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The waiting rooms of general practitioners' surgeries usually have toys provided for children. The level of contamination of these toys and the effectiveness of toy decontamination was investigated in this study. Hard toys from general practitioners' waiting rooms had relatively low levels of contamination, with only 13.5% of toys showing any coliform counts. There were no hard toys with heavy contamination by coliforms or other bacteria. Soft toys were far more likely to be contaminated, with 20% of toys showing moderate to heavy coliform contamination and 90% showing moderate to heavy bacterial contamination. Many waiting-room toys are not cleaned routinely. Soft toys are hard to disinfect and tend to rapidly become recontaminated after cleaning. Conversely, hard toys can be cleaned and disinfected easily. Soft toys in general practitioners' waiting rooms pose an infectious risk and it is therefore recommended that soft toys are unsuitable for doctors' waiting rooms.