A Homemade Sanitizer Spray!
Before I had children I was a preschool teacher. It was one of my favorite jobs because I was able to spend all day teaching and playing with a wonderful group of kids.
There was only one downside: the germs.
Preschools are notorious for being full of germs, and with good reason. Imagine a room that is visited by over 60 different children each week who carry various germs from their families, playgrounds, and everywhere else.
Now imagine all those germs collecting on toys, carpets, tables, dress-up clothes, and other surfaces. That’s a lot of germs!
Per childcare guidelines, I had to sanitize all the toys in the room at least once a week. It was definitely the least favorite part of my job. Sanitizing meant gathering a 5 gallon bucket filled with a 1:4 part mixture of bleach and water and dunking or spraying all toys and surfaces in my preschool room. I was unable to open the windows, so the room was full of bleach fumes. Additionally, all the toys would smell like bleach for days after being cleaned.
Needless to say, when I became a mom, I wanted to find a better solution to cleaning my kids’ toys. It’s amazing how quickly our family accumulates toys and how they become dirty even more quickly!
Methods for Naturally Cleaning Toys
We try to avoid bleach around our home as the fumes and chemicals can really do a number on our health. Instead, we mainly use natural cleaners like white vinegar to help get rid of germs. There are three methods I employ to get our toys clean. I sanitize them in boiling water, in the dishwasher, or I make my own DIY sanitizing spray. Each method works for different types of toys. I’ll show you how and why below.
Sanitize Toys in the Dishwasher
This is one of the easiest methods to clean toys! If your dishwasher has a sanitize feature you can easily wash germs away.
The Method: Simply place toys in a dishwashing container or lingerie bag on the top rack of the dishwasher. Wash on the normal sanitize cycle with a small amount of natural dish detergent. (You can learn how to make your own DIY dishwashing detergent here)
This method works for: non-electronic hard plastic toys (that are heat resistant), action figures, toy cars (heat resistant plastic or metal), etc.
If you don’t have a sanitize option on your dishwasher, some toys can be boiled. Boiling is ideal for toys that come into contact with baby’s mouth because it doesn’t require any detergent. This method mainly applies to toys that won’t leech toxic chemicals when heated. Softer plastic toys often cannot be boiled for this reason.
Check on the back of the box or the tag of your toy to see if they can be boiled. Most toys will indicate one way or the other.
The Method: bring 1-2 quarts of water to boil in a large stock pot. Turn off heat. Submerge toys for 5 minutes and then remove carefully with a utensil (I use salad tongs). Place on a cooling rack to air dry.
This method works for: pacifiers, hard plastic toys, silicone toys, baby bottles
DIY Sanitizing spray
This homemade sanitizer spray is what I use for everyday cleaning and sanitizing. We have a lot of child toys so I keep a big bottle on hand. It is natural and safe while still doing a great job of cleaning toys and much more.
DIY Sanitizing spray:
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup distilled water
- 30 drops lavender essential oil (find pure organic lavender EO here)
Combine all ingredients in a large spray bottle.
The Method: Liberally spray toys and allow mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes. Wipe clean with a damp cloth. Allow toys to air dry.
This method works for: All toys that can tolerate being sprayed with water. For electronic toys, I spray a cloth with the sanitizing spray first and then wipe toys.
What’s your favorite way to clean toys without using harsh cleaners? Please share in the comments section below!