Disinfecting Duplos

Our family has finally recovered from more than a week-long stomach bug that was probably Norovirus. For most of us, the actual sickness didn’t last for more than a day or two (thank God!) but it took a while making its way through four kids and two parents.

Killing All The Germs

After our last child got sick, I decided to quarrantine the Duplo toys the kids had been playing with for most of the time they had been sick. First, I got the kids to sort all the Duplos that didn’t have any metal parts or stickers into one container – this was the vast majority of the Duplos. Then, I put all the Duplos and the Duplo table in another room, off limits. When the weekend rolled around and it was pretty clear everyone was over the sickness, it was time to disinfect everything.

Using the Washing Machine

I read online somewhere that many daycares and nuseries put their Duplos in the washing machine with some bleach and let them run through a cycle. So we tried that today. It was super loud dumping them all in the washer1, but then I turned the machine on HOT and left the lid open so they could soak. Once the machine was full, I dumped in 1/4 cup of bleach, and let the machine agitate a bit before opening the lid to let things soak for about 30 minutes.

Duplos soaking in the washer
Duplos soaking in the washer

Spin Cycle and Results

The agitation was fairly noisy, but once we got to the spin and rinse cycle, it wasn’t too bad. I had to open the lid to stop the spinning only once when I thought the Duplos might be moving up too high in the drum. Otherwise, it was pretty uneventful. Then came the next challenge: getting them all out and dried off. I decided air-drying would be the easiest, since we live in dry Colorado. I got a queen-sized fitted sheet, and stretched it out over some small chairs to make a bit of a “bag” to catch the Duplos as I dug them out of the machine. This worked fairly well, but I was surprised how much water was still left in all the holes and parts of the pieces. I ended up putting a towel under the sheet to catch any water if there was too much.

The sheet I used to catch the Duplos
The sheet I used to catch the Duplos

Damage, Oh No!

I discovered that one of the larger Duplo “flat” pieces broke in the washer, and also some of the longer pieces seemed to have minor damage at the ends. In general, the washing machine cycle seems to be best with the normal small/medium piece sizes, but in the future I would avoid longer and more specialized pieces. Those would probably wash up pretty quickly in the kitchen sink anyways.

Broken Duplo piece. ☹️
Broken Duplo piece. ☹️

I also found it to be fairly difficult to fish out the smaller/thinner pieces of Duplo that somehow made their way underneath the agitator. I’m not 100% sure that some didn’t actually make it all the way in, but I think I got everything out. Probably in the future, mesh bags would really help to keep things contained and make it much easier to get them out afterwards.

All told, a pretty successful experiment, despite the broken Duplo pieces. Once everything air dries on the sheet, I’ll put it back in the Duplo Box, and the kids can have fun again!

  1. Keep in mind, I kept all the Duplo that had metal parts (e.g. wheels, etc), batteries, motors, and stickers out of this load.