Listen, pretty much everything about having kids is gross. The bodily fluid situation alone is enough to make you shudder. At this stage of parenting, I really think that investing all of my money in Clorox is probably the way to go. One of the WORST offenders in the Gross Things About Kids game are the toys. My god. Covered in all manner of grime and dried snot and something dark that could be chocolate or the … other. Some toys, however, are far more foul (fowl? LOL) than others. Take those cute little rubber duckies in the bathtub. So much fun! So full of bacteria. GAG.

Rubber duckies are the go-to bath toy for plenty of parents. They’re small, cheap, and entertaining!

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Image: Giphy

See? Even Ernie loves his Duckie. But maybe Ernie isn’t aware of what’s lurking inside (sorry, bud). A new study confirms what most of us have known for a while: rubber duckies are really disgusting on the inside. The study, published in the journal NPL Biolfilms and Microbiomes (how’s that for a name, eh?), says that the slimy stuff you find inside of bath toys is positively rife with some scary sounding stuff. How does a little Bradyrhizobium, Agrobacterium, Caulobacter and Sphingomonas sound with your bath? Or maybe some Pseudomonas, which typically can cause eye and ear infections in humans?

The problem, say researchers, is that these toys have plasticizers that make them soft. The bacteria like to snack on those, apparently. Add to that the warm human soup that leaks into the toys through the little squirt holes, and you’ve got yourself a bacterial breeding ground!

But there’s no reason to go starting a giant rubber ducky bonfire just yet. Lead researcher Frederik Hammes says we’re exposed to bacteria and microbes all the time, so “a bit of bacterial exposure is not that bad.” But, you SHOULD make it a habit to clean the toys regularly. Clean hot water and some soap will do the trick, and make sure to squeeze all the water after each bath and cleaning session.

Better yet, put a little super glue in the holes on the bottom. No more squirting, but also no more scary-sounding stuff floating in the tub with your kid.

(Image: iStock / Rawpixel)