Let's be frank — it's cootie season.
Whether it's your kid, your niece or the next-door neighbor's toddler who's got the runny nose, disinfecting children's toys regularly is a must. And that goes double when the whole world seems to have the sniffles.
If your child or any of his or her friends are at the age where toys are still going in their mouths, if they've been sick, if they've got food (or, ugh, worse!) on a toy — these are all good reasons for a round-up, followed by disinfection. The good news is that it's a lot easier to get rid of germs than you might think.
But first, a word on what disinfecting children's toys really means.
According to the Center for Disease Control, there's a difference between cleaning and disinfecting children's toys. While cleaning removes surface dirt and germs (like a spirited wash with soap and hot water), it doesn't necessarily kill them. Cleaning reduces the chance of passing a cold on by lowering germs in number, thereby reducing the risk of catching something.
Disinfecting via chemicals doesn't necessarily clean or remove germs, but it does something even more important — it kills them. When done after cleaning, it further reduces the risk of an infection spreading. And cleaning on either side of disinfection makes for super-clean toys!
The best way to clean toys varies depending on both the toy's material and how it's built:
The solution to germ spreading is disinfection using a solution of one tablespoon of bleach for every gallon of water.
Cleaning your children's toys should be done pretty regularly, especially if someone has been sick.
It's important to note that germs and other bacteria live everywhere. Most of them are harmless and some can even be good for your child in that it's important to build a tolerance to the tiny things we share this planet with. But regular cleaning and disinfection is important to keep the nasty ones — the cold- and flu-causing cooties — at bay.