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

Today’s topic: Preventing the spread of germs on toys

We’re now just days away from the season changing, from summer to fall – that’ll soon mean an increase of “inside” play, and when combined with flu season, a great time to double-check your cleaning routine at home, especially with toys.

Experts with Michigan State University’s Extension Office say, germs love to hang out on toys and can stay on them for weeks. Then, these germs can get on children’s hands, which then easily get transferred into the mouth, to food, and to others.

Check out these stats from Dettol, a company that manufactures cleaning products:

75% of toys are never washed

80% of soft toys harbor potentially dangerous bacteria

25% are contaminated with fecal matter

Safety experts say it’s important to know that cleaning and disinfecting are different. Cleaning with soap and water *will remove superficial grossness on your child’s toys, but to actively kill germs, you must sanitize them with a disinfectant. MSU experts recommend using guidelines set forth by the Partnership for Food Safety Education for disinfecting, which include:

*Wiping or spraying 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, — and 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.