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How to Do a Toy Cleanse: A Step-by-Step Guide to Simplifying Your Child’s Toy Collection

Is It Time For a Toy Cleanse?

Are you tired of tripping over toys or having too many toys in your home that your child doesn't even play with? Then it's time for a toy cleanse.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of toys your child has accumulated, it may be time for a toy cleanse. This process can help simplify your child's toy collection, making it easier for them to engage in deeper play and reducing clutter in your home. In this article, we'll walk you through the steps to do a toy cleanse, using the Simplicity Parenting Toy List as a guide.

Simplifying your child's toy collection, bedroom, and/or playroom doesn't require squirreling away toys when your kids aren't watching or yelling and screaming that there's too much stuff. (I've done both!) 

Once I discovered Simplicity Parenting and the Simplicity Parenting Toy List, I learned to reap the benefits of the Waldorf educational model that encourages children to explore and engage in imaginative play.  

After years of simply moving clutter around, a this toy cleanse provided me with a variety of multi-use toys that sparked imagination, deeper play, and a happier, healthier home.
step by step one day guide to doing a toy cleanse free toy cleanse worksheet
Bonus: There is no more screaming about the house being a pigsty. 

I wrote the original toy cleanse article over five years, when my daughter was almost five years sold. In 2023, it was time for an update, and so this article was born. 

The page is new in 2023, but the information is not. This post contains the information about the original toy cleanse, with before and after photos, as well as a 2023 (five years later!) update. Enjoy!

What exactly is a toy cleanse?

Well, think about it like a detox. A healthy one! 

A toy cleanse is the process of decluttering and simplifying a child's toy collection by reducing the number of toys to a manageable and meaningful amount.

The goal of a toy cleanse is to create an intentional and calming environment for children that encourages deep play and creativity while minimizing the overwhelm that often comes with an abundance of toys. 

A toy cleanse involves identifying which toys to keep and which ones to remove, usually by following a set of criteria, and then either donating or storing the excess toys.

The result is a more purposeful and enjoyable play experience for children and a less cluttered and stressful home environment for parents.

step by step one day guide to doing a toy cleanse free toy cleanse worksheet

A Step-By-Step Toy Cleanse Guide

Step 1: Explain the Toy Cleanse to Your Child

Sit down with your child and explain that you want to simplify their toy collection so they can enjoy their toys more and move around their room more easily. Assure them that you're not getting rid of everything, but rather, you'll be creating a list of their favorite toys to keep. This conversation is important as it helps your child feel involved in the process and less anxious about the changes.

Step 2: Create a List of Your Child's

Favorite Toys

Have your child make a list of their favorite toys. Do this away from any visible toys to avoid any impulse additions to the list. If your child is hesitant to make a list, prompt them by asking what their favorite toys are. The goal here is to have a concise list of toys that your child loves and plays with often.

Step 3. Promote thoughtful additions

to the toy list

Prompt your child to include some toys you know they love that might not be top of mind. These could include toys like building blocks, stuffed animals, musical instruments, and more. It's essential to be mindful of not including toys that they rarely play with. Remember that the goal here is to simplify and streamline their toy collection.

Step 4: Create a Toy List

The Simplicity Parenting Toy List is a great resource to help you determine what toys to keep. This list includes high-quality, open-ended toys that encourage imaginative play and creativity. The list is designed to help reduce clutter in your home, promote deeper play, and foster stronger connections between family members. The list includes items like dolls, dress-up clothes, musical instruments, and art supplies, among others.

Let us send you a copy of

The Toy Cleanse Planner Worksheet

plus the occasional life-changing parenting tip or trick! 
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Step 5: Sort, Remove, and Store Toys

Once you have your list of toys, it's time to sort through your child's toy collection. Use black trash bags to sort through toys and reduce the risk of your child asking for a toy that has already been set aside. Place the toys that you're keeping in a box or bin, and store them out of sight. Make sure to keep them accessible, so your child can access them easily whenever they want to play.

Step 6: Donate Unwanted Toys

Rather than throwing away unwanted toys, consider donating them to a local charity or shelter. This not only helps declutter your home but also provides toys for children who may not have access to them otherwise. Remember to only donate toys that are in good condition and can be enjoyed by others.

Afraid You'll Miss The Toys?

Pro Tip!

If you're worried about permanently parting with stuff during a toy cleanse, box them up in stackable, opaque (not see-through) containers and store them away. Then you have them if you need them! 
toy cleanse step-by-step infographic

The process of doing a toy cleanse can be overwhelming, but the benefits are worth it.

By simplifying your child's toy collection, you create a calmer and more intentional living space for your family.

And involving your child in the process and explaining why you're doing it, you can help them adjust to the changes and feel empowered in the decision-making process.

If you follow the steps outlined above, and you'll be well on your way to a simpler, more intentional home.

Final Thoughts On A Toy Cleanse

Involving your child in the process of purging their toys can be beneficial. Sit down with your child and explain that you want them to enjoy their things and move in their room. Then ask them to help you make a list of their favorite toys.

Be sure to do this away from any visible toys, so they don't add unnecessary items to the list. And encourage them to choose high-quality, fun items that allow them to engage in imaginative play.

step by step guide to a toy cleanse

By cleansing your home of excess toys, you can create a more intentional life for your family, where your child can engage in deeper play for longer periods of time.

After doing this for years, I can promise you that a toy cleanse every now and then makes life easier, calmer, and much more enjoyable!

Remember to keep only high-quality, fun items that allow your child to explore and engage in imaginative play. The Simplicity Parenting Toy List is an excellent resource that can help you and your child simplify your playroom and your life.

Ready to Start The Toy Cleanse?

Now that you know what a toy cleanse is, it's time to get started! 

  • Get a copy of our Toy Cleanse Planner below, which helps you stay inspired and stick to your toy cleanse goals. 
  • Check out the Simplicity Parenting Toy List if you're ready to shop. 
  • Leave a comment about your toy cleanse! We'd love to hear about your experience. 

Let us send you a copy of

The Toy Cleanse Planner Worksheet

plus the occasional life-changing parenting tip or trick! 
Your personal info is locked up tight with us. We hate spam as much as you. Unsubscribe via the email that arrives at any time.

Ashley Trexler is a passionate parent dedicated to debunking popular parenting advice that doesn’t work, and raising healthier, happier kids. Ashley is a contributor to CBC, Washington Post, Tiny Buddha, and more. Known for distilling complex topics into bite-sized, actionable tips, her work has been featured online and in-print around the world.

  • Fay says:

    Hi Ashley,
    I’m so glad I found this website as it is so clear and informative. I very much enjoyed this particular article however I was disappointed that only a few items had links. I was hoping they all would, but it seems that some links were never attached, although they were mentioned. I’d so appreciate if you can still attach them as I’d really like to put your ideas into practice!
    Thank you again for your valuable insights 💖

    • Ashley says:

      Hi, Fay! Thank you soooo much for letting me know about the broken links! Amazon has updated their image linking process and I am in the process of t updating the page. If you check it, you’ll see I started to add new links. Also, there are lots of links in the text. Not ideal, but please know it will be updated by Cyber Monday!! Thanks again and I hope to hear from you again.

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