Top tips for keeping toys clean and safe

February 2, 2017 Published by

Parents of teething age children will no doubt have seen the recent media and social media story about the Sophie la Girafe teething toy, which was found by many mums to be housing black mould inside.

Many mums and dads have followed suit and found that their toys also have the mouldy insides, but is this a new story? We’ve all seen the bath toys and rubber ducks which haven’t been dried out and have collected mould, so it stands to reason that any toy with a hole in it to allow children to squeeze it, could potentially get wet inside and go mouldy.


Vulli, the manufacturer of the teething toy has said:

‘It’s important to know that Sophie la Girafe is composed of 100% natural rubber, so the cleaning instructions have to be carefully respected.’  ‘As indicated on the packaging and in an explanatory leaflet inside the packaging, we recommend to clean the surface of Sophie la Giraffe with a damp cloth. It should not be immersed in the water nor rinsed off, to prevent water from getting inside, as she may become damaged.’

While it’s inevitable that you won’t be able to prevent your child from putting things in their mouths and, especially once they are mobile, it could be difficult to ensure everything they touch is sterile, there are lots of tips for keeping toys clean and hygienic.


Soft plastic toys 

As Vulli mentions, those toys which are designed to be squeezed, and have an air-hole, should not be immersed in water, otherwise mould is likely to form. If they are bath toys, inspect them regularly for signs of mould and try to squeeze out excess water after use. 


Hard plastic toys baby-putting-harmonica-in-mouth

Toys that don’t have holes can usually be popped in the dishwasher to clean them up (do check on the product literature first to check this won’t damage the toy.)

If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can clean they toys by washing them in a mild detergent with warm water and then running them through the sanitiser to remove any lingering germs.

If you don’t have a sanitiser, sanitising solution can be used, or you can use diluted bleach solution (1tbsp household bleach to four litres cool water) and wipe over the toys with the solution and allow to air-dry. 


Soft and fabric toys 

Again, check the label for washing instructions but many fabric toys can be run through the washing machine on a cool wash. Remember to use detergents that are safe for baby skin, such as non-bio powders or liquids.


The Hygiene Hypothesis 

Although the above tips will help you to ensure toys are clean and hygienic, it’s important to also note that we shouldn’t be too obsessive about cleaning a child’s environment. There is much research to show that the rise in allergies such as asthma, eczema and bowel problems can be linked to children not being exposed to enough germs in early life. These results have become known as the Hygiene Hypothesis.

Studies have shown that a baby’s immune system begins preparing for germs even before birth. It’s thought that the placenta acts as a filter which lets through small amounts of allergens and microbes. So some germs being present on toys, or in the surrounding area to your children may not be a bad thing.



A good idea is to have a container to pop dirty toys into that is out of your child’s reach so that you can clean a batch in one go. It’s worth cleaning all toys if your child has been ill with a contagious disease such as an infection or tummy bug. It’s also worth cleaning toys up if they have been dropped outside, or if other children have been playing with them and putting them in their mouths etc.

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This post was written by Amanda Gummer

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