Bath time is play time for many kids – complete with a tub full of their favorite rubber bath toys. In our house, there’s a bin of such toys poured into the tub before the kids even get in. And what’s the first thing they do when they get in the tub? The toys go in their mouth. In fact, my sons would often use the toys to squirt bath water in each others’ mouths. As if the act of drinking bath water wasn’t gross enough, one day I noticed something that truly made my stomach turn. As my son squeezed the rubber C3PO (that’s right, Star Wars rubber bath toys), some pretty murky water squirted out. As I investigated further, I discovered that what was happening was mold had been forming on the inside of the toy while it dried between baths, and they were effectively squeezing it out (sometimes drinking it). Go ahead, cut one of your kids bath toys open – you may see more than you bargained for.
So how harmful is mold, anyway?
It’s not something that is immediately fatal, but mold can cause respiratory issues and trigger allergic reactions if it’s not contained properly. It can affect any of us, but children’s immune systems are more delicate. Regardless, it’s pretty repugnant to think about your child drinking mold-filled water, or even bathing in it.
What to do
You don’t need to throw the kids favorite bath toys away, but you should take action. The good news is, your options are pretty easy.
Clean the toys
- You can do a simple vinegar wash. It’s a natural disinfectant and safer than bleach. Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with a gallon of water, and let the toys sit for about an hour. Then scrub with a sponge and let dry.
- You can clean the toys with bleach. Same process as the vinegar – 1/2 cup of bleach and a gallon of water. Scrub and let dry.
- You can also put most bath toys in the dishwasher to clean and disinfect. Pretty simple, huh?
Plug the holes
This is my recommendation, regardless of what you decide to do in terms of cleaning existing toys. The easiest way to prevent mold from forming or from getting out, is to plug up the hole. Simply arm yourself with a hot glue gun, and plug the hole. Apply enough to form a waterproof seal, but not so much that it’s easy for your kids to pick at. I was able to seal up 20 toys in less than 10 minutes – it goes very quickly. It lasts for quite a while, too. After several months, I’ve only had to reseal one or two of the toys that they boys tried extra hard to destroy. So, spend a few minutes to help prevent your children from drinking mold. Seal up new toys and the toys you have now.