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Sanitizing Kids Toys, Furniture and Play Areas

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Sanitizing Kids Toys, Furniture and Play Areas

Keeping children’s toys, furniture, and play areas clean is extremely important for their health and development. As parents and caregivers, we need to be diligent about proper sanitation of items and spaces where kids spend time. Here are some best practices for sanitizing kids’ toys, furniture, and play areas:

Why Sanitation Matters

Children put toys in their mouths, touch furniture, and play on the floor. These behaviors make them susceptible to germs and bacteria. Proper sanitation helps eliminate viruses, bacteria, mold, dust mites, and other allergens. Thorough cleaning protects kids from many illnesses like:

  • Common colds
  • Strep throat
  • Pinkeye
  • Skin infections
  • Foodborne illnesses
  • Influenza

Sanitizing surfaces also reduces kids’ exposure to toxins like lead and flame retardants found in dust. Overall, sanitizing creates a safer, healthier environment for a child’s development and growth.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing

While the terms cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing are sometimes used interchangeably, they mean different things:

  • Cleaning removes dirt, debris, blood, saliva, and other visible material. Cleaning does not kill germs, but removes them along with organic matter they thrive on.

  • Disinfecting destroys nearly all germs on hard, nonporous surfaces when applied correctly. A true disinfectant must prove efficacy against certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

  • Sanitizing reduces germs on surfaces to safe levels as judged by public health codes or standards. Sanitizers reduce bacteria counts by 99.9% or more.

Thorough cleaning followed by disinfection is the best process for toys, furniture, and play areas. Sanitizing is acceptable for food contact surfaces like sippy cups, plates, and utensils.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Toys

When and How Often

  • Toys that go in a child’s mouth should be cleaned and disinfected daily. This includes things like teethers and plastic blocks.

  • Plush toys should be washed weekly, or sooner if visibly soiled.

  • Toys like wooden blocks and puzzles only need disinfecting weekly or monthly. Clean them whenever dirty.

  • Toys that are not often mouthing/chewed should be cleaned monthly or bimonthly.

  • Stuffed animals and cloth toys that are not often used can be cleaned every 2-3 months.


Follow these steps to clean and disinfect toys:

  1. Wash toys in warm, soapy water. Use a brush on solid surfaces.

  2. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap.

  3. Disinfect using an EPA-registered product safe for children. Chlorine bleach solution also works.

  4. Allow toys to air dry completely before giving back to kids.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Furniture


  • Weekly: Wipe crib rails, mattress sides, and slats with soap and warm water. Rinse. Disinfect with an EPA-registered product.

  • Monthly: Clean the mattress thoroughly – wipe down, spot clean stains, air out. Disinfect mattress seams with EPA-registered product.

  • Crib sheets should be washed at least weekly, and between uses for different children.

Upholstered Furniture

  • Weekly: Vacuum upholstered furniture to remove crumbs, dirt, and dust.

  • Monthly: Shampoo clean upholstered furniture. Steam cleaning also sanitizes fabrics.

  • Every 6 months: Disinfect crevices of couches, chairs, etc with EPA-registered product. Pay close attention to seams and tufts where germs hide.

Solid Surfaces

  • Daily: Use soap and warm water to clean high chair trays after each use. Disinfect.

  • Weekly: Wash cabinet fronts, tabletops, and any solid furniture with warm soapy water. Disinfect.

Sanitizing Play Areas

Play Mats and Play Yards

  • Clean with soap and warm water. Disinfect weekly, or before use by another child.

  • Wash removable foam mats in washing machine weekly. Air dry completely.

Hard Flooring

  • Sweep or dry mop floors daily to remove dust, dirt, and debris.

  • Mop hard floors with disinfecting floor cleaner weekly. Tile and vinyl floors can be mopped daily if desired.

  • Vacuum then steam mop floors every 2-3 months for deeper cleaning and sanitizing.


  • Vacuum carpets thoroughly once or twice weekly, especially high-traffic areas.

  • Shampoo clean carpets every 3-6 months depending on use. Or hire professional carpet cleaners annually.

  • Spot clean messes right away. Disinfect stain if from bodily fluids.

Mold Prevention

  • Use exhaust fans, keep humidity down, and fix any moisture issues.

  • Clean bathroom tiles and grout with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar weekly.

  • Scrub and disinfect any moldy surfaces immediately upon discovery. Dry completely.

Implementing a thorough yet practical cleaning routine keeps kids’ things and spaces sanitary. With some diligence, parents can provide the cleanest environment possible for children to grow.

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