How to Clean Wooden Toys

how to clean wooden toys

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Wooden toys are a natural, safe alternative to plastic toys. Aside from being more aesthetically pleasing, they’re also versatile and come in many shapes and sizes. 

Having a small child means the toys don’t stay clean for long, though, as they go into their mouths and on the floor quite often. So, taking the steps to clean, disinfect, and take care of wooden toys is essential to the health and well-being of your child.

But, wooden toys can soak up dirt whereas plastic can easily be wiped down in most cases. Extra case should also be taken that cleaning doesn’t damage the wood.

Read on to find out how to clean wooden toys and keep your child safe while playing with them.

5 Tips on Cleaning Children’s Wooden Toys Big and Small

Wood is a great material to make toys from, as it was used for hundreds of years before the rise of plastics. It boasts natural antimicrobial qualities that make it safer than plastic or rubber. It can also be made into small, handheld toys or large playhouses. 

Here are a few tips to keep the wooden toys in pristine condition for your little one to enjoy.

Tip 1: Use Natural Cleaners

Wood is an organic material, which means it fares better with natural cleaners. You can get the wooden toys clean by using a diluted mixture of vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar) and water or mild soap (like castile soap) mixed with water.

Just use a spray bottle with a vinegar or soap to water ratio of 1:10, or a more concentrated 1:1 ratio if the toys have stubborn stains.

This depends on how dirty the toys are and whether or not they’re small enough to be put in your child’s mouth. If your toddler is teething or frequently tastes their toys, stick with the vinegar only.

Tip 2: Wipe the Toys Clean 

Since wood is porous, all you need to do to clean it is to give it a gentle wipe with a lint-free rag or microfibre cloth. You don’t need to soak the toys in water for a long time as the wood might swell and get warped when it’s completely dry. 

Leave the toys out to dry in the sun, if possible. Besides this having additional antimicrobial qualities, it can also bleach out any stubborn stains. For painted toys, don’t leave them out for too long as the paint might chip.

a children's wooden toy

Tip 3: Use Natural Wood Treatments for Large Playsets

Large playsets like playhouses, doll houses and climbing frames can also be made of wood. To keep them in good shape, frequently use a natural, oil-based wood treatment to keep moisture and insects away.

Avoid using varnishes that can trap water and cause rot. You also shouldn’t sand the wooden beams because this removes the insect-repelling treatment they come with, which can encourage infestations.

Tip 4: Monitor the Toys Regularly

Keep an eye out for any dirt or discolouration in the wooden toys, and clean them frequently. If your child is teething, the toys should be cleaned at least every two days. You can get away with four to five days if the toys are big and can’t be chewed on.

If the wooden toys were involved in a food or drink accident, give them an immediate quick rinse to prevent stuck-on bits or liquids. For a stubborn patch that won’t come out, sandpaper is your friend, just don’t rough it up too much to avoid dirt hanging on to the surface.

Tip 5: Replace the Toys If Damaged

Wooden toys, unlike plastic, can get damp or rot-damaged. This can be quite dangerous to your child if they ingest those microorganisms.

If you notice green or black discolouration, or an unpleasant odour emanating from the toy, you might want to discard it completely.

What to Never Do to Clean Wooden Toys

  • Never soak a wooden toy to clean it. Soaking causes warpage and the paint might crack if the toy swells too much. It also can trap moisture leading to damp or rot damage.
  • Never clean wooden toys with harsh chemical cleaners as they can damage the wood and seep into it, causing toxicity if your child puts the toy in their mouth.
  • Never use furniture varnishes or finishers on children’s wooden toys, as these chemicals chip and get ingested by your child.
  • Never use a pressure water cleaner with wooden playsets; it can remove the protective coating on the wood, exposing it to rot and insect damage.


Whatever size wooden toys are, they offer your child the chance to let their imagination run. Learning how to clean wooden toys can extend their life and keep them in good shape for your children to enjoy.

Just remember to keep things natural and minimal while also regularly monitoring the condition of the toys.