How Often Should You Wash Your Baby's Toys? You Might Be Surprised

Yes, babies are cuddly, cute, and oh-so-precious, but let’s face it — they’re also kind of gross. In fact, between the drool, boogers, and putting everything in his mouth, it’s tough to not look at his favorite rattle covered in something sticky and wince. But before you lose sleep wondering how often should you wash your baby's toys, experts say there are really just a few simple guidelines to follow. And it doesn't involve as much hand sanitizer as you might think.

"There is no need for regular cleaning if there is no reason to do so," says Dr. Daniel Ganjian, a board-certified pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, in a Romper interview via email.

So what qualifies as grounds for breaking out the cleaning products and scrub brush? "To help decrease risk of contagious viruses and bacteria, toys should be cleaned if they are visibly soiled, after a child overcomes an illness — especially if he played with the toys while sick and others will be playing with the toys — or if a pet was licking the toys," Ganjian says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended toys be cleaned and sanitized in order to not only clean dirt, but to also disinfect against germs and bacteria. That means in addition to soap and water, a disinfectant like bleach or ammonia (note: bleach and ammonia should never be mixed together), or natural cleaner, such as baking soda or vinegar should also be used.

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There is one exception, Ganjian said: allergies. If your baby suffers from sneezing and skin rashes as a result of allergies, then stuffed animals and other toys made from cloth should be washed every one to two weeks to prevent buildup of dust and other allergens.

So you can breathe a sigh of relief, right? At least that's what I will be telling myself the next time my daughter scoops up a slobber-covered instrument in music class and gleefully squeals, "Yay, mama!" Yikes.