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Rubber ducky you're the one
March 13, 2006 5:55 PM   Subscribe

There is thin, soot-like substance in my daughter's rubber ducks. What is it?

We have several rubber ducks which live in the tub. The largest duck had some thin, black flakes come out when squeezed and somebody threw it away. Since the biggest duck is the daddy duck I decided to try to clean it. Now it turns out that the mommy and baby ducks (all different makes, all bought at different times) have the same flakes. After repeatedy sucking water into the duck, shaking the duck and expelling the water, shit-like, into the sink, eventually makes the water run clean. Holding the duck upto a strong light shows additional flakes, not yet dislodged. We live in New York City. Nothing unusual goes into the bathwater (some soap, a three year old, Mr. Bubble, many ducks).

What is the stuff in the duck?

Oh, if it was toxic that would be nice to know too.
posted by shothotbot to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
 
I am sorry, but it might be mold. I'm afraid this guess is based on experience. I usually chuck things out when they get to this point, from hanging out in the bath all the time, but you could probably suck a little bleach-and-water mixture into them instead?
posted by theredpen at 6:06 PM on March 13, 2006


yup... probably mold or mildew.
posted by kimdog at 6:07 PM on March 13, 2006


Metafilter: Repeatedly sucking water into the duck, shaking the duck and expelling the water, shit-like, into the sink.

I would have to guess mold. The only other potential is the paint that they use to paint the face on the duck is flaking off, though I would not imagine that paint is present inside.

Before tossing the next one, perform an autopsy and see what might be causing it. Just don't have a fatal heart attack at that point, such that someone would find you dead on the ground, scalpel in one hand, half-sliced rubber duck in the other. You just don't want that image or the associated questions burned in your family's mind.
posted by symphonik at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2006


Couldn't you just use some hot bleach water to clean them out?
posted by puke & cry at 6:26 PM on March 13, 2006


does it smell like mold?
posted by delmoi at 6:45 PM on March 13, 2006


For future purchases, you can buy rubber ducks that are completely sealed. Mold and bath toys, unfortunately, tend to go hand-in-hand.
posted by artifarce at 7:44 PM on March 13, 2006


This will happen to any bath toy where water can get someplace that you can't clean.
posted by winston at 8:08 PM on March 13, 2006


Slight derail, but if you're about to buying new plastic duckies, given that you mentioned a concern about toxins, you might check into some of the stuff on phthalates in children's toys (and cosmetics and...). A quick search found this site, a decent place to start.
posted by salvia at 8:20 PM on March 13, 2006


The usual method for cleaning mold from vinyl toys (such as My Little Ponies) is to let them sit in a 1 to 10 bleach solution for 15 minutes, then allow them to dry out completely. This would probably work for your duckies, as well. I also second artifarce's idea of buying sealed ones, although I like the bigger, heavy "classic" ducks, which usually have holes in the bottom. Good luck!
posted by lhall at 9:38 PM on March 13, 2006


I think it's mold release agent, used in the manufacturing process to keep the plastic toy from sticking to the mold it was made in. I've seen fine black powder on plastic molded toys that have never touched water.
posted by mediaddict at 9:53 PM on March 13, 2006


If it is filmy coming out I echo all the above, it's mold. And for some reason with bath toys it is quite black, can't figure that one out.
posted by Wilder at 2:43 AM on March 14, 2006


Chlorine bleach will kill the mould that's still inside the duck, and detach it from the plastic. Once you've killed and rinsed out all the mould, dry the inside of the duck out by sucking, shaking up and squirting out a little methylated spirits three or four times; then put the duck out in the sun and keep squeezing it until it doesn't stink of metho any more.

If you want to seal your duck, suck a blob of silicone sealant in through the hole and let it set.
posted by flabdablet at 2:53 AM on March 14, 2006


This builds up in many of my son's bath toys and we believe it's mold. It's surprised us once or twice when a more opaque toy gets squeezed and this stuff gets unexpectedly discharged into the bathwater. Ick! I've been meaning to try flushing them out with bleach or vinegar solution. That might not actually clean off the existing bits of mold but I'm fairly certain it would kill it. I have no idea about toxins, though. Rubber ducks should not have to be a disposable item. Why don't they come with cleaning instructions?
posted by Songdog at 6:40 AM on March 14, 2006


Why don't they come with cleaning instructions?

Because cleaning them is self-explanatory. Anything that has a dark cavity where water is allowed to sit is probably going to get moldy.
posted by agregoli at 7:30 AM on March 14, 2006


Buy new ones, get a glue gun, and plug up the holes before they're used. You won't have to worry about mold again.
posted by rottytooth at 7:47 AM on March 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Because cleaning them is self-explanatory. Anything that has a dark cavity where water is allowed to sit is probably going to get moldy.

It's obvious that they're going to get moldy. It's not obvious how best to clean them. I'm not asking for "the duck you are about to play with may get very moldy" warnings. I'm pointing out that bleach/vinegar/[cleanser of your choice] may or may not be safe or effective on a given toy. If using a 1:10 bleach solution for 15 minutes is the thing to do for a particular item then it's easy enough for the manufacturer to indicate this on the package or product. I would hate to melt my child's favorite toy (or release nasty stuff into the air) because I used the wrong chemical.

Buy new ones, get a glue gun, and plug up the holes before they're used. You won't have to worry about mold again.

Plugging up the hole plugs up the squeak. It's not appropriate for all toys.
posted by Songdog at 9:38 AM on March 14, 2006


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