Toys often go straight to the mouth of young children, which means your child passes on her germs when she shares a toy. Even if the toy doesn't make it to her mouth, she likely covers it in germs from her hands or when she coughs and sneezes. Bleach is a safe, effective option for sanitizing surfaces, including toys, according to Healthy Child Care America. Mixing bleach with water in correct ratios is key to keeping your child's toys safe.
Clean the toys first in a solution of warm water and soap if they are dirty or grimy. Germs often cling to the dirt on toys, so washing first removes some of the germs and preps the toys for the bleach sanitation process, according to Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, M.D., in an article for Fisher-Price.
Fill a clean tub with one gallon of water that is at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a tub that is large enough to hold the toys you want to sanitize. If you use a larger tub, you can add more than one gallon of water at a time, but you'll need to increase the amount of bleach you use.
Measure 1.5 teaspoons of household bleach for every gallon of water in the container. So if you use two gallons of water, use three teaspoons of bleach. This ratio is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines to use bleach with 100 parts per million chlorine.
Place toys that won't be ruined by the bleach into the solution. The bleach sanitation method works best for plastic toys without stickers that might peel off in the water. Toys should stay submerged in the bleach-water solution for two minutes or longer.
Remove the toys from the bleach-water solution. Place them on a surface that won't be damaged by the bleach, such as a white towel or a dish rack. Leave the toys until they are completely air-dried. As the toys dry, the chlorine from the bleach evaporates from the toys, making them safe for kids to use.
If you have a large, plastic toy to sanitize, wipe the surfaces down with the bleach-water solution or spritz it onto the surface. Let the toy air-dry. Mix the bleach-water solution fresh each time. Chlorine evaporation due to heat or light weakens the solution, making it less effective at sanitizing the toys.
Always keep bleach out of reach of children.