While it’s important to clean a toddler’s furniture and appliances, we cannot afford to overlook the toys that he or she comes in contact with each day. From stuffed animals to vinyl picture books, every object in the child’s room, crib, or playpen should be washed, vacuumed, or wiped off periodically. Here are a few tips.
- Use warm, mildly soapy water to wipe off plastic, rubber, or vinyl toys each week. You may want to do so more often if other children come to play or your little one takes toys to public places when you take him or her with you on errands, such as banking or shopping. Make sure the soap will not leave a toxic residue, since toddlers love to put things in their mouth. Rinse the toys after washing them, and allow them to air dry or wipe off excess moisture with a clean towel.
- Vacuum stuffed animals. Use a hand vacuum to gently dust teddy bears, decorative dolls, wall hangings, themed drapes or bedspreads that can’t be laundered, and other hard-to-wash pieces. You should also pull out and vacuum bookshelves and toy boxes, as well as other furniture that holds toys or playthings. This may include cartons, boxes, gift bags, etc. Appliances like a tape recorder, DVD player, or others should be gently dusted or wiped clean.
- Launder a separate load of washables such as sturdy stuffed animals, doll clothes, and dress-up items. You can hand wash the more delicate or cumbersome items, like a gauze veil or cowboy boots and holster with a gun. Theme bedding should be washed weekly if possible. Vacuum the mattress to get rid of dust mites and help prevent or control allergies. You also can vacuum draperies or closet shelves that hold toys.
- Wipe stains and sticky finger marks from vinyl picture books, special displays or figurines, and trophies, collectors’ items, or other things that can’t be washed with soap or thrown into the washer. Daub stains on paper products if feasible. Otherwise consider replacing or ignoring these, such as juice or milk stains on a coloring book. Organize toys into containers by placing jewelry items into their own jewelry box, crayons and markers in a tin for easy access, and books together in one place. This will help minimize clutter and prevent casual breakage or stains.
- Don’t forget the toy box, shelves, and other areas where toys are mounted or stored. Clean out the toy box every month or so to get rid of paper scraps, broken crayons, and coins that may have found their way to the bottom. You can teach your child how to clean some of the things by gently washing them immediately after a spill and checking with you first.
Teach your toddler how to pick up playthings each day, organize them neatly, and wipe up spills or stains after consulting you. Not only will you have less work to do, but you’ll also instill a valuable concept about responsibility to your little one’s developing character.