Tips for Cleaning Outdoor Toys
Start with Pre-Play Round-Ups
When heading outdoors for playtime it can be important to do a bit of a safe play round-up. This will be separate from your traditional clean-up. Items such as snakes, wasps, and spiders can hide in outdoor toys and playsets. These can go unseen for children until these pests decide to protect their hiding spaces. Before heading outside to play it is important to check for any unwanted pests. Here are a few places to check:
- Play Equipment - Some of the swing sets and forts that are sold now are also a great hiding place for wasps, spiders, and other nuisance animals. Take a few minutes to check the underside of any of these areas to remove unwanted pests.
- Outdoor Riding Toys - Toys like outdoor cars and water tables can have drawers or crannies where snakes can find comfort. Check these areas to make sure these animals aren’t going to be startled by your children coming out to play.
- Toy Bins - If you have outdoor toy bins, know that pests also like to make themselves at home in these. It can help to do a quick check and make sure that only toys reside in your toys bins. It doesn’t hurt to move things around a bit just to confirm nothing is hiding underneath outdoor toys.
- Check for Faulty Pieces - Some toys and play equipment can wear down over time. It can help to check screws, support portions, and other areas to confirm that the play equipment your child is on and the toys they are using is still safe. It can help you to see when you need to tighten a screw, dispose of a damaged toy, or repair a faulty piece of equipment.
Clean Outdoor Toys Regularly
Many outdoor toys are left outside in the elements. While this may not seem like a big deal as it rains and things get a good rinse, it’s not that simple. Outdoor toys can hide a variety of germs and messes that kids shouldn’t be playing with. It can be tempting to just hose things down and let kids play, but that doesn’t always help. Instead, here are a few ways you should be regularly cleaning outdoor toys.
- Sandboxes and Water Tables - Sandboxes and water tables are a sure hit outside but they can also be problem areas for children. It is important to keep sand and water tables wiped down with a quality Kid-Safe, Pet-Safe All-Purpose Cleaner before each use. It is also important to keep these areas dry and covered when you are not using them.
- Water Play Toys - Whether you have a pool, a sprinkler, or a water table, water play toys can be a big hiding place for mold and mildew. Many toys such as squirt guns and rubber ducks can hold water after use and encourage mold growth. It is important to empty these out and regularly clean them with a Kid-Safe, Pet-Safe All-Purpose Cleaner.
- Balls, Bats, and Outdoor Equipment - Outdoor sports equipment can be a quick breeding ground for germs. Any of these items that can be wiped down should be wiped down with a Kid-Safe, Pet-Safe All-Purpose Cleaner and a microfiber cloth. This will help to remove stuck-on dirt and germs from an afternoon of outdoor play.
- Play Centers and Large Plastic Structures - These areas are known for having a higher level of germs and stuck-on dirt. Start with a Kid-Safe, Pet-Safe All-Purpose Cleaner and wipe these areas down. If you have stubbornly stuck-on dirt it can help to use a pressure washer to remove more stubborn dirt and mess. Make sure to look at what the play equipment is made of before using the pressure washer. Not all play equipment can handle it.
- Keep Pets and Animals in Mind - Both domestic and wild animals can gain access to those toys, so be sure to use a pet-safe cleaner.
Have a Plan for Pick-Up and Storage
Many outdoor toys can be strewn all over the yard. Before you know it, you could have a mess of balls, bats, water toys, and more all over the backyard. This can leave your backyard toys at a higher risk of breaking down and collecting dirt/germs. While it can seem overwhelming, having a few systems in place can make a world of difference. Here are a few things to consider when setting up outdoor toy storage.
- Pick Out Containers That Seal - While many of the backyard containers can be fun, having a few that seal will prevent pests from getting inside. If you put items in a sealed container, make sure they are cleaned and dried before being placed inside. This will help you to avoid mold/mildew growth on those items.
- Clean Items Before Putting Them Away - Outdoor toys should be cleaned with a Kid-Safe, Pet-Safe All-Purpose Cleaner before being placed in storage containers or being hung up for future play. This will help prevent germs from sitting on those items and keep dirt from building up.
- Get Things Off the Ground When Possible - For smaller toys, it is important to get them up off of the ground and put them in a storage area of some sort. This will help to keep the yard clean, avoid hazards when mowing, and make it easy for kids to find their favorite items the next time they head outside.
- Take Advantage of Sheds and Mudrooms - If you have a shed or a mudroom at your home, this is a fantastic place to put items up and off the ground after wiping them down. Mudrooms are also a great place to store outdoor play shoes so that they aren’t left in the elements or inhabited by a snake.