My nephew and niece are a few years older than my kiddo, and so we sometimes get hand-me-downs that my sister-in-law passes along to us. We also visit a kids' consignment store every so often. Between the two sources, we ended up with a nifty little collection of Fisher Price Little People and animals.
Back in the day, these were solid plastic, so if we played with them in the tub they didn't collect water inside. But the new ones (from the last 10+ years) are hollow, soft plastic. And as a local news report pointed out awhile back, hollow bath toys collect water inside, and grow bacteria and mold. Ew. Double ew.
So when I bring this kind of toy into the house, I give them a pretty good cleaning with the only thing I know will kill mold: Bleach. I dilute it in water according to the directions on the bottle, and I pour the solution in a plugged bathroom sink. It's best to do this during nap time when kiddos aren't around, and then keep the bathroom door closed and locked, anyway.
I squeeze as much air out as I can, then dunk and fill with the water. I shake, then soak.
The real problem is getting the bleach water out afterward. Squeezing releases most of it, but not all.
For this, you'll need an awl. You can find one in most hardware stores or in an art supply store (with the bookbinding supplies). It's basically a sharp spike with a handle.
Turn over each toy, and identify what would be the lowest point (where all the water would settle) were the toy upright. Poke a nice hole with the awl. Be careful of hands! In fact, don't follow my example in the photographs; work on a solid surface.
When you turn the toy upright again, give it a second for the water to drain to the awl hole, then squeeze gently to get all the water out.
Repeat the process with clean water to rinse all of the bleach solution out. Voila! Clean toys, ready for playing in the bath tub without spreading germs.
Because of the nature of the plastic, the holes disguise themselves so you won't even notice them . . . until it's time to clean the toys again!
Thanks for reading!