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How to clean your toys - baby toys and stuffed toys

Updated: Jan 22

Check out our quick and easy techniques to safely clean toys, protecting your children against germs and COVID-19.

a mum with cleaning products cleaning baby toys

Let’s get to it and whizz through our top toy cleaning tips to keep your little ones safe from all those hidden germs that have made your baby’s favourite toy their home …ew!

Three quick ways to clean your baby toys

Here are three quick options for the best way to clean baby toys:

1. Clean soak with vinegar

Simply mix together one part water with one part vinegar (add essential oil if you want to cut the smell of vinegar) and get soaking or scrubbing!

2. The dishwasher

A valuable ally in the fight against toy grime and is a great way to keep toy cleaning simple! Perfect for any plastic toys.

3. Sanitising wipes

Disinfectant surface wipes are a great solution for cleaning toys with fiddly electrical components that you can’t just bung in the wash.

How to sanitise stuffed animals to prevent COVID-19

If you’ve got kids, you’ll know that it’s pretty much impossible to keep everything clean and tidy all the time! But aside from clearing up the trail of mess and destruction kids often leave behind them, it’s also important that we’re cleaning toys after they’ve used them. Not only will cleaner toys make your kids’ bedroom seem even more spotless - but they’ll also give you the ultimate peace of mind that no hidden germs are being spread through their favourite play things.

How to clean baby toys might seem like a slightly random question at first - but you’d be surprised just how many people ask us to share tips on cleaning toys, especially if they’re planning on gifting teddy bears to a special young’un in their life! You know what kids are like…They understand the world through the power of touch (and the power of licking things!) So it’s no wonder they’re always picking up a bunch of bugs and nasties from the hidden bacteria and germs that cling to their favourite toys. But fear not! We’re here to solve the conundrums of how to sterilise baby toys and tell you all of the main points you need to know about the best way to clean baby toys.

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A good place to start is to tell you how not to go about cleaning toys. As much as you think cleaning toys for toddlers just means throwing everything in the washing machine - you’re wrong! There are certain toys that should only be treated by hand or with a toy cleaning set. Toys you should never put into the washing machine include:

  • Toys that contain a music box

  • Toys that are old and/or fragile

  • Toys that have glued-on items like sequins, ribbon etc. (however, glued-on eyes can probably handle a wash)

  • Toys that have delicate items on that can’t be removed (little outfits or accessories)

  • Toys that are stuffed with anything but polyester batting, like tiny foam balls or beads

a washing machine with the door open and a teddy bear looking out

Toy cleaning in the washing machine​

Keep in mind that a toy cleaning session in a top-load washing machine, due to the agitator, may move around the stuffing of your kid’s favourite toys, making them a strange shape when they come out of the wash. However, with a high-efficiency washer, you’ll have cleaner toys in much better shape when they come out. When it comes to toy cleaning products, regular detergent is fine to use in the washing machine, and we would also recommend dye and scent-free products that won’t aggravate your child or interfere too much with your toy cleaning. Consider adding a scoop of oxygen bleach powder to the wash if your toys are stained or smelly. Then, take an old pillowcase and throw your toys into the pillowcase. Close it up with a bobble or elastic band,(or maybe use a pillow cover with a zipper instead) and place in the washing machine. We’d also recommend using a delicate or gentle wash cycle with cool or warm (definitely not hot water!) It’s time to bust the myth that hot water = cleaner toys! In fact, hot water is more likely to damage your kiddie’s favourite teddy. If the water gets too hot, it can melt glued-on items, leading to a very mad toddler… Once your wash cycle is done, take out the toys and brush their fur with a fine-tooth comb to re-fluff it. Simple.

More tips on cleaning your baby toys

No toy cleaning set? No problem! We give you a run-through of how to clean baby toys without splashing out on a pricey bit of kit.

A quick warning on cleaning toys

While the washing machine may seem like a quick and easy way to wash the teddy bear, some bears are not suitable for machine washing. Please check the label of your toy before putting it through a spin. Buttons, furs and some clothes are often delicate or may run so washing alone may be the best idea. Dry cleaning baby toys is also an option for some very delicate bears.

