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Sophie the Giraffe isn't the only toy with mold inside

When she's not writing, Claire Gillespie can most often be found wiping snotty noses, picking up Lego, taking photos of her cat or doing headstands.

Don't blame Sophie: Plenty of toys get moldy and need to be cleaned

Sophie the Giraffe is no longer simply the world's animal-themed teething toy of choice since 1961. Sophie, it appears, has been hiding a dark secret.

There's every chance that inside Sophie's 100 percent natural rubber casing lies a thick coating of black mold.

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Last year, an Amazon reviewer posted a picture of the insides of Sophie, writing, "Beware! If you have a drooly baby, moisture will get in the hole and you'll end up with mold! We've had ours for two years and the entire inside is coated with black mold!"

But it's Dana Chianese, a pediatric dentist from New Jersey, who's had all parents of drooling infants looking at Sophie in a whole new light this week. The mom of two told Good Housekeeping that she found "a science experiment" living inside her son's Sophie after she noticed the air coming out of the hole smelled musty. "Smelly, ugly mold [was] living in my infant's favorite chew toy!" she said.

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In a statement to Good Housekeeping, a Sophie the Giraffe spokesperson said the toy's cleaning instructions should be carefully followed.

"We recommend to clean the surface of Sophie la Giraffe with a damp cloth," said Laurie Schraenen. "It should not be immersed in the water nor rinsed off to prevent water from getting inside, as she may become damaged."

It's easier said than done to keep teething toys dry — the whole point of them is to be sucked, chewed and drooled on. Despite the spokesperson's claims here, if you want to keep your kids' toys mold-free, you have to clean them. You don't have to be a scientist to know that mold is likely to grow wherever moisture accumulates in an enclosed space. And a damp cloth isn't going to cut it.

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These baby-safe cleaning tips are appropriate for bath toys, teething toys and any other toys your kid likes to gnaw on a regular basis.

1. Boiling water

Place the toys in boiling water. Squeeze out any disgusting stuff from the insides with tongs. Leave them to cool, then dry thoroughly.

2. Dishwasher

The simplest way to sanitize bath toys and blast any mold that might be growing is to run them through the dishwasher.

3. Vinegar

Mix 1 gallon of water with half a cup of white vinegar. Let the toys soak in the solution for at least an hour. Once the mold has loosened, scrub them clean. Leave them to dry and if they still smell of vinegar, rinse them before returning them to your child.

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