, large plastic blocks, and similar items. Be sure to use a natural and safe dishwashing detergent to prevent any harsh chemicals from getting onto the toys.

What you'll need:

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Step 1: Place the toys in a dishwashing container or bag to ensure they don’t slip down through the rack.
  • Step 2: Place them on the top rack of the dishwasher to minimize the effects of heat.
  • Step 3: Wash on normal cycle (preferably the sanitize cycle), using only a small amount of dish detergent.

Method 3: How to clean baby toys in the washing machine

This method is ideal for plush, stuffed toys. You can also wash hard plastic toys that are small in size as long as you put them in a mesh bag, pillowcase, or something similar to ensure they don’t rattle around inside the barrel of the machine. Also, don’t forget to check any labels for specific instructions before washing.

What you'll need:

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Step 1: Check the labels on toys for specific care instructions.
  • Step 2: Place the toys in the machine with a bit of natural laundry detergent.
  • Step 3: Wash and dry on a normal cycle.
  • Step 4: For extra safety, pad the machine drums with towels.

Baby toy–cleaning tips & tricks

Can you use vinegar to disinfect baby toys?

Sadly, it’s not the best option. Don’t get us wrong, vinegar is a wonderful multi-purpose cleaner, largely due to its acidic properties, and we recommend it for almost everything. As a disinfectant though, it has limited effectiveness. It only works on certain types of pathogens such as E.coli, Influenza, and a few others. Ergo, it is not a good way to clean baby toys, as there is a risk you could be leaving behind a host of unwanted ickiness.

Can you use bleach to disinfect baby toys?

You can, actually. As long as you make sure the items are carefully rinsed and fully dried before giving them to the baby. Bleach works as a powerful disinfectant and does an excellent job of killing germs and bacteria from surfaces. Keep in mind that for bleach to work efficiently, it needs to be diluted with water. Try mixing half a cup of bleach per gallon of water to make a solution. Soak the toys for about five minutes and then rinse thoroughly to ensure all the bleach is washed off. Allow the toys to fully air dry before use.

How do you clean baby toys with batteries?

Toys with battery packs cannot be submerged in water, unlike other toys. Therefore, they present a cleaning challenge, which can make it seem more difficult than it is. The easiest way to clean a battery operated, hard plastic baby toy is with the help of a good disinfecting wipe. You can also make a cleaning solution using water and a small amount of dish/laundry detergent, and use a washcloth dipped in this solution to scrub the toy clean. In the case of battery operated stuffed toys, try the same method of using a washcloth dipped in cleaning solution to spot clean the toy. Just be sure to remove the batteries first!

How do you disinfect wooden baby toys?

Wood is naturally antibacterial, but it is also porous. That means that while it will repel bacteria all on its own, it could still absorb dirt and other grime and debris. The best way to clean a wooden toy is using warm water and a washcloth. If the toy is exceptionally dirty or stained, you could use a cleaning solution made with soap instead of plain water, and scrub with the washcloth gently. You can also use a mild disinfecting wipe to clean the toy, especially if it’s only slightly dirty or just needs a quick wipe down.

Are disinfectant wipes safe for babies?

There are many types of disinfecting wipes available. Whether or not they are safe for baby toys depends on their ingredients. Look for a disinfectant wipe that uses natural and environmentally clean materials, as it will have little-to-no harsh or toxic chemicals.

What are the best baby-safe disinfecting wipes?

We might be partial, but here are a few of our favorites:

Learning how to clean baby toys effectively is an important job as a parent. Obviously you can’t escape germs entirely, but you can certainly make sure your baby’s toys are as clean as possible. The best part is that it’s much easier than you think!

Shop baby toy–cleaning products

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home with little ones around? Grove has you covered with our buying and cleaning guides. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job and keep the kids safe.

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