Play It Safe with Germy Toys

You know that your child could catch influenza (flu) from close contact with a sick sibling or playmate. But a new study shows that the flu virus may also be spread by a germ-ridden action figure or squeaky toy.

Flu season kids toysPlastic Toys Could Spread Germs for 24 Hours

In the study, researchers contaminated pieces of a plastic toy with a virus similar to the type that causes flu. Then they looked at how long the virus could survive in different environments. At a humidity level typical of what’s found inside many homes and offices, the virus remained active for up to 10 hours. At a higher humidity level, the virus survived up to 24 hours.

If kids play with a toy covered with an infectious virus, they may get the virus on their hands. Some might even put the toy—and the virus—straight into their mouths. That’s likely one way viruses are spread when toys are shared at home, at day care, or in a pediatrician’s waiting room. The researchers reported their findings in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Keep Toys Clean and Kids Healthy

To reduce the spread of flu, the CDC recommends a two-step procedure for cleaning frequently touched objects, including plastic toys:

  1. Wash with soap and water. This step removes many germs.
  2. Disinfect to kill any germs left behind. Use a store-bought disinfectant and follow the product instructions. Or make your own disinfectant solution by adding 1 tablespoon of household bleach to 1 quart of water. Apply the homemade solution with a cloth, let it stand for 3 to 5 minutes, and then rinse it off with water.

For more flu-fighting tips, go to

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