Moldy Tub Toys

Updated on March 03, 2010
A.L. asks from Austin, TX
18 answers

You ladies have always been so helpful! I'm hoping I can depend on y'all again.

Rubber duckies and other tub toys that squirt: how do you keep the INSIDES from getting moldy? And when they do, how do you clean it out? Some of the duckies, I have repeatedly sucked in/squirted out bleach water, microwaved them, rinsed with clear water, and then caulked over the holes, but I want to leave some of the toys squirtable. Any ideas?

I think the problem might be advanced because, due to both daughters' excema, we use as little soap as possible: during days when we don't play outside, a good scrubbing with a washcloth and a warm soak is generally enough, except for the (again, minimal) soap needed for hair washing. Could not having soap in the bathwater be encouraging the mold? I guess, if I had to, I could add soap after the girls get out of their bath, and let the toys soak...

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So What Happened?

Thanks, ladies!

I hate to throw away so many rubber duckies (give or take, fifteen). I'll keep the caulkeable ones, of course.

The others, I guess i'll just continue to slurp up bleach water, and run them through the dishwasher every once in a while. To be honest, I was sort of afraid that this problem was due somehow to neglectful housekeeping on my part. I know I'm not perfect at it, and it's a relief to know this is not a problem caused by negligence on my part. (If I'm going to be a stay-at-home, I might as well be good at it, right?)

The excema thing, I threw out there merely on the off chance that the minimal soap usage was a contributing factor to the mold. Good to know it's not. We've got the excema under control. We just continue to use minimal soaps to help prevent future flare-ups. Prevention has been our best weapon, and the drying tendency of soaps was an easy trigger to avoid. Thanks, though, for your thoughfulness, ladies.

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answers from Austin on

See "Rubber yuckies harbor secret filth" from the Today Show this morning.

Will probably have to throw away the squirt toys. :p

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I read somewhere that you should replace them every 6 months or so since it's so difficult to keep those squirt toys clean.

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answers from Dallas on

Toss them and get new ones. Don't even botther cleaning them. Those tub toys with holes are simply uncleanable. I've found plastic cups to be a much better toy for my son -- and cheap too. We use the drink cups from restaurants, measuring cups, etc. You can throw them in the dishwasher and they're fine. Plus, they don't have the scary chemicals the rubber duckies have.

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answers from Detroit on

Just throw them away! They are impossible to clean.



answers from San Antonio on

I also consider them disposable. Buy cheap ones and replace them when it's time.



answers from Portland on

Putting chlorine bleach into the wastewater stream is becoming an environmental hazard. It's best to avoid it whenever possible.

I use a half cup of baking soda (or alternately, vinegar) in a couple of cups of plain water to clean all sorts of surfaces. The soda is a strong enough base and vinegar is a strong enough acid to discourage all kinds of microbes from becoming established, and usually kills any that are already present. Both are completely non-toxic.



answers from Corpus Christi on

I don't try to save those toys, I just get rid of them and try to find toys that don't hold/squirt water because those tend to be the ones that get moldy. I have something you possibly have not considered or tried that will DRAMATICALLY help your children's skin if you'll let me share it with you. Email me at [email protected] and remind me it's about eczema from mamasource so I know what you're emailing me about. =)



answers from Houston on

I would love to hear about this too! We have the same problen and we do use lots of soap.



answers from Tulsa on

No, they just get that way because the water inside gets stagnate. It's time to throw them out. I usually buy new tub toys every few months, they are just gross by that point. There are many things kids can do in the tub besides closed in toys. Avon sells Bath Time Body Paints, lots of other companies sell items where kids can "Paint" on the tub wwall, others sell water toys that do things when the water hits them. We have one that has 3 wheels and the water runs on to them a different places so they go different ways. Hollow boats, stacking toys, (they come in gradeuated sizes of either round or square boxes and the next one is just smaller, then the next is smaller still), some of our favorites are just toys cars that are solid plastic, etc...they can be washed in the dishwasher or in the sink every day.



answers from Victoria on

I used vinegar, baking soda & hydrogen peroxide mix together & squirt in & out. I just make it fresh in a bowl & do each one, then I pour down drain. It is an absolute great drain freshner. It bubbles & fizzes & I use to clean tubs & showers. Squirt as much out as possible & let air dry. So far no mold in mine and I replace about every 6 months to a year, but I know I have some that are older. but I don't know how to get mold out once it is in there. This solution keeps it out. maybe use on next batch you get. :)



answers from Nashville on

If they are still moldy after a bleach treatment, it is time to toss them. I do like the others said where I empty them completely after bath, rinse, and periodically let them soak in bleach water for a few hours. (They need to soak though). That helps them last longer. Good idea on the caulking the holes, I never thought of that.

