Sure, you clean it with hot water after you use it, but have you ever looked inside? One mom did, and was appalled at what she saw. Mold can make your child — and your family — very sick. Where are some other hiding places for mold you might not think of?

Before you have kids, the thought of purposely suctioning mucous from a baby's nose just seems gross. But that first time your sweet little one has a cold, you would do almost anything to help her breathe easily. Nasal aspirators are an easy way to clear away the mucous, but cleaning them can be an issue.

The problem with mold

You can't completely get rid of mold, but you can try to limit the places it can grow by controlling moisture.

Without water or moisture, mold can't grow. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mold spores are present in the air and also in dust around your house. You can't completely get rid of mold, but you can try to limit the places it can grow by controlling moisture.

Mold can cause health problems, especially for someone who is allergic. Allergic reactions to mold are common, and include sneezing, runny nose, irritated eyes and a skin rash. In people with asthma, molds can bring on an asthma attack if they are allergic. Simply being exposed to mold can cause irritation to your eyes, nose and throat — even if you aren't allergic.

Clean that aspirator!

After using a nasal aspirator to clean your baby's nose, there will still be mucous remaining in the bulb. The best way to clean it is by sucking hot, soapy water into the bulb and forcibly squirting it back out. Repeat several times, making sure to push as much water out as possible. Set aside to dry before the next time you use it. You can also sterilize the bulb by simmering it in a pot of hot water for about 10 minutes, then allow it to dry.

Easy-to-clean options

The typical nasal aspirator that hospitals send home with newborns is a one-piece rubber model that works great, but is difficult to clean thoroughly enough. We found a few that you can take apart for easier cleaning and drying, which helps prevent mold from growing.

Nasal aspirator alternative options

  1. NoseFrida the Snotsucker (Amazon, $19) is recommended by doctors and easy to use — once you get past the ick factor. Using your own mouth to create suction, this device gently removes mucous from baby's nose and is easy to clean.
  2. BabyComfyNose (Diapers.com, $16) uses the same process of suction to remove mucous. It is dishwasher-safe and comes in a mesh bag to allow for proper drying after cleaning.
  3. The Graco NasalClear (Walmart, $20) is battery-operated. It not only features detachable parts for easy cleaning, it plays children's songs to distract your child while suctioning.

Other moldy places

There are other places around your home where your kids may be exposed to mold.

Bath toys
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Does your baby love those cute little rubber duckies? They turn into rubber yuckies fairly quickly, since most have a small hole that allows water to collect inside. Even just the tiny amount of moisture left inside after bath time is enough for mold to move in. Choose bath toys that can be completely dried off after use and don't have a way for water to get inside. Dishwasher-safe bath toys can be run through the high-heat cycle for easy cleaning.

Outdoor toys
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After a long, wet winter the kids are anxious to get back outside. Mold loves the dampness of this season, and you will find outdoor toys and play areas may have mold. Scrub all affected hard surfaces with a mild solution of laundry detergent and warm water. Next, apply a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one quart of water, repeating after 20 minutes.

Mold in your aspirator is disgusting, but that's not the only place where mold can grow. Stay ahead of mold to keep your family healthy.

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