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How to clean baby toys

Baby toys can pick up lots of germs. Protect your little ones by using these tips on how to clean baby toys naturally and with bleach.


mixture of baby toys

Cleaning baby toys is an essential part of being a parent. From day one, our babies are like little explorers desperately seeking out new sensory experiences – and this can mean that their toys can get dirty. However, the best way to clean baby toys is not always obvious and many parents also want to know how to clean baby toys safely.

Choosing the correct method to clean baby toys often depends on the toy itself. Here we show the difference between cleaning and sanitising, explain how to clean baby toys naturally, and describe how to clean baby toys with bleach. Plus, be sure to check out our guide to cleaning second-hand baby toys if you’ve picked up some pre-loved treasures in a charity shop. 

Clean baby toys regularly to make sure they're safe for little fingers. You can use washing up liquid for most plastic toys, a mild detergent like Persil Non-Bio for soft toys, and a sanitising solution for toys that need a little more attention.

Cleaning baby toys: Different toys, different methods

Here is a quick guide to the best way to clean different types of baby toys. Remember that any electronic or battery-operated toy should be cleaned according to the instructions in the manual.

Stuffed animals: If the care label indicates that the toy can be washed, then fabric toys can be washed in a washing machine on a delicate cycle and then dried on a low heat or left to air-dry. The toy’s care label will indicate if the toy is machine washable, but if you are unsure then it’s worth spot cleaning the toy with water and a gentle shampoo or laundry detergent, leaving to air-dry as before. When washing, always choose a mild detergent and fabric softener like Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure.

Check this video on how to wash stuffed toys safely without ruining them:


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Safety Warning

Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

Small plastic toys: Non-battery-operated toys and teethers can usually be washed in the dishwasher on the top rack – they might even have a ‘dishwasher-safe’ icon. To clean by hand, scrub these small plastic toys in warm water with washing up liquid. Rinse the toy thoroughly in warm water and leave to air-dry.

Large plastic toys: Non-battery-operated large plastic toys will need to be washed by hand with a clean sponge and warm water and washing up liquid. Rinse thoroughly and leave to air-dry. Wooden toys: Disinfectant or baby wipes will easily clean most wooden toys. To sanitise the toy, spray a mild solution of white vinegar and water and dry off quickly and thoroughly to avoid excess moisture which could stain the toy.

Bath toys: Bath toys can quickly grow mould, so be careful to squeeze out any residual water after every bath time. For a more thorough clean, soak in a solution of diluted bleach and water for five minutes, rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly. Find more information in our guide to cleaning bath toys.

Barbies and other dolls: The different materials used in dolls means you will have to use a few different cleaning methods. Plastic limbs can be cleaned with washing up liquid, whereas soft, fabric bodies can be cleaned with water and a gentle shampoo and left to air-dry. The hair on dolls can quickly become sticky and tangled, but washing it as you would human hair (a small blob of baby shampoo with warm water) will work to bring the former flowing locks back to life.

How do I clean baby toys: Frequency and products

If the toy is being used every day, as a guide try and clean it once a week. Use soap and water or a standard disinfectant or baby wipe to carefully wipe off any grease or grime and the majority of germs will be removed as you clean.

Every now and again, you may want to give baby toys a more thorough clean - especially if they have been ill, playing with friends, or just have a tendency to put toys in their mouth. To sanitise your baby’s toys you will need a sanitising solution - you can try diluting bleach such as Domestos in water for this. Always wear gloves and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Not sure if cleaning baby toys with bleach is safe? Bleach is an effective method of killing germs, and, if used properly, is safe for you to use on different surfaces or materials – just follow the instructions on the label (especially if using a product that needs to be diluted) and test it on a small area first.

Originally published