If you've ever been a nursery worker or have worked in childcare, or have children, for that matter, then you know the toys they play with can get pretty nasty.

I remember playing with my then 7-year-old daughter at a local restaurant that had an indoor playground. So, as the 'cool dad', I thought I would go through the tubes and have a good time.

That was a very bad idea.

The tubes stunk like some kind of milky, puke and I felt like I needed to be sprayed off from the hazmat team outside.

Then my mind went to thinking about how many germs were living inside the play station and how many of those germs made a home on my body once I got out of there.

An article recently came out about just how dangerous are the germs on your kid's playgrounds and daycare.

Jason Tetro, a microbiologist, says,

"Daycares are essentially Petri plates. You're definitely going to get a spread of different types of microbes."

He went with his observation, and probably ours too, that part of the reason for the 'germy' atmosphere is because most kids haven't figured out how to prevent the spreading of these germs.

I know we, as parents, are constantly telling our kids to cover their mouths, sneeze in their arm, wash their hands, etc., but as these kids are still 'in training', they still fall short many times.

 

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Where are the dangerous germs hiding and what are they?

Tetro explained that there is a difference between the concentration of germs found on toys in a daycare and the germs out on a playground.

It's no secret that germs and pathogens, like the ones found in daycares, can still be found on the playground, but because germs tend to dislike the sunlight, their lifespans are much shorter and their concentrations are lower.

Bugs that can be found in daycares, playgrounds can also carry pinworms, Toxoplasma gondii (which causes flu-like symptoms) and Toxocara. While Toxocara isn’t entirely bad, if it does get into the eye, it can cause a nasty eye infection.

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What you can do to help prevent the spread of germs from toys

Tetro adds that toys should be disinfected with a concentration of between 62 and 70 percent alcohol every day, especially in the high traffic areas. Just taking a cleaning wipe to them may not be as efficient as the water-alcohol concentration mix.

But if you're freaked out about your kids playing outside and with other children, don't be. Tetro goes on to advise parents,

"Don't be afraid to let your kids play outside: It's a good thing. It exposes your children to many different types of species of microbes in the soil, which is a good thing to build up their immune system."

Although playgrounds and daycare toys can be pretty gross, I think most agencies and childcare folks do their best to provide a germ-free environment for the children in their care.

Having said that, as a parent, it doesn't hurt to ask what their cleaning schedule looks like. Either that or you can do what I did and that's finding out for yourself by crawling through a play tube at a local restaurant.

Of course, that would be leaning the hard way, now wouldn't it?