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I work at a nursery and I have a hard time managing the toys that the kids play with. I watch them put things in their mouths, cough and sneeze on the toys, and throw everything on the ground. Even though I see all of these things, it is hard to find the time to clean all of the toys, simply because there are too many and I do not have that much time. Any input would be appreciated!

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Similar to @Balanced - I bought my kids a few kilos of lego off eBay, and when it arrived I was a bit concerned with cleanliness. Some of the bricks smelled, some were sticky, some had obviously been outside in a sandpit etc.

So we filled a bath with water and some Milton (very mild bleach suitable for children's toys) and washed all the bricks.

To rinse we used a shower attachment, picking up a sieve of bricks at a time and rinsing them, followed by placing them onto towels.

Milton is mild enough that it shouldn't discolour plastics, and at the solution level we used (two caps full in a bath of water) the rinse was straightforward - we didn't feel there was a high risk of damaging levels of bleach left in any of the bricks nooks or crannies.

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For Lego, I've actually made good experience putting them into a bag and then the washing machine (cold, no spinning). –  mthomas Nov 13 '12 at 20:34
    
Sure- this would have taken about twenty loads though: ) –  Rory Alsop Nov 13 '12 at 22:04
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I taught twos, threes and fours for a few years. There isn't a lot you can do about the stuffed toys except put them in the laundry every so often, but here is what I did in my classroom in regard to the plastic stuff.

Keep bleach locked away somewhere. At the end of the day put a capfull in a bucket of water and throw in the toys that were licked or sneezed on. Make sure you get in early enough to put the toys in a spot to dry and dump the bleach before your kids are in the classroom again.

Don't worry too much about the stuff that falls on the floor. They are crawling, sitting and rolling around on the floor so those germs are all over them anyway.

If you have too many toys for a bleach bucket, toss them in sweater bags or bra sacks (you know, the laundry bags made of mesh?) and throw the whole lot in the dishwasher. Just set to a low heat setting (I rotated things and did a load like this every couple of weeks or so when I was teaching).

Don't over-worry about it. On a lot of levels there is only so much you can do and the reality is they are getting exposure an awful lot anyway. Teach them about germs (there is a great activity with flour or glitter I'll explain in the paragraph below) and work handwashing into your routines frequently (especially right before snack and mealtimes).

The exercise is that you have one child put flour or glitter all over his/her hands and then go around and shake hands with everyone in a circle (wash hands before the activity). Then have the child pick up some toys as well. Finally, have the kids inspect themselves and the toys. They'll find bits of glitter on most things. Explain that germs are like invisible little things that live everywhere. Most germs are actually fine and won't do anything, but plenty of them can make us sick too. Go over how washing hands helps remove the germs so we don't spread them around. Then, go wash all the flour or glitter off to practice handwashing.

Good Luck!

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