If you're a parent and you're online, you've seen the news about Sophie the Giraffe. Yes, Sophie can develop mold on the inside if your teething child drools into the air hole, or if you ignore the manufacturer's cleaning tips and immerse it in water (even if that water is soapy or part bleach).
This news has sparked a bit of panic in parents—and rightfully so—as many people are allergic to mold and we want our kids to be healthy.
So how can you best keep those toys clean and prevent green fuzzy spores from forming on and inside them? These tips will get you started.
Good, Old Fashioned Cleaning Solutions
Use a clean sponge or cloth soaked in hot water and soap to wipe down the surfaces of your child's toys and play areas.
If they need a stronger scrubbing, make a paste out of baking soda and water to scrub, and add vinegar for extra power.
You can even create a mild bleach solution. To be safe, confirm the proper ratio of bleach to water with your pediatrician. I have read that one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water should be fine, as long as you allow the solution to dry before giving the toy back to your child.
Let The Machines Do The Work
Plastic or rubber toys that don't have an air hole can usually go in the dishwasher on the top rack. If the toys are smaller, put them in a mesh bag first and tie it up tight so they won't get loose.
The mesh bag method also works in the washing machine, especially with Legos and other smaller toys. Instead of wiping each block down by hand, you can clean them at once one load.
Follow The Instructions
When in doubt, look at the manufacturer's cleaning tips on the box or online to see what they recommend. Some fabric toys can be tossed in the washing machine, but some should be spot-treated. Wood toys should be wiped down but not put in the dishwasher, as the heat may dry out or splinter the wood.
In the case of Sophie the Giraffe, the manufacturer recommends wiping her off, but not soaking her in water. Since Sophie has an air hole, water can get trapped inside and turn to mold. Keep that in mind when washing any toy and make sure you drain and dry it properly.
Do you have any toys that you've found tough to clean? Tell us in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help you find a safe way to clean them.