A joint study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois has found what many parents have long suspected: those cute little yellow bath-time toys are actually a haven for nasty bugs. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes, has been billed as one of the first in-depth scientific examinations of its kind.


Swiss and American researchers found the liquid inside the ducks contained “potentially pathogenic bacteria,” like Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa ( a bacteria often responsible for hospital-acquired infections), as well as a variety of fungus, in four out of the five toys studied.1 And in high amounts, too: up to 75 million cells per square centimeter (0.15 square inch).


“While certain amounts of bacteria can help strengthen kids’ immune systems, they can also lead to eye, ear and intestinal infections, the researchers said.”2


My editor told me that when her kids were little they would bleach the duckie insides every month or so. Then, she just decided it was better to stop using them all together because making sure the bleach was totally rinsed out always weighed heavily on her. However, if those little yellow ducks are an important part of bath time for your kids, Amazon.com lists a water-tight version, said to be able to prevent mildew.

Sources and References

  1. TIME, March 27, 2018.
  2. TIME, March 27, 2018.