How to wash baby toys in soap

Want cleaner toys in the most simple way possible? Soap could be the answer to your prayers. If for some reason your teddy bear can’t go through the washing machine, but is not delicate enough to need a dry clean, then a soft and gentle wash in a bath or sink with a kind detergent or normal household soap will be enough to spruce up a tired and grubby bear. When your favourite furry friend has dried a little, you can even consider blasting him with a hair dryer to bring back his soft fur. For those of you who enjoy blow drying your hair, this might even make the experience of cleaning toys for toddlers quite fun!

Cleaning a smelly bear

When it comes to how to wash baby toys that are particularly stinky, it’s time to give your bear a bath! Keeping a teddy bear odour free will ensure your child enjoys the teddy bear even more. Putting the teddy in a plastic bag with some baking soda and baby powder and shaking the bag should help with some smells if washing is not an option. Get rid of the dust with a vacuum cleaner or brush.

Spot cleaning

Want cleaner toys without doing a super intense wash? If your toy has an isolated stain or mark then you can spot clean it the same as you would a piece of clothing. Use detergent on the spot or mark and rub gently to try and get the stains out. Damp cloths and a warm place to dry will help the teddy recover after its quick spot clean.

Hand-washing plush toys

Not all stuffed animals are created equally, so when it comes to an especially beloved Teddy or Foxy or Bambi - hand-washing is the better way to go for cleaner toys without all of the muss and fuss. And there’s no need to be daunted by doing the job yourself. Think of it this way: if you can wash a child, you can wash a stuffed animal! We actually reckon stuffed animals are easier…far less squirmy. Trust us when we say there’s no rocket science to cleaning baby toys!

a baby wearing an orange baby suit sat on a grey bed with a white teddy bear in a brown jumper.

To wash a stuffed animal or doll by hand, you need three things:

  • A clean space that can hold enough water to fully submerge the toy, like a kitchen or utility sink, or a large bucket

  • A mild detergent, preferably a no-rinse formula for hand-washing

  • A clean, dry towel

Drying your teddy toys

When it comes to cleaning baby toys, you also have to think about the drying process too. If you’re lucky enough to have a dryer at home, try placing the pillowcase inside - preferably on the fluff cycle - but please never leave it unattended. If you don’t have a tumble dryer, don’t worry! Simply remove your now much cleaner toys and hang them to dry in the sun, which may be slower, but is just as effective. Treat the toys like clothing and dry similar colours together if you’re using a machine.

Try a toy cleaning set

Let’s face it - we can give you all the tips in the world on cleaning kids toys - but if a bit of cleaning DIY just isn’t your thing, then you’re probably best investing in a proper toy cleaning set that can get the job done faster. We especially recommend this cleaning solution from Dew Products.

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Why is disinfecting toys so important?

When it comes to cleaning kids' toys, you might be tempted to think ‘why bother?’ Well, we’re here to tell you it’s super important for these three vital reasons:

  • Toys that your kids use in the bath can hold water, which equals mould! Mould is bad news for both you and your baby. These wet toys can also develop soap scum which is bad news for your bathroom! For cleaner toys, always squeeze all the water out of bath toys and make sure they dry completely.

  • With COVID-19 cases still prevalent in the UK, it’s important to minimise the risk of your child picking up the virus - especially if they regularly attend nursery or playgroup. A the end of the day when they’re home, begin the toy cleaning process to reduce your child’s risk of catching COVID through their favourite playmate.

  • Thorough toy cleaning is also a great way to prevent the spread of head lice. Remember how awful ‘the nits’ were as a kid? Enough said!

So there you have it - our quick guide on how to sterilise baby toys and the importance of disinfecting toys. At Giant Bear, we know that you guys share our passion and love for everybody’s favourite furry friends. We also know that once you’ve purchased your very own Giant Bear you’ll want to look after him or her as best you can. So, hopefully, our set of toy cleaning tips can help you to do just that!

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