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Stay Squeaky Clean: Proper Disinfection of Childrens Toys and Surfaces

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Stay Squeaky Clean: Proper Disinfection of Childrens Toys and Surfaces


As a parent, keeping your children healthy is one of your top priorities. However, kids encounter germs daily through playtime and interaction with others. Proper disinfection of your children’s toys and surfaces is essential to reduce their exposure to illness-causing germs. I will provide in-depth information on effective disinfection methods to help you keep your kids’ environment clean and safe.

Why Disinfect Children’s Toys and Surfaces

Children’s toys and surfaces like tables, floors, and countertops harbor lots of germs. When kids put toys in their mouths or touch contaminated surfaces, they can get sick with illnesses like:

  • Cold and flu – Rhinoviruses and influenza viruses
  • Stomach bugs – Norovirus, rotavirus
  • Pink eye – Adenovirus
  • Strep throat – Group A streptococcus bacteria

Thorough disinfection helps eliminate these germs and prevent transmission through toy and surface contact. It’s especially important when:

  • A family member is sick
  • Your child goes to daycare or school
  • You host playdates or birthday parties

Routine disinfection keeps germ levels low and your family healthy.

How to Disinfect Toys Effectively

Not all toys can be disinfected the same way. Follow these methods to properly disinfect common toy types:

Plastic Toys

The smooth, non-porous surface of plastic toys makes them easy to disinfect.

  • Wash with warm soapy water. Scrub to remove any dirt or grime.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Disinfect by soaking in a dilute bleach solution (1 tablespoon bleach per 1 gallon of water) for 5 minutes. Rinse again.
  • Allow to fully air dry.

Plush Toys

Since plush toys have porous, absorbent surfaces, they require extra disinfection steps:

  • Surface wash plush toys with soap and warm water. Use a washcloth to scrub the exterior.
  • Machine wash on a gentle cycle according to tag instructions. Add 1⁄2 cup bleach to the wash cycle.
  • Tumble dry on low heat. The heat helps kill germs inside the stuffing.
  • For toys that cannot be submerged, spot clean visibly soiled areas and spray thoroughly with a disinfectant like Lysol or rubbing alcohol. Let dry completely.

Wooden Toys

Follow these steps for non-porous wooden toys like blocks or trains:

  • Wipe with soapy water and scrub with a soft brush to remove dirt. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
  • Rinse and wipe away excess water with a clean cloth.
  • Disinfect with an EPA-approved spray like Lysol or Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide cleaner. Let sit 10 minutes before drying with a cloth.

Electronic Toys

  • Carefully wipe down electronic toy surfaces with a disinfectant wipe or soft cloth sprayed with disinfectant cleaner.
  • Avoid immersion in liquid and spraying directly into openings to prevent damage.
  • Disconnect batteries and wipe battery compartments.

How to Disinfect Surfaces Kids Touch

Disinfect high touch surfaces at least once daily. Use an EPA-approved disinfectant and follow label instructions for application and contact time. Recommended surfaces include:

Hard Surfaces

  • Tabletops – Kitchen, playroom, classroom
  • Chairs – Seats, backs, tray tables
  • Doorknobs and handles
  • Light switches
  • Remote controls
  • Phones / tablets

Use a disinfectant spray and wipe thoroughly. For extra protection, clean first with soapy water to remove surface dirt before disinfecting.

Soft Surfaces

  • Upholstered furniture – Sofas, chairs, pillows
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Stuffed animals

Spot clean visibly soiled areas first. Then use a disinfectant spray approved for porous surfaces. Allow proper contact time before surface drying.


Germs love warm, moist bathrooms. Disinfect:

  • Toilets – Inside and out
  • Sinks and faucets
  • Bathtubs and showers
  • Changing tables

Use a bleach-based cleaner for best results.

Additional Tips for Proper Disinfection

  • Quarantine toys when a child is sick. Store apart from other toys until illness ends.
  • Disinfect toys brought to daycare/school before and after each use.
  • Limit plush toys which are more difficult to disinfect.
  • Store craft supplies in separate bins for each child. Avoid sharing.
  • Check toy labels and follow manufacturer cleaning instructions.
  • Replace heavily worn or damaged toys that cannot be properly disinfected.
  • Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap, especially during illness.


Implementing thorough disinfection practices for your children’s toys and household surfaces is one of the best ways to stop illness from spreading. Take the time to regularly clean and disinfect using safe, effective products. Keeping your kids’ environment “squeaky clean” promotes good health for the whole family.

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