How to Clean Old Plastic Toys

Cleaning old plastic toys is a necessary yet delicate task to revitalize cherished playthings and ensure a safe environment for children. Over time, accumulated dust, grime, and stains can not only compromise the toys’ appearance but also pose hygiene concerns.

How to Clean Old Plastic Toys

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore effective methods on how to clean old plastic toys, considering their diverse shapes, sizes, and materials. From gentle surface cleaning to deep sanitization techniques, these approaches aim to breathe new life into toys that have weathered years of play.

By embracing these strategies, parents and caregivers can strike the perfect balance between preserving nostalgic playthings and fostering a clean, healthy play environment for the next generation. Say goodbye to stubborn stains and lingering grime as we embark on a journey to restore the vibrancy and cleanliness of beloved old plastic toys.

Sentimental Value of Old Plastic Toys

Old plastic toys are more than just playthings; they are treasures laden with nostalgia, whispering tales of childhood adventures and family moments. Each scuff and mark on them serves as a testament to countless hours of joy and imagination, becoming priceless mementos for both children and adults.

These toys often carry sentimental value that transcends their physical worth, connecting generations through shared memories and stories. By preserving and cleaning these cherished items, we not only safeguard our past but also ensure that these symbols of love and history can continue to create new memories for years to come.

Importance of Proper Cleaning and Maintenance

Maintenance of Old Plastic Toys Are Crucial

Proper cleaning and maintenance of old plastic toys are crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it significantly extends the lifespan of the toys, allowing them to be enjoyed for many more years or even passed down through generations. Secondly, regular cleaning eliminates harmful bacteria and allergens that can accumulate on the toy’s surface, ensuring a safer play environment for children.

Furthermore, maintaining the aesthetic appeal of these toys can further enrich the sentimental value they hold. By investing time in the care and upkeep of old plastic toys, we do more than just preserve their physical condition; we safeguard the memories and history they represent, ensuring they continue to bring joy and nostalgia to our lives.

Common Types of Plastic Used in Toy Manufacturing

In the realm of toy manufacturing, various types of plastics are chosen for their unique properties, durability, and the ease with which they can be molded into endless shapes and designs. One prevalent type is Polyethylene (PE), known for its strength and flexibility, often used in outdoor toys and those requiring resilience.

Another common plastic is Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), which is valued for its versatility and is frequently utilized in figures and dolls due to its ability to be made soft and flexible or rigid. Polystyrene (PS), with its excellent moldability and glossy finish, is chosen for intricate toys and models that demand precise details.

Lastly, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is favored for its toughness and impact resistance, making it ideal for high-quality, durable toys like building blocks and electronic housings. Understanding these materials is crucial for identifying the best cleaning methods that will maintain their integrity while ensuring they are sanitized and safe for use.

Factors Contributing to Toy Deterioration

Deterioration of Old Plastic Toys

The deterioration of old plastic toys is influenced by a variety of factors, some of which may accelerate the aging process or increase their vulnerability to damage. Environmental exposure is a primary culprit, as plastic toys left in direct sunlight can experience color fading and material weakening due to UV radiation.

Similarly, extreme temperatures can cause plastics to warp or become brittle. Chemical exposure, such as harsh cleaning agents or environmental pollutants, can also deteriorate the chemical composition of the plastic, leading to discoloration and structural damage.

Additionally, mechanical stress, including rough play or improper storage, can result in cracks, splits, and the eventual breakdown of the toy’s material. Understanding these factors is essential in taking preventative measures to protect and preserve the longevity of cherished old plastic toys.

Assessing Cleaning Needs

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s crucial to assess the specific needs of each toy. Start by carefully examining the toy’s condition, identifying any areas with significant grime, sticky residues, or discoloration. For toys with electronic components, consider how moisture exposure during cleaning might affect functionality.

Check for any labels or manufacturer instructions that could provide guidance on suitable cleaning methods or materials to avoid. This preliminary evaluation not only aids in choosing the most effective cleaning approach but also in preserving the toy’s integrity.

Remember, each toy is unique; what works for one may not be suitable for another. By tailoring your approach based on the toy’s material, age, and condition, you can ensure a thorough clean without causing damage.

10 Methods How to Clean Old Plastic Toys

1. Surface Wipe with Mild Soapy Water:

Gently Wipe the Surface of the Plastic Toys

Begin by creating a solution of mild soap and warm water. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the mixture and gently wipe the surface of the plastic toys. This method is suitable for removing dust, dirt, and light grime without causing damage to the toy’s finish.

