The Moldy Duck

The Moldy Duck

I was giving the boys their bath recently, and found some disturbing things floating in the water.

Based on previous experience (something all parents must deal with at some point, I’m sure), I made the assumption that one of them — presumably the youngest — had had a little accident in the water. Bath time promptly ended, much to their joint chagrin, and I scrubbed down the tub as my wife got them toweled off and into jammies. Neither would admit to having had even a tiny accident, but this is not really something new.

As it turns out, my assumption was wrong, and they were telling the truth.

I discovered that fact a few days later, when it was bath time again. I was filling up Mama Duck with water and squirting water from her underside, when I noticed a dark piece of… something… shoot out and into the water. It looked remarkably like the mysterious floaties I had seen previously. I filled her up and squirted again, and lo-and-behold, more little pieces of dark brown-black gunk came out.


I held Mama Duck up, and through her yellow rubber, made slightly translucent by the light from above, I could see dark splotches. Curious, I dug into the water and found Baby Duck. He too had dark spots within that I’d never noticed. Next I moved on to the various colored hard plastic shapes that connect into a chain, and while some were impossible to really see into, others had a very clear, and very disgusting, dark film within.

Behold, the mold.


Note: I cut them open AFTER having filled up and squeezed out as much as I could, and this is what still remained. Yuck.

These were old toys that we’ve been using for years, and I had usually been pretty careful about making sure they were well drained after bat time. And yet, there was the mold, in all it’s sludgy grossness. I was shocked when, even after all of my draining and squeezing and a day or so sitting aside, they both still had water inside that spilled out when I cut them open. No wonder they became a breeding ground for the stuff.

I’m not freaking out about ill effects these may have had on the boys at the small amounts released into full bathtubs of water — and at this point they are rarely, if ever, toys that make their way into their mouths. But obviously, these things have been discarded, and we’ve picked up some new bath toys that don’t pose the same issue. No squirters (frankly, they were annoying anyhow) or toys with little pockets for water to hide.

If you’re concerned about the same thing happening with your kids’ bath toys, here are a few tips I’ve learned:

  1. If in doubt, throw it out.
  2. Look for toys that either don’t hold water at all, or are easy to open up and drain, dry, and clean, such as these squirters that unscrew, or this unique bath duck set.
  3. Thoroughly clean and disinfect all bath toys regularly — even the ones that don’t hold water — with a good soak overnight in a bleach or vinegar solution, followed by a thorough cleaning.
  4. Plug small holes in squirter and squeaker toys with a glue gun. This will create a waterproof seal that allows the toy to still float but eliminates the mold inside AND the annoying squirts and squeaks. It’s win-win!

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