Just recently in the news some parents were horrified to find their child’s sippy cups filled with mold and bacteria. Children had been using Tommee Tippee cups for a long time before parents discovered the black mold inside the valve. Apparently, the valve doesn’t come apart to clean thoroughly and residue from milk and sticky juice get trapped inside the valve and turn to mold. The mold stays there for days, weeks, months and multiply becoming a thick layer of black mold. Some experts say it’s not harmful but I know for sure I wouldn’t want to drink out of those cups let alone give them to my kids.
Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, warmth, and food. Think about what a sippy cup goes through everyday and you will see how easy it is for mold to start growing where the nooks and crannies are inside a sippy cup. It is easy for bacteria to come into contact with sippy cups easily as tots are constantly putting their mouths on the spout and touching it all day with their fingers (that have been everywhere touching things). Warmed by the touch of tiny hands holding their sippy cups all day and liquid splashing all around as the cup is moving make it a perfect environment for mold to develop. When traveling the cup might not get cleaned quickly and more milk is added multiple times throughout the day. However, with a good sippy cup parents should be able to easily open the valve and clean out any residue left behind from milk and sticky juice. Apparently, the TT valve is enclosed inside 2 pieces of plastic joined together. Meaning, it’s not a solid piece but rather 2 pieces with a clear valve inside. This is a flawed design because no matter how much a parent soaks the valve in dish soap, the food particles are still trapped inside and can turn to mold quickly unless cleaned out. TT has cleaning instructions on their website which shows parents how to clean the valve by hand with soapy water and rinsing it with water. Shaking the valve after cleaning helps remove access trapped liquid according to TT and letting it air dry. Parents might clean the valve through out the day multiple times as instructed but any moisture trapped and left there, mold can grow.
It’s very common for many sippy cups to have lots of nooks and crannies where mold tend to grow because milk and juice residue tend to hide in these hard to reach areas and a brush can’t get in there easily to clean. I recommend using a sea sponge to get into these tight areas because it is exceptionally soft and is filled with fibers that can thoroughly clean better than a brush or synthetic sponge. Genuine sea sponges are a fantastic alternative for superior cleaning because they actually possess enzymes and minerals that prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. I use a sea sponge daily to clean all my dishes and sippy cups around here. It doesn’t have any odor as other sponges do probably due to a porous body. After the sippy cup is thoroughly cleaned I usually leave them on my counter to dry completely before using. It’s not common to have more than one sippy cup around the house while waiting for one to be cleaned. Also, leaving the cups outside in the sun is great because it can kill bacteria and dry the cups faster. Just remember to not leave the cups outside all day and rinse the cups before using them.