The Health Reporter Is In, April 5, 2018

The Health Reporter Is In, April 5, 2018

Q: In light of the news that those plastic yellow duckies become little germ-infested nightmares, what's the best and safest way to sanitize kids' bath toys?

A: You would think toys that float around in your kids' bubble baths would get clean on their own, but they don't. A much-publicized Swiss study released last week said researchers found potentially pathogenic bacteria in the liquid squeezed out of four out of five toy ducks.

Unless your child is immune-compromised, a small amount of bacteria isn't likely to be toxic, and a little bit of bacterial exposure even helps build immunity, said local pediatrician Dr. ADA SUM.

However, she said, "definitely it's probably not a bad idea to make sure toys are cleaned."

A pediatrician at Carle, Sum said a once-a-week cleaning is probably sufficient.

Parents should just keep in mind that the first step should be washing the toys with soap and water, because if there's surface dirt on the toys, efforts to disinfect them aren't going to work, she said.

One method suggested to disinfect toys is by soaking them in white vinegar. If you go this route, Sum suggested using a solution of half-vinegar and half water, and soaking the toys for 15 minutes to an hour.

Another method that has been suggested is using household bleach. Try a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach to a gallon of water. Be sure and rinse the toys in plain water afterward, especially if the toys could end up in kids' mouths, Sum said. Then make sure the toys get a chance to dry out.

In fact, it's a good idea to give toys space to dry out between baths, she said, and consider storing them in a less bacteria-friendly environment than a moist, warm bathroom.

You can also load toys in your washing machine or dishwasher, provided they have sanitizing options to get the water hot enough, Sum said. But be careful about how you load in plastic toys that can melt.

If you're going to use the dishwasher, some online advisers suggest putting toys in a mesh lingerie bag to keep them from falling off the rack onto the heating element, placing the bag on the top rack only, and using a heated drying cycle.

Don't want to go to all this trouble?

Still, another option is using a glue gun to seal up the holes in squirting bath toys so they can't take in any bath water, Sum said, "but of course, that makes the toy less fun for the kids."

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