I remember the day I had a friend come over for a cuppa and she opened my dishwasher; which she found was full of the kid’s toys. She thought I’d gone mad. No… I was just cleaning them!! When my kids were toddlers I was very particular when it came to keeping the kid’s toys cleaned, organised and in top condition. Below I share my tips on how to keep the kid’s toys tidy and in the best condition to prevent the premature end of the toy’s life.
Kids find toys fun, which is a given, but another bonus is that they can learn a lot from play too which helps them develop a positive attitude towards learning, such as:
- sparks their imagination
- encourages them to interact with others
- builds fine motor skills
- improves hand-eye co-ordination
- learn about colours and symmetry
- introducing letters and numbers to improve their language skills
- stimulating development of all the senses
All those years ago when my twins were bubbas and they realised they could move… ooh it was so funny they would always go in separate directions, which kept me on my toes, but they always gravitated towards toys. It’s because from such a young age children are eager to learn about the world around them; new colours, shapes, textures and of course taste (everything goes in their little mouths), hence my desire to not only keep their toys tidy but also clean so they aren’t picking up bacteria and germs from the toys.
Interestingly, more than a quarter of the top 20 Kids Christmas gifts last year recommended by the Toys “R” Us official toy testers (who are children themselves) were battery operated. The average price of most of these toys were approximately $200, which makes you want to care for them properly.
Here are three simple tips for caring for toys in a way that creates a tidy and clean play space for your little one.
1. KEEP A SUPPLY OF BATTERIES
I have a little storage box (you may find this at Big W or Bunnings) where I keep it stocked with all different sized batteries. I also keep a little screw driver in there to conveniently have on hand to open the toy’s battery compartment.
2. STORING TOYS
Toys can often be challenging to store neatly. And no matter how many toys you have on hand kids always seem to think they don’t have anything to play with; that’s why I am a huge fan of a toy rotation system as it not only helps to reduce the toy clutter but gives them variety and a renewed love for neglected toys. Here are a few tips to when it comes to storing kids toys:
DECLUTTER – Sort through the kid’s toys and purge toys:
- that are broken and can’t be fixed
- pieces missing that can’t be replaced
- that they haven’t played with at all this year
- the kids have outgrown and no longer want to play with
KEEP SURFACES CLEAR – horizontal surfaces are where the kids play; on tabletops, counters or floor. Keep these spaces clear so their imagination can freely flow. Make the most of vertical storage to help keep the space tidy.
BULKY TOYS – Create a dedicated place for larger bulkier toys; under beds, next to book shelves or at the end of the bed to name a few.
MAKE IT EASY TO PACK AWAY – Children make mess; it’s just what kids do. It’s important to teach them when they’re old enough that they have a responsibility to tidy up after they make a mess. Read this post here to help minimize your children’s mess and teach them an important life lesson of cleaning up after themselves. Use storage systems that make it easy for the kids to pack their toys away.
Use open shelving that is easy to access and keep their favourite toys and ones they use regularly within easy reach. Units with doors are ideal for hiding mess. A bookshelf with doors is the best of both worlds! And bonus with units like this is they can be used for living areas as well.
These shelving units are available online here, with a range of different sizes and colour options. The easy to access doors are great for hiding away crafts, books or toys you don’t want to be displayed.
Read more toy storing posts here:
- An amazing toy room makeover
- Creating a toy inventory
- Toy room organisation inspiration
- How to get kids to clean up their toys
3. CLEANING TOYS
I usually cleaned the kid’s toys when I noticed they looked grubby or after an illness went through the house. However, when the kids were babies I used to clean the toys that went into their mouths weekly (usually in the top rack of the dishwasher).
TOYS WITH BATTERIES OR ELECTRONICS – It’s important to not submerge anything in water if it has batteries or is old and precious. Remove batteries. Fill a container with warm soapy water. Dip cloth into water and wring out as much as you can, then wipe over the toy to remove dirt build up. Carefully use an old toothbrush to remove any dirt built up in cracks and crevices. To naturally disinfect the toys, fill your sink with warm water and add 1 cup vinegar, dip a clean cloth into solution and wring out as much as you can, wipe over toys. Air dry on a dishrack.
TOYS WITHOUT BATTERIES OR ELECTRONICS – Best option is to hand wash in warm soapy water. However, if you’re time poor place hard plastic toys that don’t have batteries or electrical elements into the top rack of the dishwasher on a gentle cycle. Use an old toothbrush to remove any dirt built up in cracks and crevices. To naturally disinfect the toys, fill your sink with warm water and add 1 cup vinegar, rinse toys in solution, then air dry on dishrack.
SOFT TOYS – Gentle machine wash in cold water. It is best to not spin the toys in the washing machine, instead drip dry in sun to avoid damaging the toy. Ensure toy is completely dry to avoid developing mildew.
BATH TOYS – rubber bath toys get the horrible black build up inside when not left to airdry after use. Read my steps here on how to clean rubber bath toys.
DOLLS WITH HAIR – After awhile you’ll notice doll’s hair may become dirty and knotty, they like their hair washed like we do with shampoo and conditioner. Clean body parts following tips above. Place doll on a towel to dry, laying hair flat to dry out.
METAL TOYS – Hot water may break down the material on some metal toys. Naturally disinfect the toys by filling your sink with room temperature water and add 1 cup vinegar; clean toys in solution. Use an old toothbrush to remove any dirt built up in cracks and crevices and dry in the sun.
WOODEN TOYS – Do not submerge wooden toys in water. Lightly spray a solution of equal parts vinegar and water onto a cloth. Wipe over wooden pieces and allow to dry completely as you want to avoid the wood from swelling which may cause the wood to crack and damage the finish. Placing the wooden toys in the sun will help kill even more germs and speed up the drying process.