At Trainers Warehouse, every so often a customer will ask how to clean their Fidget Toys. We typically offer a handful of helpful but untested tips. However, in response to the coronavirus outbreak and Jenny Gross’ New York Times article “How to Stop Touching your Face,” we decided to run a thorough sterilization test and sanitize all our fidget toys.
After all, Gross’ third of four tips is to keep our hands busy. She quotes doctors explaining, “Keeping your hands occupied with a stress ball or other object can reduce instances of touching your face and minimize triggers. Of course, don’t forget to regularly clean and sanitize that object.” So, I asked my staff to pack up one of every fidget toy we sell. I took them home, threw them all in the dishwasher, set about to Sanitize the Fidget Toys. See how each fidget toy survived the sanitization test.
Of the 56 items tested, 82.5% came back to their original form. However, 10 required extra drying time, including the foam stress ball items and Koosh ball. Another 8 were sticky and unpleasant when they first came out of the wash, but were able to be fixed. 10% were compromised, but still usable. The remaining 7.5% were a disaster.
The hard plastic items as well as some of the squishy squeeze balls were perfect, right out of the dishwasher. These included: Flexygon, Clusters, Twistle, Snap&Click, Klixx, Helix, Rainbow Metal Spring, Jeliku, Loopeez & Loopeez Jr., Isoflex Ball, SwingOs, Bendeez, Tangle, Twiddle, Tall Smiley Bendable, Gumby & Pokey, Magni-Stones, Atom Ball, Infinity Cube, FiddlLink, OutsideIN ball, Glitter Bead Ball, Large Glitter Wand, Flexi-Loop Sphere, Monster Bendables, Shiatsu Spiky Massage Ball, U-Fidget, and DNA ball.
The stress-balls, Infinity Cube, Slow Release Face Ball, and Koosh came back to 100% after a bit of drying time. When the foam toys first came out of the washer, I squeezed out a bunch of soapy water, but they dried within a few hours. I should say, too, that after a second wash, the Mooy Bien Cow, and Chill Pill took on a slight pink tint. I’m guessing that might be because of one of the other items in the wash. I washed them again and they still look very slightly tinted!
We did have a few other color issues as well.
All 7 of the rubbery and puffer-style items came out sticky and kinda yucky: Cheese and Mice, Stretchy String, Pufferball, Pufferband, Stretchy Bug-Eye Centipede, Starfish Stretch & Squeeze, and Sea Urchin Light-Up Ball. When they’re manufactured, they seem to have some sort of coating on them which makes them smoother to the touch. With this coating washed off, they’re quite tacky. I feared they would have to go into the “disasters” category. But then, I sprinkled some baby powder on them, and voilà they bounced back!
7 of the 53 fidget toys tested are usable, but not quite the same as out-of-the-box:
Of the 4 fidget toys that became completely unusable, only 1 really surprised us:
While some of your larger training events may be put on hold, fidget toys can still be helpful for personal use, during online training, or to keep you from touching your face. For safe use, we recommend adopting these tips:
For more help choosing which fidget toys may best suit your needs, check out our Fidget Matrix.