For tougher stains, add a small amount of white vinegar to the solution. The vinegar helps to break down and loosen stubborn grime or residue. Be sure to use white vinegar as colored varieties may stain the plastic.

After wiping down the surface, rinse the toy with clean water and dry it thoroughly with a towel. It’s important to remove all soap residue to prevent any damage to the plastic.

To disinfect the surface of the toy, mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the toy and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth. This method is effective for killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi that may be present on the toys.

2. Vinegar and Water Solution:

For toys with more stubborn stains or odors, a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar can be effective. Dampen a cloth or sponge with this solution and wipe down the plastic toys. Vinegar acts as a natural disinfectant, helping to eliminate germs and bacteria. It also helps to deodorize and remove any lingering odors from the toys.

Additionally, vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect other household items. It is great for cleaning kitchen counters, cutting boards, and even as a natural fabric softener in the laundry. Vinegar is an inexpensive and non-toxic alternative to harsh chemicals, making it a safe option for cleaning toys and other household items.

When using vinegar as a cleaner, it is important to use white vinegar rather than apple cider vinegar or any other type. This is because white vinegar has a higher acid content, making it more effective for disinfecting and cleaning. It also doesn’t leave behind any sticky residue on surfaces, unlike some other types of vinegar.

3. Baking Soda Paste for Stains:

Mixing Baking Soda With Water

Create a paste by mixing baking soda with water. Apply the paste to stained areas on the plastic toys and gently scrub with a soft brush or toothbrush. Baking soda’s mild abrasive properties can help lift stains without scratching the surface. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly before giving the toys back to your child. However, baking soda can also be used for more than just stain removal on plastic toys.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile and inexpensive household ingredient that can be used for various cleaning purposes. It is an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical products and offers a gentle yet effective way to clean plastic toys.

4. Dishwashing Detergent Bath:

Submerge small plastic toys in a basin filled with warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing detergent. Allow them to soak for a few hours. After soaking, use a soft brush or toothbrush to scrub away any remaining dirt or grime. Rinse thoroughly and air-dry. Once dry, the toys will be clean and ready for playtime!

Alternatively, you can also use this method to clean larger plastic toys such as building blocks or toy cars. Simply fill a bathtub with warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Place the toys in the tub and allow them to soak for a couple of hours. After soaking, scrub them with a soft brush or cloth, rinse thoroughly and let them air-dry.

5. Denture Cleaning Tablets Soak:

Scrub the Toys With a Soft Brush

Drop a few denture cleaning tablets into a basin of warm water and immerse the plastic toys. The effervescence from the tablets helps break down dirt and grime. After soaking, scrub the toys with a soft brush and rinse well. This method is particularly effective for toys with intricate designs or small crevices.

After cleaning, make sure to dry the toys thoroughly before giving them back to your child. This will prevent any potential bacteria growth from dampness.

You can also use vinegar as an alternative to denture cleaning tablets. Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a basin and soak the toys for about 15 minutes. The acidic properties of vinegar help dissolve any built-up residue and leave the toys shiny and clean.

If your child has any allergies or sensitivities, you can opt for a more natural method of cleaning by using baking soda. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with warm water to create a paste. Gently rub this paste onto the toys and rinse well with warm water. Baking soda is a gentle yet effective cleaner that is safe for children.

6. Hydrogen Peroxide for Disinfection:

To sanitize old plastic toys, mix hydrogen peroxide with water (1:1 ratio) and use a cloth or sponge to wipe down the surfaces. This solution is effective in killing bacteria and germs. Ensure thorough rinsing to remove any residue.

Hydrogen peroxide, commonly known as H2O2, is a chemical compound that has been used for disinfection and sanitation purposes for many years. It is a colorless and odorless liquid that is composed of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms.

Hydrogen peroxide is often found in low concentrations in household cleaning products such as bleach and whitening agents, but it can also be purchased in higher concentrations for more powerful disinfection purposes.

One of the main reasons hydrogen peroxide is used for disinfection is because of its ability to break down into oxygen and water after use. This makes it a more environmentally friendly option compared to other harsh chemicals that can linger and harm the environment.

Additionally, hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic and safe to use around children and pets, making it a great option for household disinfection.

