With great fun comes a little mess, too. Things can get dirty if your little one is reaping the benefits of outdoor play and exploring the elements.
It's worth keeping your children’s toys looking their best for safety and presentability. Below, we'll discuss the best ways to clean outdoor toys based on their materials.
Rubber gloves are at the ready: Let's jump in.
How to clean wooden toys
One of the most popular and timeless toys of all - nothing quite beats a wooden toy. Depending on the type of wood, this one requires a little bit of tender loving care to keep its exterior looking pristine.
Here's how you can tackle it.
- Brush any loose material: Using a soft-bristled brush, clean the wooden toy. Make an effort to remove as much loose dirt and dust as possible.
- Make a cleaning solution: Combine warm water and a small amount of washing-up liquid. The water shouldn't be too hot to avoid burning, especially if you have little ones helping!
- Sponge the toy: Dip a cloth or sponge into the solution and gently clean the toy. Pay extra attention to areas that seem especially dirty. The trick with wooden toys is not to get the toy too wet, as this could damage the material.
- Rinse and dry: Remove any soapy residue with a cloth and dry any excess water from the surface. Ensure that no moisture remains, as this can damage the wood.
Top tip: Want your toys to look brand spanking new? Add a lick of varnish whenever you clean them.
Keeping wooden toys clean, like climbing frames and swing sets, is crucial to making them safe and playable for your little ones.
Take a look at our guide on how to keep kids safe on climbing frames to learn more.
How to clean plastic toys
Plastic toys are brilliant for kids. Colourful, durable, lightweight and fun, what's not to like? These joyous widgets are easy to clean, too, meaning you don't have to waste too much recreational time scouring away, and you can get back to play.
Here's how to clean your plastic toys.
- Wipe off any loose material: You can do this with a cloth or brush. Thanks to the smooth surface of plastic, everything should be simple to wipe off.
- Prepare a cleaning solution: A great solution is warm water with a small amount of washing-up liquid. Stir well for the best results possible. Now, let's get that plastic sparkling!
- Scrub-a-dub-dub: Let's get cleaning. Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe any tough marks or stains off the surface.
- Rinse and dry: De-sud the surface of the plastic to avoid any streaking or stickiness. Feel free to put the garden hose to work if the toy is outside. You can leave plastic toys to air dry, and they're good to go.
Top tip: Want a squeaky-clean finish on your playhouse interior? A car wash mitt can clean toys like nothing else.
If you need help with the best way to look after your toys, take a look at the care instructions. You can find these online or on the physical packaging of your toy.
How to clean water toys
With the inclusion of water, these toys come with extra germs to consider. Water toys can get additional bacteria that grow on them from splashing around during their playtime, so it's essential to take extra care when cleaning them. For these guys, we'd recommend using some vinegar, as it acts as a bleaching agent without the lasting smell and effects.
Here's how it's done.
- Place all your toys into a bucket or container: This is where their bathing will be done!
- Fill the bucket with white vinegar: Ensure all toys are fully submerged to achieve a thorough clean.
- Leave them to soak: Let the vinegar do its job! Thirty minutes in the tub should be enough for the desired effect.
- Remove the toys: It's time to rinse them off with warm or hot water, ensuring that any traces of vinegar are cleaned from the toy. Nobody wants a vinegary plaything!
- Leave to dry and put away: For the fastest results, put them in the garden to fully dry off. Once they are, put them back where they belong.
Disinfecting toys can be done with a few different cleaning agents, with some opting to use bleach instead of vinegar. While bleach gives a more thorough clean, vinegar is a kinder agent with less risk of harming you or your little one.
4 Essential items for caring for your outdoor toys
Whilst cleaning toys can be done quickly with everyday household items, it helps to ensure you have them in the house in the first place before you crack on. Good quality items will ensure the best clean possible for your little one, benefitting the toy's appearance and the playground's cleanliness.
1. A hard brush
A firm, thorny brush with stiff bristles will help clean any tough or deep marks on a toy. They're essential for some of your muckier jobs with toys.
You can buy these for under £1 in most shops.
2. A soft brush
A good soft brush can help clean some less problematic marks on the toy without risking scratching the exterior.
Like hard brushes, these can be purchased cheaply in most shops.
3. A spray bottle
A spray bottle will help you clean outdoor toys quickly and effortlessly. When a mark arises, you can deploy a spray bottle with a cleaning solution, give it a couple of sprays and a wipe and be ready to go again.
Top tip: Recycle an old spray bottle from your kitchen or bathroom.
4. A friendly cleaning agent
No, not a special agent, a cleaning one! The best way to clean a toy is by using kind and unproblematic chemicals. You can buy specific cleaning agents made with the safety of your children in mind, so keep an eye out for them at the shops when thinking of your next spring clean.
How to store outdoor toys
One of the critical causes of general wear and tear with outdoor toys is the weather. The best way to tackle this is to store each one correctly. For toys like wendy houses with swings and slides or swimming pools, it's best to invest in covers to protect them from dirt or creepy crawlies.
Aside from a cover, a shed or storage box is a great option if you have additional space in your garden. You can store things like bikes, trikes, sports gear and garden toys in these spaces, creating a nice separation from your home and the potentially mucky toys!
It's important to think about how you might want to store your kids' toys in winter, when it's likely to be wet and slippy and kids would rather be indoors. But it's not too complicated. To store a trampoline in winter, for example, you'll want to dismantle it, cover it, and keep it somewhere cool and dry.
Keep plush toys plush with Outdoor Toys
Whether you're trying to keep your swing sets, trampolines or any other toys looking their best, we can help.
It's important to teach your little ones to take pride in their possessions, and this is where we start.
If you're looking for something extra special for your little one but don't know what it is, contact one of our experts for a nudge in the right direction.
How do you clean an outdoor plastic swing?
First, you’ll need to get the surface you need to clean wet. Next, make a solution of washing up liquid and water in a bucket. Dip a scrubbing brush in the solution. Once your brush is wet enough, scrub away any stains, scuffs, and dirt on your plastic equipment.
Remember to let the surfaces dry before letting your little one resume play!
How do you clean a plastic playhouse?
A soap and warm water mixture will lift dirt and grime from your playhouse. Simply make the solution in a bucket, soak your brush or cloth in the mixture and work your way around any tough marks on the surface. Try circular motions for the best results, and feel free to leave the solution to soak on the surface for a little longer for any really tough marks.
Want an odourless finish? Try some baking soda instead of soap or vinegar.