I came across this story in yesterday’s news and wanted to share my own toy hygiene practices here at Aston Childcare.
The following information taken from the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene states that –
Evidence has shown that toys quite easily become contaminated with microbes. Toys are passed from child to child and become contaminated through handling or by children putting their mouths to them. Some germs can remain viable on toys for some periods of time, and in a number of studies, bacteria and viruses have been isolated from toys.
It stresses however, not to get neurotic about toys. Children will inevitably pick up infections it says but says there are ways in which you can reduce these risks by ensuring that looking after toys is a part of the household hygiene routine, particularly important where there is an infected child in the home alongside other children who are healthy, or a child who needs special protection from infection.
Contaminated equipment such as play mats, plastic beakers and ball pits can also contribute to the spread of infection.
Soft toys: Studies on soft toys in a variety of settings such as intensive care units and day care centres show that soft toys can be contaminated with bacteria, including some potentially pathogenic species.
Hard Toys: Bacteria of the upper respiratory tract have been isolated from hard toys taken from a general practitioner’s surgery. Toy balls in a day care centre were contaminated with faeces. Several studies have suggested that hard toys can contribute to outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting. For example, in two different day care centres with an outbreak of rotavirus, 39% of toy balls were contaminated with the virus.
Cleaning of toys and equipment should be included in the regular household cleaning rota to ensure that they are regularly cleaned. Ideally, toys should be washable. Soft toys can be put into a washing machine in the hot water cycle. This is particularly important for children at special risk. Where toys are known to be contaminated, e.g. where they become contaminated with vomit or faeces, or mucous from a child who is ill, they must be hygienically cleaned or may even need to be discarded.
Here at Aston Childcare I take the following measures to ensure toys are clean and hygienic:
- I store toys in clean containers or cupboards
- I clean toys frequently and, at least whenever soiled.
- I clean hard or plastic toys that have become dirty or dusty by washing thoroughly with detergent or wiping with alcohol wipes and storing them in a clean and dry place. I may place them in the dishawasher or soak them in a mild bleach solution where necessary
- I wash soft toys when they become dirty in a washing machine
I also –
- Ensure that our playdough is changed regularly.
- Cover our sandpit and water table to avoid any contamination (e.g. from passing animals) and ensure that the sand is changed regularly.
- Clean the balls from our ball pits regularly.
- I empty water play equipment daily and store in a clean, dry place.
- add all toys and equipment to the regular household cleaning rota
- Ensure I don’t put toys back out if they look dirty.
- Machine wash any play mats regularly