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Clean and safe: How to disinfect toys

Disinfecting toys is child's play with our simple go-to guide. Learn the basics for how to wash a teddy bear to how to clean a Scalextric track!

Updated By Wiki Tips English Team

person spraying cleaning solution on a little toy globe held by a child

We’re always on the lookout for ways to keep our children clean and safe. From much-loved teddy bears to plastic toys, we’ve created a go-to guide for how to clean stuffed animals, wooden toys, and more!

Key Steps

  • Remove batteries before cleaning interactive toys

  • Wear gloves when using bleach

  • Always dilute bleach for disinfecting children’s toys

  • Use a mild laundry detergent to wash soft toys

  • Baking soda can freshen soft toys which cannot be machine washed

  • Use natural cleaners and the sun to clean wooden toys

Why should you know how to clean baby toys?

Understanding how to disinfect toys (especially if you have hand-me-downs or second-hand purchases!) is important for a number of reasons:

  • As they come into contact with so many different environments and people, toys become a breeding ground for bacteria.

  • Second-hand toys are almost guaranteed to have been chewed on by at least one other child.

  • At one point or another, any of the toys you have in your home will likely end up in your baby’s mouth.

  • Our baby's immune systems are still developing, so it’s important to do what we can to protect them.

How to clean toys with bleach

Read on to discover our easy steps for how to clean a Scalextric track, bath toys, and more.

How to clean baby bath toys and other plastic toys: What you need

  • Mild washing-up liquid

  • Hot water

  • Soft-bristled brush

  • Soft cloth

  • Cotton bud

  • Baking soda

  • Toothbrush

  • A large bowl or bucket

  • Bleach such as

When you are following our guide for how to disinfect toys, take care not to oversaturate them with any cleaning products, as this can cause irreparable damage.

How to disinfect bath toys, a Scalextric track, and more: The method

First, check the care instructions for your toy.

  1. Fill a bowl or bucket with hot water.

    Add a squirt of washing-up liquid.

  2. Follow these steps for how to clean battery terminals in toys, and the toy too:

    Remove the batteries.

    Dip a soft cloth into the soapy water.

    Use the cloth to wipe down the toy, taking care to avoid the battery compartment. Never submerge the toy in water.

    Mix a paste of equal parts baking soda and water.

    Use a cotton bud to apply the paste to the battery terminals.

    Leave for a few minutes, then use a toothbrush to remove all traces of baking soda paste.

    Make sure the toy is fully dry before replacing the batteries.

  3. For toys such as bath toys which do not have batteries, you need to wash them first:

    Leave the plastic toys to soak in the soapy water for 10 minutes.

    Using a soft-bristled brush, gently remove any visible dirt.

    Rinse well with cold, plain water.

  4. Next, you want to disinfect the toys. Always wear gloves for this stage.

    Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean the toys using bleach.

    Always take care to dilute the solution, never use undiluted bleach on children’s toys.

    Use clean, plain water to rinse the toys off thoroughly. Ensure that no bleach residue is left behind.

Allow the toys to air dry before putting them back in the toy box.

How to disinfect wooden toys

Wooden toys are made from natural products, so it’s important to take extra care when cleaning and disinfecting them.

  1. Natural products clean natural toys best.

    We recommend white vinegar or apple cider vinegar diluted with water.

  2. Avoid immersing the toys in water.

    All you need to do is dip a soft cloth into the solution and wipe the surface of your toy.

  3. Want to speed up the drying process?

    Pop the wooden toy out in the sun! UV is a great way to kill off any leftover bacteria but take care not to leave the wooden toy out too long as this could lead to colours fading.

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How to wash soft toys: A step-by-step guide for how to disinfect soft toys ready for play

Whether you want to know how to clean a very old teddy bear that you’re passing on from your childhood, or you’ve bought something from the local charity shop, here’s our guide for how to clean soft toys and disinfect them ready for your children.

How to wash a teddy bear: What you need

  • A mesh laundry bag or pillowcase

  • Mild, non-bio laundry detergent

  • A needle and thread

  • Baking soda

How to clean a teddy bear and other soft toys: The method

  1. The first step for how to wash cuddly toys is to make sure you check the care label and always follow the advice provided.

  2. If you notice any loose threads, holes or other damage; be sure to fix these first.

  3. Next, follow these instructions for how to wash a plush toy in the washing machine:

    1. Always use a mild, child-safe, non-bio laundry detergent such as .

    2. Place your soft toy inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase.

    3. Use a gentle, cold cycle to wash the soft toys.

    4. You can also check out how to wash teddies using a pillowcase by watching this video.

  4. If your soft toys can’t be washed inside the washing machine, you may want to know how to clean teddy bears with baking soda. Follow these steps:

    1. Sprinkle a layer of baking soda over the material of the soft toy.

    2. Place the teddy bear or soft toy into a zip-up plastic bag or pillowcase taking care to ensure the top is sealed.

    3. Shake the bag for a few minutes.

    4. Leave the soft toy inside the bag for 20-30 minutes.

  5. Once the time is up, remove the stuffed toy from the bag, and shake off any remaining baking soda.

How to clean an old teddy bear, wooden toy and more: The dos and don’ts

When it comes to understanding how to disinfect baby toys such as old teddies, or your child’s favourite plastic toy there are a few important dos and don’ts you should be aware of.

  • DO clean toys regularly to ensure they are safe for little hands (and mouths... we all know babies love to chew everything!)

  • DO check the label or instruction booklet and follow any recommendations provided by the manufacturer.

  • DO check any cleaning solutions on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that it doesn’t cause discolouration or other damage.

  • DO use gloves when using any bleach products to disinfect you child’s toys.

  • DON’T forget to turn off interactive toys and remove batteries before cleaning.

  • DON’T use bleach in an undiluted form to clean any children's toys.

  • DON’T give your children their toys back before ensuring they are properly rinsed off.

With this go-to guide for how to disinfect a teddy bear, clean a wooden toy and more, we have shown you just how to get your child’s toys hygienic and ready for play once again.

Originally published