Well, it feels like I blinked and we went from winter to summer! In Arizona, we have a lot of opportunities to play outside, so all of our outdoor toys get A LOT of use. That being said, as soon as we stop using them for a few weeks, which we did during the holidays and through the short and crazy cold spell we had this year, the dirt piles up everywhere. Last weekend, we made it outside to start cleaning up the yard, and all of my daughter’s toys were so grimy that I couldn’t take it anymore. Here are some tips for getting your outdoor toys sparkly clean (at least for a little while).
First up were the buckets we keep full of sand toys, chalk, bubbles, and balls. I tossed all the small chalk pieces, stashed some of the colors away for later, and only kept a few handy for her to use (that was my plan when I bought the chalk, but apparently I didn’t hide the extras well enough). The collection of bubble stuff was tossed into the sink with some dish soap to soak, and the rest of the toys all got washed off with the hose in a sunny spot. When the bins were cleared, it was obvious they needed some attention too, so my assistant filled them, I added a few drops of soap to each, and we wiped everything down. After everything dried nicely, we tossed it all back into the bins. I did put the bubble stuff in a plastic bag – at least for the time being, since my toddler still tends to put her mouth on them. So the cleaner they stay, the better.
Next up were the pool toys, which always seem to get gritty when they have been out of use for a while. For these we spread them all out, sprayed them down with a little vinegar and water combo, and then hosed them off. I folded everything I could nicely, and put them in their designated bin until our pool officially opens (which seems like it may happen much sooner that I’d like).
Lastly – the water table. I am not over exaggerating when I say this has been the best purchase we made for our kiddo. She can play with this thing all day, and usually does. But the wind, sun, and hard water combo created a film on top of everything that wouldn’t go away. I tried hosing it off, and even sprayed it down with some cleaner, but the film stayed. So I turned to my trusty combo – water and vinegar. I didn’t really measure, but if I had to guess I used about a cup per side, and then filled the rest with water. I meant to let it soak an hour, but life happened, and it actually soaked overnight. The next day I drained it, wiped it down, and it looked brand new!! Even the toys, which I left soaking in it as well, cleaned up nice.
Now off to tend to the dozen other projects we have going on outside… but at least my kid can stay busy with her clean (for now) toys.