7.Steam Cleaning:

Using a Handheld Steam Cleaner

If the plastic toys are large or have intricate details, consider using a handheld steam cleaner. The steam helps sanitize and loosen dirt without the need for harsh chemicals. Be cautious not to use excessive steam or heat to prevent warping.

A handheld steam cleaner is a great tool to have when it comes to cleaning plastic toys. Not only does it effectively sanitize the toys, but it also helps loosen dirt and grime that may be stuck on them. This can greatly reduce the amount of time and effort needed for cleaning.

One of the main advantages of using a steam cleaner is that it eliminates the need for harsh chemicals. This is especially beneficial for families with young children who may be sensitive to certain chemicals or for those who are environmentally conscious. Steam cleaning is a more natural and eco-friendly way of keeping plastic toys clean and safe.

8. Toothpaste for Scuff Marks:

Apply a small amount of non-gel toothpaste to a soft cloth and gently rub scuff marks or scratches on plastic toys. Toothpaste contains mild abrasives that can help diminish the appearance of marks without damaging the toy’s finish. Rinse the toy with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.

Toothpaste is not just for cleaning your teeth, it can also be used to remove scuff marks from plastic toys! The mild abrasives in toothpaste make it a gentle yet effective solution for removing surface scratches and marks without causing any damage.

This hack is especially useful for parents who have kids that love to play with their toys and often end up scuffing them. Instead of throwing away your child’s favorite toy, try using toothpaste to restore its appearance.

Another great use for toothpaste is removing scuff marks from shoes. This hack works best on leather or rubber shoes, but can also be used on other materials as well. Simply apply a small amount of toothpaste to a soft cloth and gently rub the scuffed area. The abrasives in the toothpaste will work to buff away the marks and leave your shoes looking brand new.

9. Rubbing Alcohol for Sticky Residue:

Rubbing Alcohol to Tackle Sticky Residue

Dampen a cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol to tackle sticky residue or adhesive left by labels. Gently rub the affected areas until the residue is dissolved. Wipe the toy with a clean, damp cloth afterward.

Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a common household item that can be used for more than just cleaning your wounds. Its chemical composition makes it an effective solution for removing sticky residue or adhesive from surfaces like toys, electronics, and glass.

But what exactly is rubbing alcohol? It’s a clear liquid with a strong odor that contains 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water. This combination helps it to easily dissolve oils, dirt, and other sticky substances.

10. UV-C Light for Disinfection:

Utilize UV-C light sanitizers, often used for disinfecting surfaces. Ensure the plastic toys are exposed to the UV-C light for the recommended duration, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This method is effective for eliminating germs without the use of chemicals.

Using UV-C light for disinfection has been gaining popularity due to its effectiveness in eliminating germs without the use of chemicals.

This method is often used for sanitizing surfaces, including plastic toys. However, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and expose the toys to the UV-C light for the recommended duration in order to ensure proper disinfection.

Apart from being chemical-free, UV-C light is also a convenient and easy method for disinfection. It does not leave behind any residue or require any additional cleaning steps. Additionally, it is safe to use on a variety of materials including plastic, making it an ideal choice for sanitizing toys.


In conclusion, restoring old plastic toys to their former cleanliness is not only about revitalizing their appearance but also ensuring the safety and enjoyment of children.

By employing gentle surface cleaning techniques and deep cleaning methods, caregivers can effectively remove dirt, stains, and grime from these cherished toys. Thorough drying and disinfecting processes help prevent mold and mildew growth while maintaining hygiene standards.

Addressing visible damage and taking preventive measures against future wear and tear further extends the lifespan of plastic toys. Safety considerations throughout the cleaning process ensure that toys remain safe for children to play with. Follow these simple instructions outlined in this blog post about how to clean old plastic toys, and you’ll be able to get the job done with ease.

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Loren Jones

Hi, my name is Loren. I live with my husband and 4 lovely kiddos in the Eastern part of San-fransisco. I have a smart beautiful,curious 6 year old daughter, a handsome 11-year-old son, an intelligent and tech geek 15 years old son and a creative, artistic 12-year-old stepson. With each of my kids being five years apart, I feel that I’m now continually phasing in and out of each stage of parenting! I’ve learned a lot about the way children learn and behave, especially in a school setting with regards to curriculum. I enjoy sharing that insight through my writing and hope that it can help others.

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