LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: 6 ways to safely clean up toys.

We’ve now transitioned from summer to fall – and that means we’ll begin a gradual increase of more “inside” play for kids and the build-up of germs. Recent research shows that 75% of toys at home are never washed, and 80% of soft toys harbor potentially dangerous bacteria, so safety experts are sounding the alarm. They’re telling parents and caregivers that when not properly cleaned, children’s toys can serve as a host for a wide variety of infectious diseases. Here are 6 ways to safely clean up toys:

*Use warm, soapy water, and scrub toys by hand in a sink

*Wipe or spray toys with a sanitizing solution consisting of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach for every one gallon of warm water

*For toys that can be immersed, pour the sanitizing solution into a large sink and allow the toys to soak for one to five minutes

*You can use your dishwasher to disinfect toys. Determine If your child’s toy is dishwasher safe, and run it through when needed

*You can also disinfect toys using your washing machine, like stuffed toys. To keep them safe during the wash cycle, put them in a pillowcase

*Don’t forget the toy box when you are cleaning up the toys — as germs can hang out in there as well

Also remember, cleaning with soap and water will remove superficial grossness on your child’s toys, but to actively kill germs, you must also sanitize them with a disinfectant.