How to Care for Wooden Toys?
How to look after your toys so they last a lifetime?
Often the motivation to choose wooden toys for your home and children's play is based on the belief that wooden toys are keepsakes, that will last longer than plastic toys. And its true, quality wooden toys definitely can last more than a lifetime, but having your toys in good condition in a generations time does depend on how well a toy is cared for.
Timber is a natural product that will decay, this is what makes it such an eco-friendly option, unlike plastic which creates all manner of environmental issues. The steps we take in preserving and maintaining timber stops the natural processes and helps to keep the long term integrity and durability of the timber. Naturally timber isn't durable long term, but the steps taken to care for the surface does create a very durable product.
Preservation of Timber
All timber preservation is designed to protect timber from rotting. There are two ways wood rots and thats either dry rot or wet rot. Even out of the weather the natural forces of the seasons; heat, cold and humidity will eventually be enough to begin to dry out a piece of unpreserved timber and allow splitting, cracking and warping. The aim of timber preservation is to keep the natural oils within the cellular structure of the timber and to stop it from drying out too much.
Timber sealers can include paint and lacquer. Eco-safe toys however tend not to use chemical lacquers as a sealer, but natural resins and oils. These gentler sealers feed the timbers natural oils as well as providing an organic barrier .
Feeding Your Wooden Toys
Beeswax butter is the best way to keep a wooden toy in the best condition. The resin in beeswax provides a protective barrier and sealer, while the natural oils feed the wood. What is feeding the wood? It is replacing the natural occuring oils that is in all timber and this stops the timber from drying out, which stops cra
Timber should have a sheen to it, if your toy is looking drab and dull it means it is needing some feeding and TLC. This may be more often in summer or if your toy is in a heated room.
Use an all natural organic beeswax butter. You can purchase some of our Miss Molly's beeswax butter, or make it yourself.
Beeswax Butter Recipe
1.1 part - Natural, chemical free beeswax
2. 2 parts - Organic oil, such as coconut or jojoba
3. A few drops of essential oil - Lavender is beautiful.
1. Melt wax and oil in a double boiler over a medium heat
2. Watch not to overheat as beeswax is flammable
3. Add essential oils
4. Pour into glass jars. Beeswax Butter will last well over a year.
Involve children in the process of feeding their wooden toys, its a great way to get them to care about their toys and it smells and feels amazing! Rub a dab of the butter directly onto the toy, leave for a few minutes and buff off the residue.
Wooden toys should be treated at least 4 times a year, so every season. But really if you want to do it more regularly you can.
Toys that are being mouthed such as baby rattles and teethers can be treated weekly with an organic food grade oil. Saliva can be acidic and dry out the timber more, so a more regular application of an oil in between beeswaxing is needed to keep the timber in condition..
What to Avoid
Wooden toys should never be left outside in the weather, one of the worst thing for timber longevity is extreme temperatures or moisture. The best place for a beautiful wooden keepsake toy is inside away from extreme temperatures.
Also avoid submerging the toy in water. Timber that is wet can develop mildew in inside the timber structure and this can inevitably destroy the toy, so keep wooden toys out of water. Water can also warp and swell the timber, this can mean that wheels no longer turn, or puzzle pieces no longer fit.
Never ever put a timber toy in the dishwasher.
How to Clean Wooden Toys?
So if you can't wet a toy, how do you clean it? Simply dampen a cloth and wipe the surface of the toys.
Keep harsh and abrasive cleaning products away from the timbers. Detergents such as bleach will dry out the wood, and as we've previously discussed, we don't want the timber to dry out. If you are wanting to clean dirt and grime off your wooden toys you can use a Castille Soap Follow mixing directions and dampen a soft cloth with the soap mix and wipe the surface. The soap will take off the beeswax coating, so your toy will need to be re-waxed after cleaning.
How to Sterilise your Wooden Toys?
If you are looking for an antibacterial cleaning solution you can't go past a 50:50 mix of vinegar. Simply at a dash of vinegar in a small dish of warm water. Submerge a cleaning cloth, wring out and wipe over your toys. Vinegar is naturally antibacterial and is also food grade and safe.
Again, re-wax and/or oil the toy after disinfecting. Of note, recent research has found beeswax and coconut oil to have multiple antimicrobial properties. Using both vinegar and beeswax or coconut oil will provide a basic level of sterilising.
In the age of Covid-19, the best option to sterilise wooden toys is to rotate your children's toys. Studies have shown that Covid-19 cannot survive on wood more than 2 days. Rotating your toys is a great way to ensure toys are safe from viral illnesses.
- Castille Soap
- Beeswax Study
- Vinegar for Cleaning
- Information on Covid-19 on Surfaces