Whether you’re running an at-home childcare facility or simply minding your own children, it’s always a good idea to keep their toys clean and safe for handling. These seemingly innocuous items can easily become riddled with illness-causing bacterias.

To prevent a cold or flu outbreak in your home, it’s not only important to know how to clean specific children’s toys, but also how often to clean them. While it’s always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for each specific toy, here are some general guidelines for parents to follow that will give you some peace of mind.

Hard Plastic Toys

These are going to be the rubber duckies, play silverware, and anything else that doesn’t contain batteries. If these toys are hollow with holes in them, be sure to check for mold and remove as much water as possible before air-drying. If you discover mold inside of any of the toys, immediately discard them.

If you are out of bleach or dishwasher soap, other options include Clorox or Lysol wipes, or a cloth soaked in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.

How to Clean: Either in your dishwasher on the top rack, or soak in a water/bleach solution (½ cup of bleach per gallon of water) for 5 minutes and let air-dry.

How Often:  Once per week.

Stuffed Animals

Not only are stuffed animals cute and cuddly, but they’re also porous, sometimes damp environments where illness-causing bacteria can flourish. Throw in the fact that children typically sleep with these close to their face, and you have all the ingredients for an illness outbreak at home.

Luckily, cleaning and disinfecting stuffed animals isn’t too difficult, but the cleaning schedule can fluctuate depending on how often the child uses them. Do not wash stuffed animals with internal battery packs or other metal parts.

How to Clean (Sturdy, Non-Metal): Place stuffed animals in a pillowcase, knot it, wash and dry on a gentle/low heat cycle.

How to Clean (with Batteries or Metal Parts): Take a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water and go over the toy. Follow with a cloth soaked in warm, clean water, and use a hair dryer to fluff.

How Often: Once a week if heavily loved.

Electronic Toys

These are your child’s phone, tablet, laptop, or other electronic device. The surfaces of these devices are possibly one of the most bacteria-ridden items in your whole entire house, as they are typically touched more often than other surfaces.

To prevent any liquid damage to the device, it’s important to clean it without submerging it.

How to Clean: Remove the batteries if needed and replace the battery cover. Wipe down the surface as well as any buttons or crevices with a damp, soapy towel, followed by a disinfecting wipe. If no disinfecting wipes are available, a 4 tablespoons bleach to 1 quart water solution on a hand towel will disinfect the surface.

How Often: As these are typically handled more often, cleaning and disinfecting your child’s electronic toys every 1-2 days isn’t a bad idea.