I’m a science teacher… I know that if you take a swab of anything (even a relatively clean surface) and grow a culture of it, you’re going to get some pretty gnarly stuff sprouting in a petri dish. I’m not a germ-a-phobe… but I have to say, my kid’s bath toys have been suspicious to me for a long time, so I did a little research and found out why. To be honest though my kids have a lot of toys (not just bath toys), but I think that’s the same for everyone. Most kids just have a teddy bear or something. Some people get their kids toys like these radio controlled cars for girls. It’s all down to preference though. However, I know that my kids love their bath toys, hence why I want to do this bit of research on them.
Porous Toxic Plastic
Most bath toys are made from a type of plastic called PVC… which happens to be considered one of the most dangerous and toxic of all the plastics. You can read more about types of plastics here and which ones are less toxic than others. My kids love to put bath toys in their mouths an awful lot… great… Also, depending on what country you live in, the standards for what type of chemicals can be used in the plastics and paints may change… but they’re all ‘made in China’, so unless a company has extremely stringent quality control standards, watching the production line like a hawk, you really don’t know what could be in those toys!
I cut a bath toy open to see what was in there.
I saw some specs of black mold growing on the OUTSIDE of a bath toy, so I could only imagine what was inside! Chronic coughing and sneezing, eye irritation, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches can all be symptoms of black mold exposure, so you can understand why I was concerned. It should go without saying, but if you ever find black mold growing anywhere in your home (like on the walls or ceiling, for example) you need to get rid of it as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to find a company who offers mold damage remediation services. If you live in Denver, for instance, search “black mold removal denver” online to find an appropriate company.
Surprisingly, when I chopped the toy in half, the inside was relatively ‘clean looking‘, but upon further inspection, it was slimy and smelled rank. Slimy, smelly… definitely means the presence of mold, bacteria, or fungus (and some articles even say fecal matter from water vapor of flushed toilets can get trapped in there?!) Yuck! I’m all about building my kid’s immune systems, and I don’t want to protect them from every germ… but why tempt fate?
Alternatives to traditional bath toys
You can buy eco-green bath toys… but you can also use things you have around the house. My kids LOVE using their stainless steel cups and spoons in the tub. Even a few washclothes can be fun. Also, many other hard-type plastic toys you might have laying around the house, which may not be ‘official‘ bath toys, can be used in the tub and will dry better than the bath toys with holes in them. Basically, just avoid the squeezy, porous plastic-type toys. Also, anything made from PVC plastic is mostly from ‘virgin‘ materials, meaning, they are not made from recycled plastics. This means that buying plastic bath toys is not so friendly for the environment. The good news is that, you can buy eco-friendly bath toys that are made from recycled plastic and are PVC, BPA free, without any paint, from Amazon. Click on the photos below, they’re very reasonably priced!
How to clean yucky bath toys
If you’ve got the squeezy bath toys and you don’t want to just throw them away, you can also clean them by doing the following:
- add few drops of clove oil in warm water
- mix vinegar or sodium bi-carb with water
- rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
- some sites recommend running them through the dishwasher, but I like the idea of filling the toy up with bacteria-killing liquid
Be sure to let the cleaning water fill the bath toy completely and let it soak for at least 2 hours. Also, be sure to keep them dry when they’re not in use. Happy tubby time!