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Spring Cleaning Your Kids Toys…It’s Not As Daunting As It Seems!

Welcome to the March 2013 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Naturally Spring Cleaning.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our carnival participants have written posts about how they keep their homes clean - naturally.


I am sure every mama has experienced it, when you give your child a nice shiny new toy and instantly it is covered in mud/food/juice/slobber/poop, and all that you can do is sigh at the mess, because you know it’s not worth your time trying to immediately clean that no longer shiny new toy. I usually just hold my breath and count to ten, telling myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s not MINE, it’s HIS! Once (or maybe every 3 months really) a year, that time for Spring cleaning comes around again, and there is one area that I always seem to forget when I am cleaning the rest of the house…those dirty food encrusted toys that your children leave lying ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!

It’s time to clean all of those toys, but how do you do it when there are SO MANY that have accumulated over time? I broke mine down into toy types to make things easier.

Before we begin, you should probably start by cleaning (with the help of your kids of course! This entire process is kid friendly so get them involved!) the bedroom. Put everything in its place, make the beds, throw away all of the accumulated trash, remove the dishes, and vacuum their room. With the room itself being clean when you start this project, it makes for a much easier time.

Natural Wooden Blocks


Wooden toys need special care and attention. They are usually made and built to last for year and year, but only if you take care of them properly.  You should NEVER completely submerge or soak wooden toys, and they should NEVER go into the dishwasher. Be sure to avoid bleach and other harsh cleaners as they will destroy the wood.  There are two different ways that you can clean the wooden toys:

  1. All-Purpose Vinegar Cleaner: 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. Vinegar is a natural disinfection and kills 99% of bacteria,  82% mold, and 80% germs. You can even add 10 drops Lavender essential oil (or Tea Tree, but I trust lavender more because I know if my kids licked the toy right after, it is safe for them to ingest) to add more disinfecting powers to this spray.
  2. All-Purpose Castile Soap Cleaner: 1/4 cup liquid castile soap to 1 quart of water and put it in a spray bottle. You can add 10 drops lavender essential oil to add more disinfecting powers to this spray.

After cleaning wood toys, they also need to be wax or oiled so that they do not lose all of their moisture, dry out, and crack. You can use coconut oil or a beeswax to do this. By taking care of your wooden toys, you can help them to live for years and years after they are played with.


This one is REALLY SIMPLE!!!!! Put all of these toys into the dishwasher, pour 2 cups of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher and run it on wash! It’s that EASY! If you feel they need a little bit MORE than that, then add equal parts washing soda and baking soda into your soap container (or add your automatic dishwasher soap to the soap dispenser)


If a spot cleaning is all that the stuffed toy needs, then lightly spray the stuffed toy and wipe down with an old wash cloth. You should set it out in the sunshine to further disinfect and dry out. Make sure that they are dry all the way through so that mold and bacteria does not grow inside of the stuffed animal. If they need more than a spot cleaning, you can put them in pillow cases and throw them into the washing machine with natural homemade laundry soap and even some vinegar during the rinse cycle (I always add it to the spot that the laundry softener is supposed to go), as long as all of your stuffed animals do not have any batteries in them nine times out of ten they come out perfectly fine. You can dry them in the dryer, but on a low setting if you do.

See how easy that was? If your kiddo helped you out…maybe it took a little bit longer (you know what I am talking about!) but they got to learn a habit that will possibly follow them throughout their lives. At least…we can hope for that!


Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival!
Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

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  • Alanna Butterfield

    Thanks! I did not now what to do with my son’s wooden train tracks, which are in desperate need of some cleaning :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/CelloMom-On-Cars/100002921118166 CelloMom On Cars

    I like to pick a freezing night (the colder the better so technically this is a before-spring job), and organise a “camping trip” for all our stuffed animals where they spend the night in the car (on our driveway). It’s a terminal experience for any dust mites that might have found their home in your child’s favourite toy.

  • http://twitter.com/greenforu Green4u

    I have often wondered what the proportion of castile soap to water was… so helpful. I agree cleaning wooden toys requires additional care and attention but they do last for a very long time. I love our wooden toys!

    • https://hippyhomemakers.com/ Christina@TheHippyHomemaker

      I have really been meaning to do a post on the MANY uses and dilutions of castile soap. There are just about as many as there are for coconut oil lol! I need to get on that soon!

  • http://twitter.com/IThoughtIKnewMa IThoughtIKnewMama

    Great advice! We use a vinegar mixture on all of the toys in the house. I hadn’t thought about putting the plastic toys in the dishwasher. I assume top rack only, right?

    • https://hippyhomemakers.com/ Christina@TheHippyHomemaker

      You know, I didn’t write it up there but you could probably get away with putting some of the smaller things in those mesh type bags that you use for produce at the grocery store? I bet if you put them in mesh bags you could get away with some of them, along with the larger toys on the bottom rack. I have carelessly put them wherever I thought they wouldn’t get loose, and none of my toys came out melted lol, but I imagine that if one got loose it could melt!

  • http://twitter.com/stblessings Mandi Eschenbach

    Oh, we have so many food encrusted toys over here too. Great tips!

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