Roger asked: How do I clean my baby’s rubber ducks? My baby really enjoys playing with his rubber ducks in the bath, but I’ve noticed that they’re starting to form mold or mildew on the inside. All they have are these tiny holes for access, so I can’t clean them in a conventional way. Can you offer me any suggestions so that his favorite toys can be safe again. Thank you.
Mold and bath toys often go hand in hand. When the warm water is left to sit inside the tub toy, it provides a warm, moist environment for mold to grow. Unfortunately, in many cases, it is nearly impossible to remove this mold. It is safest to replace the moldy toys with new toys. Here are some things to consider and advice to avoid future mold problems.
Prevention is Key:
- Some toys can be washed out with a mixture of bleach and water. Squeeze the toy and allow it to suck in the mixture. Swish it around for a bit and then squeeze it back out (rinse it well afterward).
- While the bleach will kill any bacteria inside, this works much better as a preventive measure than a cleaning method. By cleaning the toys periodically from the beginning, mold can be avoided from the start.
- After each use, squeeze the toys out completely to remove all of the water.
- Store toys in an open area that allows them to dry completely between uses.
- Avoid piling wet toys together in a bucket or basket as this limits the amount of air that can circulate, leaving the toys wet much longer than necessary. This extended period of moisture invites mold growth.
Additional Tips and Advice
- There are tub toys available that are completely sealed so that water cannot enter. These are best as there is no moisture inside that would allow mold to grow.
- Mold is hazardous and toys with mold in them should no longer be used in the tub. Small children can have reactions to the mold which can make them sick.
- Stay safe and start fresh. New toys can be purchased relatively inexpensively and maintained from the start to ensure they are safe and healthy for your little one to play with.
You can also fill the holes that allow water in with a hot glue gun. Doesn’t do much for getting the mold out, but it keeps it from growing in the first place.
Unfortunately, regardless of age, kids like to pick off the hot glue plugs and you will usually miss it before you can prevent them from getting “yucked” as my family puts it.
There are supposed to be non-toxic epoxies now that after they have fully cured you don’t have to worry about kids putting the toy in their mouth. You can also see if it’s a plastic type you could safely melt enough to cause the hole to close. Be sure to research the plastic type though because some can become toxic when heated to their melting point.
My problem is sanitizing a couple old plastic toys from like the late 80s for sentimental reasons. I have a classic, plastic brown bear with a red bow-tie, with a small hole to squeeze out air, or possibly water, if taken into bath or taken outside to a water spigot or whatever ????????… I would ultimately like to let children play with them again. Is there maybe a good, vinegar under-soak (or solution of some kind), that partially squeezing the bear with a clamp clip, submerged over-night maybe would help? Or a good rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide in and out squeeze rinse, and then overnight in maybe a club soda base? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!