How To Clean Baby Toys: Ultimate Guide

As babies get older, they become more coordinated, which means that they’ll be more active and interested in playing with their toys. Although newborns can hold rattles and other toys, they don’t really have enough coordination to bring them to their mouths or study them on their own.

When babies mature, they’ll start interacting with their toys more. They’ll start playing with them, putting them in their mouths, putting them on the floor, and putting their hands in their mouths. They’ll study them, turn them over, and find new ways to interact with them. 

Watching your little one play with the toys you bought for them is a wonderful experience, but with your little one’s habit of sticking things in their mouths, make sure that their toys are clean.

How do you clean your baby’s toys? How often should you clean their toys? A lot of it depends on the type of toy, but we have some helpful tips for how to clean most types of toys.

Why Do My Little One’s Toys Need To Be Cleaned?

Toys are great and fun, but they can also get bacteria on them. After all, they spend a good amount of time in their mouths and on floors where they can pick up things like bacteria and dust. If your little one likes to play outside, their toys may also end up with some dirt on them. 

Bacteria is pretty much everywhere. When you think about daycare or kindergarten, you probably think of the toys there as dirty, even though you can’t see them. Many kids touch them, so it’s going to spread a bunch of germs. 

Even though your home might seem cleaner, since your baby is the only one who plays with them, bacteria can still spread from other places to your home. It can help to wash your hands and your little one’s hands, but it’s also smart to wash their toys.

If your little one gets sick, they can also spread germs to their toys and possibly catch the virus again. Washing your baby’s toys after they get over a cold can help.

Your little one’s stuffed toys can also be a home for dust mites, which are microscopic members of the spider family.

At Mommy Care Kit, we know that taking care of a baby can have a bit of a learning curve. Although many people offer helpful advice, they don’t always mention everything that may go on or need to be done. Since we want to protect the health of our little ones, it’s important to keep their toys clean. Although we can’t protect them from everything, we can help in some ways.

How Often Should I Clean Their Toys?

As a parent, there are a lot of things that you need to do. Cleaning your little one’s toys daily may seem like a daunting task. However, you don’t need to clean every toy daily. Some toys can wait a few days before they need to be cleaned, while others might need to be cleaned daily, usually, ones that go in your baby’s mouth.

In general, it’s wise to clean a toy when you’ve first opened it. That way, you can get rid of any bacteria that would have jumped onto the toys during production, shipping, or in the store.

Usually, if your baby puts something in their mouth, clean it each time they use it. This goes for teething toys and other items that your little one likes to chew on. Some materials can wait until the end of the day if chewed on, like wooden toys and fabric toys.

Bath toys also require cleaning after each use. Since you're cleaning your baby, there will be plenty of dirt and germs in the water with the toys, so they’ll need to be cleaned. If the toys have holes in them, you’ll also want to prevent the growth of mold inside.

Most fabric and hard plastic toys should be cleaned at least weekly, as long as they aren’t visibly dirty. Other types of toys, like electronic toys and wooden toys, can be cleaned monthly. It’s also a good idea to clean your little one’s toys after they get over a cold.

What Can I Use To Clean the Toys?

There are a variety of products that can be used to clean and sanitize infants’ toys. Of course, the easiest way is with hot water and soap. Many fabric toys can be washed in the machine (unless they have electronics or are too delicate to be put in the washing machine).

Many plastic toys can be placed in the dishwasher as well, on the top rack, since the bottom rack usually tends to have things with leftover pieces of food. For fabric toys, you can also use a steamer to remove any germs, although you may still see some dirt.

You should disinfect toys after taking them out, after your little one is sick, or after being shared with friends. In order to disinfect toys, you can use a number of products. They can help get rid of germs and other bacteria.

You can use things like:

  • Bleach (which should be diluted. Usually, a tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water is best). Be wary of bleach around babies and young children
  • Lysol Wipes
  • Vinegar
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (a 3% solution)
  • Rubbing Alcohol (however, it is toxic, so only use it if you have nothing else available and rinse the toy thoroughly in water)

When you are cleaning, you should never mix any chemicals like bleach, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. It will either create a much more harmful gas or chemical or prevent them from being effective.

