Keeping Water Toys Clean

Water toys are hiding scary surprises inside! Find out how to keep them clean.

*Warning- graphic images!*

Rubber ducky you’re…. disgusting.

I kept wondering what the “dark spots” were on the water-squirt toys. I wash them with cleaning solution at the beginning of the season and then with dish soap after every use. It couldn’t be dirt or grime- I keep these toys clean…

So I decided to cut one open. I will let the images speak for themselves…

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I cut about 10 open before I became too disgusted to continue. Thank goodness this was the beginning of the season and I had not let my kids play with these toys. The inside of these water toys was just stomach-turning. Disgusting. Dangerous.

For reference– These water toys were used one season, outside in a kiddie pool, and were stored in an open box in our shed for the winter. I rinsed them out after very use to keep them clean (or so I thought). They grew bacteria anyway.

If your water toys are showing black spots on the outside (like the ones in the rubbery ducky image)- then they are likely full of mold. Anything that traps water can grow mold. This is just as true for bath toys. Mold can be especially troublesome if your child has a mold allergy. So… what can you do about it?

How to keep water toys clean:

    1. Avoid using water squirting toys– enough said.
    2. Plug up the holes– Use a hot glue gun (carefully!), craft glue, school glue, or even super glue to close the water-squirting holes. This could prevent water from getting inside the toy. Which glue works best will depend on the material the toy is made of and the size of the hole. (Always follow manufacturer instructions for the toy and the glue). Allow the glue to dry and then test in water before using. I always seem to find an hidden hole that I missed…
    3. Replace toys frequently– If your child really loves water squirt toys, you can simply replace them before they start growing funky stuff inside. Luckily these toys are fairly inexpensive so replacing them might be a possibility. Try only giving the child a few toys at a time to play with then swap them out often. This is especially important in the water toys used outdoors.
    4. Wash them out– You can try using a toy disinfectant to clean water toys. This is not my favorite option for many reasons (chemicals, can it clean throughly enough?, kids put toys in their mouths, etc) but cleaning may be an option. Always refer to the instruction of the toy manufacture as to proper cleaning methods for their product. (The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers some tips on cleaners, sanitizes, and disinfectants). There are cleaners made specifically for toys such as CleanSmart:

And there are even organic, plant based cleaners to try such as the toy cleaner from Babyganics (this is what I use to clean my kids’ toys):


5. Use a hermetically sealed toy- Hermetically sealed, acorn the Cambridge-English dictionary, means a container or space is so tightly closed that no air can leave or enter it. This may be a viable option for avoiding water toy bacteria. CaaOcho toys makes a rubber bath toy that is Hermetically sealed, BPA, PVC, phthalates Free (according to manufacturer). They come in a variety of shapes- including a teether. See product descriptions for more info


These are just a few ideas I found to be helpful. Currently, I am closing the holes on water toys with glue and replacing them often. (And that is after a year hiatus from all water squirt toys because I was just disgusted at what I found).

Water toy hidden mold and how to keep squirt water toys clean

This article is not intended to provide professional advice. If you have questions about the cleanliness/safety of toys or proper cleaning techniques, always contact the toy manufacturer. If you have any concerns about the health of your child, please contact your health care provider. 

How do you keep your water toys clean?

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