Little Goat Gruff

Kate Fletcher— February 14, 2014

Toys get dirty reeeeaaallly quickly. They get chewed, drooled on, dipped in puree, tasted again, dropped on the floor and stolen by the dog. Here's how to get them looking pristine again.

Golden rules:

- anything electrical shouldn't be submerged in water

- anything with plastic probably shouldn't get too hot, whether it's water or sitting on a radiator

- be really careful with anything vintage or any family heirlooms

- don't tumble dry things, you're asking for trouble!

Soft toys

(Teddies, glove puppets, fabric books, etc.)

Check the label beforehand, but the majority of these should be quite happy being put in the washing machine on a low temperature. If it has any delicate looking bits (an easily scratched nose, glass eyes, loose ears, etc) then I'd handwash it to be on the safe side. Just put some warm water in the sink, add a little clothes washing liquid, swirl around and scrub for a few minutes then rinse and leave to dry.

When it comes to drying them, put them out on a towel near a radiator or out in the sun (if you're lucky). Some furry toys might look better after a bit of a grooming with a bristle hairbrush.

Toys with electronics/batteries

A damp cloth is about the only option. Don't get water near them if you can help it. I find that baby wipes are good for cleaning things like this piano - they're moist but not dripping wet and they're designed to get baby crud off things. Give them a going over with a wipe, then go over with kitchen roll to dry them off.

Soft toys with hidden electronic things - like this bird with a hidden birdsong button - need to be treated like electronics, but you can risk a damp cloth or muslin. Here, I'd give it a bit of a scrub with a nailbrush for any really stubborn bits.

Toys with squeakers

Things with squeakers should be OK to wash, but they may sound a bit watery afterwards! Give them a good shake and leave them on kitchen paper or a towel to dry out thoroughly.

Wooden toys

These are pretty impervious to dirt and drool, running them under the tap will usually go the trick. About the only thing you shouldn't do is leave them soaking in water, in case the wood swells up. If you have some really stubborn dirt, giving them a scrub with a bit of washing up liquid and an old toothbrush will get rid of just about anything.

Plastic toys

Plastic toys are normally pretty durable. They can be washed in the sink (add disinfectant such as Dettol if you're worried about germs, but rinse thoroughly as babies aren't keen on the taste!) or just given a going-over with a baby wipe. I usually give things a dunk in diluted Dettol if I suspect the dog has been carrying them around.

Large quantities of toys

Say you have a whole bag full of building bricks, ball pit balls or something similar. Probably the easiest way to give it all a good wash is to stick them in the bath (after you and the baby), soak them for 15 minutes then leave them to drain.

Teethers and other small plastic things

Some plastic toys can even go in the dishwasher (how easy is that?). Things like this teether are specifically designed to be dishwasher friendly. If you have toys that look particularly durable (avoid anything joined with glue as the heat of the dishwasher could melt the glue) then give it a go - put them in the cutlery section to protect them a bit. Give them a good shake afterwards to get rid of any trapped water.

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