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  • Ew! Here's Proof That Bath Toys Can Accumulate Molds and Bacteria (And How To Clean Them)

    Bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments like your bathroom, the bathtub, and bath toys.
    by Rachel Perez .
Ew! Here's Proof That Bath Toys Can Accumulate Molds and Bacteria (And How To Clean Them)
PHOTO BY iStock
  • If you want to give your air conditioner or electric fan a much-needed break, taking a dip in your pool or tub (or your trusty palanggana or batya!) is the simple and best way to beat the summer heat. No wonder your baby or toddler loves to be in the water, right? Admit it: You may have joined your little one in the water, too!

    When you’re a parent, cleanliness is a top consideration — and your little one’s bath toys are no exception. You might have noticed some dark discoloration on your child’s bath toys or that they’re a bit slimy to the touch. Those squeaky toys and floaters accumulate bacteria, which thrive best in a warm and moist environment.

    According to a study, published in the journal NPJ Biofilms and Microbiomes, four out of five bath toys can contain “potentially pathogenic bacteria.”

    Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside bath toys collected from random households, as well as bath toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. Biofilm communities are microbial populations consisting mostly of bacteria, but also algae, protozoa, and viruses.

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    The researchers found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm” on the inner surfaces. On real bath toys, the visible black discolorations indicate mold growth. On clean-water toys, biofilms were still present, though transparent. Worse? More than half of the real bath toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build-up.

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    We all know that bacteria and fungal species are linked to human infections. Well, many of the bath toys had the organism Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which has been known to cause infections in people with compromised immunity

    How to make sure your child’s bath toys are clean

    Did you just flashback to when you squirted water on your toddler’s face during a bath? Don’t worry. You don’t need to throw away all your kids’ rubber duckies. It is also small-sized study needs further looking into. You’ll also be pleased to know that it’s not a medical emergency.

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    Michael David, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post that infections from the types of mold that grow on a household item are rare. Most children have a robust immune system that can fight off mold spores. But it can harm children with compromised immune system or chronic lung or sinus infections and uncontrolled diabetes.

    Still, it’s good to ensure that your child’s bath toys are squeaky clean.

    Fish them out of the water, scrub, and let them dry thoroughly

    Squeeze out the water from your little one’s favorite bath toys and let them dry thoroughly, preferably outdoors. If you see black liquid oozing out when you squeeze, time to toss them away and buy new ones. Do this every few weeks or so. If possible, take off the squeaker and scrub the toys inside and out using an old toothbrush and with soap and water.

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    Soak bath toys in vinegar or lemon solution

    Soak bath toys for ten to 20 minutes in one-part water and one-part white vinegar solution to avoid mold and bacteria growth. Lemon and salt solution works fine too. The acid in lemon or vinegar acts as a natural disinfectant and an effective, non-toxic solution against mold and mildew. If you still see some discolorations, scrub them down before drying thoroughly.

    Dunk some toys in boiling water to sterilize

    Place bath toys in regular boiling water for at least ten minutes. This is the most preferred by the researchers. Again, scrub the toys after boiling and dry thoroughly. Using UV sterilizers may work, too.

    Remove the squeaker.

    “The easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole,” the researchers suggested. The rubber ducky will still float but no more squeaks — and no more odds of mold forming in the inside. Even so, you’d still need to scrub the toys from time to time and let them dry thoroughly.

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