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Bath toys: a mildew colony?

Updated on May 18, 2012

Rubber duck

My baby's rubber duck
My baby's rubber duck | Source

Your children are playing happily in the bath with the rubber duckies, suddenly, after a splash of water; some greyish jellyfish-like fluff appears in the water. Children start to scream! Is it a bug? Is it dirt? What is it?

It is mildew coming from your toy!!!

Bath toys have to be cleaned regularly because mildew grows inside them. It is amazing how fast it grows. If you have bath toys that get filled with water in the bath (like rubber ducks), then you have to inspect the toys and clean them regularly or replaced them if they are not good any more.

Mold grown in a strawberry
Mold grown in a strawberry | Source

What is mildew?

Mildew is a form of fungus, typically grey or white and grows in damp surfaces. Mold is often mistakenly used instead of mildew, however, mold is a different type of fungus, and it is black or green and grows generally in food.

Is mildew dangerous?

Mildew can cause allergic reactions such as eyes irritation, congestion, sneezing or sore throat. It can even trigger asthma. In some people, it can cause skin irritation.

Mildew in bath toys

Mildew grown in the surface of a bath toy
Mildew grown in the surface of a bath toy | Source
Mildew grown inside a floating toy (it can be seen inside the hole)
Mildew grown inside a floating toy (it can be seen inside the hole) | Source

How to avoid mildew growth in bath toys?

Mildew likes humidity so it is imperative to keep the area dry and ventilated. The following tips are good advice to reduce mildew and mold on bathroom walls and in places where it may not be visible:

  • Keep the toy as dry as possible. Rubber ducks and similar have to be squeezed very well so all the water comes out of the hole.
  • Keep the toys in a hanging net to drain extra water.
  • Keep the area ventilated. Open bathroom windows when possible (depending on weather). Keep the doors open, especially if the bathroom doesn’t have windows. If you have a toddler that likes to enter into the bathroom, keep them away by installing a safety gate.
  • Inspect toys and clean them regularly.

How to clean the mildew in bath toys?

First of all, put on gloves. I personally prefer to use the disposable latex gloves so I can dispose of them afterwards to avoid spreading the spores.

Then follow the steps:

  1. Squeeze the water out of the toy (if it is a floating toy).
  2. Submerge the toys in a solution of one part of vinegar and three parts of water (according to
  3. Soak them overnight.
  4. Use a small brush to clean the excess dirt.
  5. Rinse them with water.
  6. Squeeze the water out of the toy again (if it is a floating toy).
  7. Dry them thoroughly.
  8. Keep them in a net.

Finally, wash your hands thoroughly!

Video from about bath toy cleaning

If the mildew resists cleaning

If the toy proves hard to clean, or if it keeps having dark dirt inside the hole where the water is pumped in, the safest way is to replace the toy with another one.

Let's replace this one

Mildew grown inside a floating toy. Too hard to clean so it had to be disposed.
Mildew grown inside a floating toy. Too hard to clean so it had to be disposed. | Source


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    • Susana Suarez profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Suarez 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you breathe2travel for your vote and recommendation! They are yuk and very dangerous for our health and our kids'. In the summer we open the windows a lot to help dry the moisture in the bathroom.

    • breathe2travel profile image


      7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      BTW - welcome to Hubpages - it looks like you're off to a great start! :)

    • breathe2travel profile image


      7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Girl - you hit it home with this hub. I cannot stand mildew, and have thrown countless toys out bc of mildew. I do not buy bathtoys with little holes or squeakers because the water so easily is trapped inside. When my kids were younger, after baths I'd partially drain the tub, then add bleach or vinegar to the water and soak the toys for a few hours or overnight.

      After showers & baths, I normally turn on the exhaust fan and let it run for a couple of hours to remove excess moisture from the air. Occasionally, I'll spray a shower down with vinegar and let stand -- this is in between cleanings, just as a preventative. I really do not like mildew. Great hub.

      Voting up & useful. YUCK to mildew. :P

    • Susana Suarez profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Suarez 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for voting DS Duby, it's disgusting how mildew grows inside bath toys. When I saw all this decided to check on it and learn what to do and try to spread the word to avoid bad tummies in our children or respiratory issues.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 

      7 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Very informative hub, I went through this exact problem when my son was small. Great job. I voted up with a useful.


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