Buying secondhand toys is a great way to save some money and do your part for the environment. However, when you buy used toys, you might get more than you bargained for if the items are dirty or smelly. Cigarette smoke stinks, but it can also pose a health risk. The Mayo Clinic calls lingering smoke on items such as toys "thirdhand smoke" and says that it is linked to a risk of cancer. Getting rid of the smell of smoke on children's toys, including those that may have been given to them by smokers, is essential to making the toys safe for play.
Air the toys out. Leave them on an enclosed patio or in the sun for a few days. The open air can help dissipate the smoke smell.
Wash the toys in the washing machine. Most stuffed animals, as well as some soft dolls and fabric toys, should be safe in the washing machine. Add baking soda or vinegar to the laundry detergent bin to remove odors. Add bleach if it is safe for the material of the toys.
Wash hard plastic toys in the dishwasher. Small figurines, playsets, blocks and other hard plastics should be safe in the dishwasher. If possible, check the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning to be sure. Add baking soda or vinegar to the wash for extra odor-fighting power.
Spray toys down with a solution of water and baking soda, vinegar or bleach, whichever is safe for the material of the toys. Baking soda, vinegar and bleach are all able to sanitize and disinfect surfaces, and they all can help remove odors. Allow the solution to sit on the toys for a couple of minutes before wiping it away. Repeat as necessary to get out all the odor.
Place toys in a plastic bin or storage container with a lid. Sprinkle baking soda on and around the toys and close the lid. Leave the toys in the bin for several days. When you remove them, the cigarette smell should be gone. Alternatively, you can put fabric softener sheets, crumpled newspaper or bowls of vinegar in the bin.
Items you will need
- Baking soda
- Laundry detergent
- Dish detergent
- Fabric softener sheets
- Spray bottle
- Plastic container
- Only use white vinegar for cleaning. Other types of vinegar do not have the same odor-removing properties.
- Be very careful when handling bleach as it is toxic and can be corrosive to many types of materials. Always test a section of the toy before treating the whole thing with bleach.
- Mayo Clinic: What Is Thirdhand Smoke, And Why Is It A Concern?
- University Of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: Odors: What's That Smell?
- Early Childhood Center: Indiana Institute on Disability and Community: Cleaning And Sanitation: How To Prevent Disease
- Good Housekeeping: How To Remove Cigarette Smoke Odor
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images