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 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 we squirted water out, mold came out, too.

I tried to clean them, but ultimately, they went in the trash. We’ve also received a myriad of rubber ducks over the years as fun amenities at hotels that we’ve brought home with us. There were also times she wanted to pack her favorite rubber duck to take on trips, which our method below allowed us to do.

A rubber duck floats in a bathtub full of bubbles..

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How to Avoid Rubber Duck Mold

Use a glue gun. The hot glue will seal holes in the bottom of the rubber duck and other bath toys shut.

Problem solved.

I wish I would have thought to do this a while ago, because it would have saved a lot of effort and heartache. You can pick up a high-rated glue gun and glue sticks kit on Amazon for about $10. Just monitor favorite ducks to be sure the glue stays put. You may need to reapply it.

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 overnight. Repeat.

If that doesn’t work, your best bet is just to toss it and buy a new one.

Clean Bath Toys Weekly

Martha Stewart suggests cleaning bath toys weekly with 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 them 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 bathroom 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, make sure you dilute it with water and rinse well.

How do you clean bath toys?

*Photo credit: istockphoto/hayatikayhan

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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:

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

    1. 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….

      1. 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.

  9. 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!

    1. 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.

  10. 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

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

  12. Really helpful blogs. I also use vinegar for cleaning my kids’ bath toys. For baby safety, it really important to clean toys otherwise bacteria and germs will grasp kids bath toys should wash weekly and store properly.

  13. Proper cleaning of bath toy is essential for baby health, otherwise germs can attract baby. Thanks for the idea how to clean bath toy. I have boils toys regularly. I will use vinegar and bleach to wash bath toys. Thanks for sharing really helpful guide.

    1. Rosa, please do not use bleach and vinegar together, they create a very dangerous gas when mixed together. I would look look up what it does