If you have a Sophie La Girafe teething toy in your house, you might want to inspect it for any mold lurking inside. A month ago, pediatric dentist Dana Chianese was cleaning her child’s toy when she noticed it smelled musty. She cut open the giraffe figurine and found mold inside. Chianese told GoodHousekeeping.com that she always cleaned the toy according to the instructions, with a damp sponge and hot, soapy water (she never submerged it in water, either).
Related: A Guide to Cleaning and Fixing Toys
Adding to the news a few months ago that Tommee Tippee sippy cups were prone to mold, this latest finding could be disconcerting to parents—especially since the Sophie figurine is a popular toy for teething babies (and not to mention a go-to baby shower gift). And it seems like this might not be a single occurrence—one user on Amazon had written a review in February 2016 that she found black mold inside her child’s Sophie toy. Ever since the news came out, a couple of parents have logged onto Amazon to report that they found mold inside the toy. It’s worth noting that there are a few parents who have written on Amazon that they didn’t find mold after cutting open the toy.
A spokesperson for Sophie La Girafe told GoodHousekeeping.com that the manufacturer takes the claims seriously, but parents should adhere to the cleaning instructions carefully since the toy is made of 100 percent rubber and it’s important that the toy isn’t submerged or rinsed off, so that no water gets inside the hole. Instead, it should be cleaned with a damp cloth. RealSimple.com reached out to the manufacturer for further comment, but didn't receive a response before publish time.
In light of the recent news, we asked expert Becky Rapinchuk of CleanMama.net to share some general cleaning tips when it comes to kids’ toys:
- Clean and Disinfect Toys Regularly
It’s important to always follow the cleaning instructions for each toy—not all of them can be cleaned the same way since some can be submerged or rinsed, and others can only be wiped down. “Hot, soapy water works for toys that need general cleaning,” Rapinchuk says. “Clean toys as needed, but for teething toys, you’ll want to clean at least weekly.” If you want to disinfect toys, she recommends three methods: spray with hydrogen peroxide, let dry and rinse; spray with a mixture that’s half water and half white vinegar and let dry; or wipe with rubbing alcohol, let dry.
For plastic toys, you can follow the methods above, or put them on the top rack of the dishwasher (again, if it’s a toy that can’t be submerged or rinsed, you’ll just want to wipe it down). For fabric and plush toys, she suggests throwing them in the washer and dryer.
- Choose Toys Wisely
If you really want to decrease your chances of mold, you might want to stay away from certain toys, like ones with holes that could trap water inside. “If you have toys with a hole, I recommend filling any holes with a dot of glue from a glue gun before use,” Rapinchuck says.
- Inspect and Throw Out
Take a look at your child’s toys every now and then. “If you notice any mold or that the rubber or plastic is breaking down, don’t risk it and just throw it away,” Rapinchuk advises.