Clean Insights Blog

Sanitizing and Disinfecting Toys In Your Daycare Center

| June 6, 2019

Disinfecting toys in your daycare center is important for keeping your staff and children healthy. Since many daycare and childcare centers caring for over twenty kids and babies each day, it’s easy for germs and bacteria to spread. Also, there are many surfaces that microorganisms and pathogens can lurk on. Tables, desks, chairs, and surfaces often contain bacteria and viruses. However, the dirtiest object – and the one most known for spreading bacteria and viruses – is also the most popular: toys.

Your daycare center’s toys are played with, sneezed on, chewed on, coughed on, slobbered on and touched by more than a dozen people each day. The level of bacteria and the risk of infection increases with each use, which makes the chances of an outbreak or sickness very likely.

Toys are a high-touch surface. Babies and children under two are especially susceptible to germs due to their young immune systems. Their bodies are not yet strong enough to fight infections caused by pathogens, therefore it’s crucial to keep toys and playthings clean, sanitized and disinfected for their health and safety.

Eliminating germs from toys has several challenges, however. What do you use to clean them? How often should you sanitize or disinfect toys?

Here’s our guide on disinfecting and sanitizing the toys in your daycare or childcare center.

This guide is complete with information on what you should and should not use to disinfect toys along with frequency recommendations.  

1. Sanitizing & Disinfecting Plastic Toys

Toys like: Legos, Nerf toys, animals and people figures, some dolls, balls, mega blocks, instruments, trains and tracks, magna-tiles, pretend food and kitchen items
Photo by Vanessa Bucceri on Unsplash

Examples: Legos, Nerf toys, animals and people figures, some dolls, balls, mega blocks, instruments, trains and tracks, Magna-tiles, pretend food and kitchen items

To sanitize and disinfect toys:

  • Collect toys in a plastic bin that you can sanitize along with the toys.
  • Remove dirt and stains with hot, soapy water.
  • Scrub toys with a brush to ensure all grooves are free of debris.
  • Rinse toys thoroughly and let the air dry.
  • Soak toys in a plastic bucket using a solution of non-toxic disinfectant following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Rinse toys and plastic bin with clean water and allow them to air dry.
  • Disinfect your plastic toys on the same day each week.
  • Disinfect toys after a child puts a toy in their mouth, when a child becomes ill to avoid an outbreak, or when a toy when it comes into contact with blood, feces, vomit, urine or other bodily fluids.

Note: Some plastic toys are dishwasher-safe – they can be run through a sanitize cycle using the appropriate detergents.

2. Sanitizing & Disinfecting Porous Toys

Toys like: Wooden kitchen toys, wooden blocks, many Melissa & Doug sets, wooden cars and figures, dress up clothes, board books, and stuffed animals
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Examples: Wooden kitchen toys, wooden blocks, many Melissa & Doug sets, wooden cars and figures, dress up clothes, board books, stuffed animals

To sanitize and disinfect toys:

To disinfect porous toys that are solid:

  • Porous toys can’t be submerged in water or soaked in cleaning solutions.
  • First, wipe the toys with a cloth that has been soaked in hot, soapy water. Be careful not to saturate the toy – the goal is to remove any debris.
  • Use a scrub brush or toothbrush to remove any dirt or grime from grooves.
  • Allow the toys to dry completely.
  • Wipe the toys with a fresh cloth that’s been soaked in a non-toxic disinfectant prepared to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Allow the solution to remain on the toy for the manufacturer’s recommended time.
  • Note, when using a disinfectant for the first time, do a spot test to ensure the solution will not discolor the toy.
  • Wipe the toys with a fresh cloth that’s been rinsed with clean water to remove any residual disinfectant.
  • Allow the toys to air dry completely.
  • Disinfect toys after a child puts a toy in their mouth, when a child becomes ill to avoid an outbreak, or when a toy when it comes into contact with blood, feces, vomit, urine or other bodily fluids.

To disinfect porous toys that are fabric:

  • Run toys through a hot water laundry cycle with appropriate detergent.
  • Dry them using the hot cycle of a clothes dryer.
  • Do not use disinfectant solutions on fabric toys.

3. Sanitizing & Disinfecting Battery Operated Toys

Toys like: Toddler “cell phones”, computers, tablets, talking dolls and stuffed animals, race cars and running trains, light up toys, mini household appliances that have battery operated motors.
Photo Credit: Google Images

Examples: Toddler “cell phones”, computers, tablets, talking dolls and stuffed animals, race cars and running trains, light up toys, mini household appliances that have battery operated motors.

Sanitizing and disinfecting battery operated toys:

  • Battery operated toys can’t be submerged into water or soaked in cleaning solutions.
  • First, wipe the toys with a cloth that has been soaked in hot, soapy water. Be careful not to saturate the toy – the goal is to remove any debris.
  • Use a scrub brush or toothbrush to remove any dirt and grime from grooves.
  • Allow the toys to dry completely.
  • Wipe the toys with a new cloth that’s been soaked in a non-toxic disinfectant prepared to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Allow the solution to stay on the toy for the manufacturer’s recommended time.
  • Note, when using a disinfectant for the first time, do a spot test to ensure the solution will not discolor the toy.
  • Wipe the toys with a new cloth that’s been rinsed with clean water to remove any residual disinfectant.
  • Allow the toys to air dry completely.
  • Disinfect toys after a child puts a toy in their mouth, when a child becomes ill to avoid an outbreak, or when a toy when it comes into contact with blood, feces, vomit, urine or other bodily fluids.

Selecting Non-Toxic Disinfectants For Sanitizing & Disinfecting Toys 

Look for a disinfectant that is EPA registered to kill specific pathogens or an FDA approved sanitizer that removes 99.9% of germs.

Disinfecting and sanitizing toys is critical to help prevent the spread of illness in daycares, schools, and other learning environments. Look for non-toxic cleaners, create a schedule for cleaning different types of toys, and follow these instructions to make the cleaning process easier, safer and more effective.