How Should I Clean Baby Toys?

Generally, cleaning your little one’s toys isn’t very complex, but some types of toys can be easier to clean than others. When you clean them, you’ll want to try to get into every little crack and crevice.

Plastic Toys

Plastic toys are pretty simple. If you can (and there aren’t any small cracks that water can reside in and grow mildew or mold), you can stick them in the dishwasher. Otherwise, you should wash them in hot soapy water, allowing them to air dry.

You should also let the disinfectant air dry for at least 30 seconds to ensure that it does its work, although it may be helpful to rinse them off after they dry to make sure there isn’t any residue left that might pose a danger. 

Wooden Toys

Some wooden toys are naturally antimicrobial, so they won’t usually need as much cleaning as plastic toys. When you do wash them, all you need to do is use hot soapy water, and once you’re done cleaning, let them dry.

You may also need a toothbrush if any crevices prove tricky to remove dirt from.

Bleach and hydrogen peroxide won’t help clean your baby’s wooden toys, though, since they will discolor them, dry them out, and cause them to crack. Vinegar is the best alternative.

Soft Toys

For soft toys, follow any washing directions on the tags. Some can be washed in the machine, while others may not do so well. In order to protect your baby’s toys further, put them in a pillowcase and tie the end. 

You can probably add most of your baby’s soft toys along with a load of baby clothes, at least if they aren’t that messy, since most baby clothes need to be washed and dried on a gentle cycle as well. If you aren’t comfortable with that, you can also wash them separately from other apparel, like compression socks and baby bibs.

They may need a few rounds in the dryer on a low-temperature setting to ensure they are dry all the way through.

You can also spot clean using a rag dipped in a soapy solution and let them air dry. This can be especially helpful with fabric toys that have electronics in them. You can use a hair dryer to dry them or let them air dry. 

To disinfect these toys, you’ll need to use a steamer since other methods won’t really work.

Electronic Toys

Most electronic toys can only be wiped so that you don’t mess up their ability to function. Take out any batteries or unplug them before you clean them so that you don’t accidentally hurt yourself.

First, you should wipe them down with a wet cloth to get rid of any dirt, stickiness, or grime. Then, you should use another cloth with disinfectant, whether vinegar or a bleach solution. You can let it air dry, and if needed, wipe it off again with a wet cloth.

Bath Toys

It’s best to wash bath toys in soap and water after each use. After all, they were just in the bathroom. You can put them in a clean area to dry and get them out the next time your little one takes a bath.

You may want to avoid toys that have holes in them that allow water in since mold may form. However, you can disinfect them weekly to prevent this from happening. Submerge them in a diluted bleach mixture (one tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water) or a mixture that is half vinegar and half water. Don’t forget to wear gloves.

Squeeze them to make sure the solution gets inside, then let them sit for five minutes. After that, squeeze them again to get the solution out and allow them to air dry. If you use a vinegar mixture, they’ll need to sit for ten minutes.

You can also boil them for five minutes, as long as they won’t melt in the pot.

Cleaning Toys for a Great Playtime

Once you know how to do it, cleaning your little one’s toys is a pretty simple task. Most toys won’t need to be cleaned super often, so you can do them all at once or spread them out, although some toys may need daily or weekly cleaning. 

Watching your little one play with their toys will make it worth it. You can know that they’re playing with clean toys and they’re safe from germs. Each time you give a toy to them, they’ll inspect it like it’s something new, no matter how many times they’ve played with it before.

If you’re looking for more resources on how to care for your little one, you can check out our pregnancy and postpartum blog.


The 101 on Cleaning Baby Items | Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health

Tips for keeping your child’s toys clean and sanitized | Southwest Human Development

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home | US EPA

Disinfect Child Care Surfaces with a Bleach and Water Solution | eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care Community of Practice

Determining the effects of some bacteria on wooden toys treated with antibacterial protective coatings | BioResources