Washing and Disinfecting Toys
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Washing and Disinfecting Toys

Washing and Disinfecting Toys


  • Infants and toddlers should not share toys. Toys that children (particularly infants and toddlers) put in their mouths should be washed and disinfected between uses by individual children. Toys for infants and toddlers should be chosen with this in mind. If you can't wash a toy, it probably is not appropriate for an infant or toddler.
  • When an infant or toddler finishes playing with a toy, you should retrieve it from the play area and put it in a bin reserved for dirty toys. This bin should be out of reach of the children. Toys can be washed at a later, more convenient time, and then transferred to a bin for clean toys and safely reused by other children.
  • To wash and disinfect a hard plastic toy:
    • Scrub the toy in warm, soapy water. Use a brush to reach into the crevices.
    • Rinse the toy in clean water.
    • Immerse the toy in a mild bleach solution (see above) and allow it to soak in the solution for 10-20 minutes.
    • Remove the toy from the bleach solution and rinse well in cool water.
    • Air dry.
  • Hard plastic toys that are washed in a dishwasher or cloth toys washed in the hot water cycle of a washing machine do not need to be additionally disinfected.
  • Children in diapers should only have washable toys. Each group of children should have its own toys. Toys should not be shared with other groups.
  • Stuffed toys used by only a single child should be cleaned in a washing machine every week, or more frequently if heavily soiled.
  • Toys and equipment used by older children and not put into their mouths should be cleaned at least weekly and when obviously soiled. A soap and water wash followed by clear water rinsing and air drying should be adequate. No disinfection is required. (These types of toys and equipment include blocks, dolls, tricycles, trucks, and other similar toys.)
  • Do not use wading pools, especially for children in diapers. (See “Outdoor Playground Areas...” for further discussion.)
  • Water play tables can spread germs. To prevent this:
    • Disinfect the table with chlorine bleach solution before filling it with water.
    • Disinfect all toys to be used in the table with chlorine bleach solution. Avoid using sponge toys. They can trap bacteria and are difficult to clean.
    • Have all children wash their hands before and after playing in the water table.
    • Do not allow children with open sores or wounds to play in the water table.
    • Carefully supervise the children to make sure they don't drink the water.
    • Discard water after play is over.
Note: This information is not intended to take the place of your state's or locality's child care regulations and laws. In every case, the laws and regulations of the city, county, and state in which the child care facility is located must be carefully followed even if they differ from these recommendations.

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