How to Disinfect Tub Toys
January 8th, 2013 by admin
When getting kids to take a bath is a battle, a few fun toys can make the experience a bit more enjoyable for everyone involved. While your child is getting clean and having a ball, however, her toys can collect mold, bacterial growth or hard water deposits if they’re not draining properly and aren’t periodically cleaned. Rather than tossing the entire lot and replacing them, which can be bad for the environment as well as hard on your pocketbook, you can take advantage of a few tips that will allow you to clean them thoroughly.
Be Careful With Bleach
Household bleach is an effective cleaner, but it’s also a harsh chemical that can be dangerous for children. Your first instinct may be to clean your child’s bath toys with a solution of diluted bleach, but it’s important to note that the concentration of chemicals in commercial bleach products changed in December of 2012. Before the change, most brands contained a 5.25% – 6% solution of sodium hypochlorite. Now, bleach sold under both national brand names and as generic products may contain up to 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. New recommendations for using bleach on children’s toys include choosing only Environmental Protection Agency registered products, carefully following the manufacturer’s dilution instructions, and modifying contact times accordingly.
Vinegar is Your Friend
The same stuff that makes a great salad dressing and has a host of culinary uses is also an effective alternative to harsh chemical cleaners, killing mold and inhibiting bacterial growth. Soaking bath tub toys in a basin containing a solution of two parts hot water to one part white vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes at least once a week, then letting them air dry in the sun or on clean, folded towels near an open window can help them to dry quickly without forming dangerous mold or bacterial growth. As an added bonus, vinegar will not irritate your child’s sensitive skin or expose him to dangerous chemicals.
The Dishwasher: Not Just for Dishes
Tub toys that are made of rubber or plastic can be run through the dishwasher, where high water temperatures and detergents can kill any existing mold or bacteria. If you opt to keep your child’s bath tub toys clean by regularly washing them in the dishwasher, it’s important to keep in mind that proper drainage and thorough drying is still very important. When water collects in hard-to-reach places, bacteria and mold can still flourish.
Keep Bath Tub Toys Out of the Bathroom
It may seem like an unnecessary complication to store your child’s bath tub toys somewhere other than the bathroom, but it can actually help to keep them clean and disinfected. Steam from baths, showers and hot water running in the sink makes the bathroom air moist most of the time, which can promote bacterial growth and mold formation on your child’s newly-cleaned toys. When they’re stored elsewhere and brought in for bath time, they’re not cluttering your bathroom or subjected to constant moisture in the air.
Scrub, Scrub, Scrub
Using an old but clean toothbrush or other small scrub brushes to clean hard-to-reach cracks and crevices with antibacterial dish soap allows you to see any mold that has formed and attack it directly. If toys are particularly gunky, it may be best to start cleaning with this method and then follow up with a soak in vinegar solutions or a trip through the dishwasher cycle. Adding a small amount of tea tree oil to your scrubbing solution can also help, as it’s a natural substance with strong antiseptic qualities. Be sure to thoroughly rinse any toys that you’ve cleaned with a tea tree oil solution, however, as it is not considered safe for ingestion and bath tub toys seem to always end up in kids’ mouths.
Check for Cleaning Products Targeted to Kids
There are some commercially-available products on the market that are designed to clean kids’ toys safely and effectively. If you do choose to go this route, however, be sure that you check the label to ensure that there are no warnings or overly harsh chemicals. Despite “green” names and deceptive packaging, some specialty products are just re-packaged versions of their full-strength, chemical-laden brethren.