Cleaning is just that - removing dirt, dust, grime, fingerprints, food particles, pet hair and dander from things.
Sanitising is NOT cleaning. It is removal of bacteria and viruses from surfaces i.e. disinfecting your toilet with peroxide is sanitising it however you still need to clean the bowl for that brilliant sparkly sheen we like so much!
Your first step with cleaning kids toys and play surfaces is to start with exactly that - CLEANING the surface. Remove all dust, dander, grime, grease, fingerprints and dirt from the surface.
THEN you can sanitise the surface after that with some non-toxic options. Or make a cleaning product that cleans AND sanitises to save time!
Your little ones may have developed the delightful habit of throwing them on the floor or on the street only to pick them back up and put them in their mouth. Yuck!
Most commercial cleaning products these days contain various ingredients that with as little as one exposure could cause health problems for your children. Although, there are products designed especially for babies you can never be completely sure about the undisclosed ingredients, because unfortunately, for discerning parents, labelling laws are quite relaxed on this front.
Using home made, natural and green cleaners is the safest way to sanitise toys and other bits and pieces that your children come into regular contact with without the risk of toxic chemical exposure.
The risks of chemical exposure are real and the side effects from prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals in our home environments are becoming more prevalent with every passing year.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda is an excellent substitute for gel based or abrasive cleaner. Using it on surfaces like tiles, ceramics, stone bench tops, burnt on pans and even walls if you have sticky muck you can not get off.
Vinegar is a great all purpose sanitation agent providing protection against bacteria due to the high level of acidity present. We use and recommend only using Apple Cider Vinegar for cleaning children's toys and surfaces because it leaves behind a film of good bacteria to help prevent bad bacteria build up in the first place. Easy!
Create an all purpose cleaning solution by mixing 1 part baking soda (also known as Bicarb Soda) to 4 parts vinegar and 4 part water. Pour into a spray bottle and shake before use.
Another great option is to leave out the water and create a runny gel like consistency mixing apple cider vinegar with baking soda (watch out - it fizzes alot at first!) Use this on all smooth surfaces that need that extra bit of oomph!
Wood, Plastic and Textiles
To preserve plastic toys and keep them clean we recommend one of the sprays or wipes above and then a rinse in a vinegar bath (2 - 3 cups Apple Cider Vinegar to a sink of water. Leave to drain and air dry).
Also use a wipe on solution of vinegar and water for any wooden toys. Be careful it is not too strong as it may lift any varnish or paint, over time!
Textiles and fabric based toys (plush toys, dolls clothes etc) are a lot easier to clean as you can simply toss them into the washing machine with a green laundry detergent. Why not pop a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar into the final rinse water to keep them soft, fluffy AND sanitised?
Keep toys and play surfaces cleaned and sanitised for kids could almost be a full time job for a lot of Mums! With toxic cleaners and dangerous chemicals abounding, and being touted as safe, it pays to do a little research and put in a little effort to make your own.
With each generation of children coming through showing more and more chemical sensitivities, why not go down a safer route? You can still provide the same protection WITHOUT the toxic nasties!
Homemade Disinfection Wipes
Many of them also do not biodegrade at all so they just end up in landfill - or worse - in sewers and drains causing serious blockages known as 'fat bergs'.
We recommend steering clear of these types of products unless you know they are fully compostable and biodegradable. Wipes like these are a good choice to keep with you - no toxins and no harmful chemicals.
Another option is to make your own! Its easy and these are reusable too making them very eco!
To make your own green wipes you will need two cups of distilled white vinegar and around 40 drops of disinfecting essential oils (think Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender).
Best way to do this is to use an empty baby wipes container and cloth rags cut into squares about 15cm x 15cm.
Round Container / Cylinder
If using a round, cylindrical wipes container, roll each wipe (or two, together) into individual rods and place inside the container, packing them in. Pour over the solution, to fill the container half way and leave for a couple of hours. The cloth will soak up the solution to the top, moistening all the way through. After this has happened, you can tip out the solution and use for disinfecting surfaces around the house (waste not - want not!)
Pour a little of the solution (up to 1cm) into the bottom of the container to keep the wipes moist.
Square / Rectangular Container
If using a square or rectangular container, simply fold the cloth wipes in half and stack them to the height of the container. Pour over the solution until you reach the top of the pile of wipes whilst pressing down. Leave to stand a few hours.
After all wipes are moistened, then pour out solution into a spray bottle to use in the bathroom or kitchen. Press down on wipes and pour out excess solution. Place lid on container and use to sanitise toys and children's hand quickly and safely!
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For more cleaning tips and hints, check out Carpet Cleaning in Catford