Day 5: Clean & Repair

Day 5: Clean & Repair

Carrie McBride
Aug 26, 2011

• Clean
• Repair
• Recycle/Trash

Hello and welcome back to the 7-Day Toy Cure! I'm glad we're doing this together! During the first four days of the Cure we all swept through our homes examining toys, arts & craft supplies, books and media and finding candidates for our Outboxes. What makes the Outbox a great tool is that it allows you to delay taking action on these items right away. This gives you a little separation from them and also helps you not get bogged down with on-the-spot decisions about the ultimate fate of of these items. So step back, look at your Outbox or Outbox area and admire what you've accomplished so far.

Assignment #5:
Day 5 is the first day we're going to dip back into the Outbox and start removing items. Right now you're only looking for items that earned their spot in the Outbox because they were dirty or broken. Let's start with the dirty items. Let's face it, especially if you have young children, many of their toys are going to be sort of dirty and it's a great practice to wipe everything down now and again. But then there are those toys that really shouldn't be played with until they've had a refresh.

The top photo above shows a few items in my own Outbox that need cleaning: my son's constant companion, Doggy, who is not only dirty but quite smelly. He needs a good wash and a sun bath in the backyard to brighten up. The felt food is linty, a bit dusty and has collected some cat hairs. I plan on rolling these and the rest of our felt food collection with lint rollers. The keyboard is sticky, probably from a post PBJ sandwich jam session (or is that a jelly session?) and needs a quick wipe down with soap and water. Remember, you're not detailing your kid's Matchbox cars, just restoring the toys to an acceptable state of hygiene. So tackle as many of these as you can today.


Not all broken toys in your Outbox can or should be repaired. A few questions to ask yourself:

• Is it potentially hazardous if repaired improperly?
• Is the repair beyond your skill level?
• Is it beyond repair?

This is your first chance to actually get rid of something from the Outbox if it fits any of the criteria above. If an item is truly broken, don't pass it on to a friend or a thrift shop. If you can, recycle or reuse any parts. Otherwise, throw the item away. I have a hard time doing this - not because I'm taking a toy away from my child, but because of the guilt of putting something in a landfill. But sometimes this is the only option. If you haven't already, you can ditch your broken crayons, dried up markers or other art supplies that aren't usable. (Unless you want to make homemade crayons from your crayon nibs or watercolor paint with your dried up markers, that is!)

Above you can see above a few items in the "repair" category of my own Outbox. The bent Jiffy muffin box from the play kitchen is an easy decision and goes in the recycle bin. The little wood box that holds 4 puzzle blocks can be repaired with wood glue. The magnet holder of this book might be repaired with tape, but I've already repaired it once so I'm going to find another way to house the magnets instead. And, the circa 1979 Hot Wheels track (saved all those years by my husband's parents) that is split is, unfortunately, garbage.

(I want to go on record and say that I hate this "book"! But my son loves it so that's what counts.)

As a former librarian I have tried to instill in my son a respect for books and proper ways to handle them. That said, kids are kids and I don't want him to be afraid to use books so I don't freak out when pages get torn. We have also inherited a collection of children's books that used to belong to my husband (see packrat grandparents above) whose spines have seen better days. If a book is old, rare or really special to you and in need of repair, seek a professional or keep it out of your child's reach. Otherwise, repair as best you can using tape and scissors. If a book becomes really battered or musty, send it to the recycle bin.

Maybe your toys are in pristine condition and this will only take you a few minutes; great! It took me about 30 minutes to get through mine. Either way, good luck!

p.s. We'd love to see more of your Cure-in-Progress photos added to the Flickr group.

Use the comments to chat with each other and ask questions! Good luck and see you tomorrow (unless I lose power due to Hurricane Irene, in which case we'll finish up this Cure as soon as possible!)

Further Reading:
How To: Freshen Up Stuffed Animals
How To: Clean Dusty Stuffed Animals
How To Clean Ink Off a Baby Doll
How To: Wash LEGOs

(Images: Carrie McBride)

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