Stuffed animal best friends certainly take a beating. They are taken everywhere — soccer games in the rain, sleepovers at Grandma's, neighborhood pancake breakfasts and every birthday party in the foreseeable future. Plastic toys also get chewed on, sucked on, rubbed in dirt and placed in other deliciously germy situations. Luckily, there are ways to clean those toys and get them looking as good as new (or at least as clean as new).
Rub-a-dub: Bath toys
Believe it or not, the bath toys your child plays with can be a breeding ground for mold, E.coli bacteria and other goodies. So much for a clean bath if you have dirty toys to play with! Contributors on "The Stir" have submitted their favorite non-toxic way of cleaning bathtub toys.
1. Toss toys in the dishwasher for a quick, hands-free clean. Learn the step-by-step instructions here.
2. A hot water and vinegar solution is simple but effective.
3. Other moms suggested sealing up any holes with a squirt of hot glue so water can't get inside in the first place; also, be sure to air dry each toy in between use to help slow/prevent bacteria growth.
However, if something is waterlogged with a slimy grime on the inside, it's time to pick out a new play set for bath time.
Stuffed: Fuzzy bears and other animals
Giving your stuffed animals a wash can do more than just make them look better. Teddy bears (and other plush toys) can harbor loads of nasty germs that can be easily washed away with your washing machine. The Mama's Laundry Talk website walks you through how to wash stuffed animals in your washing machine and how to spot-wash toysthat can't be washed by machine (think "singing Elmo" or "sequin-wearing princesses.")
Dolls: Wet and wild hair style
If Ariel's red mane is looking a little worse for wear, try out this method. One blogging mom found that a hot water hair rinse was all that was needed to tame frizz and tangles for her daughter's Barbie dolls. Find her simple instructions here.
Another mom with daughters figured out a "magical" hairspray for tangled doll hair. With just a couple of ingredients and a minute or two of patience, you'll be able to get that doll's hair looking as good as new.
Building bacteria: Lego bricks
After cold and flu season, did you think to wash the Legos your kids played with all week before they got sick? Check out this mom's washing machine technique for getting the colorful bricks nice and clean.
If you are extra worried about warping or other mishaps, test out this chemical-free sanitizing solution instead. Action figures and other plastic toys can also be washed using this solution.
A couple other tricks to this trade: Don't wash beloved toys around naptime or on a rainy day when there's nothing else to play with. And, unless your kids only play with their toys in the spring, they should be cleaned more than once a year.