La Jolla Mom
La Jolla Mom - How to Clean Bath Toys | Rubber Duck Mold

Glue Gun The Rubber Ducky

how to clean bath toys--rubber duck

Bath toys can get gross. I’ll never forget the first time I saw flakes of black mold floating around in my daughter’s bath. It took me a while to figure out where the mold was coming from. She had received a giant bag of rubber ducks as a party favor. They all had squirt holes on the bottom. Despite drying them off well, after a while, when you squirted water out, mold came out too.  I tried to clean them, but ultimately they went in the trash.

How To Avoid The Moldy Rubber Ducky

Glue gun the holes in the bottom of the rubber duck and other bath toys shut. Problem solved. I wish I would have thought to do that a while ago, because it would have saved a lot of effort and heartache.

If you dare leave the rubber duck as is and it gets moldy, squeeze it to suck up distilled vinegar and leave the vinegar inside over night. Repeat.  If that doesn’t work, your best bet is to just toss it and buy a new one.

Give The Ducky Weekly Cleanings

Martha Stewart suggests a weekly cleaning of bath toys in one part hot water, one part distilled vinegar and a few drops of dish soap.  Vinegar dissolves soap scum while dish soap removes dirt.  Soak the toys for 10 minutes and use an old toothbrush to help clean them, if necessary.  Rinse the toys in warm water and let dry completely.

Store Bath Toys Properly

Store bath toys in a perforated bag or tray to allow for proper drainage. Leave a window open and make sure the room is well ventilated. We installed bathrooms fans that automatically sense humidity and turn themselves on and off. They have really helped the bath toys dry out.

In most cases, I would rather throw away the toys than use chlorine bleach. If you do use bleach, just make sure you dilute it with water and avoid mixing it with other household cleaners.

*Photo credit: istockphoto/hayatikayhan

  • The Kids Cave - August 10, 2014

    Our kids love their rubber ducks, but they are a haven for the nasty stuff. The glue gun approach is brilliant.

  • M.E.S. one "s" away from disaster - January 3, 2014

    Duck tape when applied dry works well. certain types of glue meant to repair jewelry works really well. you could also try getting something to glue into the hole when using the stronger glue
    warning most jewelry glues should be used in very well ventilated areas because of the smell.

    i thought of using a soldering iron and melting the holes shut but it probably would deform them and i have a extreme fear of burning myself

    i collect rubber duckies so keeping them mold free is a must

  • Ashley - August 3, 2013

    I had heard about the glue gun trick and did all of my son’s bath toys with holes. The glue does not stay. He either easily chewed it off or sucked it out without working at it. Wish there was a better way. I’ve come to just tossing everything with a hole and not buying any more. :( If anyone has any other ideas, I’m all ears!

    • Rebecca - October 23, 2013

      I’ve heard that silicone caulking can be used, it’s avalible at hardware stores. I saw it used on Pinterest. It is supposed to stay on better. Luckily these days there are several toy options without holes – check the beach toys sections too there’s some fun stuff. Bath crayons, coloured bubbles and foam shapes that can be wetted and stuck to the sides of the tub are great cheap and classic toys that won’t go mouldy as easy (make sure to wring out the foam shapes though they’re like sponges. Plastic sives and a variety of buckets and containers of different sizes are both fun for the child and practical as they help a lot with washing hair in the bath. Even at my age I love a few cute rubber duckies floating in my bubble bath and I find that the glue helps a lot.

  • Meridith - February 7, 2013

    I have a mermaid LaLaLoopsy bath toy hanging out upside down in the bathroom sink, smelling of vinegar. I know a 5 year old little girl that is going to be so happy when I “fix” her. Thanks for the tip!

    • KC - August 23, 2013

      Hey Meredith,

      Is the Mermaid LalaLoopsy prone to mold? We recieved one for a birthday gift but haven’t christened her in the water just yet….

      • Meridith - September 1, 2013

        She got it for Christmas and it was moldy by February. Just glue the whole on the back of the head and it will really help.

        • Meridith - September 1, 2013

          Hole not whole. Ha!

  • Mandi - April 10, 2012

    I loved this article. I’m a nut about making sure all of the bath toys are squeezed free from water and then I dry every one of them before putting them back in their toy bucket. Moldy toys just gross me right out. The glue gun trick is GENIUS! I love it and am going to do it.

  • House Cleaning Plymouth Indiana - February 20, 2012

    I laughed out loud when I read about gluing the rubber ducky! When my daughter was little, I was clueless about the mold issue until one day she squeezed it and TONS of moldy flakes came shooting out and stuck to her wet belly! I was mortified. I needed this article about 18 years ago. Haha I never thought our rubber duck should be part of my house cleaning routine.

  • nita - February 10, 2012

    Great suggested about the glue, but then it can’t squeak! My son will have a problem with that. We’ll have to work on alternatives. Thanks for posting!

  • Rachel @ Busy Mommy Media - March 8, 2011

    Have you checked out the bath ducks from Dano2?

    They are a Carlsbad based company and they are awesome! You can open the whole thing right up to clean it out.

  • Ali - March 1, 2011

    We hang our toys in a mesh bag, after draining excess water from each toy, to allow them to dry completely. And we don’t use them EVERY day…we do PLAY baths a couple of times a week…the rest are Scrub and Run Baths. This keeps them from constantly being wet and getting gross.

    I also clean them regularly, after our play baths…while they are a little older, they still like to put toys to their mouth and pretend play with them, or blow in them.

  • Michelle, Muffin Tin Mom - March 1, 2011

    There was a segment on the today show last year that had me RUNNING to the bathroom. I cut open my kids rubber ducky and yep, there was mold.

    I threw out all the ones with holes…much to the chagrin of my daughter. Had I had your glue gun tip I might have been able to save Mr. Ducky!

    here’s a link to the video:

    • La Jolla Mom - March 1, 2011

      Yuck! LJ Girl also had meltdowns after she discovered her ducks were gone! Thanks for the video, I’ll check it out.

  • Taylor at Stain Removal 101 - February 28, 2011

    Brilliant suggestion. We suffer from the same problem in this house. I would suggest one more thing though — make sure at the end of the bath you squeeze as much water as possible out of the bath toys if you don’t super glue them like suggested.

    My husband is horrible about this, and nothing invites mold and mildew build up then sloshy dirty water inside the bath toys. After you squeeze them out, then place them to dry in the mesh bag!

    • La Jolla Mom - February 28, 2011

      That is an excellent suggestion. You always *assume* that people would squeeze all water out prior but I know I sometimes forget simple things like that!

  • JDaniel4's Mom - February 28, 2011

    We have lost many ducks to mold. I have tried bleach and they don’t always come clean.

  • Mama Mary - February 28, 2011

    Genius! Moldy toys are so gross!

Leave a reply

Stay Informed

I'm Katie Dillon, a freelance luxury travel writer who lives in seaside La Jolla, CA. This is where I document my recent trips around the world, the latest San Diego happenings and other fun lifestyle topics. Thanks for stopping by!

Great Deal

Where We’ve Stayed

Trips I Loved

Click to follow on…

Book a Family Travel Twitter Party