Pixar's fantastic movie Toy Story got one thing right: there is life within our toys.
What they failed to mention is that usually that life takes the form of mold, and it's growing in our kids' bath toys.
I only bring this up because while bathing my son tonight I squeezed a Darth Vader bath toy, and afterwards my entire evening went to crap. Usually the Darth Vader toy just does mundane things, like squash a rebellious Lightning McQueen, Boba Fett and mermaid bath toy alliance, or breathe heavily while using the force to make the shampoo squeeze out on my kids' heads.
But tonight, chunks of dark green mold spewed out from the hole at the bottom of the Darth Vader toy when I squeezed it. When I said my evening went to crap, I meant it - Darth Vader crapped mold in my tub.
After my son went to sleep, I couldn't help but start cleaning the toys. Usually I just throw them away when they get to this point, but they love their Star Wars and Cars bath tubs so much that I just couldn't bear to throw them out.
I did the basics, and here are my steps in case you want to follow them for your own kids' toys (or your own bath toys - I won't judge you):
1. Suck up hot water into each toy, shake it for 20 seconds, then squirt it back into the sink.
2. Grimace as you look at what came out.
3. Repeat 50 times per toy.
4. Pour some white vinegar into a bowl.
5. Suck it up into each toy, shake for 20 seconds, then squirt it back into the sink.
6. Place toy on a paper towel to dry.
7. Make an empty promise about "smoking the suckers out" the next time this happens.
I've read that some people place their bath toys in rice or whatever to suck out the moisture from the toys. That sounds like a good idea, but I opted to not use it because I have no idea where the rice is and I'm too lazy to look.
There are lots of other great sites, such as this and this with other suggestions, like gluing the hole at the bottom of the toys to keep moisture out, or running the toys through the dishwasher.
I'm interested in the glue idea but think Betty won't want the bath toys in the dishwasher. But since I've done extensive research on mold now that I'm about to wage war on them, I've learned that molds are obligate aerobes - meaning they need oxygen to live. So maybe smoking them out is the way to go after all. I'll let you know in about six to twelve months, when I remember that mold is growing in my kids' bath toys again.
By the way, the moldiest toy was the Sheriff from Cars. I had to rinse him out, NO LIE, 100 times. Every time I squeezed him, he crapped out more mold. I was ready to cut him open with my Rachael Ray knife and scrape him clean. The next moldiest toy was Darth Vader, and the least moldiest toys were C3PO and the Storm Trooper, probably because they are the hardest to squeeze. Just a heads up in case you own some of these toys.