What to do with old kids toys

6th October 2023

Kids toys cluttering up your home? Kick start your clear out with these top tips from decluttering expert Vicky Silverthorn and avoid accumulating any more e-waste this Autumn.

Written by decluttering expert, Vicky Silverthorn

In today’s fast-paced world, electrical toys have become a ubiquitous part of childhood. But as all parents know, kids outgrow things quickly and toys can easily pile up — in our cupboards, under the bed, in the toy chest… In fact, new research from Recycle Your Electricals revealed that toys are one of the electrical items most likely to be gathering dust in the nation’s cupboards – with nearly 7.5 million unused barbie dream houses, remote control cars, baby toys and electrical kids toys across the UK!

Not only that but an unbelievable 3 million toys – around enough to fill Hamleys Regent Street (Britain’s biggest toy store) nearly 14 times over – have been sent to landfill in the last six months. These could have been recycled into items such as life-saving medical equipment, playgrounds or wind turbines, thanks to the valuable materials inside.

In this blog I’ll take you through my top tips for freeing up space, emptying out toy boxes guilt-free and finding toy donations or recycling points near you. And decluttering isn’t just about tidying up; it helps give kids the right environment for creative play. The best news is, you don’t have to feel bad about it because toys can either go on to a worthy cause or be recycled into something useful!

#1 Keep storage simple

Don’t over-complicate the way you store toys. Children love being able to easily grab what they want to play with, they don’t love battling with colour-coding or intricate levels of organisation. Use baskets and drawers and always put them back in the same location to create a natural system.

#2 Recycle & Reuse

Never throw out electrical or battery-operated toys. If they’re in good working order, you can donate them through toy charities. If they no longer work, you can recycle them. Just find your local donation or recycling drop off point – there are 16,000 across the country, which you can find using the Recycling Locator! You will most likely see a designated space for small electricals. Remember to take out batteries (and recycle them too) before you pass things on.

#3 Get your children involved 

Getting kids involved in the decluttering process will create good habits. Whilst decluttering with my daughter, I leave a small manageable pile for us to go through together, making it a really positive process – instead of “You’re too old to play with this now”, you could say “Do you think another child would enjoy this more, now you have your new toy you love so much?” or “We won’t have enough room for your new toys when it’s your birthday!”.

#4 Organise your toy wires, cables, and chargers!

If you don’t know where something is, then it could end up being replaced unnecessarily! Organise your toy chargers and cables and give them a designated home. Divide them into the categories that work for you whether it’s by brand or by type. Put a label on the plug or even around the wire so you can find what you are looking for easily. Putting the work in initially will save you time and money long term!

#5 Store properly

Saving children’s toys for future siblings is a fantastic idea. However, it’s important to store these properly – especially e-toys. The batteries should be taken out before being packed away. Batteries could leak and stop the toys from working in the future, so it’s worth taking the time to do it properly. As always, make sure you’re not throwing the old batteries away in the bin but recycling them, too.

#6 Focus

Studies show that having less mess around can create better focus. This means children will benefit from their play areas being kept tidy. The magic answer here is to ensure the number of toys you have doesn’t outweigh the space and storage you have to house them. When things start to overflow it’s most likely time for a declutter.

#7 Too many toys

Did you know too many toys can cause children stress? Think about when you have too many clothes in your wardrobe and you have to fight to find what you need. The choices are overwhelming and decisions are harder. This is the same feeling your child gets, only with their young developing minds, they can’t understand why. Ensure toys aren’t crammed in their storage spaces, check that they are easy to access and ensure the amount and the choices aren’t overwhelming. 


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