Welcome to our ‘ How to Clean Wooden Toys Correctly & Safely ‘ article
Wooden toys are durable and sometimes even passed down from generation to generation. Over time, the toy inevitably comes into contact with germs and bacteria. It often lands on the floor, is touched extensively by children’s hands, and even chewed in the mouth. Even if the wood contains tannins that provide a natural antibacterial effect, the question arises after a certain period of use: How can wooden toys be cleaned properly?
Here are some tips to help you keep those wooden toys clean and safe for babies and small children to play with.
Cleaning wooden toys correctly is very easy if the following rules are observed: Even if the surface of the wooden toy is strewn with dried-up food residues and shows dark discolorations everywhere, wooden toys should never be in the dishwasher getting cleaned! Wood is a natural material that swells in contact with water and loses its original shape.
Clean Wooden Toys Properly
It is important to know that all toys are not equal: wood is a porous material, and it cannot be washed in the same way as plastic, textiles, etc., which can be washed in a machine or dishwasher.
To simply clean a toy that is not very dirty, you can wipe it with a dry cloth. If the need arises, you can use a clean, damp sponge to clean rough wooden toys without the risk of damaging them. To do so, lightly soak the sponge in water or white vinegar to take advantage of its antibacterial properties.
If the toys are painted or varnished, you can wash them with a solution of water and soap or natural dishwashing liquid (without soaking them) and rinse them well before using a sponge lightly soaked in white vinegar. In all cases, air drying is recommended, unless the wooden toys are wet, in which case you can first dry them with a cloth.
Do Not Clean Wooden Toys in a Water Bath
Even painted toys whose surface is less sensitive should not be cleaned in the dishwasher or cleaned in a bath. From a hygienic point of view, just like with untreated wood, it is perfectly sufficient to wipe the surface and rinse with vinegar water. In the case of heavy soiling, it is advisable to use a coarse sponge (not made of steel) instead of sandpaper, which would inevitably rub the paint. As a rule, most dirt can be easily removed with this.
Never Disinfect Wooden Toys!
The use of disinfectants on wooden surfaces is not recommended. Even if many parents are worried that germs will survive in the material, or that the child will become infected through the shared use of toys, aggressive disinfection using commercially available products, or the use of alcohol, can do more harm than good.
There is a risk that residues of the disinfectant will reach the mucous membranes, especially if the children put the toys in their mouths often. Studies have also shown that wooden toys are more hygienic than plastic toys. It has been proven that wood from trees, such as pine, oak, or larch, contains germ-inhibiting active ingredients. This is due to hygroscopic, i.e. moisture-attracting, properties as well as certain ingredients such as polyphenols, which can inhibit the growth of bacteria.
If the wooden toy is also carefully cleaned every few months using the procedure described at the beginning, nothing stands in the way of a safe and healthy game!
Actions and Products to Avoid
Never use products stamped “for wood care”, such as those used for furniture or outdoor use, which are often very toxic and could be dangerous for your child. Bleach is sometimes recommended in very small doses, but it is a very powerful product that is not recommended for anything that affects your children. Also be careful with disinfectant wipes, which are also full of toxic ingredients.
Also, it should be noted that certain essential oils, sometimes used pure or in cleaning products, are not indicated for children under 3 years of age.
How Often Should Children’s Toys be Cleaned?
It is not necessary to clean a child’s toys every day, especially if they are not used intensively, shared with others, or if your child is healthy. However, it is important to do it regularly, based on certain criteria:
1. Toys belonging to a very small child who puts them in its mouth very often.
The immune system of small children is fragile and easily damaged by germs and microbes. If the wooden toy in question is a rattle or teething ring or any other toy that is put in the mouth very regularly, don’t hesitate to clean it more often!
2. Toys that are used outdoors or in the bath or shower
It is well known that bathwater is full of bacteria, not to mention soap, sweat, various secretions… If your toys take the bath with your children, don’t hesitate to rinse and wipe them after each bath (and if possible, always choose toys without holes). The same goes for toys that end up in the park, garden, or playground!
3. Your child was sick when he handled his toys.
If your child is sick, wash the toys he or she has been using to prevent the spread of germs to the whole family or friends. Wash them promptly, especially if they have been in contact with your child’s saliva, vomit, or nasal secretions.
4. Toys that are already dirty
Of course, if you notice dirt on your wooden toys, you don’t have to wait for the dirt to become embedded and difficult to clean to restore their beauty!
5. They haven’t been used for a long time (kept in the attic or a drawer for example).
Dust, mold, bad weather… so many factors that imply cleaning wooden toys before putting them in your children’s hands.
6. Toys that are new or second-hand and are being used for the first time.
As a general rule, it is best to be careful and clean all toys that come into children’s lives, whether new or second-hand, to avoid any risk.
How do I Care for Wooden Toys?
Wooden toys can last for decades if they are well maintained. A plastic toy will end up in the garbage long before a wooden toy, but to ensure a longer life, remember to wash and clean (with white vinegar and water) them regularly, especially if they come into contact with your children’s mouths.
If possible, keep them dry and out of direct sunlight for a long time. And to keep toys clean, make sure your toddler washes his hands regularly!
Final Thoughts – How to Clean Wooden Toys Correctly & Safely
As you can see it’s very important to clean natural wooden toys from time to time but it’s more important that you do so in the correct manner.
Incorrectly cleaning wooden toys can in fact do more harm than good. Cleaning them in the correct manner will ensure you get years of fun out of these wonderful toys and you’ll make great memories for years to come.
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