If you're here, reading a blog post on Canada's favourite wooden toy store, you probably already know that wood has incredible antibacterial properties. Compared to the plastic toys in the toy bin, you child's wooden toys are already cleaner and safer without needing any extra effort on your part. Wood is porous, meaning that bacteria tends to be absorbed and killed instead of multiplying on the surface. Kids love to share their toys, and we all know how quickly a toy can end up in a toddler's mouth, so this property is really important to a lot of families.
However, even a collection of wooden toys could use a wash and rinse every now and then. We clean and restore everything we sell through our Previously Loved store, and we've learned a few things about bringing wooden toys back to life. Here's how you can keep your kiddo's wooden toys in great shape.
Natural Wood likes Natural Cleaners
Stay away from pungent household cleaners, and stick with the basics: diluted vinegar (1 part to 10 parts water), a mild dish detergent or even just a gentle wipe with warm water will often be enough to remove grime bring back the bright finish of a cherished toy. Harsh chemicals will discolour and desiccate the wood, so keep it simple!
Dealing with Stains
Serious stains can be addressed with a more concentrated vinegar/water solution. Use a soft sponge and work over the stain with gentle but persistent elbow grease. Rinse the toy with warm water afterwards, let it dry, and return it to the toy box! It's as easy as that.
Mr. Golden Sun
The big smiling circle in the sky also has antibacterial properties. Some parents put their kid's collection of toys out in the back yard once or twice every summer for a cheap, natural disinfectant process. You may also give this a try after using the cleaning approaches described above to speed up the drying process.
Moisturize your Toys
A bit of preparation goes a long way. After months or years of loving use, your kid's favourite wooden toys will dry out, but it's easy to replenish the moisture. Simply wipe the toys with a diluted olive oil mixture, or invest in a quality mineral oil. Bee's wax is another great natural choice that can give wooden toys a beautiful dull shine, with the added benefit of making the surface a bit more "grippy" for smaller, younger hands. We also use bee's wax on our larger Montessori items, like the Pikler triangle and wobble board.
Because wood has absorbent properties, do not soak your child's wooden toys for any length of time. Soaked toys will warp and split, so keep them away from bath time (or kitchen sink playtime). It's for this reason that wooden toys don't always work well as outdoor toys, though there are some that are treated with a nontoxic sealant to help them withstand the elements. In general, though, err on the side of caution and avoid soaking any cherished wooden toys.
Ready to add some great new or new-to-you wooden toys to your family's collection? Browse our whole collection here!