How to Clean Wooden Toys with Natural Products
A simple guide to cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing wooden toys.
You finally did it! The majority of your child’s toy collection is comprised of wood, and nothing makes you happier. You love watching your kiddos play with natural wooden toys.
Until… your baby spit up all over his teether and your toddler snuck his favorite wooden dinosaur to the table for lunch. When cleanup time came around that evening, you found sticky, crusty toys that opened a whole world of thoughts in your head.
You held those dirty toys in your hands and looked at them, thinking,
How do I clean these?
Can I wash wooden toys?
What do I wash them with?
Don’t let these thoughts overwhelm you! Washing wooden toys is a lot simpler than you may think. If concerns about sanitizing wooden toys are keeping you from purchasing them for your little ones, read on!
You’re about to find out just how easy it is to keep wooden toys clean.
Do wooden toys need to be sanitized?
Here is an amazing quality of wooden toys: they have naturally occurring antimicrobial properties. What does this mean? It means that wooden toys naturally kill microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew instead of allowing them to multiply.
Unlike bacteria multiplying on the surface of plastic toys and requiring strong, irritating chemicals to remove them, wooden toys naturally “clean” themselves. This makes them the perfect solution for playthings.
Think about it: toys go from the floor to the mouth, pass through hands, back onto the floor, chewed on… They have the opportunity to get about as dirty as possible.
And kids don’t completely understand the concept of sanitation and cleanliness at young ages. They don’t get why it’s a big deal if a toy has been sitting on the dirty floor, the dog licked it, and then they stick it in their mouth.
But you do! The least you do is cringe while watching the above scenario. The most you do is snatch the toy to douse it in some form of sanitizer before handing it back to your little one, only to watch the process repeat. Right?
Fortunately, we can avoid toxic cleaners and most harmful germs through the use of natural wooden toys. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you bypass cleaning wooden toys altogether.
However, due to their antimicrobial properties, it’s unnecessary to clean them very frequently. Most wooden toys should only be cleaned when obviously dirty. And you certainly don’t need to use harsh chemicals like bleach or alcohol.
Here’s how to wash wooden toys:
Can you wash wooden toys with soap and water?
Wooden toys require gentle cleaning. In most cases, a damp cloth will be all that’s needed to clean your wooden toys. For toys that are very dirty, you can use a solution of water and soap — either gentle dish soap or castile soap. You only need one or two drops of soap in a bowl or sinkful of water.
Remember, wooden toys should never soak in water, as this can cause them to warp or become deformed. If you have a large number of dirty toys — wooden blocks, for example — you can submerge them in a sinkful of water briefly. Put all the blocks in the sink and swirl them around in the water to remove the dirt.
In some cases, a soft brush may be needed to scrub stubborn dirt. Scrubbing should be done with great care though, as it can scratch or cause damage to the paint.
Whichever way you choose to clean your wooden toys, make sure that you dry them as soon as possible. You can pat off the excess water, and then leave them to air dry on a drying rack or towel. Your child can play with them again as soon as they’re completely dry.
How do you clean wood toys naturally?
Water and soap aren’t the only options for cleaning wooden toys. Vinegar is an amazing natural cleaner for many things in the home, and wooden toys are no exception! You can use white or apple cider vinegar — both work very well to remove stains, dirt, and odors.
Make a solution of vinegar and water and use one of the methods mentioned above for cleaning wooden toys. The ratio doesn’t seem to matter too much — you’ll find recommendations ranging from 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water all the way up to an equal 1:1 ratio.
You can also add a drop of essential oil — such as lemon or lavender — to the mixture for a safe, subtle, pleasant aroma. The sour smell of dried baby spit-up will be a thing of the past!
Mixing up a water and vinegar mixture and throwing it in a spray bottle is a great way to have a natural cleaner available at all times.
Cleaning wooden toys just got a whole lot easier, didn’t it?
How to oil wooden toys?
It’s normal for wooden toys to show wear as they’re lovingly played with over time. You may notice that your wooden toys start to look dried out or dull. Occasionally, they should be moisturized with a non-toxic, safe oil to bring them back to life. Some options to use are:
You don’t need much oil, and gently rubbing it in with a washcloth will do the trick.
There you have it! Cleaning wooden toys is really that easy. And with the proper care, your toys will last for generations to come. Not to mention, those sticky lunchtime fingers will no longer cause fear to strike your heart!
All PoppyBabyCo’s wooden toys are finished in food-grade linseed oil, aside from those that specify “unfinished”. The instructions above are how we clean our own wooden toys, when necessary.
Having grown up with simple wooden toys, I understand how important it is to not cut corners when it comes to their care. Head on over to our About Us to read more about it!