Life Hacks: Cleaning Kids’ Toys

I’m an unashamed yard-saler, consignment, and Goodwill shopper. There are so many savings to be had! Kids’ items are typically both well-stocked and well-priced in those places, since it’s a stage of life people spend a lot of money on and then outgrow.

I recently made a happy discovery at a local Goodwill. A huge bucket filled with 30-40 different plastic animals. Dinosaurs, sea animals, savannah animals, jungle animals… you name it! I knew Gabriel would love them. If you’ve price-checked any of those animal figurines in new condition, you may know that each piece can easily run you up $6-$8 dollars apiece. I was able to score the entire bucket for $12 total. Yay for Goodwill!

The only problem with used toys, is that… well, they’re used… by who knows who… with who knows who’s germs.  Because of that, I don’t buy toys I cannot wash (like some stuffed toys). These plastic animals had that typical dusty, grungy feel to them, kind of like they’d been stored in someone’s garage for several months. They definitely weren’t something I was comfortable with my toddler sticking in his mouth ever. Ick!

So enters my dishwasher. I stuck them on quick wash with a bit of detergent (if you’re worried about bleaching, you can use vinegar) and they came out exactly like new.


A few notes:

  • Obviously, this doesn’t work for electronic toys. You’ll want to wipe those down manually with a hot, soapy cloth.
  • If you’re nervous about melting plastic, just load the toys in the top rack only, far enough away from the heating element.
  • If you’re washing little toys (like those green army guys), you’ll probably want to stick them in a dishwasher-safe basket (like a pacifier holder) to keep them from falling through.

Happy used-toy buying and washing!

6 thoughts on “Life Hacks: Cleaning Kids’ Toys

  1. Tami says:

    I have also done this with my sons outside toys that that he wants to bring in… sometimes he washes them in his bath but some of those toys have caked on mud and gunk-thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarah says:

    Great post! I don’t have a dishwasher, but I have found that running toys like this through a load of laundry (on purpose!) works well too. I put them in a mesh bag so they don’t get lost.

  3. Jeanine says:

    I loved the dishwasher discovery too =) Way to go on saving so much money; it’s such a great feeling and a way we can contribute as homemakers!

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