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Rubber ducky and drain
Credit: Roland Bello

Q. What should I use to clean the inside and outside of my daughter’s rubber duck?

Jessica Free

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A. Follow these tips to keep your little one’s toys squeaky clean.

First, dry off the toys as much as possible as soon as bath time is over. Moisture-loving mold can start developing in 24 to 48 hours, according to Kristy Miller, a spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency, so squeeze as much water out of the toys as you can, and turn on the exhaust fan to keep humidity from getting trapped inside the toys. Also, store the toys in an upright position in a dry place outside the bathroom. But remember that moisture left in any room can lead to mold and mildew.

If mildew has already started forming, try an easy homemade mixture to get the gunk out. “Mix three-quarters cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of warm water, then soak the prewashed toys for five minutes,” says Brian Sansoni, vice president of communications and membership for the Soap and Detergent Association. For squeezable toys, “make sure to suck the cleaning solution inside, shake it up inside thoroughly, and squeeze the liquid back out. Rinse thoroughly with hot water, then air-dry.” Again, store in a dry place outside the bathroom.

If the thought of bleach around your kids seems harsh, follow the instructions above using a milder solution, like Dapple Natural Based Toy Cleaner ($20 for three spray bottles, The chemical-free ingredients will rid toys of grime without any harsh residue. ―Nykia Spradley

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