Though wooden toys have no electrical elements to consider when washing them, there are still some 'dos' and 'don'ts' when it comes to keeping them safe for little ones. Here are some tips to help ensure the hygiene of your wooden toys.

Why do I Need to Clean Toys?

Babies and toddlers explore objects and their surroundings with their hands and mouths, so naturally everything they touch will be licked or chewed. Therefore, even if your house is clean and pet/smoke-free, you should be regularly cleaning any toys that your children come into contact with to avoid any cross contamination. Similarly, toys that are left to collect dust should be targeted to prevent kids from picking up any nasty infections. Keeping toys disinfected while your little ones' immune systems develop is the best way to keep them as healthy as possible. Not only can children pick up germs from floors, surfaces, objects and toys, they can also spread them for others to pick up.

What is Unique About Wooden Toys?

Wooden toys commonly have naturally occurring antibacterial properties, which means that bacteria found on natural wood surfaces doesn't multiply or spread as easily as other types of materials. However, keeping them clean is just as important. Before you consider cleaning wood-based toys, it is important to know the difference between finished and unfinished products, as this may affect the way you care for them.

Unfinished wooden toys are not stained or painted and have been left in their natural state. Finished toys, however, might have been treated with non-toxic dyes and/or natural paints to give a colourful appearance. While both types can be wiped clean daily with a damp cloth, finished toys can additionally be cleaned with non abrasive soap and a little water before being wiped dry. A water/vinegar-based solution can also be used to remove stains on such surfaces, like crayon marks for example. However, there are some general rules that you should follow when cleaning your wooden toys, no matter their type.

Dos and Don'ts

DO check the washing instructions to see if your toy is water-proof or needs to be cleaned in a specific way
DO wipe dusty toys clean with a damp cloth
DO wipe away any moisture when applying water
DO let wooden toys air dry (however long spells in direct sunshine are not recommended, as treated areas could fade due to heat/the sun)
DO gently rub down rough or cracked areas with sandpaper to prevent cuts and the build up of bacteria
DO use non-abrasive anti-bacterial wipes on very dirty areas

DO NOT store wooden toys outside as they can be weather-damaged and pick up bacteria
DO NOT let wooden toys get too hot
DO NOT soak items in water as this could cause them to swell or warp
DO NOT use furniture polish to clean wooden toys as they contain toxic substances that might be harmful if swallowed
DO NOT use harsh detergents or chemicals as these can be absorbed into the toy's surface

Finally, if your toys are very dirty and you feel the need to use bleach, make sure that you dilute one part bleach with ten part water to be sure that the solution isn't too strong.