As for the eczema (bet you didn't know you were stirring up a debate about that one when you asked about tub toys, huh? :) I think it CAN be allergy related, but not always. It is certainly aggravated by certain foods if you already have it in some kids cases, but my sister's son doesn't seem to be allergy-related at ALL. His case is not too severe, but severe enough they have to watch what detergent and baby wipes they use, etc. And I agree in some cases that topical stuff will help. I'm guessing that the person below who gave you her email is going to try to sell you melaleuca. I use it personally, I love the lotion she is probably going to recommend for my extremely dry skin. I have ordered the lotion for my sister's son, and it helps, but does not clear it up. There are prescription lotions that do a much better job, at least in his case. Anyways, just wanted to give you my opinion on a question you didn't even ask, if that is ok. :)



answers from Pittsburgh on

Here's what I do (I'm almost out of the squirty toy phase!). I put them in a bucket of bleach water, suck the water into the toys, shake them and let it soak for a few days. Then, using gloves, squirt, re-suck, shake, repeat, repeat, repeat, then re-soak in a bucket of clear water for awhile, suck, squirt, repeat, shake, repeat! If they are still moldy, I pitch them out! :-)



answers from Orlando on

First of all, anyone who tells you something topical will help with ezcema is trying to be helpful, but really there is not much that you can do about it topically as it is due to an allergy so you need to do your best to keep allergins at bay, like you are with the use of mild soaps.

As for mold and mildew in bath toys... I have gotten rid of all squirty toys because the thought of mildew inside them that I can't see grosses me out. There are plenty of other types of safer toys to play with in the bath. To get ride of mildew on bath toys in general, pour regular white vinegar in a large container with hot water and let soak ( a few hours or overnight), then scrub and rinse. Vinegar is MUCH, MUCH safer than bleach and just as effective if you let it soak. The smell doesn't linger long at all. The concentration of how much vinegar to how much water doesn't seem to matter much from what I can tell because I don't measure it and it always works.



answers from Austin on

keep up the bleach rinse and make sure they are dry after each use. Blow out as much water as you can then let them site where they can drain.



answers from Odessa on

When they get moldy, just toss them. They are not intended to last a long time and I think by design - if a duckee lasted forever, how in the world would the rubber duckee manufacturers make a livng (SMILE). However, they are cheap at the dollar store and you can replace them without too much money or purchase some of the other bath toys that are alternatives...they have hollow boats and stackable things. My girls love seeing if they can make plastic bowls float and there are bath time crayons in numerous varieties. I even have a book that is plastic about Suds the puppy. Splat balls are fun too - they can be found 3/$1 at the dollar store and they are just foam - they're covered with popular cartoons and some neat graphic stuff that kids enjoy.


answers from Dallas on

I agree that you should toss the toys and get new ones.
You may want to check out Shaklee's disenfectant, Basic G. Their organic baby products and nontoxic laundry and cleaning products may help with the ezcema. And, the Mightly Smart chews contain EPA and DHA that help somepeople with ezcema. If you are interested, you can find them at
Good luck and God bless.



answers from San Francisco on

Bath toys are such a pain to clean and keep clean!

Here is what I do (I alternate the 2 solutions, so each toy gets washed twice a week)
- once a week, I put the (emptied) toys in an old pillow case and run them in the washing machine with bleach.
- once a week, I "bath" them in bleached water. For that, I use very hot water and I'm generous with the bleach. I empty the toys from all air in the bleach water (so they don't float any more and get full of the bleached water). It's amazing how even plastic animals look dead when they don't float! I go from time to time to shake them, squirt them in/out. After a few hours, I rinse them using the same "emptying" process.

And, I always empty them as much as possible after bathtime.

This had made the life of bath toys much longer in our home. However, some still need to be replaced from time to time.



answers from Indianapolis on

I agree with Jen and J L. Bath toys are cheap, and at this point, I'd recommend starting over with new ones.

Mold and mildew love dark, warm, damp environments. Both are fungi which make them difficult to fully eradicate once they've started. As a mom and a biologist, my biggest concern would be more the residue of the chemicals vs. the mold/mildew.

Bleach is effective, but just like with antibiotics, the more you use something, the more you allow the "super bugs" to survive and proliferate. That's why penicillin isn't nearly as effective as it was when it was discovered. It's also why most head lice medications aren't as effective - overuse and survival of the fittest.

I'd second the notion to try to get toys that don't have the squirty mechanism (though kids do LOVE them). We use a lot of old shampoo/soap containers, plastic cups, measuring cups from the dollar store, etc. They dry out easier and are less prone to bacterial/mold/mildew growth.

That being said, cups can't be stacked within one another, and you have to have holes on the bottom of containers for the water to drain out of giving them a better chance of drying fully.

I'm not sure where the information about eczema is coming from (regarding topical treatments), but our daughter has it and is completely controlled by keeping her skin well-hydrated with a lotion recommended by her Dermatologist. She has a mild case, so perhaps that's one point of difference, but eczema certainly can be treated topically (depending on the actual physiological presentation of the disease)

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