Yes. Yes, he very likely does.

Before we go any further, let’s clarify one thing: this is NOT a shame-post. The fact is, a little dirt is good for your kids – it helps build their immune systems.

But while we’ve been distracted disinfecting our grocery packaging over the last year, we may not have been thinking as much about the stuffies and toys our kiddos love to love, day in and day out. 

When it comes to kids, love means dirt. Ain’t it grand?

Our children’s most-loved toys have been dripped on, drooled on, cried on, sneezed on. They’ve been in the bed, in the car, on the floor. They’ve collected germs and dust. And then received many, many loving kisses.


How to clean them

First: ALWAYS check tags for washing instructions. You don’t want to accidentally ruin your child’s best friend. But otherwise:

Stuffies: to keep them lovable as long as possible, hand-wash them in a bowl filled with cool water and laundry soap made for delicates. (If you don’t have that on-hand, baby shampoo can work, too.)  You can have your little one join you in giving their stuffies a bath, showing their stuffed friend the loving care they enjoy at their own bathtime. Sing songs! Blow bubbles! Caregiving is a beautiful expression of love very young children can do.

Submerge all submersible parts of the stuffy and make sure it gets thoroughly wet – then gently squeeze the water out. Repeat this a few times – and if you notice the water turning brown, congratulate yourself for having done this task today, and then replace the water. Keep doing this until your stuffy is no longer dirtying the water. Then, squeeze out as much water as you can, and hang it from a shower curtain rod or someplace where it can drip dry in peace before returning to love duty.

Hard plastic toys (e.g. LEGO, action figures): At Brightling, we wash these in our dishwashers inside a net bag. It really does the trick! Some families wash them inside a pillowcase or mesh bag in the washing machine on “delicates” with a bit of laundry soap. For larger toys, we use spray bottles containing 5 ml bleach and 500 ml water – we spray down the toys and wipe them dry with clean cloths.

Rubber tub toys: Rubber duckies and their friends are so much fun in the tub (and at our water station!), but beware. They usually have holes in them to allow water to be sucked in and very entertainingly sprayed out… and water can get trapped inside and grow mold. One Brightling Mum was horrified to notice her toddler squeezing rubber duckie and the water spraying out with “black flecks of something” in it.

To avoid this, ensure as much water as possible is squeezed out of each tub toy at the end of each bath, and then store them in a place where there is air circulating (not, for example, in a container with a lid), and the hole is exposed to the air. Then, every week or two, put some of your bleach/water solution in a bowl and suck it in through the hole in the toy; shake it around, then empty it, rinse it thoroughly, and allow it to air-dry before putting it away.