So what nasties could be on your kid's toys?
Anything really; from bird pooh to soil, sand, food (meat from a late summer BBQ), a dollop of ice cream, all of which can grow bacteria that you want to remove before your tiny tots get their hands on them again this year.
Mould is one of the most likely culprits you'll come across as you dig out the trikes, bikes, buckets and paddling pools.
Did you know that mould needs six things to be able to survive?
1. Lack of air movement (like a shed that hasn't been opened since the last time the sun was out)
2. Air to breath
3. Moisture to drink
4. Warmth (nice cosy shed or garage)
5. Something to eat (any dirt/soil left on the toy when it was put away)
6. ...and time to grow
The ugly - bugs
Other things you should be aware of are things like nematode worms. There are 28,000 different types of nematode worms living in the soil in the UK, some of which are very unpleasant like hook worms, which in some cases, can be fatal. Nematodes need very similar conditions to thrive in to mould, so where you find one, you may well find the other. Don't forget about good old flies eggs either, or their other by-product, fly-pooh. Yuk!
So, now you are looking at your kid's plastic toys and thinking you'd rather rush out and buy new ones...STOP! This is the good news...they're really simple to clean up!
Cleaning instructions for any hard plastic surfaces ie buckets and spades, toddler trikes, solid forts/wendy houses, sand pits etc
Hard plastic surfaces are all really easy to clean to get rid of any mould and nematodes; you just need a bucket of warm soapy water, a brush/cloth and a bit of elbow grease. Once you've given everything a good scrubbing just rinse with warm water before drying off to prevent more mould growing and you're back to full summer use again, no nasty chemicals and more importantly, no nasty bugs!
Some really useful garden-toy related top-tips
- Plastic toy sticking? A squirt of furniture polish (one containing silicone such as Pledge) will make sticking plastic parts "slide" over one another easily
- A tooth brush is great for getting into tight corners that little fingers can reach but you can't. Supermarkets sell budget own-brand brushes for just a few pence
- Kid's bike looking tired? Clean up old chrome with a paste made from bicarbonate of soda and vinegar (white or malt) rub on to take rust and tarnish off, then polish up with a dry soft cloth
- Struggling to get replacement handle grips on a toy? Pop them in hot water for a couple of minutes to soften them, then shake and push on to handle bar ends that have been wiped with furniture polish - they'll slide on easy peasy!