How To Properly Clean Bath Toys, Because They Can Get *So* Gross

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A tub full of bath toys may seem like a great idea when you have a baby who's just starting to play in the tub, but have you thought about what could be growing inside when they've been sitting for days, months, even years, between baths, full of water? A whole range of YouTube videos of parents cutting open bath toys will put the fear of rampant mold and mildew into you. It's something that will have you looking for how to properly clean bath toys, because you're definitely not doing it right.

If your kid plays with bath toys, you can clean them with vinegar, bleach, or in the dishwasher to clean mold and mildew away, and then keep bath toys as dry as possible between uses to keep it from growing or returning. Kristy Miller, a spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency, explained to Real Simple, "Moisture-loving mold can start developing in 24 to 48 hours." That's the last thing you want your baby or child to squirt into his mouth, or even into his clean bath water.

There are many ways you can clean bath toys, and the method you choose will be dictated by how strong a cleanser you're willing to use with something your baby will put in their mouth. You can start with a mild option, by rinsing bath toys in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts hot water. WikiHow explains, "Apple cider vinegar is also very effective at cleaning bath toys. However, white alcoholic vinegar is the best choice because it is colorless and is less likely to leave any unwanted residue."

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In order to properly clean bath toys with vinegar, soak them for 10-15 minutes in the solution of water and vinegar before scrubbing the toys with a little brush.

If you have new toys with the label still handy, check to see if they are dishwasher safe. Many plastic bath toys can be washed in the dishwasher, reports Mom.Me, but choose the warm cycle so they don't melt, and a heat-to-dry cycle to dry them out after.

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If you're still worried about mold or mildew on your bath toys, you can take the nuclear option: washing them with bleach. The Maids, a cleaning service website, recommends boiling your bath toys before soaking in bleach: "To make, mix ¾ cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Rinse toys with water multiple times then allow to air-dry. The bleach will evaporate and all you’ll be left with are clean toys!"

Once you've gotten your bath toys squeaky clean, keeping them free and clear of mildew and mold takes a few steps as well, every time your baby is finished dousing you with them. First, make sure to squeeze the water out of every last one of those squirty animals or fish until they are empty after each bath.

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Then you'll want to find a place outside of the bathroom to store the bath toys when they're not in use. Yes, that means that really useful mesh bag that suction cups to the bathroom wall and stores all the toys in the hot and humid bathroom isn't doing you any good. You would be more likely keep mildew away if you stuck them to the fridge!

You'll definitely want to find a well-ventilated, light-filled spot for bath toys to rest while they're not in action so they can properly dry out between baths. And if that doesn't cut it, plug in your glue gun and consider stopping up the holes in your bath toys. Obviously, you'll want to make sure that there's no water within them before you seal them up. But is a bath toy that doesn't squirt really even a bath toy at all?

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

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