Here are tips for cleaning bath toys, including how to deal with mold and mildew on the toys, how to keep the mold from forming in the future, and which types of bath toys are easiest to clean.
Bath time for kids can be lots of fun, after all they've got toys to play with in there! But those bath toys which are bought with the best of intentions, can easily turn into a chore instead of something fun for us parents.
That's because with time and use bath toys can get gross. And not just a little gross, but flat out disgusting, especially with the growth of mold and mildew.
Here's how to clean bath toys to make them safe and suitable for your kids to play with again, plus tips for how to keep them from getting so gross to begin with.
Bath toys, by design, are meant to get wet. That's what makes them fun to play with as kids splash around in the tub.
But anytime things get wet, and then stay wet, they can grow mold and mildew.
The presence of mold and mildew is a problem at any time, but it is especially a problem when it's on bath toys, since you neither want to bathe your kids in water where there is mold and mildew, and because kids put bath toys in their mouth (you know they do!)
This problem is bad enough with all types of bath toys, but the ones that are absolutely the worst for developing mold and mildew are squirt toys.
The reason squirt toys are the worst is that they suck in water so you can squirt it out, but it is virtually impossible to completely squirt all the water out. Then, the water sloshing around can't dry in the enclosed environment, and becomes the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.
You can see it growing inside lightly colored toys, and when you suck in more water and squirt it back out of these toys disgusting black flakes or threads of mold will sometimes come out. It's gross. Really gross.
If you begin to see black spots on your child's bath toys, they begin to feel especially slippery, even when rinsed off with water, or you see the aforementioned black stuff coming out of those squirt toys you've got a mold or mildew problem.
The quicker you deal with it, the better, especially if you want to salvage the toys.
Before I begin the explanation of how to clean these toys though, please realize that bath toys are typically not that expensive. While I'm all for not wasting, and trying to clean and salvage what I already own instead of just getting something new, there are times to cut your losses.
You'll need to make a decision for yourself about when it's time to say goodbye to really gross toys and get some new ones (see my hints below about the "better" type of toys, so you don't make the same mistake over and over.)
To clean and remove mildew and mold add 3/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of warm water, and then submerge the toys in the water for at least 15 minutes.
Chlorine bleach will kill the mold and mildew that is lurking on the toys. (You can read the ultimate guide to chlorine bleach uses here).
Then, remove the toys and gently scrub away any mold or mildew you can visually see on the toys using an old toothbrush to get into small crevices.
Make sure to rinse the toys thoroughly afterward.
You can also use one of these homemade mildew cleaner recipes as an alternative (there is one recipe that doesn't use chlorine bleach).
To try to kill the mold and mildew within your squirt toys you should make the toy suck up some of the bleach and water cleaning solution mentioned above, trying to fill the toy as full as possible, at the time you're cleaning the outside of the toy.
Let this bleach water stay, sitting inside the toy for at least 15 minutes just like for the cleaning the outside of the toy.
This will most likely kill most, if not all, of the mold and mildew within the toy, but you may still have trouble removing all the black flakes of mold within the toys. That's why, practically, if the mold has gotten too bad within these squirt types of toys it is often best to toss them.
You can get more tips for decluttering old bath toys here, on the sister site, Home Storage Solutions 101.
If you don't see evidence of mold and mildew, but you feel like the toys are grimy and dirty from general use, the easiest way to clean them (if they're hard, tough plastic) is in the dishwasher, on the light cycle, without extra heat.
If you don't want to put them in the dishwasher (and excess heat can harm them, so you do have to be careful) you can also hand wash them in the sink with hot soapy water. I recommend doing this at least once a month to keep them clean for your kids to play with.
Make sure when you're finished cleaning them that you dry them thoroughly, by keeping them in some kind of container that lets them drain thoroughly.
It's definitely better to prevent mold and mildew from forming on your bath toys than to have to combat the problem after it develops. Fortunately, a few simple steps can help you avoid many of these issues.
Mold and mildew form when conditions stay damp. Therefore, completely squirting out the water from squirt types of toys, and then allowing all the toys to drip dry (after a good rinsing with clean water at the end of the bath) will prevent a lot of headaches for yourself later.
Choose a method for bath toy storage that is well ventilated to allow air circulation and that will not allow puddles of water to pool at the bottom.
You can ideas for bath toy storage solutions and organizing ideas here, also on the sister site.
Once you've scrubbed and cleaned little tiny bath toys, trying to remove mold and mildew, I guarantee you won't want to do it again. So next time you decide to get yourself or a loved one bath toys, run, don't just walk away, from squirt toys. Please, just don't do it!
And if you must get squirt toys, before your child ever plays with one of these squirt toys seal up the holes to keep water from entering using a drop of hot glue, from a glue gun, at each hole.
Even without toys that squirt your kids can still have a lot of fun in the bath. There are lots of bath toys that do not let water inside that can be fun, like toy boats, foam toys made into lots of shapes that can stick (temporarily) to the wall or float on the water's surface, and my kids' favorite toys, two cups (from the kitchen cupboard) that they used to pour water back and forth, over and over again.
Any of these toys will provide lots of amusement, giggles and grins and not be as difficult for you to keep clean. That will allow you to relax a bit more during their bath time, since you won't be cringing as they put a dirty toy up to their mouth.
Get more tips for how to clean just about anything here, in the site's room to room guide.
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.
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