How To

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Revitalize kids’ toys in no time

Children can be rough on their toys, and many a toy has found its way into the garbage pile long before parents could have imagined it would when they purchased the item. But there are various, easy ways to rehabilitate toys so they can go on to have more utility and not end up in the garbage prematurely. The following suggestions can help restore some of the luster that made kids love their now-damaged toys.

• Fix tangled doll hair. Dolls come out of the box looking pristine, but after a few play sessions, their nylon locks can become a knotted mess, and brushing only seems to make it worse. Rather than giving that princess doll a "buzz cut" to remedy the bad hair day, visit your laundry room. Fill a spray bottle with a 50-50 mix of water and liquid fabric softener. Spray the solution onto the doll hair. Use a comb or brush to work out the tangles, then rinse the hair with clean water. Allow to dry before putting it back into your youngster's toy box.

• Clean up plush toys. Plush toys are often children's first and most beloved companions. As a result, they can become grimy from constantly being dragged here and there through areas that are not always very clean. Many plush toys can be run through a washing machine's gentle cycle. Place the stuffed toy in a light-colored pillowcase, being sure to securely close the pillowcase to protect the plastic eyes and other components of the plush. Wash and tumble dry on low to refresh the toy. Adding a little more stuffing to a plush toy can make a world of difference as well. Find a seam and make a small hole in the stitching. Stuff in some more batting or loose fill purchased from a craft store. Use an unsharpened pencil to push the stuffing into hard-to-reach areas, such as thin arms and legs of the doll. Then stitch up the hole before giving the toy back to your child.

• Clean gummed-up electronics. Electronic toys are favorites for many children. Toys with keyboards or buttons that need to be pressed can become stuck over time, rendering the toy useless thanks to debris that accumulates. It can be challenging to clean electronic toys because they are sensitive to water. Use a rag soaked with dish liquid and water. Ring out the rag before wiping down the surface of the toy. This will help clean up any sticky residue and other dirt. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean in between tight areas, such as between keys. Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, so it is generally safer to use on electronics than water. The alcohol also can  help disinfect the toy.

Before discarding kids' toys, parents can first explore the many ways to give the items new life.