If your family has a love/hate relationship with bath toys like mine does (my kids love them, and I hate them!) then you probably already know that bath toys can be the breeding ground for some pretty nasty stuff. While they keep your kids happy as they splash around the tub, these toys can rapidly grow mildew and mold. And because so many have tiny holes for water squirting fun, you may not even see the grossness lurking inside—until one day your little one squirts rubber ducky and you are horrified to see black chunks coming out in a stream.
Mold in bath toys is no joke. It can cause respiratory problems, allergies, and other health problems if it’s not contained. This is why knowing how to clean bath toys is so important.
It’s tempting to chuck them at the first sign of mold but there are easy and effective ways to clean bath toys, too. Here are some tips for keeping your bath toys mildew-free, and for cleaning bath toys if you do suspect mold has started to form.
How to Clean Bath Toys
The first step to keeping bath toys clean is to dry them off as much as possible as soon as bathtime ends. Moisture-loving mold develops faster than you’d think, so squeeze as much water out of the toys as you can, and turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom to help reduce humidity. Also, store the toys in an upright position in a dry place (outside of the bathroom is best, but if that isn’t realistic, at least store them outside of the tub.)
If mildew has already started forming (you should check toys before bathing), try an easy homemade mixture to get the gross and unhealthy stuff out:
- Mix three-quarters cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of warm water, then soak the prewashed toys for five minutes.
For squeezable toys, be sure to suck the cleaning solution inside, shake it up inside thoroughly, and squeeze the liquid back out. Rinse thoroughly with hot water, then air-dry. Again, store in a dry place outside the bathroom.
If the thought of bleach around your kids seems harsh, or you try to keep a non-toxic home (like I do) then try this natural solution for disinfecting bath toys:
- Fill the tub with 3 to 4 inches of water, add a cup of vinegar, and soak for about 30 minutes before rinsing. For squeezable toys, follow the same instructions as if you were using bleach: Suck the solution inside the toy, shake it up, squeeze liquid out, and rinse thoroughly before air drying. You could also add a few drops of tea tree oil to the solution for additional antimicrobial action.
Now you have removed the mold from your bath toys. Do you have to follow the above steps after each bath? No. Keep your bath toys clean in between thorough cleanings by putting them in your dishwasher. Keep them on the top rack to avoid melting your kid’s favorite rubber ducky—because you will have a very long day ahead of you if that happens. And if you have a bunch of small toys that will fall through the rack, put them in a mesh bag before you toss them in the dishwasher.
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