Life with a child is a messy affair, and we mean that purely in the grime sense.
Babies spit up, throw food and have diaper blowouts. Toddlers find ways to make dinner not an art form, but actual art on their chair and table. And anyone who has ever let their kid play with slime, stickers or PlayDoh knows just how much of a chore getting these things out of carpet, clothes and couches can be.
But, just because we wouldn't change our kids for the world, that doesn't mean we can't strive for a little more cleanliness at home and with our baby gear. GoodBuy Gear has helped thousands of families shop and sell second-hand children's toys, strollers, walkers, art tables and more, and each item was sent to its new home clean and ready for a new owner. We know this gear can be cleansed, all it takes is a little gumption.
How to Keep Gear Clean
It may seem impossible to keep gear clean when you have a toddler on the move. Right when you tackle one mess another sprouts up. But there are some ways to help manage it.
For walkers and highchairs, get one that has a removable tray for cleaning, or is made into a simple shape like the IKEA ANTILOP highchair or the Joovy Spoon Walker. These wipe down easily and don’t have nooks and crannies for goop to get stuck into. The same idea applies to floor seats, where the BUMBO is king of cleaning ease. Also, invest in a splat mat, which works under a highchair and table chair. Use it until your kid is old enough not to throw or spill food all over the floor, and double its function by placing it under the art station as well.
Another way to manage the mess is by dabbing at it as it comes. Did your kid just spit up all over their car seat? Have a towel handy and sop up the mess before it dries. Were blueberries just flung all over the living room? Get them right aways so they don't squish and stain anything. And if your toddler loves clay, let them play with it on a wipeable surface away from carpet, wearing clothes that can get messy.
Finally, only buy washable markers. And for really little kids, invest in washable crayons too. Don't let them take those soy-based crayons home from a restaurant, and definitely don't allow crayons in the hot car, ever. Instead, bring colored pencils along for the ride.
Tips For Those Hard-to-Clean Items
Some baby gear can be really hard to get clean. This is where your grandma's tried and true tools come in, starting with white vinegar. Because vinegar is made with acetic acid, it's a natural disinfectant. Mix a spray bottle of half warm water and half vinegar and use it to wipe down highchairs, tablets, plastic toys, walkers, stroller trays and more. If a plastic toy is particularly nasty, soak the whole thing in the vinegar-water solution and let it sit for 12 hours. Then simply wash it off with water and put it back into the play rotation.
Q-tips are another tool that can really help with hard-to-clean gear. Dab the end in warm water with a little dish soap and clean out the crevices of electronic toys, activity cubes or anywhere too small for your fingers to reach that has filled up with crud. An old toothbrush can also work this way, just make sure it's thrown away or put with the cleaning tools after.
We recently posted a whole guide on how to clean a stroller. The first step is to take the item outside, that way all the crumbs and bits of dirt can go right on the grass or driveway. From here there are two main ways to clean it. A full, deep cleaning where you take it apart. Or, a quick, spot cleaning. Either way is fine, it all depends on what level of clean you want to achieve. If selling the stroller, especially a high end one by UPPAbaby, BOB, Stokke, Silver Cross or Cybex, we advise getting it as clean as possible so you make as much money back as possible. Read more on the blog to find out the best way to get this device as good as new.
Shop For Easy-to-Clean Gear
Of course the best idea when it comes to cleaning baby and kid gear is to make sure you're shopping for easy-to-clean items in the first place. We have a whole collection ready for you. It includes the Snuggle Me Organic Sensory Lounger, Brest Friend Nursing Pillow and Queen Rose Pregnancy Body Pillow, which all have covers that can be thrown in the wash. The Baby Bjorn Bouncer also can be taken apart in one step and washed.
Step2 makes durable toy chests, playhouses, kitchen sets and wagons that are boxy and smooth without a lot of nooks and crannies, which make wiping down or spraying off outside with a hose simple.
And if you're traveling, most carriers including Ergo Baby, Lillebaby and the Moby Wrap are simple to clean in the washing machine. Look at cloth cart covers too, this gear is a simple investment that can go a long way. Not only does it keep your baby safely contained while shopping, but you can plop it in a highchair or baby swing and then fold up the drool mess in a quick sweep when it's time to go.
Overall, no matter the age of the child, try and manage your expectations when it comes to messes. After all, kids and babies are messy, and that's okay. One of the main reasons little kids make these messes is because they are exploring their world. As they get older let little ones help clean up the clutter, wipe off the walls and soak up spills. For now, you just have to embrace the crumbs on the floor, marker lines decorating the wall and stains on fabric. This stage isn't forever, and you don't want to waste the good parts of little kids by sweeping it all away.