How To Clean Outdoor Toys

My kids have several different types of outdoor toys and they love them!  Unfortunately, so do the spiders, ticks, leaves and birds.  I swear the birds in my neighborhood love to use outdoor toys as their personal bathroom.

The thought of my kids playing in that yuckiness gives me the chills.

Out of necessity (and a little germophobia) I found two methods on how to clean outdoor toys.

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Easy Way To Clean Outdoor Toys

The first method involves using a power washer.  I know not everyone has this handy tool, so if that’s you–don’t worry.  Just keep reading.  Later in this post I’ll share another method that works well too!

Method One: Power Washer

We’ve been using a power washer to clean off our deck.  It’s amazing what water can do with just a little help!  So why not put that power to use on my kids’ toys?  (If you need a power washer, this one gets great reviews and is the #1 best seller in power washers on Amazon)

Step one is to put some old clothes on.  You will probably end up getting a little water sprayed on you & it’s not worth ruining a good outfit!

Move the outdoor toy to an open area and plug in the power washer.

Use a small towel to wipe on some cleaner on all the surfaces.  I found a recipe for a cleaning solution here that I absolutely love.  It’s half Dawn dish detergent and half vinegar.  The vinegar will kill the germs and the Dawn will help break out the grime.  Store bought cleaners will work too.

Start rinsing off the toy with the power washer and get a feel for it.  The closer the nozzle gets to the toy, the more powerful the spray will be.  In general, I keep the spray nozzle about a foot away.  If there’s a stubborn spot I need to work on, I carefully bring the spray closer; up to an inch away.

While using the power washer, be aware of two things:

  • The spray may be strong enough to move the toy around
  • The spray can also bounce back and spray you (depending on the angle at which you spray)

Since I’m a klutz, I ended up getting quite a bit of my clothes and face wet!  It’ doesn’t hurt but I ended up getting pretty dirty!

It was totally worth it for results like this!

How to clean outdoor toys--before and after!

All the Little Tikes toys have little “pores” on the surface.  Dirt and grime LOVE to stay in these little pores making the toys look forever dirty.  I’ve previously tried to scrub these out with no luck.  The power washer got them out right away!

Method Two: Clean and Rinse

If you don’t t have a power washer, this is the next best way to clean outdoor toys.

The key is finding the right cleaning solution and using a car wash mitt.  A car wash mitt makes cleaning fast and easy.

I use a homemade cleaner that I found here.  It’s half Dawn dish detergent and half vinegar.  The vinegar will kill the germs and the Dawn will help break out the grime.  Store bought cleaners will work just fine as well.

First step: rinse off all the surfaces with water from the hose.

Spray all the surfaces with a light amount of the homemade cleaner.

Take a small towel or car wash mitt and gently scrub all the surfaces.  The wash mitt will help remove the stubborn dirt and stuck-on stuff.

Spray off the entire toy with water thoroughly.

Now the toy is clean and sanitized!  I wish everything else was that easy to clean!

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  9. TAKE NOTE!!!! The vinegar in the homemade concoction will kill grass and render the soil dead for quite a while. Do not do this on the lawn.

    • I’ve used this method quite a bit on my grass and have not had a problem with the solution killing the grass. However, you bring up a great point Chuck. So if anyone is worried about grass, I would suggest cleaning outdoor toys on a large driveway. Thanks for the heads up Chuck!

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  11. I love to powerwash my outdoor toys. I have also found that using mineral oil, or even baby oil! will help restore the color and act as a barrier against future water and grime! It makes it look brand new!

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  13. I don’t know why I didn’t think of a power washer. We get our stuff pretty darn clean with the Magic Erasers, but it takes some time and a few scrubbers.

    • You’ll be really happy with the results! I grew up in Chicago and I think this winter was way worse than any I had as a kid! Hope you get warm weather soon!

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  16. Ohh, I really like this post. favoriting this so I can remember when its my turn to clean the toys at church. Thanks for linking up with us at the TGIF Link Party.